In 2010, I started an events business called Oscar and Ruby, which grew really quickly. Soon after I found myself sharing an office space with Marrisa, and then Nadean and I realised there was a gap in the market for a creative wedding exhibition.
We launched the first One Fine Day within three months of coming up with the idea. Whilst pregnant with Harriet, I then realised there was a gap in the market for a baby and children’s fair, and One Fine Baby was born 12 months later.
Now that I’m a parent, I’m more focused on current tasks and plans for the future than I used to be. Life before Harriet was much more self absorbed. Time is so precious these days, I’m much more selective about how I choose to spend it. There are a lot less hangovers too! I don’t think I gave too much thought to what being a mum would be like before I had Harriet. I went into it a bit naive. I would have to say, it’s harder than I thought . Having said that, I’m kind of glad I went into this without having too many preconceived ideas. We’re just kind of winging it, and I have a whole lot of respect for all the mums out there – especially my own mum.
I’m still surprised how all consuming being a parent can be – so much so that I don’t really remember what life was like beforehand. What did we do all weekend? The love I have for Harriet is bigger than I ever imagined. Our world pretty much revolves around her now and we couldn’t be happier. When Harriet was a newborn, I was really drawn to the idea of the fourth trimester. It made sense to me that the first few months of her life were quite daunting for a little baby and we respected that.
Not expecting too much from her helps me to parent her. As she gets older, we try to continue this with age-appropriate expectations and understanding that she is just a little girl trying to make her way in a big world.
The best parenting advice I’ve been given is to be in the moment. Such a cliche, but something I need to be more mindful of on a daily basis. Also, something I really try to do is let go of the guilt. It’s such a heavy and unnecesary burden to carry. Constantly worrying if I’m doing the right thing by my family is not constructive at all. I try to remind myself that by working I’m providing for my children’s future, but I hope to be able to scale back my working hours once they reach school age. I can’t wait to cheer them on at swimming carnivals!
The best creative advice I’ve been given is to collaborate and support other creatives. Try to create situations that benefit others in the industry. This quote from Chanel applies too, “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” Also, just go for it. Take a chance and run with your ideas.
I was working two jobs when we launched One Fine Day, and my incredible husband was doing a builder’s apprenticeship. So money was super, super tight! Sacrifices were made. There really is no perfect time to start. It sounds simple but you really just have to put one foot in front of the other and see where things take you.
What inspires my creativity is my drive to stay fresh and relevant and to not become complacent.
My team also inspire me. Fashion. Florists. Books. Other creatives. Travel. So many things! Getting out of the office and having a clear head to focus on the future is always a kick starter for a fresh bout of inspiration. I try not to spend time on Pinterest or too many sites as the content on the web is totally overwhelming.
I guess in the planning of One Fine Baby we were inspired by our children. We asked ourselves: what would they enjoy? What’s useful for them? It’s quite handy to have my own little market research person at home. Everything we present at One Fine Baby is something we truly believe in ourselves. I include my family in my creativity 100 percent. It’s always a team effort. I include my family in all that I do – Harriet attended her first wedding fair at six weeks. There’s even photos of her in the baby carrier strapped to my sister as she worked the front desk. Steve is always on hand at the fairs too, helping out in so many different ways. He is pretty awesome and most of our vendors know him now too. I love that we have created a work environment that is so inclusive of family.
If I could change things to allow for more creative time I’d ask for less traffic…less time commuting to and from work!
I currently have four days in the office. Harriet is at daycare two days. She has a nanny one day and her grandparents alternate weeks on the fourth day (they love their Harriet day). Steve also runs his own business, so we evaluate the routine on a daily basis. I work 8am to 4pm and try to make sure the afternoons are utilised as quality time. We have a tradition of going for fro-yo on a Monday afternoon, and Fridays are (and will always be) my Harriet day.
We travel quite a bit with both OFD and OFB. Harriet is a pro at sleeping over at various grandparents’ houses, and is an expert plane passenger now too. I’m eternally grateful for the support of my husband and family – our business would not have grown as well as it has without the support of our extended family. I’m in no way an expert, but if I were to share advice with other mums who may be trying to combine their lives as creatives and caretakers, I’d say that I think we’re all just trying to figure things out. Take things day by day and go easy on yourself. Have realistic expectations and don’t try to do everything at once. Oh, and outsource. I’m a huge fan of The Cooks Grocer and Dinner Ladies – life savers!
What does it mean to you to be an Australian creative, who is also a mother?
I’m so grateful to be in the position I am today. It certainly isn’t where I thought I would be five years ago. By teaming up with Nadean and Marissa, we’ve been able to achieve goals I never thought possible. There are so many amazing Australian women doing incredible things. It’s an honour to be considered one of them.
35-year-old Jess McLeod is the director and cofounder of One Fine Collective. She lives in NSW with her husband Steve, their two-and-half-year-old daughter Harriet, and a pet fish that Harriet named ‘little fella’. They’re expecting a new baby in January 2016! Visit the One Fine Baby, One Fine Day websites, and follow Jess at One Fine Baby, One Fine Day Wedding Fairs and One Fine Business on Instagram.