I met Anna a few years ago at one of those film reviews that set your mind buzzing and opens your eyes. We talked briefly, a rambling conversation about the film, women, creativity and making a difference. Both of us have a passion for making and creating and both of us were looking around with a curious eye at what could be possible. I delved further into my new work with porcelain jewellery and Anna was getting started with Mama Creatives.
How long did Mama Creatives simmer away within you before it evolved into a clear idea?
After talking with a few of my creative friends I realised almost immediately that there was a need to create a space for creative mothers to connect and share their stories; about who they are at their core, and what they enjoyed doing before motherhood.
They were wildly talented and some had enjoyed great success, but had now lost some of their confidence. I knew that giving them the spotlight to share their stories and body of work in front of an audience would be the first step to regaining their powerful creative identities. All the 'core' mothers from that first small group who presented now have flourishing creative careers.
Despite the power of this realisation, Mama Creatives was just a fun side thing I used to do once a month with a few creative mother friends in my local area. However, after about six months I realised we had an interesting concept.
It wasn't until about a year of meeting causally that I decided there was a real business idea, and started sending out a newsletter. After a year and a half I got more serious and finally launched a business page on Facebook and secured partners for the live events.
Only after two years did I launch a website. I did everything backwards when you think about how you 'should' start a business, but in that second year I actually spent a lot of time getting organised; planning my big vision and milestones then chunking all this into smaller actionable strategies, tasks and deadlines.
Finding shared experiences can be so liberating, do you see with the Creative Mama Evening Talks mum's who have been feeling overwhelmed start to blossom?
There has always been two aspects to Mama Creatives; creating an amazing experience for the audience, from which they can learn and grow personally, but also to put the creative mama presenter back in the spotlight.
I know from my experience as a clinical art therapist that once you externalise fears the associated anxiety can be better managed. By starting with a simple list of writing down all the things they have achieved in their lives makes them feel more worthy. It is not that they are necessarily depressed but they haven't been thinking about themselves because motherhood takes a lot of focus and energy.
So by channeling their anxious energy into a positive action can definitely lead to improved confidence. Sharing their story to an audience can be a very empowering process as it forces them to connect with themselves at a very deep level.
I always urge my presenters to share something personal and deep, some type of adversity they have had to overcome, so they can be an inspiration to others, but also so they can feel good about themselves.
There doesn't need to be any mother guilt by focusing on personal achievements. They can both co-exist. By putting themselves first is when they can begin to flourish.
Is the Morning Tea Masterclass designed to be a more in-depth skills development program supporting the Evening Talks?
All our events are intentionally quite different to ensure a diverse range of experiences. However, they all offer quality speakers and the mamas who attend are all high calibre and just really interesting and authentic.
The Creative Mama Evening events are more like a TED style talk, with one mother sharing her story and body of work. They are held in a pub at night and it's quite relaxed. People usually chat and stay behind for an extra glass of wine. There have been many creative collaborations and life long friendships made during these evenings.
The Morning Tea Masterclasses are certainly more skills based events designed for the more entrepreneurial creative mamas wanting to expand their professional development. We offer a series of six masterclasses held over the course of the year, with absolute experts in their field.
Each series is based on one main theme all designed to enrich creatives, rather than being too generalist. Last year we focused on all things digital, and this year the theme is 'Health and Wealth', all with a creative slant.
We are working on launching online membership where all the content from our events will be available. Later this year creative mamas who can't attend our live events can still benefit from our excellent content and feel connected to our amazing creative community.
How do you think mums and dads can spend more creative time with their children?
It's not just creative time that is important but spending quality time in general. Kids up to about 12 years want to do things with their parents to feel loved and acknowledged. Spending quality time together lays the foundation for developing a stronger sense of self that continues until adulthood.
There is a whole raft of creative things parents can do with their children, but mostly spending at least 10 - 30 minutes of focused time together a day. This could include reading, drawing, play-acting, cooking, writing stories, making books, board games, collecting found objects from the park, building and constructing, photography adventures around their own neighbourhood, or longer outings visiting museums and galleries.
Do you believe spending time making and crafting with kids is just as important as research shows reading with children is?
I think spending time with children in general is the important aspect here. Certainly spending time reading together will help them acquire this skill, which is essential in life. However, learning how to make and create can also improve fine and gross motor skills, enhance their problem solving ability, as well as improve language development and communication skills.
What are your 5 tips for mums to bring their inner creativity to light?
I think it's always good to get your creativity out in whatever way works for you, even if you are not feeling 'in the mood'.
1. Don't put pressure on yourself to create something amazing each time. It's always a work in progress, until it's finished. Maybe it will never be finished, but it should bring some joy to your life.
2. Don't create for an audience, you should always be true to what you want to do. Of course there may need to be a commercial aspect to it, but don't compromise too much or you will lose your edge and point of difference, and you may end up feeling resentful.
3. If you are feeling in a rut, think about what you loved doing as a child, and what you were naturally good at doing. This is probably your 'thing'. Then start creating in your area of creative passion just 30 minutes a week. This will soon lead to a more consistent daily practice, but you have to start somewhere! If you put yourself under too much pressure you won't do it, but if you don't commit at all you won't start. Just a little bit over time can lead to a whole lot.
4. Carry a pad with you to sketch or write down ideas, you never know when inspiration will strike. I have large sheets of paper all over my walls and write down my ideas while I remember them. This leads back to the concept of externalisation. Instead of channeling fear and letting it go, this is about releasing an idea or creative concept so it doesn't swim around in your mind, but becomes a real creation, or something to work towards.
5. Famous creatives have one thing in common. They are prolific. Musicians are constantly on the road touring, artists have thousands of artworks, writers may only have published a few books but they are writing in all sorts of ways, if only in their journals, photographers take lots of photos. The only way to connect with your inner creativity and to become confident at something is to do it over and over consistently.
How can people connect with you?
Find Anna online at Mamacreatives, the MamaCreatives Facebook page, on Instagtram and Twitter
Photo by Sarah Garden