Kelly Barrett is the kick ass girl boss, founder of Silent Arrow and mama to 3 kids. We are privileged to have Kelly as one of Mama Tribes supporters. We were itching to hear how Kelly manages mum life, work life and being the OG Rad Mama.
You have your own hugely successful business and 3 kids, how do you find the balance between being a kick ass girl boss, being a mama and looking after yourself as a person?
I was a single mother with my first child and working full-time and was desperately trying to find balance. I saw an interview with a politician that was a mother titled – You absolutely can have it all! I remember being so excited to read it, she would tell me what I was missing. It sounds so naïve now, but I actually thought I must have been missing a vital key, a tip that others knew that I was oblivious to, because I was struggling. I read the interview and in the last sentence she said that on a Monday she dropped her baby to her mum and on a Friday she picked her up. That wasn’t the answer I expected. I was shocked to be honest.
My point is that ‘balance’ feels like an unfair word because it almost another expectation on us that isn’t realistic. I haven’t come to peace with this, I still strive, but after 17 years of mothering I am finally accepting that the more correct word is sacrifice, what are you willing to sacrifice today? Sorry that is a bit depressing, isn’t it?!
I am constantly trying new things, right now I outsource as much as I can afford cooking, cleaning, PA at work, so that when I am home with the kids I am present and not running around mad. I know getting support is a luxury most women cannot afford, I have only recently been able to afford it myself. I was always careful not to spend too much on cleaning etc, but now I feel the opposite, for me it is really important and I spend and much as I can without feeling guilty at all.
I really enjoy cooking and am passionate about nutrition, but I found that after work I was running in the door, rushing to the kitchen to chop vegetables whilst I put the kids in front of the TV, calling out “I will just be a few minutes, I just have to get these on and then you can tell me about your day”. It was manic. I now pay a local mum to pre-cook 4 organic meals that I have in the fridge, so when I get home I put a dish in the oven and spend time with the kids.
What was your inspiration and motivation to start Silent Arrow?
It was time to do something to creatively express myself, no editing. My youngest child was 3 and suddenly I started to remember myself again, outside of being a mum. I went back to London for a fashion trip and it felt like part of me woke up. In Australia I felt old and somewhat invisible, in London I felt like a creative powerful person.
It has been an incredible journey for me in remembering my values and dreams outside of being totally focused on family. Before launching I realised that it didn’t matter if it was successful, what I had already gotten from it was far more valuable that anything. I had a voice and I was dropping the editing and being me. Through it I meet other women standing up and showing themselves to the world and I love it! It is inspirational.
You lived in London, away from home with a newborn before returning to Australia when she was two. Tell us about your experience and the importance of face to face support when becoming a mama.
My mum at the time offered to come over before my daughter was born, I remember telling her “oh I will be fine! The baby’s father and I will do it”. I mean what is there to do right? They mostly sleep yeah? Hahaha I had NO idea. I found it SO HARD. 9 months in and my relationship broke down and I became a single mum. I went back to finish Uni and was drowning, if my mum didn’t come back I don’t know how I could have done it. It was hard, we lived on 10 pounds a week for food in pretty basic living conditions, but we got through it and there were definitely fun times being together.
You created a ‘Warrior Mama Maternity Bra’ and also an underwire ‘You Got This Maternity Bra.’ Tell us about your inspiration behind the maternity range.
I actually wanted to cry when I wore my maternity bras. I already felt fat and unattractive, I would put my maternity bra on and want to shrivel up. And I shopped around! I tried lots, but I really hated them all. I wanted to include rad bras for mums in the range because true rad girls are mums too. I don’t think it is fair that we are expected to change so much and suddenly be grannies. You are a cool girl, you have a baby and then what? All your choices go out the window.
Warrior Mama – Like lots of mamas I had various breastfeeding challenges with my babies. I wanted a bra to address those challenges whilst still being a fashion item. It was important to me that there was plenty of room to fluctuate in size, no pressure to avoid mastitis (awful!), you had to be able to pass out and have a nap in it, the clips had to be cool – I hated those big plastic hooks that always seemed to show and were hard to do up. I also wanted a nice shape from a thin mould that could fold down easily for feeds. The name represents the early days of feeding, you have to be a damn warrior to get through some of those challenges and continue to feed.
You got this – I fed my first child until she was 3, so at that point there was no fluctuation in size and I just wanted my t-shirt bra back! With my third child my body had gotten used to feeding and there wasn’t the dramatic changes anymore, and again, I just wanted a wire! Give me a wire! It gives a much better shape and really just made me feel more confident. It is a fashion t-shirt bra with mesh inserts, but still sits flat under clothing and is an easy go to if you aren’t fluctuating in size a lot. The 2 bras have very different goals and are for different stages. The name You Got This, is to try and say – yeah you might wonder what your fashion style is now and how you fit into the world as a mama, but I see you, you’re rad and you got this babe. That was my goal.
Motherhood sure has it’s ups and downs. What is your favorite part and least favourite parts of being a mama?
I have co-slept with my 3 kids and nightime was by far my favourite time of the day. I loved sleeping next to them, especially if I was working a lot, it was an important part of feeling close to them being physically next to them. I’m lucky that my kids are very affectionate, so the cuddles are the best! I love watching their personalities unfold and seeing who they are, it is such a privilege.
My least favourite part is when they are sick, I find that so stressful. My second daughter was born prem at 27 weeks and we didn’t know if she would survive and the hospital gave no indication, it was day by day. I think since then I am over-sensitised to sickness and my mind goes to life threatening illness when they have a fever, I have to work hard to be rational. I probably need some therapy around it.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for modern mamas?
I don’t think the role of a mother is truly valued in our society and with lack of value comes lack of respect and self-esteem. We retire poorer because our superannuation is a fraction of our spouses, if a country truly respected mothers that wouldn’t be the case. The attitude is – well you chose to have a baby. I feel like mothers have to make it work regardless of support, we have no choice. I see a lot of silent suffering with mothers. I think mums can help that too by being more honest. I used to feel embarrassed asking for support, I felt like as the mother I should have it covered, but I don’t feel like that now. The more honest I was and the more I expected from my partner the better life became for me and the less resentful I was.
If I had to choose a single challenge I would say self-esteem oh and stop trying to be everything to everyone!
What’s the latest book you read that you would recommend to a friend?
Are you serious? How can this even be a questions hahaha
What’s the last book you read?
I am on a plane right now and brought Fight Like a Girl with me. I am nervous that when I read it I will get super mad, I hate injustice and inequality. I’ll let you know!
Do you have any daily mantras, rituals or quotes that you use or would recommend?
A dear friend taught me his once and I have carried it with me, at times I forget it, but I try to live by it and that is “TRUST LIFE”. If we can drop even a bit of the control and trust then stress levels can drop enormously. Actually, I need to use that on the next fever!
Want to grab another virtual coffee with Kelly?
Exclusive Mama Tribe Discount!
DISCOUNT –Kelly is offering a 20% discount on all Silent Arrow purchases, but for one week only! You can take a look at here
Use the code mamatribe20 (valid til 29 September 2017)