Monday, 9 March 2015

At Home with Jody Allen - Stay At Home Mum






































I recently had the pleasure of meeting Jody Allen at an International Womens Day Morning Tea in the small country town of Pomona.  Jody is the founder and part owner of Stay At Home Mum, a website and online community that is so popular that it gained over 10,000 likes in the first week of being created just over 4 years ago! Fast forward to 2015 and their Facebook page is still rapidly gaining likes ( over 470,000 at the time of this blog post). I found Jodys presentation about how and why she started to be inspirational and knew I wanted to talk to her more.

Jody graciously invited me into her home ( and their place of business) just out of Gympie to spend the afternoon hanging out and having a chat about everything from teapots to tattoos.

First of all, I was so grateful that Jody and her husband and business partner Brendan were so open and trusting with me and nothing was off limits including where I photographed. This is just an indication of the character that this lovely couple have.

Jody and Brendan built this home from scratch themselves ( as in they actually physically built it, phew) and are immensely proud of it. It was based on another original home that they had a photo of from 1884 that had been on the property of friends of theirs. This was their first home built from scratch but had in the past renovated houses so had gained some experience that way, as well as Brendan being a carpenter by trade. Neither have come from money and have worked extremely hard to be able to afford being able to build this home, having been working multiple jobs and living off $50 a week of groceries so they could put every spare cent into it. This is where the basis of www.stayathomemum.com.au came from!

Having learnt by trial and error how to live in a more thrifty way Jody decided to document the knowledge she was learning. Her first post was about making bulk spaghetti bolognese to save money. Somehow (she still doesn't know how) her blog traffic went crazy and people far and wide were loving this new site where a woman could feel like they weren't being judged for not being the 'perfect mum'. A breath of fresh air in an internet world for mothers. The rest they say is history.  The website and adjoining social media sites have been a huge success, so much so that Stay at Home Mum is worth $10 million, has 40 employees ( some working on site, others working from home) AND has a tv show is in the works.

One thing that was evident to me after spending quite some time with Jody is that this is more than a business to them. It is first and foremost a community where they feel a responsibility to give as much help, advice and information to women as much as possible. Nicole, one of the business partners is also a registered nurse and is on hand to help with any medical queries and to also put people in touch with the appropriate help. I also asked Jody whether there is ever a time that people in emotional distress reach out to them and the answer was yes. The team at SAHM do everything they can to make sure that these people get the help they need and conversations are often taken off line. Jody relayed to me that she thought that when having a blog or presence online you have a responsibility to others. They have someone online 24 hours a day to be available to answer questions and moderate and surprisingly have from the beginning.

It doesn't look like things are slowing down with tv appearances and tv shows, there are plans in the future to build a separate office for SAHM just outside the side of the house. At the moment people come and go in the house including children. SAHM only employees stay at home mums ( besides hubby Brendan and Chris the managing director) and at school holidays there can be 17 children running around in the home. Employees are given understanding with the flexibility required with being a parent and needing to pick up children from school and when there are unexpected events. I got to have a great conversation with Brendan (who also gave me some helpful hints on videography, thanks Brendan!) and to the lovely ladies in the office - Kate ( office manager) and Midgi ( accounts).  I loved some of the motivational posters in the room from the ladies ;)

So what would Jody do if she wasn't doing SAHM? Well it is obvious this is her passion but in the future when they are ready to let SAHM go she would love to be an author ( by the way she is already an author of Once a Month Cooking ) with an interest in Tudor history AND she would love to build dollhouses and perhaps renovate another home. I also discovered Jody has a weakness for cookbooks ( especially old school ones including Margaret Fulton) and searches far and wide to add to her collection. She also loves teapots but that collection is only just the beginning!

Oh and did I mention Reggie? Reggie is their pride and joy 1959 Morris Major that a friend found for them in a barn and so they fixed him up good enough to drive and now is one of the loves of their lives ( besides their children, SAHM and Sookie the dog of course!) I get the feeling we are going to see more and more 50s style influence coming in just quietly ;)

So if I could sum up what I learnt from Jody today it would be this:

  • Work hard.
  • Be persistent (don't give up)
  • Have faith in yourself (don't let other's opinions get you down).
  • Be true to yourself and be proud to show it.
  • Don't worry about those that don't like you for who you are.
  • Give back to others.

That's great advice me thinks and I for one are feeling inspired :)

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