How many identities do you have?
6. Nature lover
7. "Big kid"
Please tell us the story behind The Magic Coat and how you’ve got to where you are now?
I was teacher for over twenty years teaching primary school children. I would see so many children be so disengaged with their world so I would spend my recess and lunch times talking to them. They told me so many adult problems like their parents were fighting, there was not enough food on the table, no one wanted them, they were being bullied etc.
It didn't take me long to realise that while we focus so much on giving our children the opportunities for academic success we are neglecting to teach them life skills which will provide social and emotional well-being and resilience. It was from this point I began researching and writing programs based on a mix of my knowledge of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Positive Psychology.
I ran a number of programs for teens in high schools and I questioned why we were spending so much time on talking about what was already happening in their mental health than trying to prevent it. I also believed that there was a strong need for a common language that parents, teachers, children and anyone working with children could use so I created The Magic Coat.
I originally created the Magic Coat as a school based program but it is now used in the prisons, women’s refuges and community organisations.
What has been the biggest life lesson you have learnt so far?
I believe the biggest lesson I have learnt so far was when my daughter at age five was placed on life support and I was told to say my goodbyes. The day that she had been placed on life support I had not read her a bedtime story because I was tired and cranky from work and she had been mischievous. To this day, I regret not spending that precious ten minutes with the most beautiful gift I was given, my daughter. I was so lucky and blessed that she survived but it taught me to never, ever take the time with your children or loved ones for granted because you never know when it will be the last time that you see them.
How do you feel women have been affected by stereotypes?
I believe that women sometimes feel that they cannot be their true authentic selves because if you show kindness, empathy, emotion etc you may be seen as weak in business and life. The reality is that it takes a much stronger person to be kind, patient and caring than one who isn't.
What do you believe your secret to success is, in balancing your many passions and pursuits?
Sometimes I don't succeed in balancing all that I need to do but I have learnt that, that is okay if you explain to your loved ones that for a certain period you need their support to get something done. I would not be where I am now if I didn't have such a supportive, loving family who have helped me raise my girls for all the times I have had to work or travel. I also have surrounded myself with beautiful friends who genuinely want to see me succeed and I want to see them genuinely succeed. There is no competition, just love.
What advice would you give to other women out there who want to start their own business but don’t know where to start?
The first thing every woman needs to think is, am I passionate about this? Is this something I am prepared to eat, sleep and breathe? The reality is that is exactly how it will be for many years. Then find yourself a mentor, someone who inspires you and watch them closely. Surround yourself with people who want to see you take the baby steps you need to succeed and then be prepared to take action every day. Above all believe in yourself and know you are worth it!