News + Inspiration

Today’s post written by Angela

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Today I’d like you to meet Lise Taylor, editor in chief and publisher of My Child magazine.

Lise isn’t one to shy away from difficult issues either with her magazine, or her personal life, and her story of guts and determination is sure to inspire you.

Lise lives with her husband, Brian, and their 5 year old son, Duncan, in Sydney Australia.  Lise loves good food, good wine, good company, and the colour blue.

The My Child Winter issue is out now, and can be purchased online here, else take a trip to your local quality newsagent. You can also sign up to KidStyleFile FREE Weekly newsletter to in the draw to win one of 10 Annual Subscriptions (closes 31 May 2009).

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Who lives at your house?

Myself, my husband, Brian, and our just-turned 5 year old, Duncan, and his menagerie: Baz the boxer, Barney the cockateil, 6 frogs, 2 stick insects, 1 spiny leaf insect, selection of fish, large collection of insect, beetle and spider carcasses/shed bodies. We have also had hermit crabs, live spiders that liked eating each other, Mexican walking fish and more!

Tell us about your background?

Having failed my HSC because I was enjoying myself too much, I worked as a secretary in the corporate sector after I left school. When I was 27 and my mum was in her mid 40s, she took herself off to uni, did her BA, her honours degree and then a PHd and become a lecturer. I thought ‘If Mum can do it, why can’t I?’ So I repeated my HSC, did a degree in English Literature and then I got my first job in magazines at Amway’s Amagram magazine as a secretary/proofreader.

After a short stint at a legal publisher, I started as a sub-editor on the launch of That’s Life! magazine. I was then promoted to deputy chief sub-editor, before moving to Elle as chief sub-editor, then Family Circle, and then back to That’s Life! as a section editor. After that I moved to Australian Cosmetic Surgery Magazine (ACSM) as editorial director.

Around that time I met my now-husband, and five months later I became pregnant. (We married when Duncan was 18 months old.)

It was after I gave birth to Duncan that Brian and I decided to set up a business so we could each have a stay-at-home-type role looking after Duncan. Brian is a wonderful, hands-on Dad and he also persuaded me to get out there and launch my own magazine.

I’d found all the parenting magazines available at the time pretty boring. Their coverage of topics was so superficial! I’d read an article and think: Well, I learnt nothing from that! The design was also dated and they were very mass market, which wasn’t me. I figured there must be other mums out there who wanted something more intelligent (over 50 percent of mums are now university educated) and stylish. Hence the launch of My Child.

I have to say that I’ve never worked so hard in my life, found anything I’ve ever done so challenging, or enjoyed myself so much! It’s been hard-going financially because we didn’t have enough money behind us to start with but, apart from meeting my wonderful husband and having Duncan, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

What, or who, inspires you?

We never did a proper business analysis before starting My Child. If we had I’m sure we’d never have done it. This just goes to show how having a total passion for something can help make things work. I take great inspiration from Richard Branson’s autobiography, Losing My Virginity: Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way, as he is so successful now but really struggled for the first 10 years.

You independently publish My Child – what does this mean?

This means that I own the magazine entirely. No other company has any financial or other type of interest in it. It also means that my life is crazy as I try to balance my three working “hats” – publisher, editor and advertising director – along with my husband, son, family and friends!

What helps though is that I’ve developed partnerships with other independent businesses to help each other evolve against the “big guys” like ACP and Pacific Publications. My two key ones are with the Bub Hub parenting website and the Hello Babe sample bags for expectant and new mums.

What’s your life like outside your job?

Still busy! I have a tennis lesson once a week with Duncan (I’m learning too), pilates once a week with my husband, and I walk the dog. Brian and I have a “date night” once a month or so and share evenings with friends and their kids. Otherwise I spend time with Duncan or work. I love to read novels but have only managed to finish one since his birth! I also enjoy Sudoku when I can.

How has parenthood changed your life?

I’ve now learnt that the most difficult, challenging things in life are the most rewarding. The things that you give your heart and soul to are those that you learn the most from. Having Duncan is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, making me feel much more powerful as a person and teaching me more about myself than I could have imagined – and making me totally appreciate my own parents.

What inspires you?

Motherhood has made me much more of a “mothering” type of person. My staff are all fairly young and I truly love helping them and nurturing them. It took me so long to really become my own person in life (until around age 40) and it inspires me to see them growing and developing – just as it inspires me to see this in my son.

What are your top 5 favourite picks for babies and kids at the moment?

1. Wooberry custom-made dolls from children’s drawings. They take your child’s drawing and turn it into a toy!
2. Dog tag pendants. It feels so special wearing my son’s name and DOB close to me. Try brands such as Koolamon, Uneik, and Lovestamp (images 2,3,4, respectively)
3. Baby on Board: Understanding What Your Baby Needs by Dr Howard Chilton. This book was a huge help when I had Duncan – especially its chapter on colic – and it’s now been revised and updated. It’s the best!
4. Organic bamboo. Softer than cotton and with a cashmere-like texture, this is the most incredible eco fabric, and many labels are now using it to make the sweetest baby and kidswear. Try Nurture Nappies (image 5) and Mudd Kids (image 6) for some great examples.
5. All the incredible products available today that weren’t around even five years ago when Duncan was born. I’m 46 now and off the pill so there’s still a chance we could have another bub (lord knows how I’d cope but at least I’d have fun researching it all!)

What’s your idea of a perfect day?

I used to think this would be a day all to myself having a massage and going shopping, but I now know that after about two hours on my own I start to miss my hubby and son. I’m so used to having them around that I don’t like to be away from them for too long.My perfect day would be all of us hanging out together doing nothing much. An easy, relaxed start to the day reading the paper, maybe hanging down at the local park riding bikes and letting the dog run around in the morning, sitting out in the laneway that our townhouse backs onto in the afternoon having a cup of tea with our neighbours while the kids play. Then having friends over for dinner and some lovely wine.

What is your favourite childhood memory?

My childhood wasn’t easy. In fact, I seem to have blotted out much of my primary school years. There were four kids in my family, the third being my brother John, who has cerebral palsy. He is partially deaf and blind, can’t speak at all so we use sign language, is intellectually about six years old (he’s 43 now) and fairly unco-ordinated in his movements.

My mother, in particular, took the full brunt of looking after John while my dad worked two jobs. Until he was around 13 or 14, John behaved like he was having a non-stop tantrum whenever he was awake. How my mother must have yearned for his sleep times. On top of this, my parents struggled financially and did their best to look after me and my sisters.

Honestly, I look back and think: how did my mum do it? When John was very young, she had to walk to the bus stop with him in the pram and my sister Juliet and I, catch the bus to the railway station, catch the train into the city, and then a bus to hospital every day so John could have the physiotherapy he needed to help him learn to crawl and then walk. Mum and Dad had been told he’d never be able to but my mum was determined. I can’t believe the guts that this took.

My favourite childhood memory is, in a sense, knowing the utter love and devotion of my parents under incredibly difficult circumstances.

I found having Duncan in my early 40s full-on but when I look at my parents and what they had to cope with back then when we were little, I feel total and utter admiration for them. It took me a long time to forgive my parents for what I viewed, in my younger years, as their lack of attention to me as a child. But having Duncan has really made me realise what amazing parents they are.

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