An unscripted life with award-winning author Emma Bowd


In this episode of the Happiness Hive Podcast, Catherine chats with internationally published and award-winning Australian author of books for adults and children Emma Bowd. A passionate advocate for children’s literacy in disadvantaged communities and founder of the planet-friendly social enterprise DEED bags, listen as Emma shares with us some of her life story and how she got the iconic honour of her book being read on Play School’s storytime.

In this episode you’ll also hear:
– how Emma’s vivid earliest memory informed her of her calling in life
– the conversation that changed the entire trajectory of Emma’s adult life
– what it was like to launch a book amid the tightest lockdowns in Australia
– why being in creative flow can shortcut your success in other areas of your life
– the importance of trusting the process… and so much more!

Join Catherine’s membership The Happiness Lounge here

Connect with Catherine here:

Connect with  Emma Bowd here:

This podcast is produced by Nikki O’Brien from Quintessential Being



Read Full Transcript

I am really looking forward to today's chat I've patiently been waiting to talk with Mr. M about. And I
haven't met me in person, but I feel that I know her through our virtual connection. And I have been
Emma, I've been fangirling you for a long time. And I'm really looking forward to finding out more about
you through our chat today. But just really quickly, I'm going to give our listeners a really quick
snapshot, and then I'm going to let you to dive into it deeper. But Emma is an internationally published
and award winning Australian author of books for adults and children. And she has just had her
gorgeous book wonderful shoes, read as storytime on Play School and for our international listeners
that is huge, like Emma has. That's huge. So we'll find out more about that. It was also an experienced
presenter, she's a passionate advocate for children's literacy, and especially in disadvantaged
communities. And this is where I found Emma is through her climate friendly social enterprise of bee
bags. And there's so much more Emma, welcome. I'm really looking forward to chatting with you today.
How are you?
Oh, thank you, Catherine. It's just such a delight to be here today. My goodness, I likewise, I feel like I
know you as well through the D bags and your lovely happiness five. I've really enjoyed your podcast
too. I love there's nothing I love more than listening to different people in their the way they live their
life. And there's little nuggets of gold that can be you know, picked up from everywhere.
Yes, thank you. I love that. And that's what the podcast is absolutely about. And I have been so looking
forward to this chat. Because really, there is so many strings to your bow. And I want to find out about
all of them. But maybe we could start with how did you get to have your storybook read on Play
School? Yes, my
goodness. Yes. What a surprise. So it was really recently read in October. And I literally got an email
from my publisher saying, Oh, by the way, your book will be read on pescatori storytime on October 19
at 7:20am. And I had to read the email twice. And like you said, for the international visitors, you know,
this is a programme that's, that's so iconic for Australians, especially for our generation, because it
started in the year before I was born. So it started in 1967. We grew up with it every day on the
television, you know, I have a friend from uni who learned to speak English by watching Play School
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and sesame street everyday she was in an immigrant household. So you know, this show is absolutely
dear to our hearts. And then our children grow up. And now the new generation oh my goodness, it's
it's gone to another level, there's apps and ABC Kids apps. And this storytime has its own app as well.
So it lives on beyond the day, which is is wonderful. And I think for me, gosh, I mean, apart from being
absolutely joyous. And just so fantastic to have your book read on playschools storytime, it was a real
validation of the book itself as an early learning book. Subsequently, one of the ABC education
consultants has reached out to me who was responsible for choosing the books on the programme.
And you know, a lot goes into the choosing of the books. So for me that professionally, that was a really
beautiful validation of the book as something worthwhile for early learning.
Oh my gosh, um, so. And for those who are listening, I'm just going to give a plug for the book. Now. I
did say it before, but wonderful shoes. And how did you get to being an author? Like, how did that
come about? Emma, so this is a really great recognition. But this is not the only recognition that you've
had for your writing. But how did you get into being an author?
It's really interesting. I think, you know, if, if you go, if you want to just cut to the chase, I think it really
was my calling. You know, it was my earliest memory. My vivid earliest memory was sitting at my
parents dining room table and about four years of age, I hadn't started school yet. Oh, my dad, he was
in the airforce. And he used to bring home empty exercise books during work for me. And I just filled
them up with pretend writing, but writing stories and I had this figurine that I used to carry around the
house every day and make up stories off his vivid imagination. And I would just write a love the physical
process of writing. I was an only child at the time my sister wasn't born yet another year or two. So
there's something finite in that that. But at the time, of course, I didn't know. And when I was at school, I
was really studious. So I, as I went through school and from school, high school, you know, was really
quite academic and very high achieving, and I thought that perhaps meant that I'd go into academia.
I've never before So as I got older, I got less creative. I got more into science and that's Oh, that's
interesting. Yeah, so I finished school doing pure maths, chem physics. And my favourite subject was
my, my joy subject that I chose. And that was geography. And surprise, surprise, it was all writing. It
was interesting out in the world and writing about food shortages and current affairs and, and writing,
you know, which I loved. And it was by far my favourite subject, but you know, I was also a feminist,
and it was the 80s. And we had to do everything that the boys could do. So the big lesson for me, I
think, if I look back, I did the chemistry, the maths, the physics, because I could perhaps not because I
wanted to, perhaps not because it was my passion, but I had to prove that I could do it.
Oh, wow. That's interesting. Yes. Interesting, even when you're saying that, that, you know, being
studious, and academic and thinking that that might have been a career pathway choice for you. Also,
what you're saying there about, you know, feminist feminism, through being wanting to do it, maybe
because not because it was your passion, but you're good at it. And I think that happens for a lot of
people, a lot of women. They pursue lifetime choices for various reasons. But sometimes it's for
passion and joy. A lot of the time it's not
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nice. So in year 12, for example, my loves have always been the environment, geography travel. My
dad was in the airforce, we travelled, I've moved a lot in my life. I believe I'm a nomad complete, no
matter Rolling Stone. Yes. So I spent all my weekends sewing. And I'd be sewing outfits for myself for
my friends. And then during the week during my maths, Cam, physics, etc. But my passions that I spent
all my time on in my, in my spare time, was sewing and fashion. And, you know, when you go to see
careers counsellor, and you're 12, when you're in a student in maths and sciences, fashion design, or
fashion school or anything to do, but that's not going to be your your, what's going to come up in your
It's interesting, isn't it? And I think also our general, like, we're similar age. And, you know, maybe
things have changed a bit now. But I certainly know, I wasn't academic at all. So like, the career advice
I got was very limited. And because I didn't kind of know, I followed some of those things. I followed
because it thought I don't know, sort of just doing but I soon found out where I was directed,
I think having had kids just gone through year 12 I think it has changed a bit good counselling, you
know, they, they're very much getting them to be in tune with their passions and things. I came from a
family that was not well off. So I had to get a job that could earn money, you know, and in a way, a lot
of fashion jobs, you know, you need that family money behind you in that background. So I knew that I
needed to get a job that I could earn money and then buy the clothes and shoes that I like. So that's
kind of the way I went about it. And to my parent's credit, you know, I was never forced to do the
traditional the law, the medicine or whatever, they really encouraged me to do what I wanted. So when I
left school, I was very interested in nutrition and dietetics. And at that time, the only way to be a dietitian
was to do a science degree with a major in biochem or microbiology and then a postgraduate break,
whereas now you can do it straight from school. Anyway, so I went to uni, you know, I got really good
grades but went to uni and did the science degree lived on campus had to move from North
Queensland to Brisbane lived on campus. And about after a year and a half of being in a science lab,
you know, doing really hardcore biochem chemistry, and a microscope everyday, I knew I was in the
wrong place. And I was really nervous to tell my parents that actually because I knew what a financial
struggle it was for them to have me at uni. But I really knew I was in the wrong place. So I plucked up
the courage to tell them that I'd like to change courses. So in the process of being at uni, I had met
some really interesting girls who were doing occupational therapy, which I'd never heard of when I was
at school. I heard of physio and medicine and dentistry and Lauren everything. I've never really come
across occupational therapy. And it really appealed to me because of the holistic nature of the mind,
the body the whole looking at the whole person to me, it seemed much more sensible and really
interested me. So I broached the subject very nervously to see if I could change across to occupational
therapy, I'd already had the marks from school. So that was okay, but I also didn't want to waste the
year and a half that I've done in science. So I went met with the dean, and by then I become interested
in psychology and luckily enough at UQ psychology was in the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of
Arts. So I was able to finish off my science degree at night by doing my psychology subjects at night
while I did my ot subjects in the day. So I finished six years of uni with a double degree So in Science
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and Occupational Therapy, and in my science, I ended up doing my major in psychology, which I loved
every minute of
it. Isn't that interesting? Because when you were what I heard you saying is that you went into your
degree, and then got that sense that this isn't what I want to be doing, and also having the courage to
talk to your parents about it. And I know a lot of people Yeah, I know a lot of people stick to what they're
doing because they don't want to let other people down. I see that happening. So it's really great to
us. I was so nervous that unbeknown to me, Mom said one of the teachers at my school had said to her
in year 12, when I chosen this science degree, he said, she will she will change courses, she will not.
She was already no one told me.
You're not you need to almost often go through things, don't you to realise that it's not the right
decision, or it doesn't feel right. You're not walking into something just for the sake of it.
Yeah, it's really interesting. So I've never really formally used I actually, I did use the psychology if you
didn't want to buy ot jocks, I did a stress management programme. So yeah, I mean, you use it every
day. So it's been wonderful. Yes. So how did I get there?
I know I'm talking about how you got into being an author because he was sort of talking about your it
was been a calling for you. Even though it was these under maybe an underlying passion that you
pursued your your studies, then I'm assuming your career like did you work as a
Data Society for 11 or 12 years, and I kind of climbed the ranks and became very well respected in my
career. And I moved to the UK very early on in my career to I'd only been working in Australia, but 18
months, and I'd always had the calling to work overseas. And again, another reason I did OT is that I
had done my research and I knew that I could work in London without having to sit in exam. So when
they come to Australia, we've all met we've always made them sit in exam. Yeah. But at the time, when
I went over, we didn't they our debris was very well recognised. So we could get registered and work
without doing the exam. It hasn't changed. It hasn't changed. OTs now do have to do an exam to work
over there. So I had always planned to travel my dad, you know, I grew up taking like mini little mini
Eiffel Tower was enough to trail to show until when I was in prep, because my dad worked in Paris for a
while before he was married. And so travel has always been in our family through dad's work. And so it
was always on my agenda to work ot worked really well for that, you know, within a day I had dogs to
choose from, you know, I did a bit of local work at first, earning great money travelling, exploring, etc. I
really liked it. I just instantly loved being in London. And it's really interesting, because a lot of my
ancestry is from over there. So I don't know, like a primal thing. You know, all of a sudden, I understood
why there were daffodils on Easter cards, like, there are not daffodils out at Easter here. But over there,
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it's all about new birth and spring and life and everything so interesting, as simple as things. So I ended
up getting sponsored by an employer. So I had a full time job sponsored by an employer. And once you
work in that for four years, then you get residency. So I ended up living and working in London as an
OT for 11 years. Oh, wow. Yeah. And it was at the end of that time, I got married to my husband, who is
Australian, we've met just before travelling. When I
went you married him while you were living in London to be an Aussie as well. Yes, yes.
So he came travelling at the same time as me. And we both ended up staying there. Very formative
years. So you know, first house first car, both children born there, you know, most of my ot career
there. And I ended up quite senior in my ot career over there as well, heavily involved in the British
Association of OTS. I speak at conferences, you know, very involved. And then I had my first child and
everything changed.
Often does, often does,
yeah, to kind of factor. So this is where the creative me and the writing me comes back in. Actually one
step before they did my OT, I did end up specialising in report writing and complex reports and
business reports. I ended up working in the private sector. So writing was my bread and butter.
But that's interesting. Did you Did that just kind of evolve, or did you go looking? Yeah. Interesting, isn't
it? Yeah,
I did my time on the wards. And look, I loved it. And I loved being at the coalface and helping people
and being in that role, but my particular skills ended up being more in you know, I was managing large
teams of OTs, physios, nurses, reinsurance companies. So I was team leading writing reports. Yeah,
that's just where my skills ended up being So, and that's where I was when I was pregnant with my first
child, which happened to be real, you know, I was early 30s I thought I knew everything. My way
around a PowerPoint document more than I did, you know, trying to help a new baby foetus. So I had a
really difficult birth, like majorly difficult major rage. You know, what I was going to die kind of situation,
which threw me wasn't prepared for that. Yeah, yeah. And I was thrown by new motherhood, I just
could not believe with my feminist hat on, I could not believe how unprepared I was in my generation.
And I felt really passionately about that. And that's how my first novel got to be written. So I was at
home, I didn't go back to work, I was in no state, I'd lost a lot of blood. You know, I was really weak by
law. So I had to stay home for a while. I was knocked off my feet by this experience of piston
motherhood, in my ear part of London that I lived in. I've met a really lovely Mum, you know, as you do
when you new mothers group. And I really feel for the mums during COVID here in Melbourne who
didn't have that connection. It must have been so hard, because that's really the only thing that got me
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through, especially being overseas and not having families around. And she was an editor for a lovely
publisher in London that did beautiful books, and art and architecture and fashion of which I had many
in my house. And I had a house full of books. Yeah, we just connected. And I've never met anyone in
publishing before in my life, because it had all been medical and insurance and therapy. Yes,
yes. It was the Yes, it was the kind. It was completely refreshing to
me. And the girls were about eight months old. And she said, Oh, by the way, I'm going back to work on
Monday. And I said, What? Were you worried? What do you do? We'd never even asked each other
what we did before children, we were that deep. We spend each day just helping each other get
through. And she's looking for work for this publisher that is that the other? And I had a look at it. And I
thought oh, wow. You know, I always loved shoes. And I've got this pile of books at home of this book
called shoes by Linda O'Keefe that everyone gives me because they know I love shoes. I think there's
a gap in the market. And I didn't actually bring a copy of it to show you but it's called the patch. So
anyway, she said, look, the boss is coming over from New York next week. We're having a new ideas
meeting. Would you put a one page do you research put a one pager together and I'll give it to my
boss. So I did that. This is late 90s. There is no Google so it literally trot myself off to the Waterstones in
London. As far as I could see, there were no other gift books about shoes. Did my one pager she gave
it her boss. She liked it. She took it to the new ideas meeting he said yes. And would you like to do one
in handbags to go with it? Because we always do companion books. I said, Okay,
absolutely. Wow, wow.
And that's how my writing started. So I very, very quickly it's through serendipity. I wrote these two
books, they were published all around the world travel translated into different languages. And at the
time, my husband was working with a mate doing a start tech startup working all the hours of the earth.
I wanted to be at home providing stability at home. So this is something I can do. I can actually work
around, you know, parenting by writing. So I still had the massive bee in my bonnet about being
unprepared first time motherhood. So that's how I wrote my novel The shoe princesses Guide to the
Galaxy. That's so that's a real high heels to high chairs.
I love that high heels to high chairs.
Yeah, it should have been the tagline. But I've only thought of it. 20 years later.
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You know what? There's so many women like I can relate to that, you know? Yeah, having worked on I
had my first baby at 20, almost 30. And she was the first baby I'd ever held my baby and was like, Oh
my God, what do I even do
with Absolutely. Me being a book person? I
I came home with a pile of books this? Yes. I didn't have support around me even I didn't have family
around me. And it was just like, oh my god very capable in my career. Yes. But then it's just like, Oh,
my God, like motherhood. And I don't know if you felt this inner. But I felt like I wasn't doing anything.
Well, I wasn't doing because I worked part time after the first year. And it was like, I feel like I'm failing
at work. I feel like I'm failing at motherhood. Like I'm failing at being a wife,
everyday at work. And colleagues of mine that were in the same situation because it really bugged me
because you know, I'm a perfectionist and my words bothered me massively that I was bad at this job,
you know, of being a mum because I didn't know what to do. I felt untrained. I felt that I didn't know
what I was doing. And I hated that feeling. So I very quickly got up to speed and I was really diligent
about it. But you know, a lot of moms don't have that time because they have to go back to work full
time or part time after a few months. And everything's just this flow and it's juggle, and it's so stressful.
You know, at the time my kids were born there weren't there wasn't much paternity leave the that
everything was awful. There was no, there was nothing. And you have
a light hearing out. Sorry, to cut you off. I was just thinking when you said about the mother's group, I'm
really supportive for me as well. And the parents group that you said the serendipity of meeting your
friend there who was in publishing, I reckon that the universe,
I would never have loved it. I would not be here today, if I had not been in that place at that time.
Absolutely no way because the publishing industry is so the gatekeeping is so incredibly difficult. And
yeah, then I had this, you know, this burning desire to write the novel about first time, motherhood in the
difficulties, but in a light hearted way. And that was, uh, you know, I've never written a novel before, I've
written plenty of business reports and things but never novel, never anything creative. I've never even
done a writing course. So I mean, quite stupid. In retrospect, you know?
Well, it worked out and, and so that was the adults, wasn't it? And then, how did you transition into kids
So that was published by Bloomsbury, UK, and the Harry Potter publisher? Oh, wow. Yeah, I actually
was in the building one days after JK Rowling and like the place was electric. Literally, you touched a
doorknob and it was electric. Like the whole building was buzzing like she's been in the middle. So that
came out in 2009. And at the time, my kids were in junior school. So the lovely teachers at school
would invite me and celebrate and talk about books and things. And I just loved being in the classroom,
which really surprised me again, like completely out of the blue. And I, as my way of giving back to the
school, I would do writing workshops. And you know, for the junior school kids, yes, there was this
lovely teacher, he said, The next year are, look, I know, you know, Max isn't in my class this year. But
would you come in again, because the kids really enjoyed it. So I ended up going in again, and then
other teachers are here. And then I go to other schools and other classrooms. And before I knew what I
was spending all my time with kids, the penny took a while to drop with me. And I suddenly realised,
hang on, why don't I writing for children, because that's what I love. And this is where I love being, I
should, by all accounts have been writing another Chiclet novel, but didn't appeal to me. Because I was
choosing, I was choosing to spend all my time with children. Yes. So then I started putting some of my
ideas, and I especially love picture books, I love the creativity and the artistry, and the dots between
words and pictures. I love I'm really, really passionate with my ot hat on of early intervention of getting
kids access to literacy, before they go to school, because that's the most important developmental
years of anyone's life is actually before you go to school. And I'm so passionate about that. So picture
books for the perfect mix for me to launch into and and it didn't happen immediately. You know, I
thought my my novel was difficult, that was quite difficult to sell. But the picture book has been a really,
really difficult journey, but worth it. So wonderful shoes, for example, was published with the 13th
publisher that I approached. So 13 is definitely my lucky number
two is your lucky number.
I was approaching the point where I thought, you know, maybe this isn't going to happen to me, maybe
this isn't going to be my story. This isn't going to be where I'm going to end up. And I was almost out of
puff. And you know, little things happen. I reconnected with a school friend who I hadn't seen for like 20
years, and she she cottoned on to that. And she just looked at me as if she said, why should you give
up doing something that you love?
Lovely? That's No, that's good advice, isn't it? Yeah.
And then I started deep bags in 2017, during one of those low points, and that also, the positivity that I
gained from deep bags, lifted me and that fit into my books as well. And then in 2019, that's when I
signed wonderful shoes. So
at the beginning, I'm going to go back to Dave bags in a minute. So when you're saying they're like not
giving up, and I think you mentioned this to me before your friends say you're the friend that has
agreed, you're the friend that keeps going, you're the friend that is, you know, the determination. And I
can hear that even when you're sharing your story from studying to work to motherhood, and also
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through to publishing wonderful shoes. And I know and your other books as well. And I know there's
much more to that story than we will cover today. So if people want to reach out to you, please do that.
I'm sure Emma would love to share her story. And so you the 30 Publisher. Yes. They said yes, yes
that they would publish that was 2019. So that's only a couple of years ago.
Well, we had to wait a year because the illustrator that we both really wanted was really easy. Oh,
okay. Yeah. Take us on for a year. Yes. And then it was published last year. In 2021, yes, okay. Yep,
yep. So it was published. And then in Melbourne, I think maybe a week after we went into lockdown,
really, because that was a big publishing and you only get a certain window with your book, maybe
maybe a six to eight week window after your book is published, to get around to the book shops, get
get it in front of people. And then the next wave of books comes Yes, yes. So it was actually quite
catastrophic that we went into the really big lockdown in Melbourne. So I leaned heavily into my
Instagram community of beautiful book reviewers and authors. And it was just incredible for support
that I got there. And that was really lovely, still difficult for the book, because anyone that had a book
published in lockdown, it wasn't easy. And then it got the CBCA long listing award this year in I think it
was March. And that's called a notable book. So it's a long listing for the Children's Book Council of
Australia book of the year. And that's announced at the same time every year. So that's the little shiny
sticker. Wow, that gave it a whole new boost and a whole new credibility, which was really lovely. And
then on top of that, we've had the Play School, which is just lovely. And in the meantime, actually, it
was a week before I got the CBCA listing, I signed my second picture book deal with a bigger publisher,
even a wonderful publisher called the firm press. And in fact, I've just signed another book with them
last week. Oh,
Emma, that's so exciting. Oh, my gosh, and they coming. So had you in the process of writing. Those
are both written
so when they bought when they acquire the book, it's already written. You're the one one will be coming
out in August next year. That's my love letter to children. I can't wait to share that with everyone. My
gosh, yes, absolutely. My love letter to children and how the world is a better place for having children
in it. The one coming out in March 2024 is a very strong theme about happiness. Yay.
Exciting. How is
that one? So? Yeah. very dear to me as well. So yeah.
And just really quickly, uh, you did mention that you were able to bring in some of your psychology, like
just your general writing and creativity, but the psychology was able to get Yeah, yeah. Which
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is lovely to be finally meant, you know, all my worlds coming into why my ot my psychology, creativity at
54. Yeah. So I love that together, you know?
Yeah. And you know what, I really love that, because for me, that's a very similar, just seeing the
pieces and how they're fitted together and those, you know, pivotal points in my life. And that the time
I've kind of gone what's happening here. Yeah, but I can see now that they have absolutely been meant
to have been on my life path. Yes, trusting the processes and testing the process and trusting the
universe, and that it does all come together. We don't have to have it all worked out early. And I think
some women, you know, as we move through those next phases of our life, sometimes women lose
sight of who they are and what's happening for them. So it's about hanging in there. Like, Yeah, hang
in there. And, you know, I didn't set specific goals as such, but I definitely as I got older, had more
confidence to follow my heart. None of it's my heart but my my joy what, what, what I am, yes, where I
want to spend my time doing things. Yeah.
Tell me about the bags because that's another passion of yours as well. You mentioned about you
know, in your spare time growing up, you would be creative and, and sewing was part of that creativity.
Tell me about deed bags.
I can't explain the sewing. You know, my mum can't sell a stitch. I'm using the sewing machine today
that she bought herself when she was forced to leave work when I wish she was pregnant with me. And
she thought you know, I'll do what I'm supposed to do. You know, she's a really bright lady who didn't
have the opportunity to go into further education. Yes, and was pregnant with me as as they had to do
at that time, they had to leave work. And she thought I better do what every good housewife does. is
amazing. So which basically set in a cupboard for 50 years, used I think maybe three times to make a
school play outfit for us. And then never used like it's in pristine condition. And it's a beautiful machine
that's basically industrial because they don't make them like that anymore. And I taught myself to sew
on it when when my art came to so stay with us when I was about 10 I was doing my first communion
and she made my dress on it and I kind of hung around in the background and when she was gone, I
would take it out on weekends and I just taught myself to sew and I that was my You know, we didn't go
anywhere much, you know. So that was how I feel about my time on the weekends. I loved it. But
interestingly, my parents say that my dad's mom who I never met she passed when I was a baby was a
very, very good solo. So maybe that's come
through inherited yet the family lineage skip. Yeah, I
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can't explain it. Because you know, I love it. It is a happy place for me. I really, you know, hours days
can pass. And I wouldn't know because I just love doing it so much. And I love design I love fashion
always have, again, I don't know where that comes from. My mom's always had nice shoes and things,
but not terribly, you know, you would never call her a fascist or anything. So, yeah, when the writing
wasn't going for children's writing, in particular wasn't going so well. I was talking to my hairdresser, this
lovely girl, called Emma. Also. And funnily enough, I told her this afterwards, and she can't even
remember the conversation. And she'd sense that I was a bit down about the whole writing thing. And
she just said one sentence, which sat in the back of my head, and she said, um, if you could do
anything, what would you do? And that sat in the back of my head for a few months. I didn't act on it
straightaway, but just sat there sat there sat there. At the time, those boomerang bags were quite
popular. It was 2017. And I've always been passionate about the environment. I love sewing, I thought
I'd seen a few of them in the shops, great idea. I thought they were a bit flimsy, perhaps, you know, I
thought I thought there was a gap or something a little bit more fashionable and stronger. And that
there's nothing I love more than form and function and beauty, you must be some of my German
heritage as well. So I went and at the time, my mom had been diagnosed with bowel cancer. So it was
a real solidification. If not now When. So I just went to the store. I drove to factories around Melbourne,
I sourced materials and put my hard hat on my be high vis vest is because my dad comes from a
factory background. So I've never been afraid to go into factories, which actually really quite love. Wow,
gotcha so much about you. Yeah, I
sourced a lot of my materials direct from the factory, which makes the price more equal for the
customer. Yeah, and I just made these mock ups. And there was a market nearby Christmas market. I
think I did about 20 Odd bags. didn't have a clue if I'd sell one. But you know, other than different
friends and family. And I was pretty happy with the design because as you know, they've got pockets.
It's a tote bag. It's really, you know, yeah, and it was a tiny market, there was hardly anyone there, it
was a bit of a dud market to be honest. But I sold out. Wow. And I remember my husband standing
behind a tree across the way when I sold my first I think he was more incredulous that I was I was so
excited. I was so exciting. I can I can
still remember that feel that I can feel that. So I thought
I might be onto something here. So that gave me the confidence to start a website, sign up with Shopify
go into it a bit harder. And then it's just been word of mouth. It's just been a really lovely word of mouth.
It's not a massive operation. But it was always important to me that it gives back so you know, I
wherever possible, I use, you know, materials that I find for the end of roll, save them from landfill or
give $1 from every bag to the art of the insurance charity that I've been involved with for a long time. I
do for charity vaccines are 100% goes so you know there's a strong giving back component to it as well
as the good that they do simply by using a bag and not a plastic bag. So it's all good. And the
community that I've met through that my goodness, loveliest people, you included,
Transcribed by 12 -
oh my gosh, I've got my for anybody that's watching on the video. I've got my beautiful bespoke bag,
Emma and I designed together it's a blue sparkly denim with a silver heart and silver scraps. And that's
my briefcase. That's my shopping bag. That's my go to bag. I just love like I
went to try and buy some more of that sparkly last week and kind of get it. Oh, so it's it. I've only got
enough to make two more little bags, not as big as yours once and that's the thing. Once they're gone,
they're gone.
Do you know what I love him or I really love that I love it, you sort of have that limited edition run, which
I really love. So you're not going to be seeing 100 million people. The same one. They're all very
unique. They're just beautiful, and just the energy and love. And it really is that's where we connected
with the D bags and I got you to make that one and just the love that went into what I could feel was
amazing was
that and that's that really boosted me and I got so much feedback and still do. I'm sure that which
shone through in my writing, and that just gave me more confidence in what you know. I don't think it
was a coincidence that after de bags, things started happening and you know, there's Sanger create
isn't success breeds success or creativity, creativity, creativity, you know, that kind of flows from one
Yeah. Do you want for me that's that, like attracts like when you're in that, you know that space. So if
sellings bringing you joy, it's you're happy you said it's your happy place in writing is your happy place.
So when the writing maybe wasn't, you know, happening, how you were wanting it to or as quickly, yes,
then moving into the sewing, which isn't, you know, another love and passion, that I think that's kind of
lifted that vibration, and then it's probably freed up some bits around the data writing I yeah, I think
if I look back, I just don't think it's a coincidence.
No, I don't think so. And I think, you know, having listened when you were sort of saying that full circle
when I said how did you get to have the wonderful shoes, read on Play School and, you know, mapping
back your journey through school, even though your passion was creativity, writing your, you know,
your plays, and is growing up, you've almost come full circle, haven't you? Well, that's not to say that
that's the end of the circle, but it's,
Transcribed by 13 -
but interestingly, I'm using my ot as well. So I've just been, I've just been asked to speak at a
professional development conference up in central New South Wales, for the CBCA. And it's to a group
of early years, teachers. And it's completely what I'm passionate about, which is picture books for
children before they start school. And you know, from an artistic point of view, there's so much a book
and a story gives more than the words on the page, you know, yes, there's the social interaction, the
the closeness the, the the ice scanning, and simply learning how to skate you. You'd be amazed how
many kids these days start school, they've never held a pencil have never turned a page that they find
most of the electronic devices. Yep, they've never claimed a page, they, there's a lot going on behind
the scenes, neurologically, with reading and socially and emotionally as well. So
you helpful, that's really powerful. So it's,
it's, it's for me, I'm really glad that I'm able to use my ot as well as my creativity.
Oh, how exciting, how exciting. Tell me about, I know that the deed bags and the writing a passion and
they'd be fun. What else do you do to fill your cup? In rattle traps? I thought you're gonna say that.
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. And
interestingly, I've just been on a little mini trip in August overseas, which was a really last minute
decision hooked on to the end of my husband's business trip. And I just had forgotten how important
travel was, to me as a person, you know, as someone that's lived all over the world all over Australia,
when I was in London, you know, you're either exploring different parts of London, or you're hopping on
the Eurostar, or you're going to Prague for the weekend, or, you know, I had forgotten how important
was to me as a person to explore the world. And I came back from that holiday, completely
rejuvenated, you know, I had the same problems and issues and concerns that I had before I left
waiting for me when I came back. But as a person, I felt just so more equipped to deal with them. And
so more centred and happy. Content? Well,
that's interesting, like the travel. And I think a lot of people will resonate with that, but travel might not
be their thing that fills their cup. But what, what I'm hearing you say is by doing the thing that you love,
or one of the things that you love, is about that rejuvenation, and being refreshed, to be able to come
back and deal with life.
It's interesting, there was there was a really interesting article in the paper a couple of weeks ago
actually printed it off. And it was talking about a study that they've done on the benefits of travel with for
people with dementia, but I think the findings are equally Yes, we transferable to all of us, you know,
because on a daily basis, you know, I'm pretty good with nutrition, because that's always been an
interest of mine, you know, I eat well, but exercise is something that falls out. It's one of the first things
Transcribed by 14 -
so when I get too much on and I spend far too much time either at a desk writing or at a table sewing,
all of a sudden, I'm doing 1015 20,000 steps a day, on holiday, I'm out in the fresh air. I'm spending
time with my companion, who I probably haven't spent enough time with because for the last 20 years,
we've been parenting and working on this, this roller coaster, this rabbit wheel, you know, mouse,
whatever you call it. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So there's benefits in disconnecting from your everyday routine,
and spending more time outside simply just exercising and being in the sun and exploring places to end
and also this article talks about getting to know yourself better you decide, well, where are we going to
spend my hard earned money and my valuable short time out investing, do I go to the fashion
museum? Or do I go to this other museum? Or to go to a nature park? Or do I go here and go there. So
you get to know and reevaluate yourself better. You connect with your travelling companion again,
better, you connect with the world better, because you're, you're tasting new food, you're seeing new
sights, you're understanding history of how another place came to be and how you fit into that, and your
country fits into that. So when I read this article, and it talks all about that, but that's exactly how I felt
when I came back. And I had forgotten that feeling. I love
that and, and it is, I think, for a lot of people COVID has had a big impact, and especially Melbourne,
you guys went through topless lockdown? I think,
you know, so exploring your own neighbourhood was?
Yeah, yeah. So that's really nice to reconnect with what it is that fills your cup. And for all those reasons
that you mentioned about that renewed enthusiasm. So I would encourage people to sort of think about
what is it that does fill their cup? And when I ask people that some people are able to answer it really
easily. Others are like, Ah, I've kind of forgotten what does because I'm so busy doing things for others.
I forgotten about me. So it's a really nice reminder, Emma that we,
and it doesn't have to be overseas travel. You know, I'm not from Melbourne. And I've been spending a
lot of time in North Melbourne the last couple of weeks. And unless we'll be in London, you know, like
I'm exploring St. soaringsem
new elements. That's cool. That is very,
I find that really energising
it's cool. What's next for you? What's next? So you've mentioned you've got a couple of books in the
pipeline. What else is next for you?
Transcribed by 15 -
Oh, I am you know, I'm in a new phase. I've had one one minute, this beautiful daughter that prompted
me to write that novel about clueless first time motherhood.
Motherhood, okay. You've done motherhood, okay.
Yes. Yes, the My Little Bird has flown the nest, and she's very confident and happy. So I'm feeling good
about that. And yeah, my son's first year university and my husband and I are at this real fight that
creeps up on you, I must say very unexpectedly, all of a sudden, it's, you're here again, the two of you,
which you haven't had for 22 years? Yes. So that's been really, really just populating it first, you know?
Hello, how are you?
Do you know what that could be a whole nother Podcast? I'm been going through that as well, because
my kids is a little bit older than yours. But they've both left home. And it is about that. What does that
now mean for us as a couple, but also there's a lot of my girlfriends who are not in relationships, and
what does that mean for them as individuals as well. So it's about it's a next phase of life. And it's just
like, all Oh, what do I want this to look
like? Yeah, that's right. Yes. I'm really happy that I did persist with the writing because yeah, I definitely
see that as part of my future and, and I've actually got more time to commit to it as well than I've ever
had, which is wonderful. So I'm going to really enjoy travelling and talking more and doing more
seminars and things I think and writing and really, you know, taking off with that, which is lovely.
That's beautiful. And Emma, where can people find you? We've got we've got the details in the show
notes, but on Instagram.
Yes, it's Yeah. And if you go to my website in about or one There's links all
the social
links to all the socials and deed bags have a I hope you don't mind me saying this, but you will have a
Christmas range coming out. I know you're working very, very hard for that. I don't want to put more
pressure on you. But I'm sure our some of our listeners will love to check out your bags. I've got my
order for another one.
Going on the last few weeks, so they might be a week or two late coming on to the website. But
Transcribed by 16 -
that's it. Yeah. You know, that could be a Christmas gift or New Year's gift or just an every day. It just
doesn't do them for Christmas. They're, they're beautiful. So deep bags, and all the details are in the
show notes. So Emma, we, I think this is just open the doors about who you are and how you do live.
Any last tips you'd like to share? Oh, goodness, because he also is very much about trust in the
universe. When we first talked it was around.
Yeah, I think I think you asked me or you know something? What? If you had to look at your life? How
do you live it? And I jotted down a few things and I think a lot of it you know, I have to say I was very
lucky to have good parents and when I was younger I really bristled when people say, Oh, you're so
lucky. And I say no, no, I work hard. You know, I'm a really hard worker and I would really bristle at the
word lucky but I know with age and experience that I am extremely Hockey. So yeah, my dad was
always a very positive mindset person and always always coached us in thinking P, that's his little
thing. And mom was a very hard worker with strong convictions, and kind of giving back. She did a lot
of work for unemployed youth when I was younger. So I think that's stuck with me. So I guess you
know, I do, I live by the courage of my convictions. I give back. You know, my dad is probably the
kindest person you'll ever meet in your life. So kindness is really important. So whatever you whatever I
do, I like to be authentic. Is that to do it with kindness? I really enjoy collaborating with other people.
And that's what i Another thing I really enjoy about picture books is it's a team that put it together. It's
not just you and the illustrator. There's a publisher, there's designers, there's lots of people working in
the background, and then, you know, so I do enjoy that. Yeah, but I think that's the most things you
know, and with my own kids, you know, I've always said, you know, don't have a wishbone have a
backbone, so
Oh, I love it. It's about kind of having a bit of an idea of what you want, but actually getting in there and
making it happen. Yes.
Things just don't happen by magic. You know? You've got to have the graft you've got to you've got to
you've got to do the work.
Yes, absolutely. Are Emma that has just been such a joy and such a pleasure to chat with you.
Oh, happiness. Love sitting here in our pink too.
I know we've got our got our different elements of pink on pink five happening.
And I love everything you do in the in your space. It's just so it's so useful. And so I just love it.
Transcribed by 17 -
Thank you. Thanks so much. Bye bye bye.