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    The #GameChangingStories

    Balancing A Business & Baby With Sustainably Chic's Natalie Kay

    Balancing A Business & Baby With Sustainably Chic's Natalie Kay

    PLAYER 3: SUSTAINABLY CHIC'S NATALIE KAY AND ELLIOT

    SUPERPOWER: PASSION WITH PURPOSE

    OUTFIT OF CHOICE: THE BYTE SIZE TEE AND SPACE INVADER JOGGERS 

     

    LS: Tell us your story...(with all the hiccups)
    NK: Well, to keep it short and sweet… I have been blogging about sustainable fashion for 5.5 years, but have been interested in the topic for several years before beginning Sustainably Chic. I studied fashion in college, and couldn’t stand the amount of waste and unethical treatment I would come across in random articles online. I ended up taking a course on sustainability and fashion, and loved merging the two together to make myself feel more excited and hopeful about the industry. 
     
    LS:  Was there a defining moment that led to the creation of Sustainably Chic?
    NK: I needed an outlet to talk about a topic I felt very passionate for. I wanted to learn more and connect with others online.  

    "I feel like I am constantly playing this juggling game, and some days, I don’t want to work anymore. I love being a mom, and I’m fortunate enough to stay home with him.. but, I still need to make money. I’m having an easier time asking for help these days!?"

     

    LS: What are some of the toughest challenges in being a full-time blogger and mom? How have you overcome them?
    NK: Finding balance! I feel like I am constantly playing this juggling game, and some days, I don’t want to work anymore. I love being a mom, and I’m fortunate enough to stay home with him.. but, I still need to make money. I’m having an easier time asking for help these days!
     
    LS:  What do you think is the most difficult aspect of embracing a sustainable lifestyle, especially as a parent? What would your advice be to parents wanting to make that change or trying to start their own sustainable projects?
    NK: You feel stretched thin a lot, and when you are exhausted, it is hard to put in the effort to be more conscious about food, clothes, household products, etc. And I have it easy compared to a lot of moms. My best suggestion is to take it slowly, and look at one eco change a month. 

    "Honestly, I would like to take more breaks. I feel too connected sometimes" 

    LS: What would would you like to do more of in the sustainable space?
    NK: Honestly, I would like to take more breaks. I feel too connected sometimes. I want to focus on my family, and all the little things I could be doing in my community. 
     
    LS:  What would you like to see more of from sustainable children's brands?
    NK: I love that some brands are doing ‘pre-loved’ sales, so once you are done with their clothing, you can sell it back for them to resell on their website. 
     
    Boy in Organic Byte Size tee
    LS:  What do you want the future to be like for your kids?
    NK: I don’t want them feeling like they have to clean up everyone else’s mess. I hope things are less complicated, but I feel that is too much to ask for. 
     
    LS: What will you do with Elliot's outfit once he outgrows it?
    NK: I will save it for the next one ;)
     
    NK: How does it feel to be recognised as a game-changer?
    LS: I still feel so small in this online sustainable community, but I have met lots of wonderful people throughout the years who have told me they have learned a lot from my site and I’ve helped their purchasing habits. It makes me feel like all the hours have been worth it, but the fight will continue and we need more people to join in. 
    Follow: @sustainblychic

    The same-sex couple raising two beauties...

    The same-sex couple raising two beauties...

    PLAYER 3: LISA & FAM

    SUPERPOWER: RELENTLESS DETERMINATION

    OUTFIT OF CHOICE: THE SPACE INVADER BABYGROW AND ALIEN SWEAT DRESS

    I am one half of a same-sex female couple raising two beautiful children. My partner and I met 12 years ago as slightly wild, rock music-obsessed young(ish) women without a care in the world.

    "I MEAN HOW DO YOU EVEN START WITHOUT HALF THE REQUIRED BIOLOGY ON TAP?"

    The weekend nights out and ‘gay’ scene very soon became tiresome and we longed to see a bit of the world and then settle down. We travelled to Thailand, South Africa, East and West Coast USA and lots of European countries. About four years into our relationship one of our best friends had a baby, we visited, we held the baby and we both looked at each other - at that moment we knew as soon as we held that baby that that was what we wanted. As a gay woman thinking about having children isn’t something I thought would be possible, in fact up to that very point I hadn’t even considered it. I mean how do you even start without half the required biology on tap? And who has the money for IVF? I am one for a challenge however and I frantically researched how we could achieve a dream of our own child. It was possible, it could happen, we just needed to have faith and commit. 

    "YOU THINK IT’S THE WORLD TRYING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING; YOU THINK IT’S YOUR FAULT; YOU THINK IT’LL NEVER HAPPEN AND MONTH BY MONTH YOU LOOSE THE EXCITEMENT, YOU LOSE A BIT OF YOURSELF" 

    Our conception journey took a long four years, we both tried to conceive and failed time and time again - this was financially, physically and emotionally draining.  You think it’s the world trying to tell you something; you think it’s your fault; you think it’ll never happen and month by month you loose the excitement, you lose a bit of yourself.  The journey was heartbreaking, I think wanting to have a baby and it failing at every try is soul destroying and I can not send enough love to those struggling to conceive. It is the one thing in life you want but can not achieve through hard work and determination - it is down to biology. Finally, four long years later and after uncountable procedures, I fell pregnant and had a beautiful baby girl and now three and a half years later have just given birth to a little boy. As same-sex soon to be parents we obviously thought about acceptance.  How our child and we would be accepted in certain circles; would our child be bullied; how would we introduce the fact we are a gay couple to other parents; is it fair on the child and were we strong enough? 

    "IT’S NOT ACCEPTABLE THAT PEOPLE HAVE TO HIDE THEIR TRUE SELVES BECAUSE OF OTHER'S VIEWS."

    We are very lucky to live in a time where gay people are more accepted than they were some years ago, but at the same time people are cruel and there are still people and places where our sexuality would result in bullying, bodily harm or worse.  It’s not acceptable that people living in certain countries could never have what I have now without fear of or actual harm coming to them. It’s not acceptable that people have to hide their true selves because of other's views.  
     
    We are lucky to have met some amazing people since becoming parents, we haven’t had any negativity and I’d love to think it will stay that way but I’m not that naive that I can nonchalantly ignore the potential that it might change. I hope this world and the people in it continue (at a faster rate) to develop acceptance of differences and more so embraces them. I hope my children are a part of the change and they encourage those around them to be the people that embrace differences and protect those that are at risk.   
     
    To anyone out there in the same position and thinking about embarking on a journey to become parents in a same-sex couple - it’s possible, it’s worth it - parenthood has changed our lives and we couldn’t be happier. 
       
    Follow: @theearlyyears_ on Instagram

    The Amazing Abigail Grace

    The Amazing Abigail Grace

    PLAYER 2: EM & KIDS

    SUPERPOWER: UNSTOPPABLE HAPPINESS

    OUTFIT OF CHOICE: THE PIXEL MADNESS DRESS & COMFY PIXEL SWEAT

    LS: Tell us about your family and your journey...

    EM: Abigail is 5 years old and was born with Cerebral Palsy. My husband and I are very young parents, we had Abby when we were both 18 years old. For the first two years of Abby’s life, she was undiagnosed. We fought so hard to advocate for her until we finally landed in MWPH who listen to our concerns and provided all of the services for Abby that she had previously been denied. Once we did receive her diagnosis, it was both a heartbreak and a relief. At that moment we chose that we were going to encourage her to embrace her differences, rather than to just adapt to them. 

    LS: What were some of the exceptional challenges (internal & external) you & the kids faced and overcame? How did you get through it?

    EM: Every step of our life has been filled with challenges. The biggest challenge was initially advocating and learning how we could best meet Abby’s needs and give her the most independent life. 

    LS: What makes the challenges all worthwhile?

    He will encourage her, walk with her at her own pace, he even delivers her crutches to her. 

    EM: Abby’s positivity and determination inspire us most. She is always smiling and laughing, no matter the circumstance. She never gives up when she is trying something that challenges her. She has never let CP hold her back from anything that she wants to do! Liam’s patience is so inspiring as well. For all of his life, he has been a big ball of energy but at the same time, he knows he needs to slow down and check on Abby. He will encourage her, walk with her at her own pace, he even delivers her crutches to her. 

    LS: What do you want the future to be like for Abby? 

    EM: For Abby, our goal for her is independence and confidence. We want her to be proud of herself for how far she has come. We want her to look at her abilities and not focus on her disability. 

    LS: Being a #gamechanger means...

    EM: Being a #gamechanger means showing others that just because you’re different, doesn’t mean you can’t be amazing! 

    Follow: @amazingabigailgrace & @emandkids 

     

    The Single Mum Raising Two Mini Warriors

    The Single Mum Raising Two Mini Warriors

    PLAYER 1: CATHY

    SUPERPOWER: RESILIENCE  

    OUTFIT OF CHOICE: THE HUGEE

    LS: What were some of the exceptional challenges (internal & external) you faced? 

    CATHY: a) Being the only person (before my kids) with dwarfism in my family - the alienation, feeling like nobody understands, feeling angry that I came out this way, having nobody close to talk to with direct experience, etc. I got through it as I grew up but childhood was hard. I was raised in a white village in the countryside where I was very much NOT the norm, and other children didn't respond well to me. 

    "AS SOON AS I TURNED 18 I MOVED TO LONDON PURELY TO FEEL LESS 'VISIBLE'"

    I was a super sensitive child, and developed more of a thick skin as a teenager to deal with bullies, and as soon as I turned 18 I moved to London purely to feel less 'visible'. It worked, and I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

    b) Becoming a single parent - I felt I couldn't do it on a practical level, I wouldn't be able to physically carry my kids all day, to fulfill their needs, to get up at night with the baby then be with them both all day. I became a single mum when my youngest was 2 weeks old. But again, I did it. Initially, their dad helped quite a bit, but it was mostly me. I just took each day at a time. Tried not to overwhelm myself. Showered my kids with so much love, which in turn meant that they formed a deep bond from very early on. And every day it got easier.

    c) Studying while pregnant - I was studying and working full time while bringing my then-husband over from another country, moving across the UK, then becoming pregnant with my first baby. The studies were incredibly hard and stressful, and I began failing. When I looked at what I needed to prioritise, my health through the pregnancy, continuing to excel in my job, and earning well - at least on a short-term basis - were above studying. So I jacked in the studies. It's a shame but I don't regret the decision, ultimately it hasn't affected my career (thus far).

    LS: What about your journey as a mother is unique or would surprise people? 

    CATHY: It always surprises people that I manage it. Working full time, having offshoot businesses I'm trying to cultivate, dating, being a mum, keeping my house in order...it's a lot, but it's so worth it!

    LS: What would you say to mums going through similar experiences?

    CATHY: Prioritise yourself and set boundaries. Remove as much toxic behaviour from your life as you can. Don’t be afraid to be who you are and to take up space! Stop saying sorry for things that aren’t your fault. And... just enjoy being with your kids :) When I started reading about co-dependency it was a massive wake up call on who and what to prioritise in my life.

    LS: An example of how you and your girls make your own rules.  

    "WE MAKE OUR OWN RULES BECAUSE WE RULE OUR OWN LIVES."

    CATHY: We make our own rules because we rule our own lives. My girls have so much sass it's not true. I try to teach them not to pander to anybody, even at this age. Parents input way too much in what their children do - "oh go and give aunty a kiss", or "give that to X child, she wants it too". I try to teach them to be kind and gracious, but that should never be in replacement of actually having their own backbone and boundaries.

    LS: What do you want the future to be like for your girls? 

    CATHY: BRIGHT! I want my kids to dream big, and to work hard to achieve that - not necessarily academically, but whatever they need to do to get where they want to go. But more than that I want them to be accepting and loving of everyone, to be kind, to want to help others and learn new things, and to be tough as nails when those bullies rear their ugly heads.

    LS: How does it feel to be recognised as a #gamechanger?

    CATHY: Awesome! Thanks so much for recognising us. 

    Follow Cathy @thatsinglemum.