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As part of our Mamas We Love series, the Children of the Tribe team spent the morning with publisher and Frankie, Smith Journal and Lunch Lady co-founder Louise Bannister, her husband Rick and their tribe. Louise and Rick first met while working as magazine editors and became great mates before they started dating five years later. For the past seven years, the couple has happily resided in the Byron hinterland where they are raising their three beautiful kids, Harriet, Pearl and Bon. Louise spoke to Children of the Tribe about the work/life juggle, the birth of Lunch Lady and the perils of social media.
You founded Frankie, Smith Journal and SPACES and have since formed your own independent publishing house, We Print Nice Things, and launched quarterly parenting book series, Lunch Lady. What has been a career highlight for you to date?
Starting Smith Journal was exciting - the Australian men's magazine market had nothing like it, so it was a thrill to create something different. Launching SPACES - an interiors book about where creative people work and play - was awesome too. Conceptualising Lunch Lady with Kate Berry and Lara Burke has also been a career highlight. Taking the parenting market and trying to offer something unique was challenging but satisfying.
How did the concept for Lunch Lady come about?
We discovered the Lunch Lady blog while working on a client job. Kate Berry had created the blog because her daughter was bullied at school for her homemade lunches and to help her daughter build her self-esteem, started posting recipes with beautiful food pictures. Kate would couple these recipes with relatable parenting pieces. Lara (my business partner) and I felt like the blog could be so much more, so we approached Kate who felt the same way. We worked on the idea of a quarterly book series that would take our skills as magazine makers and Kate’s skills as a foodie and photographer. We’ve published seven books so far and they really are such beautiful unique pieces of work. I’m really proud of them. We’ve also built a new Lunch Lady website. You can find the books here if you haven’t checked them out yet.
As well as a successful career, you have three young children. Can you share your thoughts on the work/life balance and how does it all work in your household?
Work/life balance is a constant juggle. When I’m tired or cranky and trying to fit in a week’s work in a few days, I become a bit of a shouty mum. Other days, when we’re organised, things run well. Three mornings a week we have to drop our kids at different locations - one is at school and the other two in different daycares - so we try to get everyone up and fed early so there’s limited tears on the way out the door. I’m on the school run home so it’s like cramming last minute assignments everyday. Lucky I was always a crammer at school and uni! The house is always in some state of chaos but my husband Rick and I are a good team. He reminds me to have fun, and I remind him where he put his wallet.
Did your children inherit your creative gene?
Well, my drawing has not improved since I was about seven, so they’re definitely overtaking me in that department. I think all kids are creative and my dream is for them to teach me how to be more creative!
What do you love about raising your babes in the Byron hinterland?
I love the community where I live. It’s taken awhile to make great friends, but we’re at a stage now - seven years in - where I feel like where I live is truly my home. I love the greenery and the many beautiful places you can discover - waterholes and bush tracks. But I also miss taking the kids to art galleries and the buzz of the city and look forward to visiting friends and families who live that way, too.
What has been the most challenging moment as a mother so far?
To be always present, always loving, always mindful, not shouty is challenging. Another challenge is travelling through the world of social media unscathed. We are consciously and unconsciously absorbing images of the perfect family lifestyle. More often than not it is an unrealistic representation of motherhood and can leave women feeling inadequate and excluded. When we started frankie it was mainstream magazines making women feel inadequate. Now it’s social media. For working mums and mums at home, life is a juggle and we should all give ourselves a big pat on the back for doing the best we can.
What is one of the most treasured moments you’ve shared with your kids?
Lately we’ve been having picnics on our lawn. I love this time as a family - the kids are happy, the sun is out and I don’t want to be anywhere else.
Your own mother was right about…
Studying philosophy at uni. I will never forget how much she convinced me to take the subject when I really did not want to. But it has helped me my whole career/life to see both sides to every decision and see the bigger picture most of the time.
How do you hope your children describe you in years to come?
As someone who would always listen with an open mind.
What are your three favourite attributes in a person?
Honesty, empathy and humour.
Describe the love of your life in a sentence.
Always there when I need him.
To you, motherhood is…
Challenging but awesome.
Interview: Amy Mills Images: Avalon Lane.