Founder+ Editor-in-Chief / Wonderful Mama, a Thankyou community
The clouds parted and the stars aligned the day we met Emma Stewart. After shaking hands, the chemistry was instant. It was as if some invisible, magical thread was stitching us together, intertwining us forever, like love… yeah that’s it, it was like falling in love.
Emma is someone that you will never forget. Her demeanour, her poise, her insatiable laugh and her enviable career, it’s juicy and inspiring and gutsy. Her gentle caring nature, almost camouflages her insatiable thirst for business, and explains why Emma has grown her community to over 42,000 Instagram followers in just over a year.
Interviewing some of the country’s most famed starlets (such as Ashy Bines, Katie Richie and Erin McNaught) is standard for Emma in her job as the Founder + Editor-in-Chief of Wonderful Mama, a Thankyou community (an online magazine made just for mums). Born and bred in Sussex, UK, Emma comes from a family of strong, entrepreneur virtuoso’s and now calls Melbourne home. Always creating, always strategising, Emma spent her high school years at a girls convent school run by nuns. Beyond fearless in her life choices, Emma has deliciously followed her heart and passion, in every inch of her life, including starting Wonderful Mama in 2015, which is now a social enterprise and part of the Thankyou™ community, with 100% of the profits generated by advertising helping to fund life-changing programs around the world to help eradicate global poverty.
In this #careerstory you will learn to trust that inner voice, that tells you to GO, FOR, IT. You will also get a glimpse into the life of a women who is truly changing the world. Thank you for being you, Emma Stewart.
Hello Emma, we are so happy to have you with us today, can you please start by telling us where you grew up and how your experience has shaped the person you are, and the career that you are in today?
I was born and raised in the Sussex, England. A beautiful part of the world. I come from a passionately entrepreneurial background and a long line of women in business, so you could say, it’s in my blood. I’ve always had a passion for creating and initiating ideas. At the age of 13, I remember starting my first business. It was during on school holidays and it was an underwear company – which is rather odd for a 13 year old, now that I think about it. Although it didn’t get very far, it was enough to wet my appetite for this world of business. I am constantly thinking of ideas, and once I really capture its potential, it’s all consuming and there’s no stopping me.
Where did you go to high school and how was that experience for you?
My parents sent me to an all girl’s convent school run by nuns. While I hated it at the time, I look back on the experience fondly. It was a small school and I love that. Everyone knew everyone, and surprisingly for an all girl’s school, we all got on really well. I actually did really well at high school. It was pretty strict, as you can imagine, so I really had no choice but to knuckle down and get stuck into studying.
Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
Do you know… I’m not sure that it did. I never covered any business topics as that wasn’t even on the curriculum there. With regards to my role now, my parents actually completed both my final English Language and English Literature essays for me. Shhh… Don’t tell anyone! My mum got a B and my dad got a C which they still argue over to this day. So I never thought I’d be an Editor-in-Chief of a magazine where language and literature play such a key role in my day to day work.
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?
After school in the UK, you go onto College which is year’s 12 and 13. I honestly don’t know what happened. I went from a strict convent school to a public college in which I was given way too much freedom and clearly, I took advantage of that. I failed everything but Art. I studied Biology, Psychology, Art and Business. My parents paid for me to go to another tutorial college in my second year. Wasting a fair bit of money, I quit half way through the year to go and travel to Australia. There’s a lot of pressure in those years to make this huge decision that will shape your career and I guess it threw me a little. I chose biology because I secretly would’ve loved to have been a doctor, but I don’t think I have the brains or the patience to do that. Psychology I was genuinely interested in, and enjoyed learning about. I loved Art and Design and I was actually pretty good at it. I took Business to help grow my knowledge of the more practical side of owning a business, but I can honestly say I cannot remember one of those classes – what I have learnt now; I have done so by jumping straight in to the deep end, I have found practical experience invaluable. Yes, I have learnt the most from my failures but actually experiencing what is written in those textbooks as opposed to reading about it was priceless. Tell us about your career journey so far. Who have you worked for, explain any career highlights? Being a bit of a serial entrepreneur, you name it, I’ve probably done it. Since school I have always tried to make businesses work. I am always thinking of ideas; I always had a note book of some sort, jotting down ideas that pop in my head. From fashion labels, event planning, floristry, any number of apps, catering, property business etc, there have been many flops but a few that really stuck. Before having children and moving to Australia, I started a property company which we successfully sold after 3 years. But my favourite by far has been Wonderful Mama which was recently acquired by Thankyou to become a Thankyou community. Wonderful Mama was something that I was truly passionate about. It was never about the money. It was about empowering and inspiring mums like me to be the best version of themselves not just as a mum but as a woman too. I love that I get to meet and interview so many inspiring people and help tell their stories.
How did you get into the job that you are in now?
After becoming a mum to my two gorgeous kids we moved over to Australia. Not knowing many people and with little family around, I wasn’t in the best place. I think I had lost some of my identity. I was living purely for my children and forgot about the woman I was pre kids. I needed some motivation and some inspiration to do something with my life. And I thought to myself, there must be other mums out there wanting the same thing. It turns out I was right! I started Wonderful Mama, a magazine made just for mums in May 2015. We cover topics from style, health, beauty, fitness, nutrition, careers and more, all focused on them as women rather than ‘just a mum’. Within a year of launching, Wonderful Mama had grown beyond belief and after building a relationship with the incredible founders at Thankyou, I made the decision to transition to becoming a social enterprise, now a Thankyou community, with 100% of profits from advertising and brand partnerships funding life-changing programs helping to eradicate global poverty. So while mums take a moment from their day-to-day lives to be empowered and inspired themselves, they are now simultaneously empowering positive change around the world.
Ahhh that gives us some serious Goosebumps, how amazing. What’s the hardest part of your job?
Time, the lack of it. Up until recently I have been juggling a few people’s roles including raising two young kids. There would be many nights where I’d be up past 2am still working away. It’s been tough but being so passionate about it, I gave it everything I had. Now we are in a position where our team is growing and we have some amazing people on board. It’s very exciting.
What does a typical business day look like for you at Wonderful Mama?
It’s so varied. Now we are a Thankyou community, I love that I get to hang out with this life changing group of people. If I’m not interviewing some really cool mum, or working with our amazing team of writers, I’m chatting with the Thankyou impact team on our latest projects or hearing from the innovation team on their new and exciting product ideas. It’s so inspiring. And then, at the end of the day I get to come home to my biggest inspirations… My family. They are my world and I love spending my afternoon/evening with them.
Who has been your biggest hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
Probably my own mum. She is an incredible business woman and I am so proud of her. She works so hard but it really pays off. One of our writers recently wrote an article about working as a full time mum.
She said, “I keep going because, even though I am not the world’s greatest mother or the world’s best wife, I am the mother and wife I am, unapologetically living the life we live. Unapologetically pushing the limits to raise my children with a drive to take on the world, to never give up or underestimate the person they are.” And that’s certainly how I was raised.
I wouldn’t be the business woman I am today if I didn’t have my mother as that role model, pushing limits and raising me with that drive to take on the world.
What advice would you give young girls that are interested in your career?
Go for it. If I, someone who didn’t even complete my English essays and failed all my exams, can do it, anyone can. You need to be passionate about it though. Being in business is all consuming and it’s hard work. Without a genuine interest in what you are doing, it’s so much harder to commit all those hours. When you love what you do, it’s easy.
Emma, can you please list your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration in your profession?
- Favourite Blogs or Websites: Wonderful Mama, a Thankyou community, of course ;)
- Books: Daring and Disruptive by Lisa Messenger, and Chapter One by Daniel Flynn
- People: I am extremely lucky to work under Daniel Flynn at Thankyou. I love watching how he thinks. Nothing is ever too big.
- Others: My family and the world around me. If I hadn’t become a mum, I wouldn’t have seen the need for a positive media source for parents. I am always on the look out for stories or people who inspire me.