An honest discussion with Samara Nichols about looking for the key to a good work life balance, keeping sane when it’s all going on and finding a method somewhere amongst the madness.
Sam has balanced a high paced career as a Media Journalist in the city with being a mother of three young children, turned her hand to running her own business in PR managing high profile accounts and some top clients and currently resides in Spain where she has initiated the launch of her own lifestyle magazine Marbella Rocks. Launching in June 2014 Sam’s newest venture promises to be your go to guide on all things on trend and on the go in her new Spanish home.
Quite where she finds the time and the energy is anybody’s guess but we talk now about the reality of balancing motherhood and a career, the joys, the sacrifices and as much of everything else we can squeeze in between!
A PERSONAL FRAMEWORK:
Q: So Sam firstly could you begin by giving us a brief rundown on your background. Your personal route and training into Journalism and your early career? What drew you into training as a Journalist initially and what was it that you enjoyed the most?
I took English Literature, Language and Media at A-Level then specialised in a three year Journalism Course at Cardiff University. Whilst there I became Editor of a local magazine called the Student Pages where I wrote and ran a magazine with 8 staff. I was also President of the Journalism Society. I loved journalism as I felt it was a form of self-expression, I enjoyed writing and reporting on subjects that mattered most to me.
Q: When you started your family what were the challenges and the realisations as far as work was concerned and how did you process and tackle them?
I realised something had to give, was that going to be my children or my work for a time? When I realised it had to be work because being a successful journalist was not a part-time job and I could not be a part-time mum, I happily went into freelance journalism work.
Q: When did things change for you and at what point did you realize you were going to make the transition from Journalism into PR and set up your company Pink PR?
I was a journalist for 10 years altogether. When I was doing freelance journalism to support my daughter I got a phone call from a friend in PR offering me a job, I took it because the client was a record label, the PR was interesting and I enjoyed writing the press releases and speaking to all my old journo mates. Setting up Pink PR was a natural progression because I had the clients and contacts from 10 years in the business.
Q: Your newest venture ‘Marbella Rocks’ seems like a fantastic way to combine all of your previous experience and realise your own ambitions whilst balancing life at home. However I’m sure it still comes with its own challenges. What are your hopes for this new project? Can you tell us a bit more about it and what we can expect?
A good friend in Spain suggested I set up the magazine saying there was a gap in the market. I believe this is true, from market research there is no young, fun, clubbing magazine in Marbella that reflects the people that live and/or party there. I’m planning to do Marbella Rocks in year one and to launch Gibraltar Rocks in year two. If all goes to plan I want to launch magazines all over Spain and then top cities like London, Paris and New York. Half the content will be local, half global so it could easily work in numerous territories. I honestly don’t believe this new business venture will ever compromise my duties as a mother because I give my heart and soul to my kids. When the children are at school, I work, when they’re at home I play with them. I also tend to do a lot of my writing after the kids are in bed so I can have some peace and quiet!!
Q: What have been the high points for you both as a mother and within your career? Could you share some of these with us? The moments that make it all worth it?
The highest point is having three healthy, beautiful, kind, caring kids. Since our move to Spain almost two years ago I have also been so impressed with how the older two are fluent in Spanish, the youngest is also getting there after only one term in the Spanish system. It amazes me how well they’ve got on. My highest career point was winning best editorial at the Journalism Awards and making it onto the top national newspaper, The Guardian. Although with journalism every time your story makes the front cover you still get a massive buzz!
ON THE ROCKS:
Q: As a young Mum with an ambition to continue making waves in business and your career have there been points where you’ve felt like you were losing control having to balance so much? What have been the biggest challenges?
Not really actually. I thrive on being busy and can happily cope with the demands of my family and work life. The only one thing I’d say is that raising children is the hardest job I’ve ever had to do. Especially when I had three children under 4... there is no reasoning with toddlers and their tantrums. It makes dealing with everyday working life seem like a doddle!
Q: What are some of the most important lessons you have learnt over the years that have helped you to reach the point you’re at now?
Work hard and never give up. Despite having a degree from a respected journalism university and work as an Editor, I still found it hard to land my first break. Three months and a whole lever arch file full of rejection letters later, I got a lucky break with Emap Publishing when I introduced myself to the Editor at a launch party I went to. Be warned, it’s easy to get unpaid work experience - harder to land a job in journalism and other media related careers!
Q: What is it that you thrive on – what keeps you motivated and keeps you going during the working day?
Every day is different, so there are new subject areas to explore and write about. Also journalism is a very sociable job and I thrive on meeting new people and finding out all about them.
Q: When there is work to do, children to entertain, a house to look after and all the other bits and bobs in between that I’m sure add to the often daily chaos that you and other young mothers/fathers have to deal with, what to you do in order to regain control and meet the expectations that you have set yourself for the day?
Working mothers and fathers lives are a complete juggling act. To cope I always try and stay calm and have to do lists so I prioritise jobs for the day. It helps that all three of my children are in full time school so I have more time to concentrate on my business. I also have an au pair that can help with the mundane household chores like emptying the dishwasher, hanging laundry etc so I get as much time as possible in the office when the children are at school.
Q: As part of each interview in this series I would like to delve a little further into the individual and their personal relationship with their chosen profession or the journey we are discussing. Could you give us the lowdown on one relevant item/thing that has helped to inspire you? This could be a book, film, TV show, song – absolutely anything that you feel has inspired you along the way and relates to what you do.
My father worked in magazines and when I used to visit his offices in London I was in awe of the city and the magazine industry. Everyone seemed so buzzy and professional that I knew from a very early age I wanted to follow his career path.
DIRECTION AND ADVICE:
Q: What practical advice could you offer any young mothers and fathers currently faced with the realities and decisions that you have had to make in the past? If you could mentor yourself as you were, say 5 years ago what guidance would you give?
Work out exactly what you can manage with your time. If you don’t envisage being able to work full-time and take care of the family, so that neither suffer have a rethink about what career path you can choose. My very successful friend was a top fashion stylist and had a daughter 6 years ago. She couldn’t face leaving her at home to travel to London everyday so decided to retrain as a teacher. She is really happy as she teaches at a local school, can still work on various fashion events as a sideline in the holidays and she has time in the week to spend with her daughter.
THE FINAL SWEEP:
Many thanks to Sam for such a great insight into what is a very busy lifestyle both as a Mother and as Editor of her own exciting venture. Sam demonstrates that if you have faith you can still realise your potential and your ambitions even if you are balancing the demands of a busy life at home. Her love for her children and the importance of devoting valuable time to them when they are around, making work off limits and making time to play is balanced with finding the time to realise the expectations of her business through organisation, list making (you know I’m a fan of that!) and keeping calm on the inside! Not easy but something to truly respect and admire.
If you find yourself in Marbella be sure to get the lowdown on what’s happening in the Costa’s capital via Twitter: @Marbella_Rocks
Look out for the Marbella Rocks magazine launching in June 2014.