Established in June 2014, MamaMag started life as a little monthly magazine for 5,000 mums in the Bayside council area. Fast forward 5 years and MamaMag has grown to four local publications, with 50,000 copies, across the whole of Metro Melbourne and has quickly cemented its place as Melbourne’s favourite local mums magazine.
We chat to Editor-in-chief Sarah Cavalier about how it all came about…
My background is in graphic design and I’ve been running my own design business, Grizzle Design, for almost 15 years now. I started with a small shared studio in Albert Park and I was commuting an hour each way, each day, from the Macedon Ranges where I was living with my then husband. When I fell I fell pregnant with my first child Lachie, I moved my business home and worked on it part-time.
Where previously I had had the best of both worlds, country and city life, I was now struggling to find a happy balance, trying to be a good wife, a mother to two children who never slept well and business owner in my isolated home office all at once. As hard as I fought my unhappiness it all proved too much and as a result my marriage fell apart in 2012. That’s when I moved back to Melbourne.
Having not worked full time since the kids were born I suddenly found myself without both a husband or full time income. I could happily live without the first, but I had two small kids to support so steady income was essential. With two young children (almost 2 and 4 at the time) it was a big move but I managed to get through it, working hard to support them whilst trying to re-establish my life in Melbourne.
I started rebuilding my design business and supplementing my income with some freelance work but it was hard to make ends meet. I also felt I needed a new challenge to go with my new life, something that complemented Grizzle Design but inspired me as well. Returning to live in Brighton (we spent the first 2 months at my mum’s), I had found everything had changed. Old friends had moved away or didn’t have kids. I had no local mothers group anymore so I found it hard to find ways to connect with local mums. There was simply no local support for a new mum in the area. Suddenly I realised that this gap in the market was the opportunity I was looking for to reinvent my career and that’s when I decided to create MamaMag.
What was your initial vision for MamaMag and how has that evolved?
Initially I just wanted to create something fun and local for mums to read whilst giving local businesses a new place to get great local exposure to a really targeted audience. I thought it would be a fun and exciting project to run that would complement my existing design business. But it’s become so much more. MamaMag has allowed me to meet so many amazing mums and locals in business and I love having a platform to be able to help showcase their ideas. I introduced the Mama of the Month article off the back of this, wanting to share all these fabulous mum’s stories with the readers in the hope they might inspire other mums to try something new after having kids. Whenever a business contacts me for advertising I always look at their business and say “Hey, we would love you to advertise (after all the ads are the only place the magazine gets funding and I need to feed my kids!), but where else can we get you involved so you get the best exposure to our local mums.” If it’s a toy shop I get items to use as prizes in our colouring comp and pop their details in there, if it’s a café I encourage them to submit a recipe to share with our readers. I work with local bookshops publishing book reviews, and of course I love local businesses writing articles as it gives the mag great content and it gives them another outlet to get their name out there as well.
Some say the first two year is the toughest in business startups – yet you launched four mags in that time – what has kept you strong and motivated?
I love what I do. There is never a day that I don’t want to work on MamaMag. I wish I had more days in the week to make time to make this magazine even better. My children keep me strong. They have become an integral part of MamaMag and my biggest fans. Poor Lachie can’t work out why he never wins the colouring comp though!! And every time we go somewhere Milla always says “Mummy, take a photo and put it in the magazine”. She loves her 5 minutes of fame!