They moved to London from Singapore, now she edits Avocado Magazine, he’s an #instadad – @london_dad – and together they run a content marketing company SOCON while raising their daughter…
Gregory, 34, and Alice, 26, live in Wimbledon, south west London, with 19-month-old Etta.
Alice, you founded and run the brilliant Avocado Magazine – is this your full time job?
AC: Little bit of a long story, sorry!
Greg and I met in Japan, married in Singapore and moved to London when I was 34 weeks pregnant. I didn’t have any friends or contacts in the UK so not many job prospects – at least, not one that would let me work part-time while Etta was tiny and go home at 5pm everyday to pick her up from nursery – so I started my own content marketing company. I write content for people’s websites, blogs, magazines, brochures and products and put professional bloggers in touch with companies looking to get their products out there.
Avocado Magazine is definitely my passion project that I really hope to spend more and more time on going forward but SOCON is what buys the Ella’s pouches for now.
When did you start Avocado Magazine and what was your main aim?
AC: I started thinking about Avocado Magazine when Etta was first born but nothing really happened until her first birthday. I wanted to make friends with like-minded mamas and create a totally positive and uplifting environment to inform, inspire and encourage mums.
Did you already have writing/editing experience?
AC: I did English Literature at university, freelanced for a bit in Tokyo and then got my first ‘proper job’ with an online lifestyle magazine in Singapore. I totally fell in love with the online magazine concept and have been trying to recreate that for UK mamas.
How have you found the reception from mums?
AC: It has been absolutely amazing. I really don’t know what I was expecting but I have been totally blown away by the support from mums. I have a wonderful readership of fabulous women (and a few men) who have been so positive about the content I have been creating so far.
What do they like reading about most?
AC: I think we all have slight voyeuristic tendencies at times and the ‘Avocado Meets’ interviews have all had fabulous responses. Other than that I think mums like finding out about new and exciting brands and enjoy reading Avocado Magazine’s positive view on topics like working mums and postnatal depression.
Do you have any advice for other mums looking to set up a business after having children?
AC: It is hard and at times you wonder if you’re doing the right thing but my dream has always been to be able to make every ballet recital or rugby game (whatever she wants to do!) that Etta does and to never have to choose between my career and my baby. Working for yourself gives you options and the sweat and tears that it takes in the beginning will be worth it in the end.
Also make sure you put yourself out there – I am sooo shy and Greg literally had to force me to go to my first Mother’s Meeting business club but the support you get from other mums in a similar place to you is unbelievable!
My family moved around a lot when I was a kid but Tokyo was always home so I would love to go back
And Greg, you have a popular Instagram feed @London_Dad – documenting your time with Etta. You’re also a social media manager, content marketer and web developer – do you work for yourself?
GS: All of my online work comes under the umbrella of SOCON. My day job is much more mundane as an engineering recruiter.
Did your career path change after Etta was born?
GS: Prior to Etta, Alice and I lived in Asia where I worked as a foreign exchange broker. We made the conscious decision to come home and find careers that leant themselves better to a home life. Ultimately we both want to be home as much as possible but finding the perfect work-life balance seems to be pretty elusive.
Can you share three top tips for creating a great social media profile?
GS: I would say that the best tip I ever had came from Alice, which was to pick a theme and then run with it. I have an interest in black and white photography so decided that was the best ‘theme’ to go with. Occasionally something that deviates from this theme acts as a nice surprise to your followers and they tend to be some of the posts that create the most engagement.
GS: Secondly I would say that if your social media profile is there to promote a business, shop or magazine etc then focus less on the followers and more on the actual engagement. Having 10k followers means nothing if your followers are not actually stopping to look, like or comment on your posts.
AC: Probably not a tip I act on enough but try to engage with your following as much as possible – ask them questions and ask for their advice. By bringing your followers into your feed for more than just a double-tap, they will keep coming back for more!
How do you both manage work and childcare – do you have help, or is work squashed into naps/bedtime etc?
GS: For me it’s all about doing as much as I can when Etta goes to sleep without falling asleep at my desk. On the weekends we revolve around naptime to get two hours of work in during the afternoon.
AS: Until recently I was working in Etta’s naptimes and after bed but I’ve been getting way too tired so Etta starts nursery this month. It’s terrifying for me but I’m sure she is ready and will have loads more fun with her friends.
You both use parenthood as inspiration for your work (at least some of it). Did you envisage this happening before Etta came along?
AC: I really had no idea, I think parenthood sort of smacked us both in the face (in a good way) and has really inspired us.
GS: If you had known me pre Etta you would never have thought I would be the dad with a camera who is so proud of everything his girls do but like Alice says it just kind of grabs you. Being a father and husband are my two most enjoyable and rewarding jobs.
Are you able to separate time with Etta and working time (screen time)?
GS: To start with, I think we found it pretty difficult to do and thought that we could have the best of both. In reality we wish we had realised sooner that Etta time and screen time should be separated, if you try and parent whilst working then you’re not doing either well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always reading or sending an email and Instagramming whilst with Etta but my focus is her and if ever things don’t go according to plan then the phone goes away and we just hang out together.
AC: I completely agree with Greg – we tried to do both at once and it did work for a little while but as soon as she was up and about you need at least two eyes on her at all times.
Do you work for enjoyment, necessity or both? And if you were given the chance to drop everything and spend all your time with Etta – would you do it?
GS: Hmmmm… With anything there are some tasks that I love and some that I would just rather let someone else do it. I enjoy working but elements of what we do require us to be working every day, that includes Instagramming and Facebook posting on multiple feeds at Christmas, hungover and when you’re sick. I’m not a massive fan of scheduling apps so I guess that would solve my issues but find it’s a touch impersonal in a world where we are striving to be more real. I don’t think I could ever stop work, not to say I wouldn’t want to spend all my time with her but both our dads are still working at 60+ and it’s a good example to set: being driven to achieve what you want from life.
AC: I want to be a positive role model for Etta and I think that involves doing what makes me happy and showing her that she can be anything she wants if she works hard. I love working, it is necessary but I’m lucky enough to have found something that helps pay the bills and gets me out of bed every morning. That being said, if Etta ever needed me more than I need work then I would find a way to drop it all in a heartbeat.
Is London a good base for the three of you?
GS: We have lived in Tokyo, Singapore and London and when we found out Alice was pregnant there was nowhere else that we would have considered bringing her up. Wimbledon is a great mix of country and city life combined.
AC: Ummm… for now… haha – don’t tell Greg but I could see us going back to Asia one day. My family moved around a lot when I was a kid but Tokyo was always home so I would love to go back. But for now our home is here and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Any other comments on parenting, work, London, life….?
GS: I think that I always say it but as parents we are all in it together. I don’t think there is time for anyone being judgmental or arguing about the best way to do things. I think that’s part of Alice’s ethos with Avocado: nonjudgmental and genuine help and discussion and I hope that comes across with my Instagram. Being real and trying to laugh in the hardest moments – of which there has been many has been – is what’s got us to where we are today.
AC: I just want to say thank you – this is my first interview! Greg has done an interview for Avocado Magazine but outside of that I think it might be his first too. We love The Early Hour and are so excited to be featured. And also that we hope we can keep creating pictures and articles that make mums, dads and everyone in between smile.