Originally Featured on The Buzz Writer – 16th November, 2015

 I AM Mag 001I AM Magazine  … Established in 2011, and was created out of an obsession for magazines, digital media, design, writing and health and fitness – all things Editor Samantha Jane is truly passionate about.

Tell us about your business

I AM Magazine is a digital publication with a passion for health, fitness and inspirational stories. We find people who are stepping outside of their comfort zones to find where happiness truly lies in their lives. We write these stories in the hope that we can reach out and inspire others to do the same.

Why did you start your business?

I was at a cross roads in my life. After my 2nd child I realised that I really didn’t know who I was, and by not knowing who I was, I was missing my purpose. I believe everybody needs purpose to feel happy in life. When I say ‘purpose’ I mean in the passionate sense. Women especially are very quick to give to others and forget themselves which can lead to all sorts of horrible unhappy times. This was something i was experiencing – I didn’t know what my ‘I AM’ was… The ‘I AM’ that was just for me.

What do you love about your work?

Writing and just being creative. I am an artist by true nature. I paint, I draw, I write – I create. I love creating!

What do you want to be known for?

I want to be known for bringing joy to people’s lives. Helping people through tough times. I’ve been to some pretty dark places myself and I know how terrifying and lonely that can be. I want to help people out of those holes.

What are you aiming to achieve in the next 12 months?

The ability to work from home. I want to be with my children instead of running by a clock that says I need to be somewhere else.

What is the best piece of advice for someone who is thinking of starting their own business?

Don’t expect miracles. start your love job and accept it as the reward. Learn to pat yourself on the back and most importantly Never Give Up. Businesses fail only when people give up.

The best business advice I have ever received was from the Founder of Seafolly, Peter Halas. During an interview he told me the story of how he and his wife started the Seafolly brand. How it actually started as something completely different. It had a completely different name and they were trying to cover a broader area of the ‘resortwear’ market. It wasn’t going that great for them – so he did what all dedicated and truly passionate business folk do, he re-branded. He changed the name of his company and focused in on a niche market. He stopped trying to cover all bases, receiving mediocre business growth, and started focusing on a niche which brought him exceptional business growth. He said, “work out what nobody’s doing and go and do that!”

I AM_logo






Originally Featured on The Buzz Writer – 2nd November, 2015

Raw Edge Boutique_profileRaw Edge Boutique is a Women’s Retail Fashion Store offering a Fusion Of Luxe Bohemian Day Pieces and Classic Night Time Fashion.

Justine Blake and Alicen Lewis, inspired by a combined passion of fashion and retail, established Raw Edge Boutique

The boutique offers a fusion of wearable classic and luxe bohemian pieces, a reflection of their personal styles. Raw Edge showcases a variety of labels, affording every demographic access to casual day and nightwear.

Raw Edge aims to remain at the forefront of fashion, providing their customers with the latest trends and designers

The stand-alone boutique in Miranda intentionally avoids high traffic areas in favour of a more out of the way location. This ensures the Raw Edge concept is not compromised, creating a destination and shopping experience unto itself.

Tell us about your business

Raw Edge Boutique Is A Women’s Retail Fashion Store Offering a Fusion Of Luxe Bohemian Day Pieces and Classic Night Time Fashion.
Raw Edge Boutique is co-owned by Justine Blake & Alicen Lewis.

Why did you start your business?

We felt the Shire lacked a boutique shopping destination. Raw Edge is all about creating an environment that feels inviting while showcasing some of Australia’s newest labels.  A lot of our customers have loved discovering new labels and finding unique pieces to add to their wardrobes.

What do you love about your work?

Clothes, clothes and more clothes!!  The thrill of finding new labels and unique pieces and seeing how happy customers are when they leave. We have met so many amazing people. Also doing what you love, is a bonus!

What do you want to be known for?

The Shire’s number 1 shopping destination. Where luxe boho pieces can be mixed with classic wear to create a fusion of wearable day to night time pieces.

What are you aiming to achieve in the next 12 months?

To create a bigger presence in the Sutherland Shire and to direct a wider audience of fashion lovers to our web store:

What is the best piece of advice for someone who is thinking of starting their own business?

Do what you love so you always enjoy it.  Enjoy the successes, pick yourself up and keep moving on the down days. Try to network with people in the same industry its reassuring to know you are moving in the right direction and keep working towards the long term goals.

Raw Edge Boutique_Shop


Phone:     (02) 9531 0105


Address:    97-103 Miranda Road, Miranda NSW 2228


Open Hours: 10am-5pm Mon, Wed-Fri

                       11am-5pm Tuesday

                       10am-4pm Saturday

                       Closed Sunday

Facebook: –

Instagram: –


Originally featured on The Buzz Writer 19th October, 2015

Love by Five logo

Love By Five is a Children’s Lifestyle store located in the Sutherland Shire.

Brooke and Shannon are sisters born and bred in the Sutherland Shire with a passion for everything kids! Between them have five kiddies. So there came about the name ‘Love By Five

After having children of their own, they discovered a love for children’s fashion, bedding, toys, books – you name it.  They loved to spend hours trawling websites and social media to find the newest ‘thing’ for their kids. It was this love for the industry that led them to where they are today.

They opened Love By Five in Kirrawee, NSW in January of 2015, and they couldn’t have been more excited. Both being mums, they wanted to have a focus on the shop being ‘pram friendly’ so keeping a good amount of room to move around in the shop was important to them. They also loved the high ceilings, it gives such a beautiful feeling of big, open space.

Here, Brooke and Shannon share a little more around how and why they run Love By Five.

Tell us about your business

Love By Five is a Children’s Lifestyle store located in the Sutherland Shire of Sydney. We love to stock hard to find brands and unique items for kids not found elsewhere in the area.

Why did you start your business?

We are sisters who have always worked in retail, and have a passion for the Children’s fashion industry. It made sense for the two to merge, and we decided to take the leap and open our own business! We love dealing with customers in store and the social aspect of owning our own shop. We also love to shop, so buying for Love By Five is easy!

What do you love about your work?

We love dealing with customers in store and the social aspect of owning our own shop. We also love to shop, so buying for Love By Five is easy!

What do you want to be known for?

We want people to know they will find things at Love By Five that are new and unique to the area. We love the idea that customers will come to the shop for something different and out of the ordinary.

What are you aiming to achieve in the next 12 months?

With the recent launch of our online store we would love to expand on that and promote the website. We already have many orders coming in from overseas so would love to also push that side of the business. The shopfront is our main priority, so we will be concentrating on getting the best goodies in store for our lovely customers!

What is the best piece of advice for someone who is thinking of starting their own business?

Just do it! You only live once! If it’s something you love and have always wanted to do, you can’t die wondering! There’s no better reward than going to work everyday doing something you love.

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Phone:             02 9521 2147


Address:          12 Marshall Road, Kirrawee, NSW


Open Hours:   9.30-4pm Mon-Fri

                        8-2pm Saturday

                        Closed Sunday


Instagram:     @lovebyfive

Pinterest:       byfive


Well, October is well an truly over, and I have finished my month of posts for Mental Health Awareness month. I have shared a lot about what goes on in this crazy little head of mine. Hopefully some of it has helped some of you to feel ‘normal’.

I would really like to thank every one who contacted me in their own little way to show support, share a similar story or just reach out. Anxiety and depression is only going to be easier to deal with when you let yourself be vulnerable enough to allow others to help. The voices in our heads are there to test us, and we have the power to turn the volume down.

It is so wonderfully okay to feel low. It is also a treat to feel good. You will survive both emotions and all the little twinges in between.

Don’t worry I’m not going to stop writing. I won’t be writing every day, but I am going to make the effort to write more often than I was. It is such good therapy for me.

And as always, I would love to hear what you are going to do to help improve your mental health.

Thanks for joining me!


Through this entire journey I didn’t want to be fake. I didn’t want to write just for the sake of writing. I feel fake enough in my day-to-day when I’m putting on a happy face, even when I’m not entirely feeling it, that I didn’t want to pretend here as well.

This week I was happy early on, yet yesterday I felt flat. Not high, not low – just flat.

And it is at those moments when I have zero motivation.
Where does motivation come from? Why does it change?
For whatever reason, I didn’t have it yesterday. So instead of giving you crap, I stayed silent.
Today I travelled into the city to listen to a few of my idols speak about their publishing journey. And it inspired me. Inspired me to keep going even when the times are tough. To be real. To be honest. To be authentic.
Because if I’m not me, who would I be?
Being me is all about being comfortable over fashionable. At times I doubt my attire as I felt completely underdressed – as an example take today’s event. Everyone was in spring dresses, lacy tops and high heels. I was in jeans, flats & a white shirt. I threw a pink scarf on at the last minute for colour. I felt like I had just stepped out at the races, and hadn’t got the note about dressing up.
But as a friend pointed out, I was comfortable in what I was wearing, and I was showing my true personality. My casual clothes are a part of who I am. My brand. My statement. And I wear it well.
It has taken me years to realise that I rock casual wear. I wear it all year round, and am not ashamed to say I only wear heels for BIG events. Weddings & the Races. That’s it. Any other time I’m in flats.
I always want to dress more ‘girlie’ but any time I put on what I think I should wear, it doesn’t sit right, looks like I’m trying to be someone I’m not, and basically makes me uncomfortable. And in the end, I go for what I thought would work in the first place.
If you don’t feel comfortable in what you are wearing you don’t feel confident. So be confident in your style. No one can own it like you.

Three years ago, my daughter started school. And surprisingly for me it felt like it was my first day at school as well. Not only did my daughter have to make new friends, and start a whole new chapter in her life, but so did I.

And it was something I never expected to experience. That first day at school feeling.

I was working four days a week at the time my daughter started school. It meant having to take a week off work, just to be able to be there for the late starts and early finishing times. The second week I went back to work and we had to use before and after school care. It was stressful even though my daughter had been in long day care since she was one.

My daughter had her own anxiety to deal with around separation, and new environments, plus it was twice as hard as at the time she was the only kindergarten in attendance. I remember the entire first term, and part of the second term, there would be tears every single morning. Even on the days when she wasn’t in care. It broke my heart that I was so far away that first year, working in the city and missing out on all the little things that go on during school. We barely even had a chance for playdates, except when attending a birthday party on the weekend.

I would really only see other mothers upon drop off and pick up from care. It became that in that first year I barely knew any body. Honestly it wasn’t until I left my full time job to work on my own business, that I actually felt I had the time to form relationships with the other parents.

There is this scary unknown that first year of school. You stand out in the playground waiting to collect your little one, not really knowing who to strike up a conversation with. Slowly over time you get to recognise the faces, though remembering all the names takes a big while longer!

Next year we are about to do it all again. Though the second time round you know a handful of parents because of the older siblings. Iu can definitely admit that it is not quite as scary this time around, though my son has already cried at not knowing where to go, or what to do during orientation. Yes, we are the family with the crying child – funnily enough it happened the exact same way with my daughter as well.

My little man is off to school next year, and I officially say goodbye to my baby. I know I’ll shed a tear or two, so forgive me if I don’t remove my sunglasses that first day of school. What am I going to do with all that ‘spare’ time…?

Anyone fancy lunch?

Ahhhhh. That was nice. Three days off from my computer. I don’t remember how long it has been since I did that.

Running my own business sure has a way of taking up all of my ‘spare’ time. That is once the kids are dropped off, hubby is at work, and I can finally concentrate.

A few things have happened for me over the last few days too. Very small things, but worth mentioning just the same…

On Friday morning I finally went back to group training at the gym. The first time for me in around two years. Yes I have been going to my weekly PT sessions, but I had not been participating in any training sessions – oh other than the tiny ones I would set myself the task of completing (and then promptly find a reason as to why I couldn’t do it that week).

So last week, I made a promise to myself that I would join my bestie at group training on Friday. And I almost didn’t get there.

Firstly I got up at 7.30am – I know, it is a sleep in for our house too, hubby wasn’t working that day so I managed to skive off the breakfast duties with the kids – said good morning to the kiddies, then went & got changed into my gym gear.

Left the house by 7.55am to head to my sisters to drop off some keys. On the way down to her place (which is 5 minutes away from the Gym), my brain started thinking up ways to miss the session.

You could always go and have a late breakfast somewhere and come home around the time you would if you actually went to the session… No one will know.

Just start next week. Or the week after that.

No one will miss you if you don’t go.

To which I had to turn up the radio to ignore my thoughts. I arrived at my sisters had a chat, a coffee, and then had thirty minutes to spare. My brain started again.

You don’t need to go.

What’s the point? You are so unfit anyway. You won’t be able to run. You’ll end up in pain. 

You a big fat scaredy cat who hates being in large groups… why would you even want to put yourself through that uncomfortable situation?

Just give up…

It would have been so easy to use any of these excuses. And several times I actually thought – why not? But then I knew, deep, deep, deep, deep, DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP, down that I would feel better for going. I just had to get the monsters in my head to shush!

I left my sisters, and found a park not far from the gym. I walked (ever so slowly) to the entrance and then the receptionist saw me. There was no backing out now. I was stuck. There was visual evidence of me being at the gym.

I paid, dumped my bag, then realised I hadn’t brought a hat or sunglasses – and the gym had sold out of visors. Another excuse to pack my bag and go home. Instead I walked back outside, sat on the steps and put my head in my hands trying to drown out the voices.

Moments later I spotted my bestie and her two kids heading to the front steps. I got up quickly and started helping her put the kids into creche and get herself ready. I told her I had forgotten everything and wouldn’t you know it – she had a spare visor in her bag.

That shut the voices up pretty quickly and I finally smiled. I was shitting myself on the inside, worried I was going to be a disaster, that I wouldn’t be able to keep up, but I tried not to show it.

An hour later I was sweating, sore and out of breathe. Dying from a hard session – but grateful I had persisted and made it through. I was a wreck. I was hopeless. It was VERY evident that I had not trained for some time. But at least I did it. And, I wasn’t the only one who struggled in the group. Thank goodness!

The rest of the day I spent in recovery mode – which means I showered and sat on the lounge watching movies with my little guy all day. I told you I was wrecked!

Saturday we spent at home fixing up inside and out on those annoying little jobs you never get time to do. The kids got picked up mid afternoon for a sleep over at their grandmas, as hubby and I were heading into town to see Russell Brand live.

So we had some quiet time and watched a whole movie without interruptions – it really is the little things.

We got ready, headed into town for a bite to eat at this hidden little Japanese restaurant. Honestly if we hadn’t of been there before years and years ago – we would’ve thought it was super dodgy. But it wasn’t. What they didn’t spend on material decor, they spent on iPads for each table that displayed the menu. You ordered directly via the iPad and the kitchen received the order. Minutes, and I mean minutes, later your order was delivered to your table.


On to the main event and hubby and I laughed our guts up. It had been a while since we had been on a date night and we really enjoyed it. Laughing like we hadn’t laughed in a while at Russell Brand tell stories and entertaining, whilst delivering a non-political, political message. If that makes sense?

Sunday was all about family. We got to celebrate my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary. Unlike many things these days, we had all managed to keep it a surprise, so that when they arrived there were shocked faces, lots of laughter and hugs all round.

So my weekend was made up of a lot of things – family, exercise, laughter, friends and rest – all the things that help me in my day-to-day. All the things I need to keep my anxiety and depression at bay.

And wouldn’t you know it, I am feeling good.

I am a stubborn little cow.

For so long I thought I had to nail this ‘Mum’ thing all by myself. I honestly thought I had to be able to cope with all the demands of motherhood on my own, alone, just me.

It has taken me years to realise that it takes more than just me to raise my kids. Yes, I needed to ask for help. Help from my hubby, help from my mum, my dad, my in-laws, my brother and sister, and their other halves.

I pushed away offers of help, I had to be in control, at all times, no matter what the cost to my health. I would obsess that anyone who looked after my kids wasn’t doing it ‘right’. I would write out instructions as to what had to happen when, sleep times, food, bottles, nappy changes. It had to be done my way or not at all.

The control was what I thought was keeping me sane, attached to reality.

When the truth was, it was just one more thing to cement in my mind that I was failing at. That I hadn’t given enough instruction, or hadn’t been clear enough to those looking after my babies.

From day care to grandparents, I had to have the routine down pat otherwise it wouldn’t work.

I would compare myself to those who didn’t have to work. I would think that because I had to leave my children each day, that I was losing precious time with them that I wouldn’t get back. I believed everyone was judging me for putting my kids in care. But then I knew I couldn’t cope with being home all day. I would literally go crazy.

Then comes the guilt. For not being able to handle my own children every day. For not being the best mum. For wanting to go to work to get some time off. What a cycle of negativity.

It has taken so much retraining of my brain with Psychologists to get to the point where I now realise that my kids need to miss me. They need to realise that I will leave and then return again. That I don’t have to be the one and only carer.

Over time, the need to keep control over my children in other care has subsided. I tell myself all the time that if I am going to get time to myself, or time off from the kids, that I need to let go of the hangups about others looking after my two monsters. That even if it is not the way I look after them, the fact I’m not in charge for even a little while is better for my brain than if I don’t take the break.

It has carried into the early years of my daughter going to school too. This year I have dealt with some severe loss in the family, and without the community of neighbours and parent friends from school, I could not have been there for the final weeks.

If I had not just let go of my anxiety around asking for help from friends and family, I would have regretted not being able to say goodbye. Sometimes it isn’t even about asking, but accepting an offer when someone puts it to you.

My first instinct is to always thank the person for the offer, but then turn it down. Not wanting to be a burden or letting go of that control. And I would still be that way if my friends hadn’t been truthful with me and hounded me to let them help. I finally caved and the sense of relief was enormous.

Children aren’t meant to be raised on their own. I realise this now. It takes more than the family unit to teach them how to grow up safe and strong, and build their beliefs. They need to experience others and how they run their own families to know that not everyone is the same and there is not one way to get the same result.

Time has, and is still, changing the way I believe what being a parent really is all about. No one tells you this stuff. Everyone just focuses on ‘When are you getting pregnant?’ or ‘When are you due?’. But no one tells you what a rollercoaster ride of emotions building your own family can be.

How you can be frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, adoring, nostalgic, ecstatic and the rest all in a matter of minutes. Especially at 2am with a screaming or sick child.

And the whole time you are always wondering what damage you are doing to your flesh and blood.

In the end they survive in spite of us. In the end they survive because of us.

I’m sitting back tonight and enjoying a movie at home. Taking the night off. Enjoying a beverage. On a school night, no less!

Shame on me. 

But it is no ordinary movie. It is Jurassic World. Yep I’m a bit behind the times, but who gets to go to the movies to see a movie that isn’t G rated these days!

So, I’m going to go nerd it up watching  the latest in the series… Ahhh Chris Pratt…

I was lucky enough to have lunch with my hubby today. He finished work early and I, as usual, was hard at work in my home office.

He brought us home a lunch of chicken and salad, and we sat at the table and ate lunch together.

Awwww…. I hear you all say, or maybe you just threw up in your mouth.

But as we ate, I asked him – ‘What should I write about today?’

His response was, ‘What about having lunch with your husband? You know, the little things.’

And that got me thinking.

Do you talk to anyone?

Have you told anyone how you are feeling? Have you just let it all out? Have you unloaded yet?

My hubby is lucky enough to listen to everything from me. Yes that’s right – L.U.C.K.Y.

(Sorry, that was just in case he reads this post today…)

Honestly though, if you don’t talk about how you are feeling, your troubles will continue to fester in your mind, and with every moment you spend thinking about it, the problem gets bigger and bigger.

Speaking up about your worries and anxieties helps alleviate the pain. Having someone listen to you can help you release some of your anxiety. They can be a sounding board or even the reality check you need to help you see a different perspective.

Our monsters in our head can really get the better of us. Especially, if we don’t let them out.

I wasn’t always so good at talking about me. It is genuinely one of the harder things to admit. Though I know it isn’t a weakness in me. It is a part of me. My Anxiety. We have learnt to live together.

And I have given it a voice. So now it doesn’t shout as loud, well at least not all the time.