All photos: @susiejverrill Instagram
Susie Verrill is a writer, a mum and a blogger – with a seriously addictive Instagram account. She also knows how to take a brand from virtually unknown in the social-sphere to gaining 60k+ followers in the space of a few months – tried and tested (keep reading…)
Susie writes online about her still relatively new lifestyle as a parent. Having not found a parenting blog that really spoke to her (a mum that still loves Nikes and listening to house music) while pregnant, she took the bull by the proverbial ‘horns’ and set up her own: My Milo and Me. Susie’s experience of learning her trade, as a writer in publishing houses, has paid off dividends. Not only is her content alluring, it has integrity.
Susie sure has her own brand of parenting nailed. Ballsy, with swearing included, and potentially inappropriate mum outfits worn at the garden centre, you’ll find it all, and more, on Susie’s website and hugely successful Instagram page. I met the woman behind the blog a few months ago, when she was a judge at the Junior Design Awards 2016, which I managed, but we had been chatting for a while before that. I wanted to interview Susie for FashCatherine, because she inspires me, she makes me laugh and is the kind of person I hope to be when I become a parent, (one day soon, mum, I promise…)
You may also recognise Susie from the ‘papers, as she has recently spoken out about being the partner of Greg Rutherford, who recently stormed the Rio Olympics 2016. Susie chose to stay at home with Milo while he was working, (Susie and Milo were practicing in Greg’s at-home ‘sandpit’ – is that the technical term?!), and Greg came home to a rapturous welcome with his bronze medal for long jump to add to his collection – an incredible achievement.
Writer, Instagrammer, heavy machine operator… All part of Susie’s day job…
How would you describe your day job, and how much of your time does it take up?
Hectic! I’m lucky in the sense that I can grab my laptop and work wherever, but that also often means I’m battling against the noise of my three dogs, a toddler, my other half who works from home and every other distraction life throws. When I get to travel in to London it’s a welcome break! I try to get as much done while Milo has his nap but I’d say I probably spend around 4/5 hours during the day typing, replying to emails, attempting to put together sentences which make sense. A lot of my best work’s done late at night while everyone else is asleep because I can finally concentrate.
How did you reach the career position you are in now?
I wrote for free while working at a lettings agent before moving to London so I could intern at Nuts magazine. I slept on an air bed in my older brother’s apartment and survived on almost zero money – it was tough, to say the least! During working for a company who dealt in family trees to pay the bills, I networked my socks off and again, wrote for free for the likes of FHM, More, Rugby World until I’d gained enough exposure and contacts to land a proper job within IPC Media, again at Nuts. I worked as their social media go-to and bagged them 60k new followers in five months. I got completely stuck in. From there, I moved to Look magazine, before taking the freelance plunge.
My Milo and Me
What was your biggest setback, career wise, if you’ve had one,and how did you overcome it?
I wouldn’t say it was a set back as such, but going from having your own desk and a salary to freelance is terrifying. It’s a real learning curve and certainly not easy, there were times I applied for jobs and considered taking interviews because I was concerned I might not be able to earn the sort of money I’d hoped sat at home by myself. But it just takes time and a lot of effort and it can be done, I think you just need to have the confidence you know what you’re doing. Being your own boss can be daunting but then again brilliant if you give yourself the chance to let everything click in to place.
Did you ever feel held back in the workplace, because you are a woman? If so, how did you conquer that?
When I tell people I worked for a ‘lads mag’, there’s definitely an assumption it was a male orientated environment and probably a tad oppressive. Whereas in actual fact, while yes, there were more men than women, it was such an encouraging place to be, I absolutely loved it. The guys I worked with were intelligent and welcoming. It was like one big family and they encouraged the women in the office to have a say in everything. Funnily enough, it was actually while at Look I felt as though you had to be a certain ‘type’ of woman to succeed. I witnessed some pretty awful behaviour towards a girl I’m still friends with, who was funny, switched on, a great journalist (she now works for The Telegraph) all because she didn’t dress in a particularly feminine fashion. It was suggested we should wear heels to meetings and I found the atmosphere stifling, with women in no way supporting other women.
“Used to chat ‘I won’t post endless photos of my baby’.”
How did you gain confidence within your working role?
Moving to London from Dover was a huge leap because I didn’t have anything to fall back on and just had to make things work. I got confidence just from knowing I was within a job I loved. I hadn’t ended up somewhere just for the sake of money, I was paving my way in a profession I genuinely wanted to be involved in. It was great to hear after only a few months that I was considered a go-to within IPC for social media related work and it cemented I’d made the right move from leaving an awful office job for The Big Smoke.
How have you found the transition from being a couple to motherhood in terms of your job role – how are you juggling career and baby?
It’s definitely difficult. Anyone who says it’s easy either has a lot of help or accepts not everything can be done to the highest of standards! I don’t think you can ever fully have it all. I would say if I’m having a great day work wise, I’ll feel as though I’ve not been particularly very stimulating with Milo. If I think I’m nailing motherhood, work productivity will have hit an all time low. There’s such a guilt you’re not giving everything 100% and you’re spreading yourself thinly but you just have to let that slide and do the best you can.
Susie and Greg don’t always get to see each other all that much, due to Greg’s tough training schedule
Well done to Greg at the 2016 Olympics! People don’t see all sides of being the partner of an athlete, and can be judgemental, especially over social media – how do you respond to those people?
Thank you! Sometimes I have to bite my tongue. We’re happy with our lifestyle; we’re very comfortable, get to travel, have a lovely house in the countryside. Those who choose to tweet us with negativity are probably doing so because they’re unhappy with their lot in some way, plus not everyone’s going to like you. That’s just life! There’s a misconception that sportsmen have it easy because they don’t have ‘a proper job’, but, in reality, while there are perks, there are also huge sacrifices for the family as a whole. It’s not just a case of working 9-5 and having the weekend off. I get that people don’t understand and that’s fine, it can just sometimes be quite frustrating.
What would you say to women who are interested in starting a career in the media industry?
I like to think media’s more forward thinking than a lot of other professions, and that women are taken just as seriously as their male counterparts, which is, of course, great. There are some fantastic role models now; the likes of Caitlin Moran, Emma Gannon, Sali Hughes etc. Women have just as much of a voice as men and we’re starting to get noticed, which is great. Also, don’t feel as though you can’t self promote the heck out of everything – you totally can!
Showing the ‘real’ behind the Instagram – Susie isn’t afraid to talk turkey
Do you find it hard to switch off from social media?
I don’t find it hard, but I have realised that I tend to almost subconsciously reach for my phone when my hands are empty even though I’ve only checked my emails/social media accounts two minutes before. It’s almost an impulse!
How ambitious are you? Are you still striving for more success? How?
I’m definitely ambitious and I’m hoping to have my first fictional book (for young adults) done and dusted by Christmas, so I can attempt to get it out there next year. I’d love for my children to grow up knowing that both their parents put effort in to their work and were individually successful. I’m gradually getting settled in to the blogging world, and I’m really happy with how it’s going so far. I only see it getting better from here, and it really excites me.
Milo has one of the most enviable collection of baby leggings EVER
What is your favourite/best social media tool?
It was Twitter, but now it’s Instagram. I LOVE the new stories feature too; it makes so much more sense for me to use that rather than Snapchat (although gosh, do I miss the filters).
Those leggings, though…
Read the other interviews in our ‘women inspiring women series