And just like that here we are in the school holidays with eight whole weeks of juggling in front of us! We head off to France at the end of the week so I am in full on packing mode, quite the operation for a family of six!
Today’s mama is Lucy Evangelista, owner of Grace James Handmade. Lucy understands first hand how to cope with work and children, once Miss Northern Ireland and a commercial model working and living in London, she taught herself to sew when her daughter asked for a felt doll and so Grace James was born. I actually remember Lucy putting that little doll on Facebook all those years ago! It’s a pleasure to share an insight into her world.
Can you introduce yourself…
Love it or Loathe it?
I’m 50/50. I’m so grateful to meet my closest friends through Instagram and I love the community behind it. Since Instagram, I believe there is a pressure to look perfect, have the perfect life and home but we have to understand that it’s only just tiny snippets of someone’s life. It’s easy to make things look wonderful but I do think there should be more people showing real life. I would love it to go back to the way it was at the beginning.
What is your family set up?
I’m a mum to Leila Grace 6, Luke James 4 and a wife to Matt.
Where you live?
What do you do for work?
I would say a little mixture. I’m a work at home mum, small business owner and a self employed model. My main income is now making Liberty of London baby items from my living room table and I absolutely love it. A modelling job is now a luxury day off for me away from the children.
Three words that describe your household?
Creative, fun, with organised chaos.
Do you think you have a good work/life balance?
I’m getting there. My youngest starts school in September so I plan to work between the school runs during the week. From 2pm onwards it will be mummy duties until bedtime. At busy work periods, I will have a cup of tea after the kids go to bed and start work again around 9pm until midnight. My work load has recently doubled overnight and I found it extremely hard to do everything so I’ve hired a very talented seamstress to help during busy periods.
How do you manage to work/run a creative business around your kids?
Honestly, with difficulty. I work from home which means I can never close the door on my work. It’s usually in the back of my mind and I try to work whenever I get a few minutes here and there. Luckily my children are very creative, my daughter will sit happily for hours making something if I really need to catch up on work. On a Monday I have childcare until 4pm which means I have one full day to work childfree. The rest of the week it is working between mums taxi tours.
Any hard rules you stick to both in work & family life?
Have fun but I don’t go to bed until the children and the house are organised for the next day (school uniforms, no dishes in the sink etc). I really dislike getting up in the morning to a messy environment.
How do you relax?
I’m a simple creature, a cup of tea and fresh sea air.
Best book you’ve read recently?
I should be embarrassed to say this but I haven’t read a book in years. Would the Biff, Chip and Floppy P3 books count?
Judging by my playlists, you will find a mixture of Dolly Parton, The Eagles, Kings of Leon, Rob Thomas, Lady Gaga, Frankie and the Four Seasons and many Disney songs. So I would say anything apart from dance music.
I’ve been meaning to listen to podcasts while sewing but I just haven’t started. I do like a good giggle with Phil and Holly in the morning.
How do you and your husband stay connected?
We try to grab a quiet coffee if we have childcare. I have signed up to another year of National Trust membership it’s a great way to get us up and out of the house and go for a walk and have a chat while the kids run around.
Style – do you feel you have a signature style?
I don’t have a signature style. With my previous job I was always dressed by other people, usually in bright outfits that I wouldn’t usually wear. I love an understated, classical look.
When we lived in London, my style was black everything, silk shirts, leather jackets. Basically everything I owned was bought in All Saints. I worked as a commercial model so that was the way I dressed for castings and I loved it. Now, it’s Cashmere jumpers, comfortable jeans and trainers. You never know how far you have to run after a four year old. My go to shop is usually Zara but lately I’ve been loving Mango. I think you can’t go wrong with nice jeans, smart shoes and a silk shirt. I spend money on good coats and shoes (usually bought in the sale). I love Reiss but find it big fitting but for everyday wear, H&M.
Did your style change since becoming a mum?
Anything comfortable. Since becoming a mum, I work at home and I have no need to dress up to sit at a sewing machine. You will regularly see me on Instagram stories with wet hair and spot cream on my face. Style and fashion isn’t very high on my priority list at the minute but again I hope to get time to go to the gym and make more of an effort from September. Honestly, an extra four hours a day will be a game changer for me. That’s what I keep telling myself.
Beauty products you love?
I don’t wear makeup as I have sensitive skin but I’m obsessed with REN Clean skincare.
What family meal is guaranteed to be eaten by everyone?
A whole chicken, homemade egg fried rice with roasted vegetables.
Rainy day survival tactic?
Play doh, watercolour paints, popcorn and Netflix.
Any mum hacks you couldn’t live without?
I’m not sure. The garden hose has come in very handy when I need to work but Luke wants to play. He will happily water (drown) the plants for an hour and play Fireman Sam.
What one piece of advice would you give to your 18 year old self?
Ohhh, one is hard, I have a booklet of advice to my 18 year old self.
It will all work out. Experiences over materialistic things. Friends will change and you only need a few good friends. Be comfortable in your own skin and appreciate the small moments in life. Don’t be afraid to be different, be afraid of being the same as everyone else.
Thanks Lucy! You can see her beautiful creations at Grace James Handmade.