Natalie Leona on Motherhood.
As a Mum of 3 that runs her own Creative Business, how do you find/make time for yourself? I have to literally make a conscious effort to make sure I do something with the girls or family as a little time out at least once a month, just for my sanity really.
Luckily daddy is very hands on so when I do need 5 minutes or 5 hours I can leave them with him and do a runner lol.
Your Agency NL PR is 6 years old, how have you managed to grow and maintain your business while juggling the ever changing needs of three small people? It's been extremely difficult and often it feels like it has been a tug of war, to the point I've had to put a lot of business affairs on hold just to make sure my little ones are getting what they need. But as I look back and see where I was with NL PR and where I am now, I can see how far it's come even with those breaks. It was a case of trying to get the right balance. I would often have this feeling of guilt and neglect of motherly duties when I was fully focused on work and then when I would make a conscious effort to fully focus on the kiddies I would feel like I was neglecting the biz and that it was going down the pan. So, it has literally been a case of learning as I go to get the right balance and knowing my limits, still learning.
Do you think being a black woman has impacted your career/business? Most definitely, I feel especially in the early days I had a lot more to prove particularly when working with bigger brands but I like a challenge, although I do feel as though certain doors were immediately closed due to that fact. In saying all of that I can also say that
Sa Ka Fete? You and one of our Founders have Dominican heritage in common, we know you arranged a fundraiser after storm Erika hit the island and set up the charity Relief for Dominica, what was behind your decision to create your own Charity rather than donate to an existing one? And how do you manage that along with Motherhood and running a business?Ahhh lovely Sa Ka Fete Dudu? LolAs soon as I heard about Erika and saw the devastation it caused it struck a cord as some of my family were affected also. It just bothered me and I couldn't rest that day. I explained to the Mr that what I had seen was bothering me, especially as I hadn't seen anything about a relief or donations or anything. I have worked with a lot of different charities in the past and held charity events, so I thought why not do something now? I felt an urgency and was annoyed at the fact that there was no real news coverage. So without planning or thinking properly I held a collection of clothing to send at my local power league - and it all took off from then.
The response was overwhelming and I was contacted by 3 other ladies who were like minded and we formed Relief For Dominica and it just kept going from there. We decided to create our own charity as my motto has always been "Don't wait, CREATE" don't wait for opportunities or to do things through other people or organisations, do it yourself, do it with passion and do it well and that's what we did, whilst making it our mission to raise more awareness regarding the disaster and how people could help. Luckily working in PR I was able to tie it in with NL PR and spread the word through digital media.
It was a very tiring time as we were doing collections and pick ups across the country, hiring and driving vans, planning fundraisers, liaising with shipping companies, schools and communities in Dominica and so much more just to make sure we were getting it right. I was extremely tired but we all felt inspired. It's quietened down now so it's a lot easier to juggle as we all have kids, but we have a lot of long term projects in the pipeline for DA that I won't go into just yet.
Do you think your cultural background has influenced your parenting?
Most definitely, they all get told off in patois lol. No I'm playing, well I'm not, but I think the biggest influence my culture has had on my parenting is teaching my children to have manners and respect (the 1 year old is still under construction where this is concerned), especially for elders and the importance of closeness as a family.
You’ve worked with some amazing brands on some great projects, what would you say have been your highlights?I absolutely loved organising the Luton Arts Festival Fashion day as I got to work and create some great relationships with big brands like Toni & Guy and Debenhams among others. I would say that was a huge turning point for me and the company and I really had to level up.
Before setting up NL PR you were a model, what made you decide to change career? I have always been quite shy spotlight wise and kind of fell into modelling by accident. My manager at the time worked in music and fashion and liked the way I worked behind the scenes when helping her out a few times, it was then that we partnered up and did many projects together with some great companies and names in music and fashion. It was then that I decided I much much much preferred to be on the creative side behind the camera.
How does being a mother make you feel? Be all the way real… I had my daughter at 17, so sometimes I feel like she has almost brought me up, helped me to grow up and taught me things about myself. And then there were 3. Having 3 kids can be very challenging and like I said having my daughter young and being an emotional and spiritual being I have my down days where I am just tired because it feels relentless, but I couldn't imagine my life without them. I feel purpose filled because of them, driven because of them and even though it makes me feel tired to the point that I can no longer function being a mum is also the only thing that DOES keep me going at times.
They drive me mad though....
Your mini's are 14, 4 and 1 how do you manage all of their different needs? I always try and make sure I spend time with them individually as well as together, to give them the attention they need. But it is a juggling act due to their different ages, one goes to secondary school, one is in reception and one is with a childminder so the mornings are just me Ubering them to their different posts for the day, but it's definitely not boring.
If there was one thing you wish you’d known before becoming a Mother what would it be? That sleep is a myth and lay-ins are just out of the question. I would have got all the rest in whilst I could have.
Sum up Motherhood in 4 words Emotional rollercoaster but rewarding.
Quick fire questions Trainers or Heels? Trainers Beach or City break? BeachCake or Cocktails? CocktailsHip Hop or RnB? Hip HopMagazines or Blogs? BlogsToddler or Teenager? Toddler (Teenagers are mean)
What’s your favourite Motherhood quote? 'Motherhood is the greatest thing and the hardest thing'. Ricki Lake