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The Accidental Trail Blazer

Fat Mum Slim /

A collaboration between Yarra Trail and Fat Mum Slim.

WEARING: {me} Slim leg ponte pants & Long-sleeve blush print shirt / {Danielle} Faux fur vest, Multi stripe tee,

A few months ago, late last year to be more precise, an email popped into my inbox. It was one that equally confused me and excited me. It asked, ‘Will you be one of our trail-blazers?’

First of all I thought it might be spam. Me? A trail blazer? Not really, right? And I think I wrote those exact words in reply. They then wrote back and listed all the people that they were putting in their trail-blazing team. There were brain surgeons, business owners, scientists, super successful people, and then me. ME.

And they told me why. It was all about creating a life that I loved, and paving the space in blogging. When I thought about it, I felt proud. Yarra Trail had picked a whole bunch of empowering and inspiring women to be part of their campaign, and I was beyond honoured to be part of it. {That’s me and Danielle of Two Birds Brewing above}. I flew down to Melbourne, met with some of the women, and did a photo shoot as well {one of the scariest things I’ve done, which happened to turn in to one of the most fun things I’ve done ironically!} .People often ask about my blogging journey, and how I created this business, so I feel like it’s a story I tell often but I don’t think it’s one I’ve shared here… so I thought I would today, along with some of the photos from the shoot.

WEARING: Meteor print dress

I come from a very normal family. My mum spent most of her years being mum to myself and my three siblings, and my dad has always been a salesman. We always had enough, but never too much. Most of all, we were just happy. My parents had very little rules, and very little expectations. They weren’t strict and didn’t push us when it came to school work, but somehow my siblings and I always had a drive to do our best.

I was always an A-grade nerd who tried her best, yet also happened to hang out in the cool gang. I learned to read and write early, and each year at school I was award the most proficient in class. I was always striving for the best, and I don’t even know where that came from, it was just something inside me.

In my later years of high school, we were asked to decide on a career. I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do or be. I felt overwhelmed with the huge task of deciding my future. I flipped through a careers book, selected Advertising Account Executive, knowing very little about what it meant, but that it pleased my teacher that I’d made a decision and I left it at that.

I scored the marks to make it into University, so I enrolled because it seemed like the right thing to do. I was just going through the motions… until I fell sick with a mystery illness. I couldn’t walk more than 10 steps. I had to sleep downstairs in the lounge room of my family’s home because I couldn’t make it up the stairs. I needed help for someone to bathe me. I was a mystery to doctors, and a misery to myself. It was horrible not knowing what was wrong with me, and frightening not knowing how on earth I’d get better, or even when.

I missed the chance to go to University so had to defer. I lay in that bed for weeks, losing 15kg because I couldn’t eat {the only real perk of the whole ordeal}. It was when I started to feel better, that I started to wonder what I’d do with my life; and I decided that I wanted to be a nanny {temporarily until I could go to University the following year}.

I moved from the South Coast of New South Wales to Sydney and became a Nanny. I loved it. I more than loved it. I love the everyday joy in taking care of children, and the freedom that my job allowed. I got to spend my days playing and having fun, and actually get paid for it. I was excited about going to work each day, and in love with the fact that each day was different and fun. My job felt meaningful, and fulfilling.

It was from working as a nanny that I knew that I only wanted to do work that made me happy. Life was too short to do anything less.

WEARING: Zip trim roll neck top

It was only recently that my mum shared that others were concerned with my ‘career’ choice. Many had said to my parents, “What a waste for Chantelle! She’s too smart to be a nanny.”

Perhaps it was true, but I was also too smart to be cooped up in an office going to a job I hated each day. I knew it wasn’t for me.

Fast forward 12 years and I gave birth to my first daughter, Lacey. I was getting very little sleep, taking her to work with me as a nanny, and craving something more. It seemed crazy because I was exhausted and time poor, but I wanted something for myself… so I started a blog. It was a private space to inspire me to lose my baby weight, and to share stories of parenting and sleep deprivation. I had no grand plans, or strategy. Honestly, I thought it’d be something that I’d probably write in once or twice, and then forget about.

WEARING: Slim leg ponte pants & Long-sleeve stripe shirt

Instead I found a brand new passion. I loved writing, I loved sharing, and most of all I loved connecting with people all over the world. I was one of the first of my friends to have kids, so I had very few people to share the new mum journey with… but with a blog, I had people all over the world going through exactly the same thing. I was far from alone.

It was in those early days that a new me was created; the blogger. Over the years I wrote feverishly. Sometimes I wrote twice a day, others every other day. I loved it. It wasn’t a career, but a hobby. No one was making money blogging. It was just me pouring my heart out to the internet.

And then an email came in. An editor of a huge parenting website loved my work and wanted me to contribute to their site. Enter the hustle. I worked full-time as a nanny to four kids, while dragging Lacey along to work with me. I was still being woken around 6 times a night by my baby girl, and on top of that I was working 20 hours a week at Kidspot, and maintaining my blog. It was the hustle of all hustles, but I’ve never been afraid of hard work.

For months I kept it up, until I realised that the children I was nannying would grow and no longer need me, and that writing and blogging could potentially have legs and create a new career for me. So, I begged my editor to take me on full-time. I was so ballsy. I told her how much I needed to earn, I told her what I could do to build the business and I told her that they should hire me. Somehow it worked, they created a new role for me and it all began. Leaving nannying was heartbreaking, I cried a lot, but I knew I was making the right decision for my future.

I spent a few years doing the Kidspot hustle, and maintaining my blog, until 5 years ago I decided to work full-time on my blog. It was by far the scariest decision I’ve ever made. My husband I have always contributed equally to the bills, and I needed to keep that up. Hubby had his doubts that I could make it work, but I was ready to do the work I needed to do. So I took the leap. You know what they say, “Leap and the net will appear.”

And the net did.

WEARING: Slim leg ponte pants {so comfortable!} & Long-sleeve blush print shirt

I’ve learned a lot over these past 9 years of blogging. It’s been hard, and enjoyable at the same time. I’ve gone from not knowing how to run a business, to understanding how to read and negotiate contracts, and do all the accounting that a small business needs.

It was in those early days of nannying that I learned that life was too short to do work that you didn’t love, and it’s a lesson I’ve kept with me for life. We spend almost a third of our life at work, and I refuse to do something that doesn’t bring me joy. So ‘Seek Joy’ has been my working motto.

Blogging has allowed me to juggle raising my babies, and to do work that I love and feel really passionate about, and if we’re to believe the very kind people at Yarra Trail, to also be a Trail Blazer in the blogging space.

WEARING: Slim leg ponte pants & Long-sleeve blush print shirt

Shooting this campaign with Yarra Trail has been both an honour and a blast. What an honour, seriously! The team were beautiful to work with, and the clothing was so easy to wear and beautiful too. Getting in front of a camera makes me so nervous, but there I was. I’m kinda proud of myself.

You can see more inspiring, real women in the Yarra Trail campaign as they release more of the shoot over the coming months. You can also shop some of the current range by popping over here.

Do you love what you do? What’s your best advice for younger self?