Self-Start Mums showcases mothers who have created their own self-employed business. I’m very happy to share my interview with Candice Meisels, Founder of Candice Meisels PR.
This series includes sponsored content.
The Interview with Candice
1. Tell me about yourself?
I am Candice Meisels, mum to four daughters aged 8, 6, almost 4 and 15 months. I work as a Virtual PR Consultant and specialise in start ups and small to medium sized businesses.
2. Tell us about your self-employed business?
I started Candice Meisels PR to give start ups, small businesses, mumpreneurs and entrepreneurs a voice and share their stories with the media.
Before kids, I worked in large companies with global brands. I was used to huge budgets and worked with teams. I lived in South Africa and then London. In London, I worked for Disney.
When I moved to Australia I did a bit of freelance work and writing and started wondering how small businesses can afford PR. Agencies are expensive and SMEs can simply not afford them. I decided to work virtually to help start ups and small businesses all over Australia share their stories, products and services with the Australian media.
I help come up with stories, angles and pitch them to media outlets. I work with TV, Radio, Online and Print Media. I started freelancing when we moved here in 2011. I started working for small businesses in 2013. This year I released a book called The Power of PR: PR for Small Business.
I am currently 34 (turning 35 later this year). I was very ambitious and career focused. I took extra subjects to finish my degree and qualifications quicker. I was a PR Manager by 23. By 25 I was working as a European Associate PR Manager for Disney in London handling European PR. I have immigrated twice. Once from South Africa to England and then to Sydney, Australia.
3. How did you transition to working for yourself?
When I was home with my two daughters, I worked part time freelancing and dabbled in writing, editing and PR part time. I started to wonder how small businesses can afford PR. I love small business stories and decided to help them get their share of the media pie.
4. What was your previous career?
In South Africa, I worked for an entertainment/video game company where I handled local PR for European and UK brands. I worked with huge movie and video game brands and had to report back to Publishers in the UK and Europe. Juggling the different brands and reporting to the different Publishers so early in my career taught me how to multi-task, juggle and compartmentalise. I loved the varied brands that I got to work with… I also got a huge kick every time I achieved a front cover, feature or interview.
I originally started in Marketing but there was no one in PR so my old boss asked me to set up the PR department. He was so impressed that he made me PR Manager of the department and I started to take international press trips from my early 20s. I had also found that my heart lies in PR.
I met my British husband and we moved to London where I was blessed to work as European Associate PR Manager for The Walt Disney Company’s Disney Interactive Studios. I had to work on PR strategies and localisation with territory PR Managers based in the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain and the Nordic Regions. I loved working on the Disney brands and learnt a lot about working with different cultures. I had to report to the US and make sure that all the European PR Plans were in line with the US plans. After this, I worked for another large entertainment company and focused on UK and European Communication Management. At Disney and my next role, I had access to PR agencies and digital/online agencies. I worked with small and large budgets.
When I had my first child, I realised that I could not travel as much as I did, work late nights, attend launch parties into all hours of the night and drinks after work most nights. I decided to leave the entertainment/video game industry even though I had a lot of fun and really enjoyed it while I was in it. It was not a family friendly industry or job.
We moved to Australia for my husbands’ work (I pushed him to look for job transfers in Australia as I loved Australia from a young age). Australia is similar to South Africa where I grew up but it is safer and offers so many amazing opportunities to its citizens.
I started to freelance for local print and online publications and did some freelance PR work for agencies. I wanted to help small businesses, start ups, mumpreneurs and entrepreneurs grow organically through PR.
5. Describe a typical day in your working life?
No two weeks are the same. I do have a few clients that I work with all year round but each week is completely varied. My work is so varied. I work with experts, products and services in all types of industries. I work each day and work around my kids where I can. We don’t have any family here and I want them to have one of us around where possible. I am so grateful for technology because I can work with clients anywhere in Australia and help them get into the media!
6. How many hours do you work per week on your business?
I work every day except from a Friday night to Saturday night. I have a digital detox as I keep the Sabbath and have family and friend time for 25 hours. I completely switch off and spend time with my kids (they don’t have screen time either during this time). We see friends and enjoy long lunches with wine. It’s a very community and family focused day.
I work every day and on Sundays. It is flexible though and I schedule my hours around my kids needs.
7. Do you supplement your income in any other ways?
No, the business is my career, vocation and job.
8. How do you manage your family and working for yourself?
There is no such thing as balance. There is going to be an opportunity cost in one area of life as you cannot be two places in once. I use occasional care, childcare and two of my kids are now in Primary School. I have recently hired an au pair as we don’t have family around and I definitely need the extra pair of hands as the business grows. My husband travels for work and he is also very career orientated. He is very hands on when he is around but he is a very busy person. I do try to schedule my work around my kids appointments and I have a close friend who I share the afternoon activity lifts with… she has her own business too so we help each other out to give each other a longer work day.
9. What challenges did you face in setting up your business?
I originally set out to work 3 days a week. The business grew quicker than I imagined it would and I am now working every day and even on a Sunday (flexible hours). I had to reset my mindset as I didn’t plan to work most days with four kids and no family around.
Taking time to do the admin/business side of the business. I have to make the time to invoice, chase payments.
I recently went to see an accountant for tax and expense tips etc.
I had to outsource in my personal life e.g au pair, I have someone helping me fold the washing so that I can work instead of doing the folding, I have a weekly cleaner. My younger two kids still make a mess and I have learnt to let go and not get so bothered by it. Something is going to give.
All my spare time goes to work or the kids.
10. What’s the best thing about working for yourself?
Flexibility, being able to work around my children and be there for them.
Being able to work remotely.
11. What’s your best advice to another mum who is considering setting up her own business?
I would recommend joining the AusMumpreneur Network. They are really supportive and offer great advice. I also recommend looking at The Women’s Business School courses.
12. What’s next for you and your business?
I have just launched my first book, The Power Of PR for Small Businesses. The book is to help small businesses who to do their own PR or to understand PR and how it fits into the Marketing Mix.
I am also a qualified tertiary trainer and would love to give more workshops or talks.
I also recently trn a workshop in Melbourne for the AusMumpreneur Conference in August. I am also speaking at a networking group in Sydney in September.
I would like to teach, speak and run more workshops in Australia.
Are you a self-starter mum? Read more interviews with self-employed mums here.
To chat about taking part in this series and sharing your story, contact Mim here
I hope you’ve enjoyed my interview with Candice Meisels!