Julia Lomas and Simone Kerr launched their PR agency Lomas Kerr back in 2018, they have since worked with some of New Zealand's top brands, including The Curve, BePure, Baina, Father Rabbit and Ashley & Co.
This year both Jules and Simone had their first babies within 3 months of each other, a big life moment for both of them while navigating shared maternity leave and running the business. We thought who better to ask about business and motherhood balance than these two.
How did you navigate running the business in the lead up to and now?
Julia: As a first-time mum, the assumption of how I would feel going back to work before Valentina was three months was pretty overwhelming. Emotionally, it felt very heavy to do it so soon. However, I’ve found that with the support of the LK team, family, our amazing nanny and my husband, it is manageable, and the feeling of accomplishment wearing both mum and work hats is like no other.
In the lead-up to Valentina’s birth, we hired our first full-time publicist Thea, who has been instrumental in supporting Lomas Kerr through this transition. Vali came a little earlier than expected, which meant Simone had to do Thea’s induction on her own, which was a huge undertaking when you’re heavily pregnant! A clear handover was essential for this to go smoothly, as well as open communication with clients on our plans as the babies arrived.
Simone took the helm when Vali arrived and vice versa when her baby girl Olly was due. It’s been a juggle - but an empowering one. We laugh now about how we were both working at our desks during labour.
Our small but considered team of copywriters, publicists and creatives has been the central pillar throughout this journey. There are times when you need to allow others to take over so you can catch a breath, and I’ve slowly learnt that letting go of ‘mum guilt’ and creating boundaries to keep myself well is the only way through. Accept that sometimes you can’t do it all and allow yourself grace when you don’t achieve everything you had planned for that day. There is always tomorrow.
6 (ish) months in, and I’m slowly getting the hang of it!
Simone: I was fortunate enough to have a pretty straightforward pregnancy, plus working from home meant I could work right up until our due date. With Julia on maternity leave, it meant I didn't have much time to get organised, but ‘luckily’ Olly ended up being two weeks late, so it allowed me a little bit of time with my partner Crowie to get things sorted before she arrived.
I was very naive about how I’d feel after Olly was born. So much of my focus was on the actual birth that I didn't spend time thinking about what comes after. It's been incredible having Julia’s support as my good friend and business partner. Luckily for me, she’s always been three months ahead so is able to offer the best advice and support.
What is something you’ve learnt about yourself & business during this time and was that learning something you expected?
Julia: I’ve learnt that my limit was never my limit at all! I have pushed through some pretty significant emotional and mental hurdles working during the early post-partum phase. I will be honest and say I won’t go back to work so soon after having a baby again, but as business owners and first-time mums, we didn’t know what we were in store for. So now, we continue to ride challenging waves to ensure we keep LK going and to the same standard we pride ourselves on. We’ve worked hard to cultivate a considered portfolio of clients, and we aren’t going to let that fall away. Luckily, we have incredible clients who have supported us throughout this journey.
Simone: I’ve never considered myself resilient, but going through childbirth and consistent sleep deprivation certainly toughens you up! That resilience has filtered through to work, and I’ve become far better at coping with stress - small things aren't as important as they used to be.
What motherhood has taught you so far?
Julia: Motherhood has revealed a side of myself I didn’t know I had. The ‘small things’ used to weigh me down, but I have found a new resilience and patience that allows me to let these things slide and look at the bigger picture. Motherhood is ever evolving, and there is no way to know what tomorrow will bring. However, I have learnt to be more present because of this, which is something I will forever be grateful for. Every moment with V is all-encompassing - my phone goes down, I walk away from my laptop and step into a world that is just her and I.
Simone: It's hard not to be super cheesy when I think about being mum to baby Olly. She’s the most incredible teacher and has taught me so much about living in the moment and being present. Before Olly, I was the biggest multi-tasker, but you can’t really multitask with newborns - Olly has taught me to slow down and focus more on what matters.
Who is in your support network?
Julia: I am very privileged to have a wide support network and to work from home, so I don’t miss any moments with Vali. My husband Jeremy also works from home, so he is always on hand when I need help, and he gives any spare moment of his day to Vali and me.
We have an incredible nanny Hattie, 3 days a week, which allows me the time to focus on work. She has become an extended part of our family, and we will forever be grateful for her support. A mum and newborn care specialist, she has supported us through the challenging sleep regressions, sleep training, teething etc. and has gone above and beyond to ensure I’m keeping well and able to be the best mum I can be while working.
Simone: My partner and I also work from home. He is a great Dad, and I love seeing him with Olly. We have the most amazing nanny, Daisy, who enables us both to work. We also have a blue heeler called Rosie, who is my support. Every morning I walk her - it's a nice time to recalibrate. I find it especially restorative after sleepless nights.
Tips On Balancing Business With Motherhood
Baby brain is a real affliction; the only cure is writing reminders and lists
. What works for us is forward planning a deliverables calendar for all clients. That way, we know what is coming up in advance of deadlines. Communicate
. It’s essential to keep everyone in the loop with workloads. We have weekly WIPs and chat with each other daily. We also use voice messages instead of text which is a much more efficient way to communicate. Ask for help.
The juggle can sometimes be overwhelming, and the only way to manage is to get support when needed. It’s important to remember that ‘time out’ helps you be a better mum and work with a far clearer mind. Set boundaries.
If you can, separating work hours and mum hours will allow you to be more productive at work and present at home. Allow flexibility for change.
Accept that not every day will go to plan and let go of any stress that comes with those last-minute changes.Value your time
. Time becomes even more precious when you're a new parent, so efficiently managing it is essential. Reduce non-essential tasks and meetings. Reevaluate what you enjoy about work and what you’re good at, and don’t be afraid to outsource the rest.