The first in our series of #NEVERCONCISECHATS is with Insta-Wonder, Anniki Sommerville.
Anniki is refreshingly honest, hilariously funny and a Super Editor at Selfish Mother-come-The Hotbed Collective co-founder.
CB: Please introduce yourself and what you do.
AS: My name is Anniki and I work as Super Editor at Selfish Mother with the fabulous Molly Gunn and also co-founded The Hotbed Collective with Cherry Healey and Lisa Williams. I’m a freelance writer, branding consultant and copy writer.
CB: Brand names are a really important first impression of what you’re about, so how did you come up with your online alias/brand name?
AS: Well it’s interesting as I didn’t come up with either of the brand names I work on at the moment but have done loads of work in branding in the past. It used to be my bread and butter. A good name needs to get your idea across really quick and ideally have a bit of humour too. People have the attention span of a gnat these days so nothing too wordy or laborious I feel.
CB: Where did it all begin? What inspired you to start up your concept?
AS: I can only really talk about The Hotbed Collective here as Molly obviously created Selfish Mother and was inspired to create a platform for Mums to share stories and engage with one another. The HBC is different in that we want to encourage women to be more open and honest about sex. It was sparked by a conversation I had with Cherry about 2 years ago when we realised that women feel awkward ‘fessing up to the reality of bad/dull sex lives. We wanted to change that and so we’re creating a website and want to create events and other media that make it feel more permissible to talk about this stuff (without having to neck three litres of prosecco first).
CB: On a day-to-day basis, what or who inspires you?
AS: The people that inspire me are often American for some reason. There are so many great writers and performers in the states. I love Lena Dunham. Tina Fey. Lindy West. Cheryl Strayed. Nora Ephron (the late great). I basically love anyone who has a sense of humour and is outspoken and honest. I think there needs to be more honesty but we can be silly too.
CB: Can you tell us about, or give us a sneaky peek of something new that’s coming up?
AS: Well have two things right now that are exciting. On Selfish Mother we are creating a new travel section to the blog and are looking for writers who can give us tips on greats places to travel to. Just because we’re parents doesn’t mean we have to give up on all that good stuff. Selfish Mother is always changing and adapting to new things so watch this space!
On The Hotbed Collective side, we have just done our #backinthesack survey and have spoken to 750 people about their sex life post-kids. We are launching a website and then there will be an event further down the line. We are going to use the site to talk about our own sex lives but also to interview a range of different people. We want there to be tips and practical things to do when your love life sinks into the doldrums. We want it to feel intimate, fun and a bit sexy too.
CB: Anything you wish you’d known before you became a parent / best piece of parenting advice?
AS: It’s hard. I wish I had been better prepared for the lack of sleep. The fact that the first few months feel really hard. That it’s normal to feel like you’re losing your mind. Sometimes the only thing that got me through was visualising Oprah Winfrey. In the middle of the night I’d be so tired that she’d just appear to me and I’d get comfort in talking to her. That sounds mad but offers up and insight into how un-hinged I felt!
CB: Parenting-essentials, we know there are more than a few! But what is the one thing you can’t leave the house without? What is your most used piece of parenting/child paraphernalia?
AS: Snacks. More snacks. I find the minute we leave the house my daughter starts telling me she’s hungry. I have to have a few different options. And always one or two sweets. You can try Danish parenting/French parenting/whatever but a sweet ALWAYS works when you’re in a tight spot and need to use good old fashioned bribery to get home/in the car/leave a playdate/go to the shop etc.
CB: Along the same vein as above, what is your ultimate Mum-Essential? What is your go-to item that you just can’t live without?
AS: If it’s for me then it would probably be make up. If I have make up on then I feel human. In the early days my neighbour came up to me and told me I looked awful. I find that people think it’s perfectly okay to say you look dreadful when you’re a parent. After that I made sure I always had slap on. With the slap on I can fake not being tired. My other essential is the Aveda Chakra spray. I keep talking about it but so far they haven’t offered me any freebies. I feel quite sore about that I can tell you.
CB: What gives you ‘Mum-Guilt’? And how do you get round it?
AS: I get it every time I leave my daughter at nursery. I do this calculation in my head and think about how she’s going to start pre-school soon and yet I’m leaving her a couple of times a week and don’t see her. The reality is that I am now freelance and can’t get any work done at all when she’s with me. I end up shouting at her and telling her to get lost so the time she spends with me when I’m working isn’t very good quality. I have to remind myself of that. And the fact that seeing a working Mummy (who shouts sometimes) is probably a good thing.
CB: Me-time is super important too, what do you like to do to zone-out?
AS: I love to watch reality TV but never get a chance. Sometimes if my daughter is playing in the garden I will sneak into the front room to watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians or America’s Next Top Model. If I can’t sleep at night I come down and watch it. Their lives are so different to mine and their problems so out of my realm of experience (Kim is usually worrying about the launch of her new butt cream and whether Kayne is having a row with her Mum or not) – pure escapism. I am really into low-brow culture and am not ashamed to admit it (I also like reading to balance it out).
CB: Which are your go-to brands/shops?
AS: The FMLY store tops – my main look is a sweatshirt with an A-line skirt and blue bruises on my knees. I love Selfridges but can’t afford anything there anymore. I also love &OtherStories as they have really original clothes and styles. I basically can’t go in there anymore as it’s too dangerous for me. I even tried to buy a jacket in a size 8 because I loved it and it was the last one. For kids stuff I love Next, Boden, Gap, FMLY store. I also love Aveda Chakra spray as I mentioned before ha ha.
CB: What current wardrobe item is your all-time favourite and why?
AS: Dungarees. I wear them all the time. They aren’t flattering on me as I have a big bum but I don’t care. I just like that combination of a casual dungaree and a feminine top. I also like the A-line skirt and sweatshirt combo. I struggle to find jeans I like or that fit properly
CB: Choose 3 words to describe yesterday.
AS: Hungover, panic-attack, moments of happiness.
CB: Tell us something about you that might surprise people.
AS: I used to be the singer in a band and had a hit – you can see the video on YouTube.
CB: Whats the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?
AS: I had a friend who is a midwife and she came to visit me every other day for about a month when my daughter was born. She knew I was struggling. She is basically the nicest, kindest person I know.
CB: Recommend a book, film or album from the past year.
AS: I love the new book by Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel (We: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere). I haven’t seen any films apart from Trolls which I thought was okay. Music wise I am listening to the theme tune to Big, Little Lies- Michael Kiwanuka- Cold Little Heart. When I listen to it I pretend that I’m one of the characters driving along the Pacific Coast Highway (rather than driving to Lidl down the Uxbridge road)
CB: What can you see out of your closest window / what is your current view?
AS: I can see my cat who is busy burying her business in the neighbour’s vegetable patch.
CB: Other than with your family & friends, where would you most like to be this weekend and why?
AS: I would like to be at a spa. I really feel like I need a massage. I want to lie in a pool of warm water and listen to Michael Kiwanuka and pretend I’m Reese Witherspoon.
CB: Anything else you’d like to add in?
AS: When you get past 40 you really don’t give a crap about what other people think. Like really! It’s good.
I absolutely loved this chat with Anniki – thank you for taking part in our series! Be sure to follow her on Insta: @AnnikiSelfishMother and via her brilliant blog: Anniki Sommerville