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Startup Stories: How Mamamia Got Going

Mamamia, Mia FreedmanThe most successful Australian online community for women was initially set up in 2007 as a blog. In just a few years, it has successfully brought women together to share, connect and talk about anything at all.

Today, with hundreds of thousands of visits per month, dozens of articles created daily by a team of professional writers as well as eager followers, and a recently launched shopping site, there is no need to introduce Mamamia to any woman in Australia.

Want to get to know more about Mia Freedman – the charismatic founder behind Mamamia? Read on …

You are a successful writer, journalist, an entrepreneur, a happy mother and wife. How do you find motivation for working so hard?

First, it’s the love for what I do. Second, it’s the feeling of control over my own life that  I try to maintain. The combination of these two pushes me further and further. I also never forget the most important thing in my life – my family.

What do you perceive as your biggest achievement so far?

It’s definitely Mamamia!

All my previous experiences brought me here – especially after the nightmare experience I had working as a Creative Services Director at the Nine Network. I craved a change and I needed to do something meaningful, so I decided to set up an online community for Australian women.

What inspired you to set up Mamamia?

After so many years working in magazines like Cleo and Cosmopolitan, I found a monthly publishing cycle too slow and irrelevant in changing times. They couldn’t keep up with the pace of modern women, who are looking for tips, interesting stories and the chance to talk and share information all the time – not just at the beginning of the month.

Furthermore, magazines just seemed so ‘stuck’ in the way they spoke to their audience. They offered a monologue, preaching to women what was wrong or what was good.

The online space seemed perfect for changing all that. I fell in love with the opportunity that an ongoing dialog could create. Finally, there was a place to build a community for all women to share, bond, laugh and also cry if needed.

What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing since starting your website and community?

Being alone at home during the first years of setting up Mamamia was so isolating. It felt strange having spent so many years in big organisations and as a part of a team. Furthermore, I didn’t have any experience in running a website or online community. At the very beginning lack of money for developing of my business was also a hurdle. I guess searching for funding has also been one of the biggest challenges for me.

Fortunately, after about two years my husband came on board and took care of the business. It helped me a lot and was an additional boost for Mamamia. He set up a strategic vision for the community and created business structures. Thanks to him I could finally focus on editorial work.

Who is now the team behind Mamamia?

There are a lot of us! More than you’ll find on the website. We have four editors working in Sydney and one in Adelaide. There is also a very busy sales team, a few people responsible for our shopping site, and a graphic designer. We don’t have anyone managing our Instagram, Facebook or Twitter profiles. We are all responsible for creating the content – and I love that. I guess you can still feel a startup vibe in our office.

Of course, I can’t forget to mention all our readers and followers who inspire us and contribute to the community every day.

How involved are you with the hiring process?

As a growing, dynamic organisation Mamamia is hiring a lot of new people. We want to stay involved in the process, so the responsibilities for hiring are split between my husband and me. I’m personally engaged when it comes to hiring editors and writers, but he is a ‘proper’ HR Manager in our company responsible for all office hires.

I get the impression that Mamamia is a great place to work! How have you cultivated the culture?

It is most important to build a positive and comfortable environment so that people like coming to work every day. Mamamia is a family business and sometimes our kids and our dog even visit the office. We also organise pizza Tuesdays and free massages once in a while for our team. We just try to have fun! I suppose a charismatic leader is also crucial to build a strong company culture, because people are truly inspired and motivated by them. Together with my husband we try to meet these expectations.

How do you maintain a work-life balance?

I don’t! I really don’t think it can be done when you are working, taking care of your kids and your home. You just have to admit you can’t be perfect! Sometimes you will feel a bit down, unbalanced and you will start to panic that you are not managing everything you are supposed to, but it’s normal. Knowing this helps me a lot and lets me go forward without blaming myself.

Marta Gurzeda

Marketing Specialist at RecruitLoop. Previously with Unilever. Loves traveling and discovering new cultures.

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