Mornington Peninsula “Mumtrepreneur” Amber Gardener is one busy Mama. A 37-year-old mother of four beautiful children and the owner/manager of three successful businesses, Amber recently sat down with Mama loves to share to give us an insight into just how, with a lot of organisation and a positive spirit, you can “have it all” finding a perfect balance between work and family life.
MLTS: Tell us a little about yourself, Amber, what makes you, you?
Amber: Wow, that’s a hard question when I have to think about it, so here goes. I am a Mornington girl at heart and need to be near the sea, love a good coffee. I laugh a lot, enjoy my own company, I love salad, prawns and home style comfort foods. I am a busy Mum, partner and have three businesses. I would love to one day retire in Byron Bay or somewhere tropical and relaxed surrounded by creative positive people and energy. I am a very visual person – I enjoy watching people, interactions, body language, colours, graphics, old movies, art, fashion, photography etc etc, I love listening to music, singing (not so much time for that) and catching up with friends.
MLTS: You’re a busy working mother to four children! Tell us about your home life?
Amber: I have four children; Haize, Raiden, MJ & Bronte, aged 5,7,8, & 13 and my hubby Matt works full time. Home life is busy but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am very organised and pre plan most day to day ‘operations’ at home, as there is no other way to get the most out of every minute.
MLTS: It sounds like you’re a Mama who doesn’t sit still for very long, is this the way you have always tackled life?
Amber: Yes, I believe every minute is precious and every day you must achieve something, so I keep moving forward, always creating and always working toward a weekly goal. I set checklists at the start of a week, sometimes more than I think I can take on, when I achieve them all, then I am content.
My children come first in every decision, with four of them, quality time is hard to come by, however I try to make one activity each day, one on one with each of them and they really thrive knowing I am giving them my undivided attention in those moments. I find with the youngest at school, I miss them all so much and really cherish the quality moments we share more.
MLTS: So you’re a full time photographer, business owner and mother of four, have you got any special tips for other Mamas as to how you juggle it all?
Amber: Juggle is the perfect word. Life can be a juggle. I always organise my day; I have a blank desk then lay all I need to do on the desk, when it’s empty by the end of the day, I feel peace. If I wing it, I find there is no structure or plans, that’s fine on a ‘day off’ or a day spent walking or wandering, but I definitely like lists on a Monday, tick them off through the week and also reflect.
Reflecting on all your achievements is a really good way to drive you forward. Reflect back two years ago, has your situation changed or grown? Reflect back six months ago etc, its a fabulous way to see all you have done and achieved and will inspire you to keep moving forward. If it’s positive and you see growth and change, then that’s good. If you are stagnant and unmoving, you need to make a change.
MLTS: We love that you’re a super organised mama! We find this is the key to a successful week too, and reflection is a must to stay motivated. Tell us, what’s a day in the life of Amber Gardener entail?
Amber: Do you really want to know? Ha ha. Up at 7.00am, kids lunches & to school. 8.45am coffee. I usually use my slow cooker four days a week so after my coffee I put dinner on. 9.00am work begins; emails, editing photos, packing beauty products, posting to Instagram three times, the post office run. 3.00pm is school run, home by 3:45pm then one child to basketball practice (six days a week of basketball for my eldest son!) then at 5.30pm I finish preparing dinner, catch up, read books, snuggle, talk to kids. We have family meeting one night a week; we discuss issues, behaviour, kids tell us whats going well for them or what’s worrying them. 7.30pm kids to bed and then sometimes Matt and I watch some TV (Games of Thrones is my favourite and also Grand Designs, LOL) while I find myself replying to more emails and working out a plan for the next day. Oh and I have a night cap of a Gin and Tonic sometimes too…
MLTS: Well, we all deserve a little night cap at the end of a busy day don’t we! You’re a talented photographer but you also have your finger in various other business pies, tell us about Jar Body Products and Mermaid Sorority.
Amber: I began working at a camera store at the age of 18, then started working for myself two years later capturing family portraits, newborns, weddings & fashion/commercial, my business is called Naturalight Photography. I love creating images that truly reflect the person. I have worked for various magazines, businesses & have an amazing following of customers who I like to think of as friends.
Having a family background in aromatherapy and an urge to use less chemicals in day to day use of beauty products, Jar Body Products was born. I created the first flat packed colour body scrubs in the world in 2013 and my brand is now stocked in over 40 retail outlets Australia wide. I like to think they are a pamper treat for those who enjoy them, as we often forget to make time for ourselves, the results are just wonderful and we have a large following who buy over and over again.
I also run Mermaid Sorority which is a pop up market event that showcases and supports local businesses, giving them a unique platform to sell their products during a market and also online promotion.
MLTS: Jar is stocked in over 40 retail outlets in Australia! That’s amazing Amber! Mermaid Sorority is also fast becoming a well known and popular market on the Mornington Peninsula, when did the idea to start this design market begin?
Amber: I felt there was a lack of stylish, design markets on the peninsula that were indoors. The idea came from wanting somewhere a little more savvy than a weekend market to sell my beauty products, a market that wouldn’t be weather dependent. So the first few markets I sold Jar there, but obviously not being able to do both because the markets have been so well received, I keep them both separate and now focus 100% on the market. There are so many talented designers and makers on the Peninsula, what better way to showcase their wares than through an indoor market.
MLTS: Do your children play a role in any of your businesses? Do they help their super mum in any way?
Amber: My kids are my inspiration to keep on keeping on. The work I do they can’t ‘help’ that much, my youngest loves popping address stickers on the backs of orders and is a pro at that! They have been my models over the years featuring in fashion catalogues and more recently my daughter has helped man the beauty stall or helped with packing orders too. With so much time spent on working, housework would be a little bit of a challenge however the kids vacuum, do dishes and hang clothes, they have all been helping since age five and the older two are amazingly efficient and helpful, it’s 15 minutes in their day and it helps me run the house so much more efficiently, ‘character building’ as my father would say!
MLTS: It’s so important to have balanced life when you’re a working mum, how do you make time to still be “Amber” and not just “Mum” ?
Amber: Balance is the key to life. Too much of anything is not good for anyone. I find I have times to work and also times when work is not mentioned. We can easily lose ourselves becoming so immersed in our work and this only comes from the passion and love we put into all we do. When you run your own business it’s like a garden that requires water and sun, it’s success comes down to you, so in order to be at peace with your goals and your self, you must definitely take time out for yourself, whether its a walk on the beach to clear your mind, date night with the hubby or catch up with a friend at the hot springs, you must always find a balance between work and play.
MLTS: What advice would you give to other mum’s who were thinking of starting their own business? How should they go about it?
Amber: Do it! Someone once said to me that the graveyard is full of people who thought about ideas but never acted on them. Just go and do it -life is too short! Most businesses will fail before they begin because of lack of thought. So firstly, stay in your paid job while you research and begin your own business on the side. When the time comes you will just know when to concentrate full time. Create a business plan of WHAT you want to make. WHY you want to create them – list benefits and WHO they benefit. Then create a plan on HOW you propose to create.
1: Research – Whatever type of business you are creating, ask yourself if there is a NEED for what you are doing or creating.
2: Funds – You will need money to start up, however some businesses can start on low funds with great planning and budgeting, don’t rush out and get a business loan unless you are sure of the return you can achieve.
3: Belief – Believe in what you are doing. If you do not believe in your product no one else will.
MLTS: And lastly, where is your favourite place to take the family for a day out on the Mornington Peninsula?
AMBER: I have lived in Mount Eliza/Mornington since I was 5. The region is truly beautiful and we are so blessed to live here. We love walks at the pier or day trips to Red Hill and Somers, we all walked the Cape Schanck lighthouse recently and that was so much fun, so picturesque and the kids love getting out in nature. I’d like to think I am very in tune with my kids and their feelings and abilities, I get so much happiness in watching them succeed & smile. When they hug me and climb into bed for a snuggle, sit on my lap and chat, when they just want to just hang out, it’s the best feeling.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us Amber. You really are an inspiring Mama and with four kids and three businesses, you’re proof that with careful planning and organisation, you really can achieve anything.
Mermaid Sorority NEXT EVENT – The BIG Bayside & Peninsula Design Market
90 Bardia Avenue, Seaford
With over 80+ stalls and also Food Trucks and Local Delights – this stylish event will tempt your senses and be a winter wonderland market and it’s indoors!