Carrie-Anne Roberts, Mère Soeur
Mère Soeur is a collection of mama merch inspired by the supportive sisterhood Carrie-Anne found online after the birth of her son. Having a baby and starting a business isn't easy. Rather than pretend everything is perfect, Carrie-Anne is honest about her struggles and challenges along the way. Through this honesty she's managed to build something beautiful and continues to inspire the close-knit community she has built up online.
Let’s start at the beginning, when did the Mère Soeur journey begin?
My baby was three months old, I had separated from his dad and I’d moved back across the country to live with my mum. I had no money and I was really lonely. None of my friends had babies so I basically just turned to the Instagram community. There was this huge sisterhood of mothers and it inspired me to make the first product.
How strategic were you in the beginning in terms of the business?
I knew nothing about business when I started so I just had to learn everything myself. I went on courses to learn basic bookkeeping. I didn’t know what being self-employed involved. My first product was a tote bag that I ordered from VistaPrint, I used their fonts and I just ordered 100 tote bags. The quality was awful but I sold all of them really quickly. Then I started to learn more, do more research and source better quality stuff. I developed another product and another product and then I started to take it seriously. I mean it’s fun but it is a job, if you don’t do the work it doesn’t get done, so you have to just push yourself.
Your message is really powerful and supportive. You’re really honest with everything you do.
I think there’s a certain amount of liberation and power involved with just being honest and saying, “Yeah, it’s a struggle and I feel shit today! I just don’t feel really good! I’m struggling! I’m tired! I don’t know what direction my life is going in,” all those sorts of things. Being a mother can be really lonely, you don’t know who to talk to, you should be everything for everybody and admitting failure is like, “You can’t do it.” But actually if you talk about it, everyone’s going through the same stuff. So it’s just being honest about how tough it is.
This interview is part of the BEAUTIFUL x POWERFUL collaboration with Nike.
See more from the collaboration >
What helps you battle through it when you have a day of getting all your work done and taking care of your son?
Sometimes I just don’t. Sometimes I can’t so I end up with huge backlog of work and then you just have to keep going. I mean if you want to do it and it is something you are passionate about and you believe in, you’ll just do it.
The community you have now is really powerful. How important is having the community aspect to the brand?
It’s the only thing that’s important! That’s where it began, it’s how it’s grown, and it’s how it continues to grow. Without Instagram and that community I wouldn’t have been inspired to start a brand. I wouldn't have a business and i'd be working on the Lush shop floor selling bath bombs! Which I loved, don’t get me wrong.
How do you feel you’ve changed since having your son?
As a mother you’ve created life but it’s not just the birth of a baby - it’s the birth of you as a mother. It is hard and you struggle and you’re a rock bottom every few hours and you’re up and you’re down and it’s crazy! But you do it and you get on with it and you think, “If I can do that, what else can I do? How else can I push myself?”
When do you feel powerful?
It’s not even when I’m doing really well or I’ve achieved something. It could be when I’ve just gotten through the day most of the time because it’s hard when you’re an anxious person and you struggle with all these different things, putting yourself out there, it’s really, really difficult. So even like with the photo shoot we did, that was really hard for me! I was so nervous and I had to force myself to do it but I knew I would be so proud of it once it was done. I think mainly just pushing through even though you find something scary or the idea of it just sends you into a panic, just doing it anyway and push yourself and understand that you are capable of it.
Now that you’ve had your son, how do you feel about your body?
Amazing! When I was pregnant, I just felt like an absolute goddess! I’m quite short, I was really swollen, dumpy, couldn’t really walk anywhere but I felt amazing! I’m doing a job here, my body is serving a purpose and I still breastfeed my baby now and he’s nearly two and that’s a big part of it. It’s about seeing your body as something other than just something to please other people. You have these ideas of how it should be and what you should look like, maybe you just don’t have time to think about it when you’ve got a baby. I have a much better relationship with my body now that I’ve had River.
What would you like the evolution of Mere Soeur to be?
Well we’re working on a photo series at the moment called “The Future.” We shot one in L.A in the summer, we’re doing one in London and one in Hong Kong next month. I want to create portraits of different cities and of what motherhood is like in those cities.
Our kids are the next generation so we need to be mindful of that and be raising open-minded progressive children because they are our future. The world we live in now, there’s so much diversity and I didn’t grow up with that. I came from a little village in Wales and I didn’t see any of that.
As far as the Mère Soeur products and brand go I’d like to have actual bricks and mortar and to start employing people. I’m at the point now where I can’t do everything on my own. I want to employ people like me who are in situations where they have a baby, they can’t go back to work, they don’t have enough money or whatever - give them flexible hours, pay them a good wage and support that community that has been so good to me.
Photography: Lottie Bea Spencer
Set Design: Amy Stickland
Make-up and hair: Ezana Ove
Styling: Holly Macdonald
Editorial Assistant: Rhea Dillon