Molly Gunn aka Selfish Mother
Posted on September 21 2016
Molly has also been a journalist for fifteen years and written for The Guardian, The Telegraph, ES Magazine, Red Magazine and The Sunday Telegraph's Stella magazine.
Newnham: Can you tell us a bit about yourself; what were you like growing up and what did you do before founding Selfish Mother?
Gunn: I am a middle child - my older sister talked a lot so I didn’t talk until I was 3 but I used to go and get things and look after myself so my mum always called me a "go-getter." It feels that that has now translated into Selfish Mother as one of Selfish Mother motto’s is "MAKE IT HAPPEN."
I used to be a fashion journalist and the industry made me feel sad. I was Shopping Editor at a magazine and I was sent an staggering amount of freebies and courted by PR's with elaborate press trips. But I realised that I was being courted by big brands that were focused on profit. Many fashion and beauty brands put profit over people in the supply chain. Clothes and beauty products are sold fast and furiously and many shoppers expect cheap goods, turning a blind eye to where they come from or where their money goes.
Newnham: What gave you the idea to start Selfish Mother and how did you make that a reality?
Gunn: The idea for a blogzine called ‘Selfish Mother’ came like a thunderbolt in 2011 when my son Rafferty was six months old. I felt like I had been wading through treacle since he’d been born. I was a clueless new mum exhausting myself trying to follow lots of ‘parenting rules’ (such as Gina Ford's) but I wasn’t on a nice baby-focused maternity leave: I was a freelance journalist and also running a business with my husband (called millionhands) as well as looking after him! So every day felt like some kind of madness - but the moment I realised I should be looking after me as much as him, the madness lifted.
At the time there was no ‘mum and baby’ media or baby groups aimed at women like me - normal women just winging it. The industry at the time felt too patronising and "perfect" - like women were meant to have personality transplants the second they had kids and not confess about how hard it was. I wanted to read relevant stuff and go to cool places with my son and share what it was REALLY like - so I mulled over the idea and developed it and finally launched SelfishMother.com - a blogzine for like-minded women in Sep 2013, a few months after having my second son, Fox.
And then we launched the #GoodTees brand with our MOTHER tee in the summer of 2014.
Newnham: Each of your products help raise money for charity, why is this so important to you and how do you choose the charities?
Gunn: I launched the MOTHER tee initially as the news about Syria a couple of years ago made me weep. I wanted to do something to help, so I launched the tee to raise funds for Women for Women International. I felt that if a customer is spending a decent amount of money on a product then the money should go somewhere good. Hence #GOODTEES
We’ve raised a total of £250,000 so far which has been distributed to the following charities - all of whom do AMAZING work, which I totally believe in. I love working with them:-
Women for Women International - we have over 200 sponsored ‘sisters’ in war-torn countries
KIDS charity UK - who help disabled kids & the families have a better life
Mothers 2 Mothers - who believe in the power of mothers to end pediatric AIDS.
Help Refugees UK - who are grass roots organisation helping refugees in Calais and Greece.
The Refugee Council - who support refugees settle here in the UK
Yazda - who support Yazidi women who’ve been victims of ISIS
And we have more exciting partnerships in the pipeline…
Newnham: That's awesome. Since launching Selfish Mother, what have been the biggest obstacles you have faced and how did you overcome them?
Gunn: The daily juggling of spending enough time with my kids whilst also running my business and making sure my house is not a pit is a constant challenge. My biggest obstacle to date is happening as we speak, that someone is very closely mimicking our designs and passing them off as their designs. I can’t tell you how we have overcome it as we haven’t got there yet! But watch this space...
Newnham: What’s next for Selfish Mother?
Gunn: Right now it’s really exciting as we’re opening our first bricks and mortar store called The FMLY Store in Bruton, Somerset which will not only sell our good range of tees but some ace independent homeware and accessories brands as well as being a space for workshops and events for the whole family.
Newnham: What / who inspires you?
Gunn: Sunshine, Positivity. I’m inspired by women who have created inspirational, smooth running businesses. Specifically, Natalie Massenet who founded Net-a-Porter. This lady was running investment meetings when she had a new born baby. Net-a-Porter is is one of the slickest companies I have ever encountered. I was also inspired by Agatha Christie when growing up - she is an amazing novelist and mother who was also unstoppable.
Newnham: Finally, what advice would you give a younger Molly?
Gunn: Younger self? It’s not a weakness to delegate - it’s a strength. You don’t have to do everything on your own. My husband is a great delegator so I have learnt from him. Also, you don’t always have to be right - learn from failure. It’s good to admit your mistakes and acknowledge you can learn from them.
Thanks to Penny Simmons for coordinating.