Author: karen

Karen Miles Global Sisters

NEW SISTER TRIBE

It’s been a long time between posts! I landed an amazing new job and it’s taken me on this new and exciting wild ride.

Taking my magazine and digital media skills, combining them with my obsessive LOVE of shopping and drive to support women, I’m now the new Head of Retail at social enterprise Global Sisters. Global Sisters exists to support women excluded from mainstream employment to create financial independence and empowerment through small business ownership. GS runs business programs, matches women with amazing coaches and mentors, and I have the privilege of working alongside them, and women internationally, to commission and market their beautiful handmade, ethically produced, luxe products for our online store The Market.

I’m in shopping heaven.

When I left my magazine editor job I wrote these words on my facebook quote: she believed she could so she did.

And I did.

 

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HOLLABACK GIRL

How amazing is it when an idea you have in your head becomes reality. For my final cover for CHILD Magazines I collaborated with the uber talented Nathan Johnson from Blacklist Studio (and dad of two) – he created all of the coverline artwork. Surrounding yourself with ridiculously talented, genuinely caring people like Nathan and my amazing photographer Sue Stubbs, who nailed this shot for me, is the best.

Gwen Stefani aka Hollaback Girl was my inspo for this cover art. The song is said to be Gwen’s stance on her preference for being a leader not a follower (ie: not a girl who is confined to holla back what others say for her), and that’s what I wanted my final August 2016 ‘Creativity + Education’ cover to express.

Read more about what stories I chose to run in my very last issue of CHILD at the beautiful childmagsblog.com

 

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#HIREMUM

Recent return-to-work mum and talented copywriter Jane Woolard wrote to me at CHILD Magazines about her struggle to return to her career in the creative industry she loved. Jane had been out of the paid (‘office job’) workforce for almost 12 years but had maintained a successful paid freelancing portfolio working from home.

When she finally landed a great role with flexible, part time hours, her new boss company director Emelye not only asked all about Jane’s family, she sent the kids this letter.

#EmployerOfTheYear #HireMum #BossGoals

 

Clare Bowen

STILL ME

Rather than our usual studio cover shoot, for the May 2016 issue I planned a visit to the Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick to meet a super special and seriously cool kid – Olivia. Isn’t she beautiful?

May cover CHILD magazine

I showed my daughter Scarlett the cover shots of Olivia after the shoot day and we had a great chat about ‘difference’ and what’s considered beautiful and ‘normal’. Love challenging beauty norms.

The inspo behind this cover came from one of my fave TV show’s Nashville (did I just out myself?). Last year, my favourite character in the show (played by the soulful Australian actress/singer Clare Bowen) cut off her stunning, angelic, super duper long golden curls to a short pixie cut. Why such a big change? Read the beautiful story.

 

Facebook Profile APR16

MAGAZINE FIRST

Thank you! What an incredible reaction we’ve received for our April 2016 cover of CHILD and the stories inside. In the issue, we explored what the idea of home means to three different families, in particular, our cover kid Tjandamurra who is being raised and valued within a family that spans generations imbued in Aboriginal culture as well as European influences.

I have mixed feelings that this is CHILD’s first cover, and possibly the first mainstream parenting magazine cover, to feature an Aboriginal child. I’m proud and excited that I created it and that it meant so much to Tjandamurra’s family and so many readers, but I’m also sad that it took so long for this to happen in Australia.

The April issue also includes an exclusive book extract from acclaimed journalist Stan Grant’s new book Talking To My Country. I was so moved by his speech last year that it woke up my thinking to consider more deeply what life is like for Australia’s indigenous families and children. The extract is Stan sharing about his childhood and our shared Australian story.

Continuing our exploration of what home means, there’s also a powerful piece I commissioned which sheds light on the five domestic violence warning signs a survivor of 15 years wants our daughters to know.

Being a journalist, my intent is that my storytelling shed light on matters you may never have considered before. I hope you derive great value from the April issue of CHILD as you consider, what is home to you?

Sacred Cow

EDUCATION’S SACRED COW

Dogma, belief, opinion and philosophy are alive and kicking in modern parenting, especially when it comes to the education and success of our children. In our March Education issue of CHILD Magazine we addressed five of the most commonly held educational myths, like ‘High grades predict career success’ and ‘Homework improves learning outcomes’, and upend them.

Our goal with this article was to contribute some fresh thinking around education. Like everything we do at CHILD, we want to free parents up from all the ‘shoulds’ that keep us awake at night while we worry if we’re doing the best thing for our kids. There is way too much pressure on our children, and parents, to perform at school, and from such an early age. I hope this article alleviates some of that stress.

I’m so grateful to Dr Helen Street for her smart ideas and research for this story. And, there’s nothing I like more than a good myth buster.

Grab your March issue out now around Australia, or catch the article online from April 2016.

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CLASS MUM MATERIAL…

It’s been an interesting start to 2016 and I never (like, ever) thought I’d do this…I replied ‘yes’ to an invitation to fill the role of 3F Class Mum 2016.

Have you ever been a class mum and totally regretted it, or loved it and volunteered again? I think I might need your tips.

Here are the three reasons why I said yes to being my daughter Scarlett’s class mum.

 

 

February CHILD Magazine

GOT EVENT FATIGUE?

In 2016, I know what I don’t want, which is why the February issue of CHILD magazine (out now) addresses a super important issue for all of us: Permission Note Fatigue – the cause and effect on parents of too many school events, volunteer requests, newsletters and notes coming home – and what you and your school can do about it. It’s time to tone down the crazy.

You can read more about the Feb issue here and watch our video of our CHILD Cover Kid Search winner! Ariana was a total stand out for me among the kids who entered our search. I loved her spirit and confidence. I worked with the fun team at Network Ten’s Studio 10 – Sarah, Joe, Ita and Jessica – to cast their favourite votes, as well as the fabulous Robyn from The Carousel. I think it’s one of my favourite covers. I created something that was a little bit The Belles of St Trinians circa 1954, a bit Chrissy Amphlete and maybe even a little ACDC, but really just lots of fun.

I hope your new school year isn’t too overwhelming and you’re finding your feet in February.

 

Photography: Image and flatlay styling by my fab digital content person Jenna Templeton. Cover photography: Sue Stubbs

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ETHICAL FASHION

I love retail therapy and I love fashion. Towards the end of 2015 however, I found out where some of my clothes are made and I’ve never shopped the same since. (Read my article here.)

This year, watch The True Cost movie (it’s online and also on Netflix).

Turns out, some operators in the fashion industry are not only the second biggest polluters of our planet (after oil, seriously), they employ women, children and men in conditions you would never work under.

It’s not as difficult as I thought it would be to shop more ethically and sustainably. After you’ve watched the doco do these two things:

  1. Download the free Good on You app to help you find ethical labels near you in Australia plus you can give your fave labels feedback to do better
  2. Discover ten of the ethical fashion labels I love here and here

Happy shopping.

 

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STILLBIRTH SYMPTOMS

“We knew something was wrong. The sonographer pulled away, put her hand on mine and said, “I’m sorry, there’s no foetal heart.” Ben grabbed my hand and we both had tears streaming down our faces. I wanted to scream, but I just clenched up as our sonographer looked for a cause. All I could say to her was, “It’s okay, it’s okay.” I look back and think: what was okay in that moment?”

Every day, six babies are stillborn in Australia. That is one in every 135 babies. For every one baby that dies of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), 35 are stillborn. In 40 percent of cases, the cause is never known. When Victoria from The Stillbirth Foundation Australia got in touch with me and shared these stats, I knew we needed to help. We ran a powerful story in our October 2015 issue of CHILD Magazines.

There are common associated causes, common risk factors and preventative steps your GP, OB, friends and family may be hesitant to share with you as a new mum-to-be so here’s what you need to know here and here, including advice on what to say when someone has lost a baby.

 

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80’s SKATE PARTY

A childhood spent skating up and down, and up and down, our driveway in a pair of blue and yellow suede stripe skates plus birthday parties at the local roller rink (the music! the disco lights!) inspired my first fashion shoot for CHILD’s September 2015 issue.

What could go wrong inviting a group of kids to a party and putting them in roller skates, for the first time, ever?

Fortunately there were plenty of helpers and no spills, but lots of laughs and reminiscing about what we wore in the 80’s. Pink terry toweling play suit anyone?

This is a video of behind the scenes, including all the final shots and yes, that appears to be me jumping around behind the camera like I’ve had too much sherbet (not that too much sherbet is a thing) trying to get one of the kids to crack a smile. Anything for the shot.

Photographer: Sue Stubbs, Stylist: Olivia Waugh

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REFUGEE DEBATE

What would you do if you and your children no longer had a future to live for?

For a long time, I didn’t understand or engage in the ‘boat people’ debate. After watching factual programs like Go Back to Where You Came From on SBS, I realised that parents, no matter what country they came from, will do anything to keep their children safe.

“We couldn’t celebrate a lot of the important milestones in my children’s lives – my daughter turned three when we were leaving Afghanistan, and I remembered it was her birthday while we were escaping in a van.”

In the November 2015 issue of CHILD Magazines I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing a refugee mother and her now 21-year-old daughter who recounted for us their passage to Australia. Their beautiful daughter, born in Australia, featured on our cover.

Read the full interview here.

Guy Sebastian

DINNER WITH GUY

In my previous role as Editor of Kitchens & Bathrooms Quarterly magazine I loved to interview talented Australians and get a peek inside their homes.

I was super excited to sit down to dinner with Australian music’s nice guy Guy Sebastian and his gorgeous wife and stylist Jules.

Over dinner I asked all the requisite designery questions, ‘how involved were you in the design of your new kitchen’ (very), ‘what was your inspiration’ (the ocean view).

At the end of the night I leaned in and asked Guy if I could ask him a more personal, off-topic question. I meant for it to be a private conversation but the entire table (his people, my people) leaned in too. Pretty sure my cheeks flushed red.

The thing is, I wanted to ask him a question very personal to me. I had been going through a tough time in the months leading up to the interview (typical overachiever stuff – what is my life about, where the heck am I going) and it was one of Guy’s songs that was getting me through.

The song was Don’t Worry Be Happy (not to be confused with the 80’s musical stylings of Bobby McFerrin). I wanted to know why Guy wrote it, and we both came to the conclusion that music has the power to shift your mind to a positive state.

I thought that was the end, a quick exchange that meant mountains to me and, I had assumed, was just another day in the life of the lovely Guy Sebastian.

A few days later I got a late night sms from one of Guy’s PR people who had set up the dinner interview. She was at his Sydney concert. She wanted to know was I in the audience? (no, sad face) and then this: “Guy just dedicated a song to you”. And then he sang our song.

 

Photography credit: Paul Van Kan

May 2015 cover

NEXT TOP MODEL

This May 2015 cover shoot is undoubtedly one of my favourites as Editor of CHILD.

That day we had two beautiful little ballerinas running around the set belting out lyrics from Frozen’s Let it Go while pirouetting their hearts out. The girls live with Down Syndrome and it’s about time they got a shot at a magazine cover.

The Australian magazine industry’s Publish Awards 2015 agreed as did thousands of social media likers who shared the cover.

Do you love this video from our shoot?

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FOR MY DAUGHTER

When I started writing more frequently for childmagsblog.com my digital editor Bron asked me to write about something personal to do with motherhood.

Where do you start?

Being a Virgo, I searched for ideas among my back files of stories I had written when the kiddos were babies. I was delighted (mission achieved) when I found something that could work but also moved by the private letter I stumbled across that I had penned for my daughter when she was just a wee two year old.

Here are the 10 things I want my daughter to know.

 

 

June 2014 cover

AFRAID TO GIVE BIRTH

I was afraid to give birth. With the wisdom of hindsight I now know that my mind had no connection with my body and what it can do. I didn’t know how to trust myself and I didn’t know if I could handle pain, or how much pain there would be.

At the parent-to-be hospital classes they would flick on a video of a woman giving birth and I’d leave the room crying, hiding in the toilets so no one could see how much ‘failure’ I already felt.

My mind was powerful and it created an emergency c-section with baby no 1 and a transverse position for baby no 2 who also came out the sunroof.

Do I genuinely care now how my babies came out? Not really. They’re safe, healthy and happy, and so am I.

Do I wonder what the experience of birth is like and whether it is as transformative as some say. Sometimes.

This natural birth story we published in the June 2014 issue of CHILD also made be cry, but for happier reasons. I wish I was given this information in those hospital classes when I was becoming a mum.

 

Bikers Against Child Abuse

BIKERS AGAINST ABUSE

I have trouble talking about this story without sobbing.

Strength On My Side appeared in our March 2015 issue of CHILD.

I heard about a group of bikers. They’re called BACA – Bikers Against Child Abuse. These bikers are heroes and role models. They stand guard outside the home of a child who has been abused to keep the abuser from returning. They dip their hands in pretty pink paint to stamp across children’s bedroom walls as a reminder that the child is now safe. There are motorbike escorts when a child needs to testify in court and special biker teddies to cuddle at night.

Read the full story here.

Nov 2013 cover

IT STARTED HERE

When I started at CHILD Magazines in Sept 2013 as Editor, the magazine was in need of a redesign. This was our first redesigned cover – November 2013. The cover kid, Chelsea, is a friend of my daughter Scarlett. She has a great spirit and an other-worldly vibe, perfect for our first eco themed issue.

The goal of the redesign was to zig because every other parenting magazine zags – that meant avoiding the mish mash of bright colours and babies in tulle headbands you typically see on parenting magazine covers. Parenting mags are for grown ups, and it was time for CHILD to also ‘grow up’ and be more discerning, modern and visually stunning.

On our covers, the child is the hero because our vision is to be ‘every child’s champion’. We chose a strong masthead because we produce strong articles (more on that later), and I wanted it to look hand drawn, just like we did back at school on our folders.

The third cover element is our coverlines which we love to play with – using different fonts, hand drawn elements and content that has fun but also importantly, questions parenting taboos.

This cover won GOLD at the international Parenting Media Awards which made me feel pretty darn good.