Amanda of HerCanberra

Q1) Tell us a little about yourself!

I’m the founder and CEO of local media brand HerCanberra—we have a website, social media channels, magazine and event series—all of which keep me very busy. The rest of my time is spent as Dance Mum to my two gorgeous girls, Olivia (13) and Sophia (11), Cat Mum to Sir George Baker (2) and partner of Drew (probably rude to reveal his age).

Q2) Tell us about what you do, and why you do it!

HerCanberra is a hyper-local media brand—everything we do is about celebrating Canberra and the people who live here. So often, Canberra is written off as a grey and boring home to politicians and roundabouts, when we locals know there’s so much more to it.

I started the website in 2011 following Sophia’s premature birth at 30 weeks—when she came home after 10 weeks in NICU it was with chronic lung disease, which meant childcare (and therefore work for me) was not an option for a couple of years.

I was lonely and isolated and discovered the ability of the internet to connect people, and wondered why Canberra didn’t have a website for people like me who wanted to discover the city and feel like they were part of a community. Nearly nine years on and we reach nearly 140,000 people every month via the website and have a social media following of more than 90,000—that’s a lot of people who we are reaching and hopefully providing with a sense of belonging and local pride.

I do what I do because I think feeling a sense of belonging is the single most important thing (next to food, water, shelter, etc.). When I get an email from someone thanking me for being their lifeline as they moved to Canberra, that honestly makes my heart sing. That’s what it’s all about. I’m also fiercely loyal to Canberra and am on a mission to prove just how cool it is.

Q3) What makes you feel courageous?

Knowing the belief that my family and friends have in me. Their support is unwavering and constantly lifts me to greater heights. 

Q4) What is one thing you wish you could tell your 16-year-old self?

You may not feel like you are ‘enough’—pretty enough, skinny enough, cool enough—but you are smart and driven and capable of so much more than you realise. You will face a whole lot of adversity in your life and not only will you come through it, you will become a stronger and better person because of it. Believe it or not, you will inspire people. Just keep being you and don’t be so hard on yourself.

Q5) What is one piece of advice you can give a fellow lady who might be lacking courage?

Feel the fear and do it anyway!

Sophia’s early birth was, without a doubt, the scariest thing that ever happened to me. I remember the day—about six weeks after she was born when she just didn’t seem to be getting any better—when I told my best friend that I wasn’t sure if she was going to come home alive. That experience changed my perspective on things. I realised just how fleeting life could be and I realised that I didn’t want to get to the end of my life and regret the things I hadn’t done.

One of those things for me was learning to dance. All my life I had this yearning (I can’t think of any better way to describe it) to dance, but I wasn’t allowed to take lessons as a child. Finally, in my late thirties I made a pledge to learn to dance by the time I was 40—I didn’t want to look back at the end of my life and think ‘what if?’. Which is how I ended up becoming a Zumba instructor, and have also done classes in pretty much every type of Latin dance as well as Contemporary and a few others. It’s one of the best decisions I ever made—dance is my happy place and I can’t imagine my life without it.   

The principle is the same for anything that fear is holding you back from doing. Just do it. You may fail, but at least you’ll have tried, and you won’t die wondering.


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