Hello everyone! I hope that the first day of this new week has been a good one! It is always tricky, I find, adjusting back to the week-day routine after a lovely weekend off. Anyway, so last night, I gave you the opportunity to interview me. I asked you to ask me anything you liked, whether it was business related, personal or totally random and bonkers. You guys didn't disappoint, I have some cracking questions to answer.
With that said, I suggest you go and make yourself a nice cup of tea, put your feet up and settle down on the sofa to read through this exclusive interview style post.
Question 1 is from @girlinnorfolk - Any future plans for In The Country?
"Cracking way to kick things off! I have soooo many future plans for ITC that I couldn't even begin to explain them all. I'd love to introduce more products to our shop and I'd love to collaborate with some of my favourite brands to do so. I'd love to write a book or two and re-launch the Countryside Collective. All of which I plan to achieve, however I have to accept I cannot do them alone. I need to be able to expand the business and add a member or two to the ITC Team before I can grow and introduce so many of the exciting things I have planned! We are definitely one to watch though, we're only just getting started!"
Question 2 is from @paingeannestaff - Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
"In 5 years time, I will be 28. I am very family orientated and I am a dreamer, so in five years time I would love to have a little family of my own and home of our own. I am in love with the idea of my future and so I guess, I see myself having grown ITC to a point where I can sustain a life for myself and my family. I don't crave a HUGE house or a fancy care just happiness and stability for a family of my own. Soppy right?!"
Question 3 is from @sweetp.luxury - What are the 3 best lessons you have learnt?
"The biggest lesson I have learnt to date, and it stems from last year, is that you cannot do everything. Sometimes it is okay to say no or turn down an opportunity because if you over stretch yourself, you'll burn out... and I did. I didn't believe that until it happened. Now, I am much more realistic with my time and kinder to myself, I am learning to listen to my body.
Lesson number 2, people don't always want to help you. I try and see the best in people and that often perhaps clouds my judgement and as a result I have either been hurt or let down. People are complex and selfish creatures (not everyone, but a vast majority) and very little people will have your back, truly. Other than yourself and in my case, my family.
Lesson number 3, believe in yourself, even if it seems crazy. I had no prior experience in writing, graphic design, publishing, marketing or anything like that and yet, I have done and continue to, produce an international award winning magazine which has been recognised by influential figures such as Theo Paphitis. Grades and qualifications aren't everything."
Question 4 is from @johannathefinn - How did you get the idea to write a magazine to begin with?
"This is a big question and I will try to keep the answer short and sweet. I identified a gap in the market when working in advertising sales for an equestrian publication. I thought that there was no relatable, all round country lifestyle publication aimed at younger women that covered all aspects of life in the country, from shooting to farming, fashion to equestrianism. I thought to myself, why not change that and create one yourself, and so I did."
(@hannah_xmas and @lilifindafa I hope this one helps you as your questions were very similar ^)
Question 5 is from @sweetp.luxury - Proudest moment to date?
"Ah, this is a tough one! I was unbelievably proud to see all the orders of the first issue flying out the door and then subsequent new ones coming in so fast we could barely keep up! However, I do think being chosen as one of Theo Paphitis' Small Business Sunday winners and meeting him at the Winner's Event last year was an incredibly proud moment for me. I look forward to more of those though!"
Question 6 is from @blacknovadesigns - Who and what is your inspiration?
"Who is my inspiration? Hmmm, I think that would have to be my Dad. He is the most incredible man I know and I know he'll probably disagree but tough. He has created a fantastic life for himself and our family, working his way up to the top from very little. He grew up on a small farm in Scotland. He was always hard working and good at his job despite battling with a cruel and degenerative condition. He never moaned, never called in sick, was never sorry for himself (not that he'd let us see anyway) and through all of this he has been and is, the best father to me and my two sisters. He puts his family first, always and I admire that. We have a lot in common and I am most definitely my father's daughter. He is always there to advise me and guide me when I need it. I couldn't imagine life without him.
What is my inspiration? That is a little bit more difficult. I think the ideal of a happy and comfortable family life inspires me. It inspires me to grow my business and to make it succeed so that I can live a happy, healthy life one day with a family of my own. I want to see the world too and so my inspiration is my ideal of the future. If I focus on achieving that one day then it fuels me and spurs me on to succeed."
Question 7 is from @sweetp.luxury - Who would you love to work with in the magazine?
"Oooh there are so many people I'd love to work with, in terms of interviews and features. I'd love to interview Rachel Carrie, Charlotte Dujardin, Binky Felstead, Matt Baker, Chris Hughes, Deborah Meaden (she loves horses), Richard Branson (he started his career off by founding a magazine!!) and so so so many more! Richard Branson is probably top of my list! You'll have to keep following the magazine to see if I manage to work with any of those!"
Question 8 is from @annatrues - If you could do any job, apart from the one you're doing - what would it be?
"Great question! It is something I have thought about a lot too. I can honestly say I would go back into farming. I know if the magazine stopped tomorrow, I would go back out to New Zealand and work out there for a while, firstly on a dairy farm but then who knows. I'd like to look into tenant farming, if I didn't have the magazine, here or there."
Question 9 is from @jess240291 - Which wellies have you found last best for our country lives?
"Le Chameau without a doubt! This is in no way an advert and they have never paid me a penny to talk about their boots, I just think they're brilliant. They are comfortable, practical and versatile. They do the job perfectly! I hope that helps?"
Question 10 is from @farmmumlife - Is social media an income source for you?
"Honestly, no. I don't earn any money from sponsored posts, a lot of the product I feature is gifted by brands. However, with that said, I am constantly working to change this and to monetise my account in a way that allows me to stay true to who I am and the business. This year, I have introduced multi-media packages for advertisers and brands and am looking to push our social and digital advertising options more and more. However, for now, you can rest assured that all of my social content is genuine and I am not paid to say anything about a product or brand, all views are my own."
Question 11 is from @blacknovadesigns - What do you love most about your job?
"There are so many things I love about my job, I honestly don't think I could pick just one. I love the constant variety and the flexibility I have. I also love having the opportunity to create something that people love and enjoy reading. It is such a great feeling to feature someone or someone's product and see how excited they are to see it in print! I love that I get to meet so many new people too! One thing I do really love is the fact that I do something that hasn't really been done within this niche industry of country lifestyle magazines, not for a very long time at least. I like that we are different, we are unique and we have a brilliant and evolving story behind us that sets us apart from the rest of the magazines available. I also love how every day is a new challenge, even though sometimes it's exhausting!"
Question 12 is from @girl_inthe_country - How do you keep focused?
"With great difficulty haha! In all seriousness, I try to focus on what inspires me and why I am doing what I do. If I have a off day, I try and go back to when I started the magazine to identify and remind myself of why I started it. I find it very hard to say no to pretty much anything and everything. If a friend asks if I want to go riding or for coffee, it is almost impossible for me to say no, especially when I don't have any immediate impending deadlines looming, however I have got far better at this. Recently, I have found that talking with friends who own their own businesses helps to keep me focused. A few of us have a Mastermind WhatsApp group where we can go to if we need a little kick up the backside and I have found it a huge help! Also tea, lots and lots of tea!"
Question 13 is from @emsjane_moore - How did you start up your own magazine and what influenced you to do it?
"I hope question number 4 from @johannathefinn helps with the influence part of this question but I suppose how I started it is something different. I started the magazine very unconventionally, I had NO previous experience in creating a magazine at all. I Googled how to design a magazine and many of the results suggested using InDesign by Adobe and taught myself using YouTube tutorials how to use it (which is no mean feat I can tell you!!). I started by teasing the launch of a new magazine on social media and opened pre-orders months in advance which worked a treat. The rest is history really... I found a printer based in London whom I thought would be suitable, turns out I was wrong when the first batch arrived at my door with errors on a lot of the pages, this set me back a few weeks as I had to wait for a re-run, however they were perfect the second time around. This really has been a DIY, home-grown business venture and each issue I feel we are improving as my knowledge of InDesign improves and as we begin to find our feet and our voice in the world of magazines and publishing.
Question 14 is from Danielle Holmes on Facebook - Gin or wine?
"100% gin Danielle! I do like a glass of wine every now and again after a hectic day but I always find I wake up with a sore head!! Gin is delicious, it is so easy to drink and I love to try out new and independent gins. My tipple of choice is a gin, lemonade and lime cordial with ice... delicious!"
Question 15 is from Danielle Holmes again - What does a typical 'day in the life of Hollie-Ella' consist of?
'I am quite lucky that I am able to be my own boss and work my own hours and so much of what I do changes from day to day. I am not really one for a morning or bed time routine (as much as I would like to have one, I just can't stick to it!), however each morning I do get up at around 8:15, James has left for work and I've got to go and let Simba out. Usually, I will muck out and get everything ready for him when he comes in from the field later on, although I am struggling with this massively at the moment. From there, I tend to check on and catch up with social media and any emails from the day before. After that, it really depends on what I need to do that day... I know I should really have more of a working week structure but I am yet to sort that out really, I am hoping my dear friend Tara might be able to help me out with this moving forward! Much of how my day looks will vary with the time of year too, if the magazine has arrived then my day is taken up with wrapping and sending out magazines for a good few weeks! However, I will fill my day with working on pages, emails, running errands, meetings or attending events. Simba comes in at 3:30pm each day and so if I am able to get to the yard for then, I will go and bring him in and usually I will spend some time with him and maybe ride before putting him to bed and giving him his dinner. From the yard, it's time to head home to meet James who has finished work by this time, if I get there in time then we'll both take Bella for a walk or I'll start on dinner. I am grateful each day for the flexibility of my lifestyle currently."
Wow! I have had so much fun answering these questions, thank you all for sending them in! I hope you've enjoyed reading through them! If you have any more questions you'd like me to answer, send me an email at email@example.com
Until next time...
Lots of love,