How did the idea for your business first come about?
In 2014 clean eating was massive. Having a successful healthy food blog seemed to rely on looking hot in a bikini and drinking from a coconut while sharing seemingly unrelated Dalai Lama quotes. Starting Shannon’s Kitchen was a chance to offer something different to that preachy perfection; something silly and relaxed — but mostly it was so I could be a turkey and use the words sauté and penis in the same sentence. The blog quietly grew and the following year a publisher contacted me about writing a cookbook. It didn’t end up happening because my writing was a little too fruity for the conservative market but the seed was planted and I made a loose plan with myself to pursue a cookbook.
When did you have a ‘f*ck-it moment’ and decide you were going to go all-in and start your business?
Over the next couple of years I paid my blog very little attention because it was a hobby and I had bugger-all spare time. But after my second baby stopped being a silly goose about sleep, some space opened up in my life for things other than incy-wincy spiders and tiny people’s bodily fluids. “Hmmn, should I take up badminton? Have an affair? Or indie-publish this bloody cookbook I’ve been dreaming of?” My hand-eye coordination sucks doodle so badminton wasn’t enticing and my commitment to waxing was too poor for an affair. It felt like it was ‘now or never’ for the cookbook. I crunched the numbers and worked out how much it would roughly cost to produce the book (a-fucking-lot) and how many copies I’d have to sell to break even. Could I sell that many? I reckoned I could so I drew money against our home and I went for it hammer and tong.
What were some major challenges you had when starting your business? And how did you overcome them?
The major challenge for me was that I had no clue how to actually produce a book. So, I bloody Googled it! The Internet Machine has more to offer than adorable videos of surprised kittens and morons planking — the first steps to indie-publishing my book-baby were found there. Hooray! The key for me was being unafraid to ask questions and hiring the right people to work with. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing at any stage but I refused to feel embarrassed about my lack of knowledge because I was trying my guts out and taking it on, step by step. And with amazing help, I learned so much.
What has been your biggest “pinch me” moment?
In late 2017, Zoë Foster Blake included Shannon’s Kitchen in her roundup of books of the year — one of my friends rang me to tell me and I almost tinkled in my pants with excitement. I couldn’t believe it.
Starting a business can be gruelling - what keeps you motivated, and keeps you going?
I’m lucky because my work (making Shannon’s Kitchen and now Parenting for Legends) is really bloody fun. Producing the books has been shitloads of work but I really love it — that’s what keeps me going: the sheer joy of it. When it comes to actually selling the books and fulfilling the orders it’s the thought of the person giggling while reading my book that pumps up my tyres and gets my arse into gear.
How do you create a work-life balance?
I’m shit at it, to be honest. I have two little boys who don’t do day-care so I create ‘balance’ through a distinct lack of sleep. I’d like to get better at this because most mornings I wake up looking like I crawled out of a giant penis and my relationship with coffee has become fairly intense. So when it comes to work-life balance I need to receive the tips rather than dispense them!
What’s your Personal/Favourite Quote
It changes from ‘just be kind’ to ‘fuck this shit’ to ‘push on hard when it hurts a bit’ to ‘no job’s too big, no pup’s too small’ to ‘always say yes to cake’… depends on the day and whether or not I’m hungry.