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This Mother’s Day we are sharing insights into the life of our very own Nagnata Co-Owner and Art Director Hannah Stenmark.

Mother of two beautiful boys aged 4 and 6 weeks. Hannah is inspiring us everyday with her ability to balance, lead and succeed while remaining present for her family and partner in life and work.

Hannah, thanks for finding the time to sit down with us in your more than busy schedule! Firstly, congratulations on your baby boy and continuing to add to the Nagnata family. As an incredibly successful mother of two and co-director of Nagnata, this Mother's Day we would like to shed some light into the behind-the-scenes, the joys and challenges of motherhood within a full-time working career position. Could you share some of your personal insights on the challenges faced by mother figures pursuing a career in fashion?

Bringing a human into this world is the greatest gift and being present with the capacity to give whole-hearted love and energy is everything! That means making room in an already full life to fit something else in. 

I have come to acknowledge that I can't “have it all” when pursuing a career as a working mother, there has to be sacrifice. My new role naturally encouraged me to make a decision about how engaged I wanted to be as a mum and the type of work-life balance I'm comfortable with in order to still achieve my goals.

The biggest challenge I find is to show up everyday. Showing up not just physically for my work team, partner and children but also emotionally for everyone including myself. As everyone needs something from me.

Real life is not what is portrayed on instagram. Getting myself together some days is a challenge, and that’s ok. Being a working mum has taught me to embrace my feminine energy and duty in this moment, and not succumb to the pressures that forced me to work to the point of burnout with my first child. It has taught me resilience, to strengthen my filter against toxic social expectations and to become more efficient with my time - just get in and get it done ! 

Reflecting on your journey, particularly with your first-born, you and your husband encountered the remarkable challenge of overcoming premature birth. Could you share with us your experiences of the highs and lows of both of your pregnancies?

Everyone has their own journey and set of challenges unique to their experience. I struggled with compartmentalising the rollercoaster of my recent pregnancy while simultaneously managing all facets of the business and a toddler at home. After a traumatic experience with my first child being born at 27 weeks we endured 3 long months in the hospital NICU while working from his incubator side. The responsibilities involved with owning and running a business don’t stop when thrown into unexpected circumstances. Pumping milk every few hours day and night for the three months, then attempting to maintain a healthy milk supply while working full time and around the clock became a challenge. This whole experience naturally bred anxieties through the miscarriage that followed and the more recent third pregnancy which (thankfully) was a successful one. 

The hormonal whirlwind of the last 4 years has taken its toll but also really helped me question what’s important, how I manage my mental and physical health, as well as shape who I am and how I navigate life as a working mum. I’m still practising every day to be gentle, speak kindly to myself, acknowledge where I'm at, and seek help if I feel I'm slipping. There is no time to sweat the small stuff anymore. 

How do you believe support for equality in motherhood within a working environment could be improved?

My sense is that while Australia is a long way ahead of many countries we could be doing more to support new mothers of all backgrounds and circumstances. Afterall, without women enduring nine long months of pregnancy and often painful and traumatic births we wouldn’t all be here. 

A common theme among friends is that they have to go back to work sooner than they should postpartum in order to keep financially stable, the result of this is significant and perhaps not apparent. On top of that, in order to re-enter the workforce, many have had to stop breastfeeding as it’s just not practical in certain work environments. 

In Sweden, mothers get 18 months paid maternity leave compared to our 5. I think 5 months just isn’t enough time for both mum and baby to be in a place where they are ready to be completely separated. As a women experiencing postpartum, the journey to recovery both mentally and physically can often be a slow and difficult one so knowing they had less pressure would benefit women greatly in the longer term.

From witnessing first hand, I also feel that mums of premature or sick babies should get extended maternity leave to cover them while they’re in the NICU. So many mums have to either quit their job to be with their child full time, or leave the child while they work, and then it’s the child who suffers from lack of affection in those critical first few days, weeks or months.

Could you elaborate on how you prioritise self-care while balancing the demands of both motherhood and your career?

We all know the saying “in order to take care of others you first need to take care of yourself”. This could not be truer in motherhood. At the end of the day, nothing else matters. In my view health and family come before any deadline. I’ve experienced severe nervous system burn out after the birth of my premature baby and it's a scary place to be. You only get one shot at life so don’t be afraid to seek whatever help you need to keep yourself on track. You will only be able to bring your best if you are taking care of yourself. 

Adding a second child to a family can often be a challenge. How do you master the juggle of two kids?

Let’s revisit this again in 6 months… haha. We are currently navigating turbulent waters as our 4 year old adjusts to having a sibling and to say it is a challenge is an understatement. But I continue to be told “it’s just a phase.. It will pass”. So of course the future looks bright. Experiencing moments of love blossoming between them is worth every tantrum right now.

Nagnata is first and foremost a family business with you, your sister and husband in director positions. Can you discuss the impact this makes on your motherhood journey?

Owning and operating a family business certainly has pros and cons. The con is that you can't really ever switch off, so “maternity leave” isn’t really “leave”. I’m always telling myself “don't check your emails, Hannah!!”.

The pro is that I have my husband and sister around for support and the flexibility to ensure I’m doing what I need to support myself and family too.

To all the mothers,

We all have our own journey, not to be compared. Each one is as important as the other, with its own set of challenges. The support we can offer each other through conversation and sharing our experiences is a powerful resource as it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and alone during pregnancy and postpartum. Your strength, resilience, and unwavering love inspire me every day and I'm honoured to be part of such an incredible community of women. Happy Mothers Day.

With love and gratitude,

Hannah Stenmark

Co-Owner and Art Director, Nagnata

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