Clare Grove - Mother to Mother/Author/Illustrator/Fashion Influencer

"It might take longer but it is possible to create a career in only 4 hours per day."
"I’ve picked myself up so many times that I’ve now mastered learning from my mistakes and to carry on regardless.
Clare Grove at home .jpg

Overview of earlier career.

Degree in Illustration and Graphic Design.  An early career in retail fashion in London, then married and relocated.  After the arrival of her first child, a friend gave Clare a beautiful book as a present. This book combined fashion and children and the seed of an idea was planted.  Clare now has three children who are 11, 9 and 5. 

The trigger for change?

After her first year of being a mother, Clare started to reflect on her career once more.  She knew four things:

  • She didn’t want to work in a corporate;
  • She wanted to have more bigger family in the future,
  • She wanted to have a piece of her life that was for herself and
  • She wanted to work at something she would really enjoy.   

She had always loved the world of design and fashion and decided to start something not knowing where it would end up.

She sat down at the kitchen table one evening after her daughter had gone to bed and began to sketch.  Those early sketches eventually grew into her first book and kick-started a range of wildly diverse opportunities in Clare’s career with many twists and turns. 

First steps?

Everything grew from those initial sketches which Clare then developed into her first children’s book “Mummy Loves Shoes” http://www.my-mummy-loves.com/.  She then began a long and painful process of pitching her manuscript to publishers which sadly ended with many rejections.  After deciding to self-publish, she began to sell the book to individual stores and at trade fairs.  These then led to being featured in leading NZ publications, Fashion Quarterly and House & Garden within which she now has her own monthly column.  She has become a fashion influencer for brands such as Andrea Moore, Runway Shoes, Estee Lauder, Tom Ford makeup and Lumity Life anti-ageing supplements.  She takes personal commissions for her illustrations and has released her second book, My Mummy Loves Bags. She has pitched to Bergdorf Goodman in New York. She is sent dresses from designers to wear at specific fashion events.  She has launched her own line of stationery and designed an app The Fash Pack App, http://www.my-mummy-loves.com/fash-pack-app/.  And much, much more.   

What Clare learned?

“Everything is a learning curve – although that is easier to say in hindsight than it is to feel it at the time! I’ve picked myself up so many times that I’ve now mastered learning from my mistakes and to carry on regardless.” One of my favourite sayings is:

*As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better*

Some of her “mistakes” include paying a lot of money to attend a trade fair where she didn’t make as many sales as she’d hoped. She went home feeling incredibly deflated. Three weeks later she got a call from the Editor of Fashion Quarterly whom she had met at that trade fair asking to feature her in the magazine.  That article provided great PR and more opportunities started to pour in.

Another expensive “mistake” happened when her first printer in Korea sent her huge batch of books with the spines printed upside down and some even had noodles amongst the pages! “Let’s just say I didn’t use that printer again”.

“Don’t do anything just for the money – you have to love what you do first.”

“If you don’t follow your heart, you might spend the rest of your life wishing you had.”

“Keep your head up, even if it feels as if you are drowning.”  There were so many occasions when Clare felt like giving up and an email would arrive from a mum whose daughter had really enjoyed one of the books.  Those comments gave her the energy to keep going.

“It might take a bit longer but it is possible to create an amazing career in only 4 hours a day”Clare mostly works between 10am and 2pm and then attends events occasionally on weekends when her husband is around. She loves having something that is her own but also prioritising the children before and after school. “It’s a juggle sometimes but it works for us.”

“Everything is connected as long as you are doing things in a field that you love.”   Everything Clare did has a fashion or design element - from her degree to early retail jobs, the stores that she visits, the events she attends and the brands that she supports.  Every experience and connection she made from any angle was useful to her.

“Start NOW! – don’t wait until the time is perfect – the perfect time will probably never arrive.”

“Say ‘Yes’ to opportunities as they may turn out to be different opportunities than you had imagined – often better.”

What Clare would do differently if she had to do it all again?

“Nothing…yes, I wish that some of the mishaps hadn’t happened along the way, but everything is a learning curve and if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.” 

How it feels on the days when she knows she has made the right decision?

“When I get those emails or comments from mums who have read my book to their children, and they choose their favourite pages – it’s a fantastic feeling.  I feel very fortunate to be able to do what I love and work with such inspiring people while still being a mum to my children, who are my main priority.”

Any regrets?

None!