It’s not until you become a mum that you fully realise the importance of coffee. And when coffee is the only thing between you and sleep deprivation then you know it needs to be great coffee. Miami mum, Stephanie Lawson-Taylor, is a purveyor of wonderful coffee. She’s the creative dynamo behind Canvas at Nobby Beach. This cafe is just around the corner from our holiday unit at the Coast and we love her coffee. Canvas is part-coffee shop, part-art space, part-gift shop and is a real statement about all that makes this mum tick. Stephanie is a former art director for women’s magazines. She left her globetrotting life behind to return home to Australia, start a family and open her own business. She juggles her busy work life with the care of her daughter Anais California Taylor, 2. Read on to find out how she does it.
Anais was only 18-months old when you started Canvas, that was a brave move.
When I opened in May 2011, she was only one-and-a-half and it was really manageable at that point because she still was happy to pay in a corner and hold onto my leg. By the time she hit two things were a little bit different. Now she’s in day care four days a week.
In a ‘previous life’ you were an art director, what did this involve?
I worked as art director for a few different titles over six years. Most recently I was with Shape Magazine in the UK, which is the world’s biggest-selling health and beauty magazine. As art director I was responsible for co-ordinating the fashion shoots. I flew everywhere – from Spain to the Arctic Circle to the Caribbean. I usually travelled with a couple of photographers and two or three models. It was pretty high-flying and really fast-paced – the burnout rate for art directors is very high.
Did your approach to work change when you became a mum?
Yes, you’re very restricted. You know you have to drop your child off at nine and pick them up at four. Not many careers fit in that time slot. When you do collect them you have to be emotionally available and physically energised, you have to have head space for them. I knew that initially it would be really difficult to run the business but by the time she’s in prep she’ll have 12 weeks holiday a year and I wanted to have somewhere she could come and be with me as much as possible. I know the next two years will be difficult but I’m hoping the bigger picture will prevail.
Canvas is filled with art and you create a lot of it. What was your vision for the shop?
I think when you’re a mum you get pretty hooked on coffee. I love coffee and believe it should be good quality. If I’m going to have a coffee it should be a beautiful coffee. I wanted to create a place where you could enjoy the smells – the fresh pastries, read a cool magazine, buy some unique gifts. I wanted to provide a really well-rounded, inspiring experience. I am the artist in-residence and I also provide an interior design service for clients in south-east Queensland.
What is the best bit about being a mum?
The big cuddles at the beginning and end of each day. I also get a big kick out of seeing Anais paint and draw; she has a natural affinity to it, just like me.
What’s the hardest bit of being a mum?
Having the patience and energy to be gentle and calm at the end of a big working day.
What do you miss most about your pre-children life?
Dancing ’til dawn!
As a mum I’m really good at … helping my child gain independence and make her own choices.
As a mum I suck at … Going to bed early so I can bounce out of bed when my daughter does.
What role does ‘dad’ play in the care of your kids?
Dad cares for Anais all weekend as this is my busiest time in the shop… he’s great at all the fun stuff, like monkey bars and teaching her to ride her Scooter.
How do you keep it all together?
I just keep going, no matter how hard it seems to juggle it all. I’ve also just started doing Yoga once a week, which keeps me grounded and reminds me to look after myself too.
What sort of childcare do you utilise?
Anais goes to a toddler room at Kool Kids on Monday and Tuesday, and then again on Thursday Friday. She has Wednesday at home with me. She is a very social and confident child, so actually needs this kind of stimulation. I do try as much as possible to keep her days short, as she needs home time and mummy-time.
Favourite child-friendly outing?
The birdfeeding at Currumbin Sanctuary and we have Seaworld passes, so we do mini-visits to see the polar bears almost every week.
What’s for dinner tonight?
I have no idea! Until just now I hadn’t even thought about it. Lately I’ve been loving Lilydale chicken patties with a plate of fresh salad.
What qualities do you most want to pass on to your daughter?
Honesty, responsibility and to remember to seek out happiness. Then, to give back to your community and the earth.
What is the hardest part of being a working mum?
The constant feeling that you’re doing everything badly!
What is the best part of being a working mum?
When people tell you you’re doing a good job.
Do you have any secrets for balancing work and parenting?
Sleep as much as you can.
Do you ever contemplate giving up work because it’s too hard to balance work & family?
Yes, but financial pressure keeps me getting out of bed each day and doing it all again!
You can see Stephanie’s art at www.ilovecanvas.com.au