South Australian interior designer
Alex Williams is an interior stylist, creator, dancer and business owner from Mt Gambier South Australia, and a mum of 2.
We chat about why it is so important for her to retain her self identity, how she is going against the mothering modelling that she was shown, and the importance of supporting your husband as much as they are supporting you.... as well as plenty of laughs and light hearted moments too!
Check out Alex's infamous Instagram reel here -
Music used with permission
When chatting to my guests I greatly appreciate their openness and honestly in sharing their stories. If at any stage their information is found to be incorrect, the podcast bears no responsibility for my guests' inaccuracies.
Podcast transcript at the bottom of the page
Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of The Art of Being A Mum Podcast. I'm beyond honoured that you're here and would be grateful if you could take 2 minutes to leave me a 5-star review in iTunes or wherever you are listening. It really helps! This way together we can inspire, connect and bring in to the light even more stories from creative mums. Want to connect? Take a screenshot of this episode and share it on Instagram tagging me in with @art_of_being_a_mum_podcast
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Alison acknowledges this Land of the Berrin (Mount Gambier) Region as the Traditional Lands of the Bungandidj People and acknowledge these First Nations people as the custodians of the Region.
Welcome to the Art of Being a mum, the podcast where we hear from artists and creative mothers sharing their joys and issues around trying to be a mum and continue to make art. My name is Alison Newman. I'm a singer, songwriter and mother of two boys from regional South Australia. I have a passion for mental wellness and a background in early childhood education.
Alex Williams has been a creative her whole life from writing songs and poetry as a teenager to dancing fashion, shooting to fame as an Instagram content creator and her current work as an interior designer. This mother of two hails from Matt Gambia, South Australia. Welcome along. Alex, it's wonderful to have you on the podcast today.
Hi, thank you for having me. I'm very excited to be here.
What is the best way to describe what you do? What do you like to sort of call yourself?
Well I like to call myself an interior decorator interior stylist. Yeah, I love to create I love to style people's homes and create Yeah, interiors that make you very happy to walk into the room pretty much no matter what room that is. I like all kinds of you know, bedrooms and living rooms and office buildings and oh, yeah, at home offices and every all the all the interior kind of things that can be done. I love to do it. So yes, interior stylist. That's my name.
Very good. And could I also call you a sort of a Instagram real superstar?
I'm not gonna stop you. So funny. I put that reel up. And then my boss. I also worked for Ashley Lauren. And she messaged me and she were both obviously quite, you know, we're well aware of how Instagram works. And we're on it all the time. And she said, Oh my god, can you believe how many views you're getting on that reel? And I was like, No, I could not be more famous. And she was like I don't. And then she had Googled it. And she said apparently 3 million is when it's considered to go viral. And so now I'm up to 2.8 million, so I'm just waiting for it to take over. That is hilarious. Like, who knows how these things work. But I don't like I've done nothing. You know, it took no kind of smarts or skill. It just, you know, it did what it did. It was hilarious. But yeah, it's funny. And it's so funny because I didn't post it for ages because my husband didn't think that's funny. He's like, That's not funny. And I was like, Oh, really then I showed a couple of girlfriends and they're like, that's so funny. And really, because it's taking the piss out of him hit that. So I didn't like Absolutely. I have one single guy has liked it. And but all the women are on board, they're fully on my side. So
it's definitely something that women can relate to, that's for sure.
Exactly, exactly. I speak to the women, the women
have you always been a very creative kind of person, like growing up and I've seen jobs
in one way or another and that hasn't always been I mean, you know, growing up I was always the kid in my household that had the clean room and they had the nice things in the room you know that nice bedding and I wanted everything in its right place whereas my siblings were very messy. But that was pretty much it and I always loved I don't do it anymore but I used to love ride writing songs and poetry and then when I moved to mount Gambia I got a job at random country fashion retail store and I even fashion I think is such an creative and expressive you know things so I've always been into fashion and loved you know dressing up and finding you know things with if it's got a bit of leather or not, not real leather fake leather. Got a bit of sequins or fluff or you know anything that's just a little bit textural and catches my eye that I just love all that sort of stuff. So I think yes, on some kind of level I've always been I used to love making jewelry. Yeah, I think I have always been creative in one way or another.
Yep. So it's a recurring theme throughout your life.
So you work as as your former work as a an interior stylist. Is that something that you've formally started recently but have been doing for a while as well?
Um, I have only been doing it for me before I obviously launched the business. I yeah, I I just pretty much did my own house and you know you have your friends That's a you need to be doing this as a job. It's you're so good at it, and can you come into my house and law, and I couldn't avoid brushed it off because it's just such a career change. And then one day, I just and this is me, I just decided I was going to do it. And that was it. And I. And then that's, that's all I think about now. So I started the business before I studied and I've been studying during, because I just, I'm, I'm Well, two reasons. I'm really impatient. And I love to just do it. I love to get my feet in the water and just start. And also, I believe the best teacher is experience. So I don't think I could have learned anything as valuable as what I have learned working with my clients so far. And then during working with them, I've been doing courses and master classes and things like that, which I have loved as well. So it's been full Bogo, just get into it. It's been awesome.
But so that's that's how you tend to sort of do things you just like, right? I want to do it. So I'm doing
it. Yeah, exactly. I think if anyone can do it, I can do what anyone else can do. And if I want to do it, I'm gonna
do it. Love. So tell us, tell us about your family. Alex, you've got three children.
I do a daughter, Savannah. She's five and a little boy named Luca. And he is three. So they're two years apart. And I have a husband, his name is Chris. He is very handy in my business as well. Because he's you know, good at the heavy lifting. He's a painter. So he is great. He you know, he's Williams Way second employee, even though he doesn't know it. The full thing gets worked quite well. So yeah, so yeah, that's my little family, too. And I'm done. I'm all set with them.
Because most recently, you were doing doing a photo booth. So yeah. How did that sort of your creativity about fitting in with the kids? I suppose? Like, how, how did you find that the balance? I guess early on when they're little. And then as they've grown up, did you find that was a good kind of working hours that it suited?
Yeah, that's pretty much that wasn't obviously that well, not obviously, that wasn't so much of a creative path of something like I have always dreamed of owning owning photos. Yeah. But that was purely, not purely a few different reasons why we open now. You're always in a fun environment you're never at, you know, you're at some of people's happiest days, their birthdays, their weddings. So we love that. And I'm such a people person I love you know, I'm a hot girl. I'm like, Yeah, I'm so excited. You look amazing. Like I'm all about that life. I don't care if I know you or not. So that was right up my alley. When I said before I had children, I worked all day at red gum at the retail store. And then I taught dance at nighttime until, you know, late hours of the night. So I was very busy. I love to be busy. I love to be doing things. So when I was pregnant with my daughter, obviously, both of those jobs stopped. The teaching wasn't something I loved teaching. But it wasn't something I wanted to continue because the hours after school hours into night, which is which in my mind was when I was only going to have time to send my kids because they'd be at school eventually. So that wasn't a career path I wanted to continue on. And I wasn't going back to retail that was just you know, I did like it while I was there. And I met some of my best friends working there. But that was a chapter to close as well. But I said to Chris, there's no way I can not work, like not do anything. So what can we do? And him and I were just brainstorming one night and he said we'd had a photo booth at our wedding. And he said, Why don't we open a photobooth business. There's only one there was only one in town I think at that time, possibly two. And they were blowing up and everyone wanted them and we've got a pretty big town here. So we knew a third could definitely be supported. So that was it. We decided to do that. I wanted something where I could still stay home with the kids during the week were with Savannah during the week. So that was perfect. It was it was nighttime work on a weekend where Chris's parents could watch her. So it just really fit well into our lives. That's what that's how that started. It just was one of those things that was just going to fit perfectly and still where I can earn my own money and you know, contribute to I just like to add I know I noticed one of your questions later is do you need your an identity besides being My mother and I'm like a billion times. Yes.
Well, we can talk about that now, if you want.
I couldn't just, I know just being mothers. That's that's the sentence that sounds a bit sad. I didn't want to just be a mother. That's not the way I think of a but
I know the mother. When I say it, I sort of I like to do air quotes, because you're never just a mom.
But yeah, it's, it's I didn't want to be just slave. That's what it's like at the start. Let's be honest. Yeah, you're getting nothing from this newborn. And you're giving every single thing that you've got to, to this little human. So yeah, I definitely needed something else that I could some adult interaction. So yes, that's how that happened. And we've recently just sold that business. Because that's it was weekend work. And now the kids are a bit older. I can work during the week. And we want our weekends free for the kids.
So it's first served its purpose. Yeah. And really ideal for everybody at that time to eat satisfied your need for your outlet as well, which like, is just so important, as
our Absolutely, yeah.
So while we're on the topic, why don't we talk about that now, the concept of identity, it's obviously very
important to you. Let me give you a little context of my life. When I was growing up, my mom was a stay at home mom, and my oldest sister. Oh, and you know, any other woman in my life was a stay at home mother. My sister had her firstborn when she was young. She's eight years older than me. But she was young. And so she went straight into motherhood as well. And no, I'd never seen anyone follow a career path. And so when I was young, I, that's all I wanted to do. I want to grow up and I want to be a mom and I want to get married. And Lola. Then when I moved to I moved from I grew up in Queensland, when I moved here, I was 18. I got a job at red gum with Wendy. And I just feel like my eyes were open though. These women, these working women, she got me very involved in the community. And I really, yeah, it's not like I've always felt like that I've always actually been opposite. When growing up, I wanted to be a mum. And now and then as I grew up from 18 onwards, I was the complete opposite. I loved being a part of the community. I loved getting out there. I love socializing. I loved doing my own thing and traveling and things like that. So now yeah, now I'm the complete opposite. Feel like
that, then you're sort of role modeling to your own daughter that there are options out there for women now, it's not that 100% That's
actually where I was going. Thank you for saying that, though. Was I read? them? Yeah, you really did. Yes, that was my point. So watching my of my people I'd seen that's all I wanted to do. And that's exactly what I don't want to teach my daughter or my son. I want him to see that. You know, maybe when he grows up, he's a stay at home dad and the mom is the one who goes and has the career and Savannah I want her to be the same. I never was taught that I could have a career or, you know, what are you going to do? And you know, nothing like that. And now I am yeah, if I had my time over again, I'd be definitely going straight into career first and and going all in. So I want to I want her to definitely learn and watch me take over the world
find it very important that that your children see that you are argues that again? More than just the mother that you actually know Alex that has an existence that is outside of of that mothering role. That's important. Absolutely.
Absolutely. Yeah. And I feel like when well from my personal experience when you think of like my mom, well she left when we were 12 so I didn't have her for very long but thinking of her from when I was younger. I always was very much like that. I was like mom's mom she's there to make me a sandwich and she's there to put me to bed and she's that's that I remember that being my thought process I never saw her do as she never socialized with any of her friends. I never saw her do anything. Obviously it was different back then as well that was definitely the culture you know the stay at home mom and that sort of thing. But yeah, I think that's a little indulgent for children to be able to think that way and and a little not selfish but yeah, I think it's important for them to know that they're not the be all and end all of the entire world. They're not the center of the universe. New love like obviously I love them more than life at Self no do anything for them. But I don't want them to think that my life revolves around them. You still think that there? Yeah, it's not going to set them up for real world? Yeah,
no. That's it. You just it's it's unrealistic. It's unrealistic. It's like what your mum modeled to you. And then when you got out there you went, Oh, actually, there is something different. It's like you don't want your children to have that terrible realization all of a sudden that life could have been different for them.
Right and some way Exactly. That's right. Yeah.
Oh, now I want to touch on you mentioned that you're a dancer. Did you keep dancing through your pregnancies?
i Yes. Yep. So I taught. I was still teaching with Savannah. So I taught up until I was I can't remember seven or eight months pregnant, I think, pretty pregnant. And I look back on some of the dance teaching videos. And I was like, Oh, I competed. I competed. I was six months pregnant when we won a Melbourne Hip Hop championships. So that was exciting. My photos of me holding a trophy with my little bumps are very, very cute. And yes, still dance with Luca. When I was pregnant with him. I was asked to be in swing with the stars that year, Kim Sela, who owns hot, one of the owners of hat. She asked me to be in and I hadn't told anyone I was pregnant. I said, you know, I'd love to but guess what, I'm actually pregnant. And this poor guy won't want to lift me by the time senior stuff comes around. He's gonna get good 20 kilos more than what he bargained for at the start. So, but yes, yes, I have never stopped anything. There hasn't been a year, I haven't danced since well, perhaps been open for 12 years. So since then.
And again, that's something that you've got that, you know, satisfies your need, and then gives you that creative outlet as well. That's separate to the family side of life.
Yeah, that's right. Another hobby? For sure. For sure. Yes, I can attribute a lot of my husband's amazing, he's very supportive. And you know, if I'm like, I'm going to the gym, or I've got dancing, or I'm just going to do a console or I'm doing this and that he's very supportive. He's like, yep, yep. And he knows what he married. So he doesn't not much surprised. And I'm saying with him, he's playing, he plays poorly. And he, you know, loves to go golfing. And we're very, we're very much like, we know, we need to go and do our own thing. And we need to be our own people. And so we try and definitely give each other as much time to do that as we can.
When you first had Savannah, how how did
you feel I was horrible. It was horrible. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. And it got no easy when I had Luca. When I had Savannah I think well, because I don't have I mean, my mum was here but we're obviously as I mentioned, she had left when we were quite young. So we're not we don't have a super close, you know, Mother Daughter bond that a lot of the people I see have. So I feel like possibly because I didn't have only Chris is literally my support. He's my support system. So I think because I only had him not only had him, he's great. But yeah, he doesn't know anything about being a mom, because he was doing that same time I was so yeah, I really struggled. I found the most difficult. Yeah, I don't know. I think the breastfeeding that that was I remember that being just I remember thinking that was gonna be so easy. They just latch not didn't even know the word latch. And they're just like, oh, and then you you have them and you're like, What the hell is this? Oh my God, everything hurts. Everything is so hard. Everyone's telling you different opinions. At one of I'd only had one other friend who had had a baby. So it was just Yeah, it was really difficult. I was very, very sad. Very sad for probably the first three months and then we decided to sleep train her. I know everyone's got different opinions on that. We decided to slip trainer took two nights was the best thing we've ever done and and yeah, I was just a different human once I started getting some sleep. Yeah, everything became a bit easier on a routine. So yeah, and then Luca came along two years later, and I fell in a heap again, I was just like, Oh God, this is no easier. I had a two year old running around and yeah, I don't know. I just wasn't for me, not the new bond thing. I love their ages now. But I would literally prefer to walk the depths of hell than have a newborn again. I'm not kidding.
Yeah, you can I think I don't think enough people are honest about it's it's not all sunshine and roses and sparkles. It's it's bloody hard work and it's
definitely not and it depends on your support system. I think I think it depends on who you've got around you to help you. And, and you know, people have good babies not good babies but people have different kinds of babies. Some babies are great. Some babies are just harder than others. Some are have colic, I don't know, you know, there's just so many variables that no one that's why no one can tell you what it's going to be like, because no one knows. We're just gonna have to wait and see.
to go. Lucky no healthy and happy. Oh my God
So were you able to then once we talk about Savannah, like you're able to, as she got older, you got more sleep able to return to some of the things that you really wanted to?
Yes, see. So I never stopped dancing, which was great. But when I used to go, it would literally be I'd, I stopped teaching but I went just to I think I was doing two classes a week, when I could, you know, after the six weeks when I could go back and every every time for the first I can't even remember, maybe like two to three months, Chris would message me and say home as quick as you can. And find him with, you know, on the bathroom floor with a hairdryer going on the vacuum going just trying to cut them down until I'd got home. We were honestly like the blind leading the blind around here. Um, so, you know, but every week I was like good luck. So yeah, I'll be back. Like there was a one or two hours a week that I had. So I definitely kept doing that. And then probably she started going to childcare. And, um, I was that was pretty much just for me time I wasn't I did a little bit of photobooth work, but that pretty much that wasn't like a big you know, admin job that was mainly when you're at the events on the weekend. So yeah, look, just being able to eat lunch in peace and clean the house and you actually get a job finished that was I highly recommend that I feel like some parents or mums who don't have a job, they never have a day off from their child. And it's like, no, you need to be getting that child into childcare and having an idea so you might need to get your eyebrows down. You might want to cook a meal you might want to go out for lunch with someone and you know, absolutely that is so important teacher that I mean at some point they're gonna have to go to school and kindy so you might as well get them used to little kitten you know hanging out with other kids before they get so old that they no different you know, when they're young and they're you know, under two they're like, so palatable. Is that the world? Yeah, yeah, you can try to just make them do whatever. They don't have this little sass attitude where they'll tell you what's up so yes, I, I she started doing that. And then I can't remember I was I must have had Luca already. And I was at a women in business dinner and Kelly nodes who worked for Ash, who does still, she was pregnant. And so I walked over to the table. I didn't really know I knew ash and Kelly, but I didn't know them super well. But I was just like, I would love that job. What a time. Yes, that is right up my alley. And so I just walked over there and I was like, Hi girls. How are you? I'm just so you know, if you need someone to replace Kelly, I'm your girl. And that was it. She hired me straightaway. So that was fantastic. I love that and I've been there for a year and a half two years I think so yeah, that was another little I added because Luca Luca was probably a year old by that stage so I was ready to take on a bit more work and I yeah work there two days a week with her so yes, yes, it's great timing to sort of start something new and get a bit more back into the work work industry again.
Yeah, absolutely. Another example of you deciding you want something and just going in doing it.
Exactly yeah. I'm always I'm always scared but I'm very big on the just because like scared and can't be the reason you don't do something you can be scared three years scared as you're likely still got to do it. You still have to do it. So I was like, petrified to walk over to that table. You know, in front of everyone and I love it. I was like well you still have to do it though. Like you can't not do it just because you're a big scaredy cat like get to But So yeah, I went missing you just gotta you gotta take what you want. Like, yeah. weaken, and they're lucky to have you whoever you are. If you want to do something and you know you're good at it, go and do it.
I'm definitely quote me on that one.
For me, yeah.
Sorry. Well, something else I'd like to explore with my guests is the concept of mum guilt? And I'm going to put that Yes. Once again. Yeah. What's your take on that? How
do you feel about that? Oh, yeah, I feel like mom guilt is definitely a thing. Whether you want to call it that, or not, definitely, I feel I feel mom guilt. But I don't really let it weigh me down. I, I feel like, yeah, you know, I might not be so well, this is a great example. I've got my my son's home with me two days a week, he goes into care three days a week, and he stays home with me two days a week. And on those two days, I'm working from home for my business or for Ash, or I'm doing something, you know, around the house, I'm cleaning, or there's a million things to be done. If I hadn't taken on a second job, which is my interior design, I would have all this time in the world to spend with him. And, you know, whatever, you know, play. And sometimes I think he's getting the wrong end of the stick. But then I think he's not really he's so happy to be here, he's happy to have a couple of rest days. Because these are above the days, he's so busy and going and doing stuff. And I think at the end of the day, you might feel guilty doing something or going here and doing something for you. But you can take you can see that your child's happy, like I can see my kids are always happy. When I leave the house, I do leave the house a lot. Like I'll go to the gym, or I'll go dancing, or I'm going to consult or I'm going to see a client about something they're either going to do a job, and they're quite often, especially Savannah shoes, like please don't go again. Mom, please don't leave me. And you do you feel bad knitting, I'm sorry. But you know, what are you gonna do? personal message me and I won't have men down the down the end of the street? And he'll be like, she's fine. Hmm. And, and I always think this is what when I start to feel guilty, I think, Do I have any memories of my mom leaving to go and do something? No, because I happened every single day, it's not something that's gonna they're going to remember, it's not going to impact them, you know, it's not going to scar them for life that you've gone to the grocery store. Like, just yeah, I really, I'm really not into the Yeah, the guilt thing. I just, I mean, obviously, I feel it, but that's not going to stop me from doing whatever needs to be done that day. And you can definitely gauge those moments, you know, she's sick, or you know, or something. And they really do need you. Um, you know, they're the moments where you're like, no worries, like, I won't go today, or I can, I can skip that that's easy, you know, we'll stay home. And, you know, I think every mother can tell what their child really needs. And when the child is just putting on a show. Because they do it every day. So you just have to start to learn which shows you need to pay attention to. And also I think I've been home with you all day, or like we've been together, you know, we spent three hours this morning together. And then two hours this afternoon, your father's just walked in the door, you can spend half an hour with him before it while I'm gone. I think you can. Like it's not I'm not a one parent show. You've got to and you need to learn to enjoy both.
Do you find that that experience that you have, as a mother might sort of sneak through into the way that you've reflected in the way that you might put a room together?
I think definitely I think that the experience of being a parent and a mother probably affects everything. Every every way, everything I do in life, a great gives great perspective of on, you know, when you're when you're younger, and you don't have children and think I'm so tired. And now you think, Well, that was funny. Like it gives you such good perspective on actual what's really hard in life. And so it definitely is I yeah, I love the perspective it gives being a mother. And definitely in my design work, especially when doing family homes. If the family has children, it's always very handy because you just yeah, it gives me such a great insight as to what actually needs to be considered the height of a bench, how sharp it's going to be where coffee table is going to sit. They're going to be able to run through without you know, hitting a toy, you know, 10 different things, what their bedrooms are going to look like and how they're going to use them. So yes, definitely definitely handy. Having kids is gives great perspective on all things in life, whether you realize it or not probably.
Yeah. And I guess you'd be able to maybe make recommendations to clients that might not have considered something because you've got that experience. So
the Especially during like nurseries and things like that with new Yeah, when they, when they're new, I think my main thing is don't spend too much because it's gonna get covered in vomit. Don't make it too expensive, because if you want to throw it out and it's expensive you aren't, whereas it's not too bad, you just like, throw it out, donate, I don't want to look at it, let's not even bother with it. Ya know.
And I guess too, because you've been there, you realize that maybe I don't want to say things, the things that they think are important, maybe aren't as important. I don't want to say in that way, but has a nice,
I feel like it's always nice for someone to be able to give you some guidance. If from I am like this in life, if someone knows something more than me, and they've had more experience with something, I want them to share their, their opinions with me, I feel like a lot of people get their backup when someone tries to tell them. I mean, obviously, there's ways of doing it tries to tell them a certain way. But if someone has more experience in something than you do, and I'm loved, like, especially with my line of work with carpenters and things like that, they know so much. And I want to learn it all I, you know, learning how to use the drill for the first time a couple of years ago, like I don't do it for me, I want to learn how to do it. And I'm more than happy to take on the criticism and the constructive criticism, not just criticism. And you know, I'm happy to listen and tell me as many times as it's going to take for me to get it right. And I think that about everything. I think if someone knows more than you and obviously they're happy and willing to teach you in a kind way, then it's amazing. Like you can never learn too much and every everything in life is going to turn into a skill if you can learn it the right way.
So thank you so much for coming on the show. Alex. It's been an absolute pleasure having you.
Thank you so much for having me. This has been awesome. I look forward to chatting with you again soon.