Mia Freedman on starting a media company with her husband.

"Is Mia Freedman divorced?"

I get this question a lot. And the answer is no. But more than 20 years ago, I nearly was divorced.

Today, I am happily married to the co-founder and CEO of Mamamia, Jason Lavigne. We have built Mamamia together, brick by brick, click by click, from the ground up over the past 15 years since the website began back in 2007.

Mia and Jason. Image: Supplied.

How did Mia and Jason manage working together?

When people learn that we work together, they almost always shudder and say "I could never work with my partner" and hey, same. That’s what I always thought, and that is what Jason and I have both indeed thought often over the past 15 years of work and life highs and lows. At various times, each of us has tried to quit which has invariably led to the other one saying, "No, you can't quit. I QUIT!"


And then we laugh, and sometimes I cry.

The good thing about me having ADHD is that I can never remember for long why I’m mad and I move on quickly. And the good thing about being married to Jason is that he is not only the driving force behind our business but he is infinitely more patient, calm, organised, responsible and reasonable than me.

We have been together for more than 25 years and we have three children. When our first child was small, Jason and I separated after a whirlwind few years together. In that short, crazy time during our early twenties, we had met, moved in together immediately, got pregnant a few months later and became parents followed by two years of Jason being incapacitated by chronic fatigue syndrome, me getting pregnant again and us losing that baby the day after our wedding.

Speeding through big life events can be intoxicating when you’re young but it doesn’t make for a very solid base when the wind blows - which it always will.

Since our separation and reconciliation a couple of years later, I’ve learned a lot in therapy about the importance of laying down strong foundations before you build a house and who knew it was the same with a relationship? Yeah, I know now.

But I didn’t then. Thankfully, it was a lesson I’d learned by the time we decided to become co-founders and build Mamamia together. 


Mia and Jason. Image: Supplied.

What role does Jason Lavigne play as CEO of Mamamia?

We are very different in the way we approach everything. Jason is a strategist. A big thinker and planner. He’s always been the one with the vision for our business while I remain immersed in the weeds. I like the weeds; I feel at my safest and most creative there and I become incredibly irate if anyone tries to drag me out, which is what Jason regularly has to do.

It started in the first week we worked together. 


"The problem with this business," he told me calmly as we grabbed a quick bite at our local cafe, "is that you’re the single point of failure."

I chewed my toasted sandwich and bristled. It’s every woman’s dream to hear her partner to call her a ‘single point of failure’ and I was living it. Foreplay is overrated.

"What does that even mean?" I asked irritably. 

One of the things I’d most loved about working on my own, apart from everything I hated, was not having to consult anyone before making a decision. This suited me because my style is fast, loose and sometimes inconsistent. But I don’t enjoy being slowed down.  This partnership thing was already annoying and it was day two.

"It all rests with you," he pointed out, correctly. "All of it. You write and edit every post. You’re the face and you do everything. You’re not a business. You’re a person. And a person can’t be scaled."

I winced. He continued.

"There’s a limited amount of content you can produce each day. And if you fell over tomorrow, Mamamia wouldn’t exist."

How did Mia and Jason contribute to the growth journey of Mamamia?

Jason was right, and I knew it. He’d accurately identified one of my biggest frustrations, not just from a lifestyle or business point of view but from an editorial one. I’d always wanted Mamamia to be a platform for lots of different women’s voices, to tell a range of stories. I was a middle-class, straight, white girl from the suburbs. My window on the world was intrinsically narrow, and I didn’t want Mamamia to be narrow.

Lately, I’d begun experimenting with guest posts from other women who wanted to share their stories or writing with my audience. But I was worried about this. Even though most of the posts I wrote were not about me personally, I felt that my readers expected every post to be written by me. That’s why they were coming to Mamamia, right? For my writing? What if I lost them by writing less?


The alternative was far less appealing. I was exhausted and bored by the sound of my own voice. And I was lonely.

"Mamamia needs to be a women’s website edited by you with many different voices, not just yours," Jason insisted.

He was right, but it still made me feel oddly pissed off. Maybe it made me feel oddly pissed off because he was right. I am highly competitive. 

This working dynamic between us – Jason challenging me to think about the business in new ways and me resisting unless it was my idea – was established early and lasted for a long time. At first, it was polarising but once I saw that he was right – and right again and right again – in his vision for Mamamia, I accepted that our different styles were in fact an unexpected key to our success.

In short, I am an excitable, over-enthusiastic child and he is the designated driver. Of our lives and of our business.

In a start-up, you can rarely afford to hire anyone so you have to do it all yourself. It helps enormously if you can hire or partner with someone who knows things you don’t, who can do things you can’t, who can give you a perspective you don’t have.

Jason and I were a classic example of this and our worst clashes have always come when he’s tried to make me be more like him or I’ve tried to make the business more like me.


If Mamamia is a mixture of art and science, I’m the art and he’s the science. Start-up culture is wildly intense and more demanding than you could ever believe. Having Jason come on board as CEO was the moment Mamamia went from a very time-consuming passion to a business.

Today, it still surprises me when people say Jason, and I have built a media company. But we have. And against a huge amount of competition and enormous odds. We are underdogs with giant competitors who took almost a decade longer than us to realise that women and girls matter and whose motivations are embedded in a bottom line rather than any desire to make the world a better place for women.

Want more behind-the-scenes Strife content? Check out these stories:

Feature Image: Supplied.

Watch the trailer for Strife, the new show inspired by Mamamia, here. 

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