Mamamia may have started in my lounge room but that was the boring bit. That was me sitting in different places around my house connected to my laptop working 18 hours a day and failing to teach myself how to code while navigating comments, resizing images and writing stories fuelled by tea, ambition, adrenaline, passion, naivety and fear.
Things only ramped up once we (my husband/co-founder and I) decided we had to invest in hiring people to help us.
More about that in a moment. But there was a period in between. The bit between me being entirely alone and us hiring people.
I’m not very good with remembering exact dates or even inexact dates. Working in digital media 24/7 blurs and warps your sense of time. What day even is it? But somewhere around the 18 month mark, before Jason was officially involved, when it was still just me, Mamamia had begun to build an audience. They were a passionate, smart, funny bunch of readers and commenters. Highly opinionated. Very, very loyal. And supportive. They believed in what I was trying to do – make a place for women to come and discuss things and express their opinions, in posts, in comments… to make women feel seen and heard and understood and mentally stimulated and like they belonged in a media world that made them feel like shit a lot of the time.
These women (and a few notable men) had high expectations for what Mamamia should be – sometimes higher than my own.
Like this one time when I posted a deeply embarrassing paparazzi photo of a celebrity. Within seconds of me posting it, MM-ers told me in no uncertain terms via an avalanche of comments that it was an appalling thing to do. I listened and I took the post down right away because they were right.
Anyway, that’s the kind of mistake I didn’t want to keep making. And I was so lonely! After the initial relief of not working in an office after 15 years of workplace politics, a gaping hole had opened up where my work happiness used to live. I’ve always been my happiest when surrounded by smart, funny, feisty women. The warmth and camaraderie. The chats in the kitchen while making tea. The stories you share and the investments you make in each other’s lives, getting to know each other’s mothers and children and partners and shopping habits and pets through conversations at your desk and while gathered around the microwave waiting for your turn.
This is a classic photo that represents how I worked in the early days of Mamamia.
I missed that. Desperately.
I'd become familiar with some of the more regular commenters and somehow, we began to communicate in private away from the public Mamamia comments. Via email. Three of them, Lana Hirschowitz, Kerri Sackville and Amanda Whitley (known as Bugmum on the site!) were whip-smart, talented, funny women who were also very committed and loyal readers. These three women gave me feedback and offered to moderate comments and let me bounce ideas off them. Lana, Kerri and Amanda were incredibly generous with their time, their energy, their input and most importantly their support when I had nobody else I could trust.