Sarah Cavalier

  • Week Eleven

    My background is in graphic design.  I joined a small graphic design business straight out of Uni and then started my own business two years later on the advice of some wonderful clients – and I’ve had Grizzle Design for about 13 years now.  It started with a small shared studio in Albert Park, then Richmond and I was commuting each day from the Macedon Ranges where I was living at the time.  When I fell I fell pregnant with my son Lachie (now 7 years old) and then my daughter Milla (5 years old), I started working from home part-time, living the country life and trying to be a good wife, mother and business owner.  I never had maternity leave as such – my career has always been really important to me.


    I was unhappy in the country, away from my corporate life, and as a result my marriage fell apart about three years ago. I moved back to Melbourne  – back to the life I knew and loved.  With two young children it was a big move but I managed to get through it, working hard to support them whilst trying to reinvent my life. I started rebuilding my business and supplementing my income with some freelance work with an ad agency in South Yarra – until I decided to escape the corporate design world. I needed a new challenge to go with my new life, something that complemented Grizzle Design but inspired me as well.  Returning to live in Brighton where I grew up I had found everything had changed – friends had moved on or didn’t have children, I had left my mother’s group behind in Riddells Creek and found it hard to connect with other local mums. There was simply no local support.  Everything came together and led me to forming MamaMag as a creative outlet for myself, a resource for local mums in the area and as a targeted support vehicle for local businesses


    The first issue was printed in June 2014.  It was such a simple format in the beginning and my media kit was this little double-sided A4 colour print out.  But I had a plan – design the magazine and get out there and see what advertising I could sell so I could create a viable business.  I literally roamed the streets of Bayside showing retailers my content concept and some visuals, talking to anyone whom I thought could benefit from targeting locals mums.  I ended up making a profit on my first magazine!   From the minute I distributed that first magazine, I had calls and emails every day from people wanting to advertise – and Facebook messages from local mums who were so happy to have discovered MamaMag and who love the local content.  Every month has regular local content – a street review, a park review, a mother of the month who is inspirational, local recipes from locals businesses, book reviews from local bookshops.  Most of the other content is written by local businesses.  Some content gets printed across all three publications, but the majority is specific to the locality.  


    I’m a small business, mainly working with other small businesses, and I understand that it’s expensive to advertise.  But you also need to market yourself.  We always look at the businesses that advertise with us and see how else we can expand their marketing within the publication – be it giveaways or competitions or recipes, we’ll find a way to give them more local exposure and be creative with the content.

    Running MamaMag has been a huge learning curve.  Whilst I am proficient at the graphic design side, I have never worked in publishing or sales.  There is still so much to learn.  I really believe in continuing to educate myself with skills that will enhance my business.  I have just completed an amazing two day workshop in Media and Publicity training with the amazing Tanya Targett and I’m signed up to do a fabulous advanced Social Media workshop with the girls at The Digital Picnic. You can’t be an expert at every facet of your business, so educate yourself in the aspects you love and you know you will excel at.  For everything else, hire the right people.  I think that’s the key to success. Otherwise you end up burnt out and only doing the jobs half as well as you could.


    I have two lively children -  Lachie is at school and Milla is in care everyday at a beautiful community based day kinder, and she will be off to school next year.  It is undeniably busy, with a lot of juggling. The kids spend two or three weekends a month with their father which inevitably sees me working through the weekend.  I can get out and do what I need to do.  There’s never enough hours in the day but having moved my office to my home is fantastic – once they go to bed I can do some more work.  


    I have a manager who operates the Port Phillip issue and my sister is managing the West issue.  I have just employed some sales staff as well who will look after the advertising part of the magazines – so I now have eight other mums working with me!  My focus at the moment is build the newer Port Phillip and the West publications, increasing local awareness of MamaMag in the areas and getting more support from local advertisers.  The Bayside issue has been going so well right from the start, so I don’t have to worry too much about keeping that one strong and successful, so I will focus on the two new ones.  Once all three are at the same level, the world is my oyster – people love local targeted magazines and there are so many areas that it can expand in to, so who know how far I can take it?



    For any mothers who want to start their own business, don’t afraid to try something new, no matter how hard it seems. It is much better to have tried and failed than to have not tried at all. We learn from our mistakes and end up even greater on the other side of it all. But that’s not to say there will be mistakes. Starting your own business may be the best thing you ever do and you may be blessed with smooth sailing the whole way. But if you don’t give it a go, you will never know what potential there is. It might be a lot of hard work along the way but remember “stop focusing on how stressed you are and remember how blessed you are.” 

    MamaMag is a free Melbourne magazine for mums and parents with a local focus, with publications in the Port Phillip, Bayside and Westside areas of Melbourne.  A fabulous little resource for local parents and businesses alike, MamaMag is a handy little A5 magazine.   It's local fun for the local mum with great parenting and women related content, activities for the kids, promotions and giveaways and features on great local businesses and services.  


    Tel:   1300 77 14 46

     Copy: Melanie Quirk      Photography: SomedaySomehowStudios      To find out how you can get get your business started and become the next Business Mama head to

    Continually educating yourself is so important. Whether you are looking to start your own business, or have already got your business up and running, talk to Business Mamas about how we can help you learn, grow and empower yourself.