The Leap Stories #2: Nellie Kerrison

You might have heard me say ‘I believe the best work is done with treats’ and it’s true, I wholeheartedly believe in this. So I’m over the moon to introduce today’s leaper, Nellie Kerrison, founder of Relish Mama, the totally gorgeous cooking school based in Melbourne. Nellie opened the doors at Relish Mama in 2009 as a way for her to share her love and passion for food with loved ones and pass on her knowledge to those wanting to learn.

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Nellie Kerrison, photographed by Claudio Oyacre at Plug2Studio.

After over five years working and building Relish Mama and being voted in the top 5 cooking schools in Melbourne, late last year Nellie published her first cookbook Relish Mama: Recipes From A Shared Table and the Relish Mama Kitchen. Her unique journey is courageous and inspiring and shows you that you really can do what you love and do it well. I’m so very excited to introduce the beautiful Nellie Kerrison!

What did you want to be when you grew up and why?
Funnily enough I wanted to be a florist when I was very little and spent quite a bit of time on weekends ‘borrowing’ flowers from neighbours’ gardens. Sometimes, when I ‘borrowed’ more than we needed at home, I would set up a little flower stall out the front of our house for pocket money. Being an entrepreneur starts early you know!

Towards the end of secondary school, I thought I would quite like to be a teacher but I wasn’t 100% sure so I went overseas for a spell and deferred my placement. I have always been very driven and self motivated but I cannot say I always had a clear direction of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to be when I eventually ‘grew up’. I think it is really important to be okay with this. I see enormous pressure on the teens and young adults that come through our cooking school. Not all of us have a clear mind of what we will do. I think it evolves as we evolve. I think we are always changing and always growing and I love to have an open mind as to where I might head next.

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What did/do you study?
Academic – Monash University – Bachelor of Business.

I now take on my own personal studies, learning and reading these days to develop and grow as a person so that I live happily, wisely and with purpose. It’s like my own very basic (and I do mean very basic) version of the school of life. This benefits everyone around me and makes me a better mother, wife, boss and friend.

What has been your most scary/courageous leap you’ve ever made (preferably in your business/career/life direction)?
Relish Mama (my cooking school) began early in 2009. I took a deep breath and pressed ‘send’ on an email to a very small group of close friends and family. In this email I confessed that I had a little dream of teaching people to cook, to share my favourite recipes and style of entertaining, and to share a table with those that might want to come. I remember feeling incredibly nervous once that email left me and launched itself into cyberspace, but within seconds I heard the infamous ‘ping’ sound of my inbox and it was my sister who was the first to reply: ‘I’ll be there and I am so proud of you.’ More ‘ping’ sounds followed, and my first cooking class had sold out. I was overwhelmed with both relief and happiness. The nerves had left me, and I felt surrounded by love and support. I was more than proud that I was true to our family motto – It’s just 20 seconds of embarrassing courage and 20 seconds of bravery. This moment of courage and bravery changed my life. I did a little happy dance with Michael and our daughters (a dance I will never forget!).

What were you doing before you made your leap?
Working from home as a contractor for a large corporate client as well as a bookkeeping gig for a dear friend who loves life, is incredibly creative but doesn’t love the numbers game. I love that he recognised this and outsourced so that that he could put his time and energy where he and his business benefit the most.

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Nellie Kerrison, photographed by Claudio Oyacre at Plug2Studio.

 

Who have been the biggest 3 – 5 influences in your life, in terms of your career and doing work?
My 3 daughters have and are my biggest influence. Knowing that I wanted to be more available and enjoy them as they grew, I had to redefine myself and my life when they came along. As they grew older, it became increasingly important to me for them to see their mum doing a) what she was really good at and b) what she loved and then c) hope like hell that people would pay her for what she loves and is really good at. My daughters see me working really hard too at something I love so much. At an early age, all three of them have a remarkable work ethic.

What did you have in place before you made the leap?
A family who loved and supported me and I knew this would not falter regardless of whether I failed or succeeded (but I was adamant this couldn’t fail).

What was your defining ‘I can’t do this anymore’ moment that lead you to the leap?
I was working to pay the bills and the cost of raising a family but my heart and soul weren’t really being fed. I never had a ‘moment’ as such but I was blessed that I had a friend who suggested I start teaching others what I love so much, and that is beautiful food, wonderful ingredients and people gathering. It made me stop and embrace what I was good at and share it with others. I took the leap.

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Visit Relish Mama here and take a look at Nellie’s blog here too for lots of food inspiration and gorgeous pics.

How did/do you overcome/work with the fear that comes with leaping? How do you decide to choose courage?
I am blessed (or cursed) that it is a big part of my personality. It is not something I had to muster up. I live by the mantra ‘It’s just 20 seconds of embarrassing courage and 20 seconds of bravery’. I figure someone can only say no and as crushing as this can be, it sits better with me than never knowing what the outcome would have been. I am so grateful I don’t struggle too much with a fear of leaping. It has served me so well, so far in life, and it’s even enabled me to tell the love of my life that I thought he was a big spunk (he was my boss at the time) but pleased to report we now have 14 years of happy marriage and three amazing children between us.

What other leaps have you made in the past?
• Telling my (now) husband that it should be he and I smelling the roses rather than his (then) girlfriend. They were rocky, I promise. I am no home wrecker.

• Moving Relish Mama in to the large warehouse space that is now home to our much loved school.

• Writing my first book.

How would you rate your level of happiness about making your leap?
1 being sad, 10 being rad.

10 – very, very rad.

What’s the biggest upside to making the leap?
Doing what I love, sharing this with so many others and working every day in a business that embodies so many of my personal values and allows me to be creative.

What’s the biggest downside to making the leap?
The many, many hours and not being paid in six years (and no, I am not kidding!).

What might be your next leap?
Publishing my first cookbook.

What are your favourite words to live by?
It’s just 20 seconds of embarrassing courage and 20 seconds of bravery.

Who do you admire who also made the leap?
There are many. I think so many amazing and talented people around me have had to get creative and really look at themselves and what they wanted for themselves and for their lives when they had families. I embrace that there is this awareness now and so much support for people to find what fulfills them. A work day is so many hours – so much of our life.

I love that my amazing mother took a leap when we were all teens. My mum wanted to further develop herself and start doing something she loved and felt passionate about. She is now one of the best in her field. Which means I should probably go back to one of the earlier questions, my mum has definitely been a huge influence in my life and in me having the courage to ‘leap’.

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A piece of advice for someone with an itch to leap?
What is the worst that can happen? Can you deal with that? Will you and your family survive that? ……yes? Let’s leap.

Right now I’m: Feeling incredible lucky. Thank you for inviting me to do this Kylie. It is lovely to stop and reflect.
Hearing: The rain on the tin roof in my office. It is soothing.
Eating: A little of the vegetarian tagine left that the students made here in class last night (another perk!).
Drinking: Water.
Reading: I am editing my first cookbook so not a lot of other reading is going on right now outside of this. I have a big list of books to get stuck into though when I take a little sabbatical soon. Can’t wait.
Loving: The new jeans I slipped on this morning. I love that designers have finally cottoned on to the fact that women who have had children do not love to wear their jeans 5 inches below the belly. We need support people!
I also love and embrace getting older and wiser and watching our daughters grow. They are pretty amazing young ladies.

Thank you Nellie for taking the time to pass on these words of wisdom. Who’s considering the 20 seconds of embarrassing courage and 20 seconds of bravery now? I know I am!

Kylie x


 

NEXT WORKSHOP

Content Kin Girragirra Central West NSW Content Marketing Social Media Workshop

Our next #ContentKin Content Marketing and Social Media Workshop for Business is Monday 4 May 2015, at Girragirra Retreat in Forbes, Central West NSW – yep, we’re taking it to regional Australia!

This is a creative and interactive workshop for businesses, exploring social media and content planning ideas and challenges. At the end of the day you’ll walk away with a defined social media and content strategy, and an actionable plan. And it will be fun! There will be coloured pens, piles of post it notes, chocolates and a room full of wholehearted biz types like you. Check out a little video of what you can expect here:

Tickets via the link (and being snapped up by regional creatives quickly!): contentkinforbes.eventbrite.com

See you there! x

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