Writer and editor Steph Wanless believes in immaculate grammar, helping others to spark a side hustle and doing what sets your soul on fire.
How many years have you owned your own business?
I started working as a freelance writer when my firstborn was just 12 weeks old, in November 2013. We were living in Sydney at the time and it just didn’t make financial sense to pay huge city daycare rates for someone else to have the honour of caring for him, leaving us with mere hours a day in his company. So I quit my day job as a magazine editor and, almost nine years later, I’ve never looked back. Most recently, in 2021, I also launched FOUND. Based in Armidale, NSW we host regular educational events, creative workshops and inspiring conversations with remarkable women from across the country. Our ultimate goal is to build a community, arm regional women with the tools they need to grow their business or spark a side hustle, and promote the power of collaboration over competition.
How do you balance work and life responsibilities?
Since moving back to my hometown of Armidale, finding that balance has been significantly easier. We have more space to breathe and a designated office space in our loft, overlooking our beautiful two-acre garden. As of this year, both our children are at school too, so working within the set school times helps keep me focused. When that school bell goes, I’m Mum again. This year I’ve also removed my social media and email accounts from my phone, so I don’t get trapped mindlessly scrolling through work-related material when I’m with my kids. All of those things can wait until I’m back at my laptop. I also have a hugely supportive husband, a fellow writer, who is my perfect partner in both work and life, so finding that balance is easy with him by my side.
What advice would you give someone wanting to start their own business?
At the risk of sounding like a cliché, do what sets your soul on fire – and don’t be afraid to say no to the things that don’t. That’s something I’m still working on, but believe me, it has opened up huge opportunities for me and fuels my creativity on a daily basis.
What and when was your ‘aha’ moment?
A couple of years ago, I had the great privilege of working with the beautiful Odette Barry, of Odette & Co. She’s fearless in business and life, soaks up knowledge like no one I’ve ever met and has a boundless passion to share it with others. She was the first person to give me the chance to write freely, deeply, with a vulnerability and a focus on telling the real, raw story behind people and their business. That’s when I realised, this is how I want to write. It’s the moment I realised I’m a storyteller, and the moment I first had the courage to say out loud: “I’m good at this, this is what I’m here to do.”
What are you most proud of?
I’m proud to work alongside fantastic regional women – like the DOWNTOWN Magazine team – sharing the stories of people and businesses from regional, rural and remote Australia. I’m proud to have returned to my roots after more than 18 years in the city lights and to be creating a community of beautiful women with FOUND, it’s where I was always meant to be.
What keeps you up at night?
Ideas of stories I want to write, thoughts of people I want to interview and how on earth I’m going to find the time to bring all those dreams to life.
What’s the best business advice you have ever been given?
From my husband – always ask ‘why?’. Why would someone want to read those words? Why would someone need to hear that story? Why does that article need to be written now?
What’s on the horizon for your businesses?
This year I’ve started book editing, which I absolutely adore, and fits in perfectly alongside my magazine writing and editing work. I also have plans for a book or two of my own, written in partnership with my husband, so watch this space. As for FOUND, we’re excited to continue to grow our creative community and hope to give other regional women the space and support to uncover their very own ‘aha moment’.
location: Armidale, NSW