Many mamas would agree that after giving birth your priorities change. You start adulting hard, your heart overflows with love and empathy, and you may begin to question your life purpose and the direction of your career.
Now a qualified pregnancy loss and birth doula, this mama of two, Gabrielle Nancarrow, is about to open Gather, an inclusive space for women of Melbourne to connect and receive emotional support as they transition through the most vulnerable time of their life—pregnancy, loss and early motherhood.
Can you tell us about your career journey so far?
I have always loved writing and telling stories, so my plan after high school was to study journalism and work in magazines. While at university I worked part-time at Melbourne magazine, which proved to be an incredible entry into this world. From there I took an internship at CITY Magazine in New York City, where I worked with some of the most talented people in the industry. After New York I took some time off to travel through South America, came home and took various digital editor roles at Tourism Victoria and Lonely Planet and then felt the pull to return to New York in 2010. Soon after arriving, I started working as a copywriter at Victoria’s Secret and eventually became Editorial Director in 2013.
Now, you had a pretty amazing job working as Editorial Director at Victoria’s Secret. Tell us a bit more about what it was like working in New York for such an amazing brand.
It was incredible. I loved the job, I loved my team and I loved the brand. I was given so many opportunities there and was trusted with growing and leading a dynamic team. There were so many highlights (photo shoots, private jets, fashion show backstage), but my absolute favourite memory was sitting with a few models and a couple of colleagues watching Justin Bieber and Rihanna rehearse for the 2012 fashion show. Working in New York itself was intense: very long hours, lots of pressure to perform, and an expectation that you could never really switch off. I quickly fell into that rhythm and really embraced it. It can be a tough city to live and work in, but if you love the hustle and bustle you can’t imagine living anywhere else.
After six years working in New York, you decided to return home to Australia. What events led you to that decision?
It was the hardest decision to leave. We loved our life in New York and had worked so hard to achieve so many things there. My two younger sisters also lived (and still live) there, so that was another reason to stay. But after our first daughter was born in 2014 our priorities started to change a little. I went back to work full-time when she was a few months old and found that really hard. We knew we eventually wanted to come home, and also knew that the longer we stayed the harder it would be to leave. After having my daughter, I also felt that maybe I wanted to try something different career-wise and take some time to think about what that might be. So, we put plans in motion and came home at the end of 2015 via a three-month trip around Europe.
You are opening a women’s space in Seddon in September called Gather. Can you share your vision for this amazing space?
The experience of birthing and mothering my daughters has changed the direction of my life and career. In the four and a bit years since my first daughter was born, I have trained as a birth doula and also a pregnancy loss doula; literally and figuratively holding women as they transition through the most vulnerable time of their life. Gather was born out of this work, and out of my desire to create an inclusive space for Melbourne women to connect, build community and belong. We hold space for women to share their birth, loss and motherhood stories, plus have workshops, circles, empowering and supportive childbirth education, women’s health-focused one-on-ones, and a birth, loss and postpartum doula collective.
You have two gorgeous daughters. How has becoming a mother changed your perspective on life?
In so many ways. I think we all kind of have an idea of how we’d like to parent before we have kids, but when those babies come along so much of that changes.
I felt far from natural as a new mother, and I’ve learnt in the years since that that’s a really normal feeling.
Motherhood is rarely what it looks like from the outside and I wish more new mums knew that. If you are finding it hard—for whatever reason—do not worry. It is hard, but we’re all trying our best.
You unfortunately lost your first baby to miscarriage. What’s your advice for anyone who experiences a miscarriage?
It’s such a personal thing, but I think it’s good to talk about it if you can. Sharing your story can help ease the pain a little, and connecting with other women who understand what you’re going through can help you feel less alone. Rest is also very important, as is giving yourself space and time to physically recover.
Where do you see your career going next? What is one dream you have that you have yet to accomplish?
I feel really lucky to have found meaning and purpose in the work I’m doing now. I’ve definitely taken a risk, leaving a well-established, well-paid career to create Gather; but it feels right. My dream is that the space provides a sense of community and connection for women and helps them feel less alone, whatever journey they are on. I also hope my daughters have a sense that the work I’m doing is meaningful, and that they grow to understand the importance of supporting others and pursuing whatever it is that matters most to them in life.
What’s your guilty TV-watching secret? Say Yes to the Dress
What’s your no-fail dinner party recipe? We keep things very simple these days . . . my go-to is a spicy pasta puttanesca.
Favourite time of the day is…lying with my daughter as she falls asleep at night. I’ve embraced it as my time to relax, be still and listen to her quirky stories as she drifts off to sleep.
Instagram sites that inspire you…I’m all about honest motherhood (@doulabliss; @violetgaynor; @theglowdotcom; @jetsetmama; @oldjoy; @cupofjo), birth (@carriagehousebirth; @birthwithoutfear) and design (@thedesignfiles; @thelocalproject; @simple.form).
I’m happiest when…my girls are giggling.
I’m addicted to…my phone.
Favourite wardrobe staple for work…jeans, white tee and a chunky knit.
Favourite wardrobe staple for weekend…as above. My daughter tells me I need more colourful clothes and she’s right!
My role model is…my mum. She always has the answer.
Heels or flats? Flats.