Supporting the journey of motherhood, in style
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CEO YOURSELF Founder Hermione Olivia on How Motherhood Has Changed Her

We spoke to Hermione about the challenges and joys of motherhood and turning her passion project into a business.

Hermione Olivia is the founder of CEO YOURSELF – a podcast and a destination of inspirational resources to help women ‘become the CEO of their lives’.

She lives in Notting Hill, London, with her husband and stepson and newly born baby girl.

“I always dreamt of being a mother and trusted it would happen one day, but I really wanted to find the right person to do it with,” Hermione tells THE INARRA. 

“Waiting meant having kids ‘later’, in my mid-30s, which worked really well for me in that I had a chance to build a career, travel the world and do all the selfish things I wanted to do before I took on this chapter of motherhood and unconditional love,” she says. “It turned out that I became a stepmum first when I met my husband who had a child when we met and that in itself was a beautiful journey of learnings.”

Hermione grew up by the beach in Sydney, Australia, with her parents, two brothers and a sister. “I had a beautiful childhood,” she says. “I have such fond memories of an idyllic upbringing in a really warm, loving home where our personalities were allowed to shine. Our parents prioritised letting us be authentically ourselves with only one expectation, that we try our best.” 

Since becoming a mother herself, Hermione’s perspective on the world has changed. “I have a new consciousness of the environment, of my values, of relationships and my connection to other women, my feelings about the future and my priorities for life have all shifted.”

Connection with other women is important to Hermione, but she keeps her circle small. “As I age, I have prioritised fewer, more meaningful friendships,” she says. “I look for soul connection, loyalty and shared values. I am only interested in having deep, meaningful conversations. I don’t have time for the vacuous anymore.”

Hermione’s oldest and best friends live in Sydney, and she catches up with them daily at “witching hour” due to the time difference. She also considers herself lucky to have forged some strong friendships in London.

“We have all just become new mothers within months of each other so we feel even more bonded and connected in this experience, which has deepened our relationships,” she says.

“Being away from home in this chapter is hard but I am so lucky to genuinely adore my husband’s amazing group of friends and his family, so we’re surrounded with love and support here and from afar.”

“I’ve made major changes in my career and my lifestyle to prioritise our family. I am stronger, healthier, happier and more confident as a mum now. I definitely returned to work too quickly and tried to resume ‘normal life’ too soon, but I have since realised that life is never the same again. You just slowly adjust to a new norm."
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Hermione has talked openly and honestly about returning to work soon after her daughter was born despite birth complications and unforeseen health challenges resulting in an anxiety diagnosis.

“I have found the journey to motherhood extreme,” she says. “On the one hand, it is the most exhilarating, all-consuming and natural love, but for me, it has been tied with intrusive thoughts, anxiety and overwhelm.”

“As my daughter is now one, I am able to see the light through the trees and it’s true what they say – it does get easier all the time.”

Since becoming a mother, Hermione has found a new, slower pace of life. “I used to live at F1 speed and now I can’t race through life at the same pace,” she says. “She slows me down but ignites me. She is born and I am reborn.”

“I’ve made major changes in my career and my lifestyle to prioritise our family. I am stronger, healthier, happier and more confident as a mum now. I definitely returned to work too quickly and tried to resume ‘normal life’ too soon, but I have since realised that life is never the same again. You just slowly adjust to a new norm.”

“It goes without saying that it’s a new norm I would never want to change, but motherhood is a huge adjustment and the cultural conversation needs to reflect the emotional, hormonal, physical and physiological changes we navigate.”

Experiencing the huge changes motherhood brings isn’t easy, and Hermione has had to learn to let intrusive thoughts “come and go, rather than ‘feeling’ them.”

“I’m so worried about her wellbeing that my mind tests me,” she says. “It has been helpful to look at it as a superpower: it’s as if a monitor was installed at birth to be overly aware and cautious always for their safety to protect them.”

Hermione advises other mothers who are struggling to lean on the people around them. “Talk to your partner, your friends, your sister, your mother, your doctor, your child’s paediatrician!” says Hermione. “The more you talk, the more support and encouragement, educating and coping mechanisms you have.”

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It’s been a year since Hermione gave birth, and during that time she has thought a lot about the expectations of mothers to return to work. “I feel the maternity leave policy globally needs to be reviewed,” she says. “A quick or sudden return to work (i.e. full-time mat leave for 12 months then returning to full-time work) just doesn’t seem to work. Babies need their mothers and mothers need their babies during this time’

“The mother’s recovery needs to be prioritised and it takes a lot longer than corporate culture suggests. What I’ve noticed is that you can be soaring with adrenaline for the first few weeks or months and then suddenly crash. Recovery is not linear. We need time and we need to move gently.”

Returning to work means Hermione spends less time with her children, so she is determined to make it worthwhile by doing something that “feels deeply meaningful and rewarding.”

“I now offer high-level brand consulting: go-to-market strategy, brand launch and building, specialising in bringing international brands into the UK and EU. I coach women in business and am also working on CEO YOURSELF, which started as a passion project and is swiftly turning into a really exciting business venture thanks to the overwhelming response we’ve experienced.”

CEO YOURSELF is a platform that shares inspirational resources to help women ‘become the CEO of their own life.’

“It came about very organically,” she says. “People kept reaching out asking me for advice on how to get a raise or a motivational book recommendation. 

“When I found out I was having a girl, I wanted her to have a platform with incredible motivating women that inspired her to break down barriers and become the best version of herself. 

“It made sense to put it all in one place, to foster it and see how it grew. Today, it’s evolved into a website (www.ceoyourself.com), a newsletter and a weekly podcast (airing Monday mornings). We also host networking events for women in business and share insights on Instagram (@whynotceoyourself). 

CEO YOURSELF, the podcast, is a platform for meaningful conversations with inspiring women in leadership positions. In each episode, Hermione deep dives her guests CEO super powers so the listener can take away learnings and implement them in their own lives. “The conversations are raw, honest and vulnerable and it’s a true honour to share them weekly”

“We are only just getting started. I can’t wait to share what we have planned.”

Through CEO YOURSELF, Hermione hopes to inspire other women and build their confidence.

“I see women’s confidence soaring when they’re standing in their power, knowing their worth. Working on something that inspires you or doing good work, pouring yourself into motherhood and experiencing the joy these beautiful little souls bring, being loved and loving is where I see most women shine.”

Career aside, Hermione is also known for her style – elevated but simple. “I prioritise comfort over all else,” she says. “I wear a lot of jeans and blazers, shirts and trousers. I know what works for my body shape and I fall for trends less often. I like the Emmanuelle Alt and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy vibe.

In her dream shopping cart are the Alaia Le Teckel Small bag in brown suede, the Khaite Valera dress and a coat by The Row.

She counts Toteme and COS as a go-to brand during pregnancy and postpartum.

“Whilst pregnant, I didn’t buy any maternity clothing, except for Ilouity Jeans. I mostly just sized up what I’d usually wear and outfit repeated comfortable, oversized sets. 

“I found it hard to wear jeans or trousers in the latter stages of pregnancy and first few months post birth so I did have to wear more dresses and skirts for comfort than I might usually, which honestly really didn’t feel like me!”

Looking ahead, Hermione is excited to watch both her children grow and evolve. “I feel more ambitious than ever but in a balanced way,” she says. “I want to create a beautiful life for  our children and for them to watch Mum (and step mum) working hard to achieve her goals and realise her dreams. I want to set a good example but also be present.

“It will eternally be a balancing act from here on out,” she says.

Mum-life aside, Hermione is looking forward to growing through the conversations she is having on CEO YOURSELF and continuing to coach women and consult for brands.

With so much to juggle, Hermione has one big wellbeing tip: “Listen to your body. If you don’t find a rest day, it will for you.”

Words by Ellie Wiseman | Photography by Emmylou Kelly

“The mother’s recovery needs to be prioritised and it takes a lot longer than corporate culture suggests. What I’ve noticed is that you can be soaring with adrenaline for the first few weeks or months and then suddenly crash. Recovery is not linear. We need time and we need to move gently.”

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