Please tell us about what you do?
Ha! I would love to know! First and foremost I’m a stay at home butler to the incomparable Esme-Olivia, secondly I run a small cake business (www.cakebycandie.com), lastly I have a habit of creating youtube videos!
What lead you to starting a YouTube channel and what is the aim of your channel?
I was led to start my channel through sheer annoyance. I mean how many videos of contour and bleaching the knots of a lace front wig was I supposed to endure? I’m very passionate about DIY in all areas of life. So when I was looking for content that would actually empower or entertain me and I couldn’t find it, I went about creating it myself. The aim of my channel is to show a Black British nuclear family in a positive light. As a black woman with a black daughter, if I can create a platform that empowers her without the need for say Alexa Chung, I’m going to run with it.
We have watched your channel and really connected with an episode where you talked about including more content about empowering. For our readers that haven’t watched this episode could you sum up why you have decided to do this now?
Similar to the previous question, creating empowering content for black women is what I feel I have to do. I am obligated to create content tor women who look and live like I do. The internet is awash with content that on a bad day can make us feel really bad about ourselves. Who hasn’t sat up late on Instagram and wished to be richer, thinner, happier? I want to create honest content that also empowers black women in their day to day lives.
Your YouTube channel includes your whole family. I have chuckled at episodes including your husband (your side eyes! And his sharp wit!!). How has this impacted your family?
It has 100% made us fall in love with each other again. Being able to catch precious unguarded moments and sit through the editing of our day to day lives, really makes me appreciate them more. Including them has opened Esme up to a world in front of a lens and it has been magical for her self confidence. She now has a toy camera where at any given moment she will start recording. While she doesn’t yet know how to use it, she can point out Final Cut Pro on my laptop and tell me that I’m editing. So thus far the experience has been educational for her. When it comes to PapaB he plays it cool but when he doesn’t see me with a camera in hand he will encourage me to pick it up. And let’s not talk about how he loves to read comments about himself. LOL.
We recall that there was a period of time where you were subject to trolls on social media.
How did this feel?
It was without doubt one of the darkest times of my internet life thus far. I had never been attacked in that way before. People were targeting me not because of my views or content but because of the colour of my skin. That was a bitter pill to swallow. It didn’t help that the company I had created the content with literally stood back and let the vitriol happen. I cried a lot and took a month off of social media because I just couldn’t comprehend how people could hate me so deeply.
How did you overcome this?
I took time off and reverse engineered what I wanted to gain from living a life online. It became apparent to me that one of the first things I would have to do is control my content and narrative. No company would protect me as well as I would protect myself. I also really took time to become self aware. Yes, I have big teeth, big lips and a laugh that can stop traffic. Once you become in tune with who you really are instead of who you wish you were, any judgements people make about you are not a shock. Once you do that any boomerang launched at you with a force of hate never stings quite so deeply because you’ve already come to terms with the things that make you different.
Reflecting on this do you think this experience made you change anything about how you present yourself online?
Yes and no. Yes because I am now very specific about the way I present myself. I would never place the direction of my narrative in someone else’s hands again. It’s made me fiercely protective of Esme. When she was about four months old, a picture of her went viral and I mean VIRAL. US comedians where even using her picture. While the picture was cute and funny, that was still my child. It took a while to settle down but those were a frantic few months which I’m in no rush to relive. No because I’m still that brash brixton broad with a love for Gucci and gossip! I will not do something half heartedly.
I have found ways to weave my work around my home life. In the early days I would pretend that I’m superwoman but now I’m quick to let Papa B take the reigns when he gets in…
YouTubing is hard work, constantly generating content, editing, promoting. How do you manage this with parenting, your relationship and now starting a fashion brand?
I’m a pisces. So when I’m addicted to something or have a fire in my belly, I will make it work. Its currently ten minutes past midnight and I’m writing this, you know? I treat my work like I treat breathing. It has to be done, no question. I have found ways to weave my work around my home life. In the early days I would pretend that I’m superwoman but now I’m quick to let Papa B take the reigns when he gets in so I can focus on getting content out or dealing with cake orders. When it comes to promoting, 70% of the time anything I post on social has been scheduled. Apps are a life saver! I’m not the best at balancing but I get the job done. When it comes to ESMI Children’s wear my sister is the head of the show. And believe me when I day it’s nice to be the tail sometimes!
We read that you left your job to become a stay at home mother. Please tell us why and whether it has lived up to your expectations at that time?
Even getting the job was by chance. Arguably one of the biggest publishing houses in the world were looking for four people to up the levels of their marketing departments while learning about the publishing industry. I beat more that 1000 people for one of those 4 spaces. So when the time came, I knew I had to make it. The first six months were wonderful. But by the time the second placement came around, I felt as if I were slipping underwater. Esme was only two and had gone from seeing me 24/7 to living with my mother 5 days out of 7. Most nights I was leaving vauxhall, heading to Walthamstow to put her to bed and then coming all the way back to Croydon hitting the sack at 1am and waking at 5. It begun to take it’s toll and I couldn’t quite understand if it was worth it. I decided to step off the ladder and admit that it was too much too soon. I feel as if I made the correct decision 100%. I’m a better woman and a better mother for it.
Is parenting anything like you envisaged prior to becoming a mother? Please explain
Yes but under a microscopic zoom. I knew that I would feel this strongly for her but I hadn’t considered that I would think for her. When she’s playing, I see every danger before her and I’m heartbroken if i can’t prevent an accident because while I always see it coming, I can’t always get there in time. What I didn’t expect is how much she would love me. She literally shouts ‘MUMMY I LOVE YOU!’ no less than ten times a day. Papa B is always a mushy mess when she does so because her love comes from a non judgemental, unfiltered place.
You and your husband are from different cultural backgrounds. Do you think your cultures have influenced your parenting? If so how.
Yes, our cultures have influenced our parenting but in the opposite direction. Papa B being of Nigerian heritage was raised in a strict household with maximum emphasis on education. I was raised by Bajan grandparents who while too were strict, allowed me more liberty. By default I should be the carefree parent and him the disciplinarian but the roles are completely reversed. He is the fun loving, chocolate giving, naughty corner parent and I am the devil with horns and belt! I think we both took more negatives from our upbringing and noticed how being perhaps raised in tough environment or one too relaxed wasn’t helpful in adult life. It is now a reflection of our parenting thus far.
What has been the most challenging part of your parenting journey so far and how have you overcome it?
Admitting that in may ways I’m still a little girl myself. Esme looks to me to be her everything. That’s a lot to handle when sometimes you’re going through a new situation as person let alone a parent. There are times I get it wrong with her but I’m not above coming down to her level and apologising. I tell her all the time it’s not about the mess you make, it’s about the willingness to clear it up. I have to be an example of that.
In a world full of bodycon and denim you opt for 40’s/50’s vintage, please tell us why? (We ask this as our impression is that the world generally does not associate vintage style with black women).
I have always been infatuated with vintage fashion, most notably the 1950’s. For a long time I struggled to see modern black women wearing that style so I went about doing it myself. When I received my first vintage style dress, I cried. I was an early developer and I have the kind of body that even in the most simple of outfits can send the wrong kind of message to the wrong kind of men. I’m aware of that and it makes me uncomfortable. 50’s dresses allow me to be feminine without giving anything away, and I love it!
If you could speak to your 16 year old self what 3 pieces of advice would you give yourself?
- Do not rush this.
- Make up with your Dad kid, he’s only here for another five years.
- Take that flight, always.
Tell us the 3 most important things you’d would like your daughter to know when she is 16?
- Boys come and go, Knowledge is forever.
- Experience will always triumph education.
- The world still turns, even after I leave it. But wherever you spin, there I shall be.
What is your superpower?
D.I.Y doing things yourself is time, money and sometimes life saving.
Jumping in muddy puddles or making snow angels?
Family time or date night?
Beyoncé or Solange?
Saturday night or Sunday morning?
Mummy and daughter time or play date?
Mummy and daughter time
Books or blogs?
Blogs that get commissioned to become books!
Coffee or herbal tea?
Coffee. Nespresso. Purple Pod. One sugar.
Teething or potty training?
Potty training (when it all gets too much you can just fling a nappy back on it!)
Sweet or savoury?
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