Boss Mums: Amanda Cookson

by Amanda Cookson

My name is Amanda Cookson. I am a wife, mother, designer and entrepreneur. I'm also anxious and strong willed, with a weird sense of humor. I've been married to my husband Craig for nearly 11 years. We live in Mosgiel with our two kids and two dogs.

Henry is nearly 7 years old, and I see a lot of me in him. He can't turn his head off, he vacillates between intense focus and uncontrolled energy. Sophie is coming up 3, and she's a firecracker. I see my stubborn streak in her. I also think she'll be a leader...the Prime Minister or running a gang. Rounding out the family is Ruger and Jed, our black labs who provide us with a mixture of barks, fur and cuddles. They love heading out hunting, dog food, and pats. They are good boys.

I run Be My Guest Design, designing and printing special occasion stationery. Wedding invitations, Save the Dates, greeting cards, wine labels, guestbooks. I get to design pretty stuff every day, and I feel damn lucky!

I started Be My Guest nearly 7 years ago, just before I got pregnant with Henry. It was a very small, part time departure from my corporate job, giving me an outlet of creativity and 'pretty' that I wasn't getting at my 9-5. Once I had Henry, the world as I knew it fell apart. He cried all the time. Screamed. For hours. He wouldn't sleep. My antenatal class was talking about how they loved their baby more every day, while I was thinking 'can I give him back?'. We went to doctors. Colic - it'll pass. You're doing great *pat on my knee*. I wasn't doing great. I needed sleep, and I contemplated crashing my car so I'd get a break. But I always had Henry, and I didn't want to hurt him. I had intrusive thoughts. Thinking about those still upset me. Yet everyone kept saying how great I was doing and how amazing I was... leaving me to it because I was 'coping'. A vicious catch 22.

Summing it up in a few lines makes my diagnosis seem obvious, but it still took a lot of time to realise what was happening. Post Natal Depression and Anxiety. Very quick to slip in to, a slow slog of medication and therapy to get out of.

As my maternity leave ran out, I contemplated the future. I couldn't go back full time. Craig worked away from home during the week (he still does) and I was barely better. We talked about part time, about flexible hours, but couldn't agree. I ended up leaving and throwing myself into making Be My Guest work.

Something that I didn't mention about myself earlier? I'm secretly lazy. Some call it efficient. If I have to do something too many times, I automate it. So that's what I've tried to do with Be My Guest. It's a balance of giving my amazing clients personal care and attention, while making behind the scenes as efficient as possible, so I don't need to reinvent the wheel. Creating systems and processes is the stuff that I really nerd out on and enjoy, but there's something about design/creating that gives me peace and joy. I suppose it is a form of meditation, and I lose time doing it.