Olli Ella Folk | Lou Bannister
Louise Bannister is the Co-founder and Editorial Director of Lunch Lady Magazine; a visual treat full of clever writing, beautiful photos, inspiring interviews, and kid-friendly crafts and recipes to make any Pinterest-lover swoon. A mother of three little ones, and an entrepreneur with a catalogue of successful publications under her belt, Lou is well-versed in the ups and downs that come with raising a family... and a business. We caught up with Lou at her beautiful home in the Byron Hinterland (complete with skate-ramp!) to chat about life, magazines and combining the two.
Tell us Lou - about your family and the town where you live?
There’s five of us - Myself, my husband Rick, Harriet who is almost 8, Pearl, 6 and Bon, 3. We live near a lovely small village in the Byron Hinterland. It’s a contradiction of sorts - only has one old general store but also a world class Japanese cafe!
If you could describe Lunch Lady in a nutshell, what would you say?
Lunch Lady is a magazine for parents, but it’s not a parenting mag! It's a fun, engaging, practical quarterly magazine filled with recipes, super simple craft and interesting interviews with extraordinary people. It’s non judgmental and it’s objective is to have fun and connect us all through the ups and downs of being parents.
How do you decide on what type of content will be featured in each issue?
What we do is find interesting stuff we know could be helpful and fun for parents. We are constantly canvassing for interesting people with stories to tell, funny takes on parenting and ways as families we can spend time together that we all enjoy. We don’t see it as a parenting magazine in the way we don’t tell anyone how to parent. How could we! We’re just learning as we go too.
There’s something special about print magazines - the feel, the imagery, the sensation of turning a page.
Why did you choose to go with the print route for Lunch Lady as opposed to publishing exclusively online?
Lara, my co-founder, and I have been making print magazines for 20 years. We launched Frankie Magazine for a publishing company when we were 25 and Smith Journal a bit later. Print is what we know and love. There’s nothing more intimate or engaging then sitting down with a magazine that feels like a friend, and that's what we strive to create.
What is it about magazines that made this career something you knew you wanted to pursue?
I find magazines a powerful way to tell the whole story. It’s not about clickbait, it’s not about how many impressions you get. It’s about making something quality that people who love it really engage with. They’re also a wonderful way to build community. The amount of readers that bonded over the fact they both read Frankie are too many to count and we hope we’re creating the same space for people to connect over Lunch Lady.
Tell us about the importance of “fun” in motherhood. You’ve spoken to us about this in the past. We’d love to hear more.
I really have had to work at having fun as a parent and starting Lunch Lady has helped that so much! I think it’s ingrained in many of us to just get stuff done, constantly doing things - cleaning the house, looking after the kids, working, doing, doing, doing. Like our mothers did. But when my husband tapped me on the shoulder one day and reminded me to have some fun, it really dawned on me that I was doing rather than living. So now, I try much harder to have fun with it! If we’re not having fun, what’s the point ?
What does community mean to you?
Everything. As we face some challenging times with the climate, I think everything comes back to being connected with one another and community. I’m not talking about just through our phones. Real community gatherings and real conversations about how we can celebrate with each other and support each other when the goings get tough.
You are also a skateboarder too! What made you get into skateboarding and what do you love most about it?
I dabbled in skateboarding as a teenager but was always much too intimidated by the culture (and the boys!) to real give it a go. I feel I missed out. So when I turned 38, I picked up a board and joined a mums group learning to skate. It has been life changing on so many levels. When you skate you don’t know the outcome, so the more you surrender the better you get. The more relaxed you are, the better the trick. Surrendering and not controlling situations is not something that comes naturally to me, so it’s been wonderful on many levels. I also see it as a form of activism in a way, skating skateparks as a now 40 year old and not giving a toss about what anyone thinks is really liberating.
As an entrepreneur, what are the most important lessons you’ve learnt from building your own business?
Be kind, be empathetic, know your boundaries, know when to say no, work hard and find opportunities when times get tough. When things look rocky, it doesn’t mean it’s over, just means you have to find another solution.
When do you feel most beautiful?
When do you feel the most tired?
What excites you?
How does WARES make you feel when you wear them?
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