This week brings another TBP Insiders! This time, with the super-mum that is Harriet Shearsmith. The Blogger Programme met with Harriet at the wonderful Coppa Club in Tower Bridge and caught up over good food & classic cocktails. Check out our Q&A with her below which covers what it's like to be a successful parent influencer, her favourite campaigns she's worked on, having an Insta-husband and where she see's her content going over the next few years!
Hi Harriet! We’ve been lucky to work with you on loads of TBP campaigns, have lovely lunches (and the odd cocktail!) as well as meet you at events, but for anyone who doesn’t know as much about you, can you do a little intro to yourself?
Sure! I’m Harriet Shearsmith, I’m a mama to three, wife to one and most importantly I own the cutest wrinkled dog you ever did see. I am the creator behind Toby & Roo, my focus is family lifestyle writing and I’ve recently branched into food with @tobyandrooeats and pets/animals with @yodaandthebabes. I’m a book worm (not that I ever get time), total foodie, hide and seek champion, nerf gun warrior and workaholic in need of a nap (substituting naps with coffee).
What’s it like being a parent influencer? What changes have you noticed in the industry since you started?
I love it. I think it’s a highly competitive industry, but there is always enough internet for everyone, and everyone has their own unique spin on life. I really enjoy being a blogger - I mean, I started this job to be with my children more and have flexibility around them, so it’s everything I have ever dreamed of. As to what has changed - a lot, everything is more focused on authentic content, advertising standards have changed (for the better) and it’s becoming recognised as a serious marketing tool more and more everyday.
Has the Instagram community been a support to you as a parent?
Yes! I’ve found it to be an amazing support to me, Instagram has always been a community to me that has been supportive and interested in helping support one another. I’ve found it amazing to be able to say that I have that support from others, without ever leaving home, especially when I was breastfeeding in the wee hours with Edith.
What’s your favourite campaign you’ve ever worked on and why?
I’ve had so many amazing opportunities. I have a few clients that I love working with like Tesco and Birds Eye, my very favourite have to be the ones where my kids have gained something. We recently worked with Lego to support their Disney Princess range and they sent us on a trip to DisneyLand Paris via their Lego Disney Princess train. It’s something that the kids will remember forever. They had no idea and I cried when we told them. Actually, I cried a lot that weekend. It was insanely amazing.
Anything you’d never do?
Yup and when people moan about advertising I wish wish WISH they could see the amounts of things I turn down. I don’t work with crash diet supplements - no, I don’t want to drink tea that gives you diarrhea so I can drop a dress size, and I don’t work with companies that promote unhealthy weight loss. I’m not saying I wouldn’t work with weight loss companies if I wanted to lose weight - but they would need to be a lifestyle choice that was both balanced and didn’t try to stop women having fun with food. I also don’t personally like gambling - so I won’t promote it (and believe me, gambling sites have the biggest budgets everrrr)... I don’t even put money on things that the whole nation usually takes a pop at - I just hate it. I have recently rejected very well paid contracts for contraception as I believe that everyone can make their own mind up about that and (though I’m interested in trying out this contraceptive for myself) I didn’t feel right promoting something that could fail a woman and potentially leave her in a poor situation I’ve been in - you might promote it in a way that totally explains the product isn’t 100% guaranteed but people still think “ahh well, if it works for her…” and lastly, something that rocks its way into my inbox weekly - rape alarms. There is enough victim shaming and preying on women’s fear. I’m good without that. It’s not a jugdement on anyone who does promote those things, just that they wouldn’t work for me and they aren’t in line with my personal beliefs or message.
In your opinion, what can a brand do to get you really excited about a campaign, and what puts you off working with them?
I like a bit of direct but freedom to be creative. I’ve worked with brands before where their ideas just don’t really fit with what I wanted for my readers and feed, so I went back to them with another idea and explained why - they loved it and I loved them for giving me the freedom to advertise for them in a way that I knew would resonate with my readership. I love brands that think outside the box too, how can we work together to promote your product, or an angle of your product, that is both fun and engaging for the reader.
Now, we can’t give you all the credit. Turns out your husband Adam (@tobyandroodad) is quite a character and storming Instagram with his own account. How does it feel to have an Instagram husband that’s in front of the camera now?
I love it!! It’s awesome - we have a new common ground. Adam has recently left full time employment to be with the kids more whilst I work more - I was starting to be asked more and more to go to events and things and whilst my primary focus is being flexible around the kids, they don’t need me there if they are at school and they are overjoyed to have their daddy around all the time. It also means that we can travel more as a family - which is something we love to do. Adam is starting to get more and more into instagram, he really enjoys it and his audience is just ridiculously engaged - I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s brilliant and I can’t wait until we’re both working on more and more contracts as a team.
Your lovely kids feature a lot in your blog and Instagram, do you think you’ll move away from this as they get older? Where do you see your content going?
So… I’m always very respectful of my children’s wishes. Reuben, 7, has frequently said “I don’t want you to take the pictures of me right now” and where I can I will say “ok”. If it’s a brand collab then I still say ok but I point out to him that this is my job and the rewards that he gets (disneyland, legoland, new toys that are gifted to him often, clothes… all the things that are “perks”) won’t be possible without my work. I’m really trying to help them understand that in life nothing is free and we all have to work for the things we want. If, after we’ve had a chat, he says he still doesn’t want to do something then I would never make any of them but I haven’t had a time where he hasn’t really enjoyed doing a photoshoot or hasn’t loved a product. If he’s not in the mood to be photographed we try later or I might catch him slyly and then show him the pic and say “hey bud, the company that sent you this as a gift would probably like to see this, mind if I put it on my IG?” and they say yes. I think as they grow they might start to say they don’t want certain things and I will probably take my direction more into food.
Could you share some Instagram profiles with us that really inspire you:
Ahh I have a few:
These are just a few I LOVE!
What’s your favourite thing about working with TBP?
You are just such a warm and friendly bunch, you make briefs that I can see clearly what you’re looking for but that allow me to be creative. You listen to me and when I’ve asked your thoughts on expanding content you’ve looked at where we can work together. You’re genuinely one of my very favourite companies to work with and that is why I have continued to work with you on what has fast become a monthly basis. It’s always a pleasure and never a chore.
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