Mumfluencer Chaneen Saliee took the number 1 spot on Mother&Baby's The Mum List 2020! Here we find out all about her life, what it's like being a mum-of-two and her exciting plans as a business woman.
This creative, beautiful soul can do it all: tandem feed, vlog, and run her own business. Having not really seen many black mums on the scene, especially breastfeeding ones, Chaneen started speaking up more about motherhood when daughter Jasmine was born in August 2017. Second daughter, Ocean, was then born in April last year – enter a new world of tandem breastfeeding and life with two-under-two. In a bid not to lose her style, she then started creating her own clothes, and friends started taking note and asked for their own versions. The rest, as they say, is history. But enough from us, here’s The Mum List 2020 winner herself, Chaneen…
‘Breastfeeding two babies at once is not widely spoken about, so that’s what encouraged me to speak up about it. I’m so proud I decided to tandem breastfeed and that I went with my gut feeling about how I should mother, because I could have easily stopped and listened to people telling me I couldn’t do it. I post pictures of feeding both my daughters (Jasmine and Ocean) at the same time, and people can see it is possible. Now I get women messaging me asking what to expect!’
"I'm part of a massive community"
‘On my Instagram people reach out; I feel like I’m part of a massive community. At the start, posting as a black mum, I felt lonely – most breastfeeding mums I see are white, and so I do feel like I’m the only one, but that just makes me want to keep doing it. Despite my vulnerabilities, I am always reminded about the online community and the support we give each other.
"I'm helping other mums feel less isolated
‘From the first time I breastfed in public, it felt so awkward – I felt like everyone was watching me. However, knowing I’m not alone in those feelings and hearing friends say “Oh, me too”, reminds me that there are loads of us that feel the same. So I decided to share my story and help other mums feel less alone. I’m now working on a book of poetry with very personal stuff, some of which I have shared in my picture captions, to put the emotions that we all experience in one place.’
Social media is like a therapy for mums
‘There’s this narrative of motherhood that we all see in movies and adverts where everything is blissful. And that is not at all what it’s like! When I was in labour with Jasmine, I had no idea, because in the movies I thought you go from having dinner with your friends to “Agh! I’m in labour” and then the baby pops out. Then you feel like you love her so much and everything is perfect, and you carry on with life. But it wasn’t like that at all. It was, “I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m in pain, oh now I’m not!” Then when I had her the pain didn’t go away instantly; they’re still touching me and I’m still feeling all of these gross feelings – this is not what I’d seen in the movies! I remember one time I dropped my Weetabix on the floor and it felt like the worst thing in the world – I look back at that time now and laugh. It’s these emotions you don’t see on TV and I think it’s important to share another perspective of motherhood. Just having the conversation is a little bit like a therapy session.’
Social media is a great place to make friends
‘I feel like I have loads of mum friends, because they message me with how they can relate to my content. They all suggest trying things, and groups I’d never thought of or knew about. I feel like I get so much advice, and I want to give that back. To have fellow mums who you can relate to and who are non-judgemental is so vital. I also love how my group of friends are so different; they don’t all breastfeed or co-sleep, some travel the world and others baby-wear 24/7, because they can’t bear to be away. I like that diversity – it keeps me in check when I hear friends with different experiences, and helps me understand the different struggles.
I’ll be taking over the @mumsnet stories today and I’m sharing about how we’ve managed to stay positive and cope over the last past few weeks which have looked liked this 👇🏾 ✨So much is still the same, we spend most of our day indoors, sometimes painting, sometimes singing, dancing and laughing, sometimes in floods of tears. ✨We take it in turns living through moments which feel like years, and then find ourselves grasping at these early stages which seem to flash by and then disappear. ✨We co-sleep and breastfeed, because to keep them close feels right to me And then in the blink of an eye I’m begging for a moment of peace, for them to just not touch me - for one second! ✨Yet so much has changed. The overwhelm is different because there are no breaks but the silver lining has been channels like these, social platforms which are open, honest and supportive - it’s how I strive to share and connect over on here on IG. I can’t wait for you to join me later. Sending you love and strength. ✨🌻
How I started my own business
‘I started Chic and Discreet because I felt awkward breastfeeding in the early days. I felt like all I could wear was a flop-down vest top from H&M and cardigans – and that’s not really my style. I didn’t feel like myself, which made me unhappy. So, I thought about what I could wear that allowed me access to my breasts, but that didn’t show the rest of my body. I started simply by sewing leopard-print panels onto the front of t-shirts and then cut a slit in the middle to give me access. Friends started seeing what I was wearing and would ask me to make them the same tops. I then started sharing the designs online and other mums showed interest. When I began, I had no money and no skills. I bought £20 worth of t-shirts, £10 worth of fabric, and used an old sewing machine I already owed. Now they’re being manufactured, which just blows my mind!’
Anyone can start posting on social media
‘Know that it’s going to be hard, and you will get judged, but do it anyway! One piece of advice I might give mums starting out is to start off with friends – that makes it a lot easier. I first began creating breastfeeding videos with a friend, and because I had her by my side, I felt confident to do it. If it was just me, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. Another tip is to start a faceless page with just information.’
More articles from www.MotherAndBaby.co.uk