Is it the Self Esteem Chicken or the Confidence Egg first?

During this tremendously busy time in my life – running a large household, two children, a partner, tour groups, bed and breakfast and a business, it was so easy to neglect myself. As I saw it, there were simply not enough hours in the day anyway, why bother with me?

As I got showered and dressed in the morning, I did not look at myself in the mirror, except to brush my hair. No make-up, no skin care, no hair dryer – I just went out with my hair wet to do the daily errands. I dressed in flat shoes, black, navy or black every day.

I scurried about doing the bank, post and supermarket errands without looking up from the ground. I sent a clear non-verbal message with my posture that I did not wish to engage.

How I looked seemed to make no difference to how my children, partner, customers or community colleagues related to me.  I now realise that it did make a difference – a difference on how I thought about myself .

What Comes First?

I have thought long and hard about the roots of this flawed thinking and have come to the conclusion that it stems from the nature of one’s self-esteem training in the very early years. I can hear you all say, “Self- esteem training in the early years – I don’t remember getting any of that?!”

Experts say, success breeds confidence, not the other way around. This is why it is vital to set children up for a successful experience and the confidence will blossom accordingly.

But what comes first? The self-esteem and then a healthy attitude to self-image and  self-care or the other way around? How do you as an adult correct your own flawed thinking? Moreover, how could I instill a healthy self-esteem in my 11 year-old daughter? I confess, that in the beginning I did the things below for her benefit, not my own. But imperceptibly, over time, I began to stop feeling guilty about doing them and began to look forward to them.

Modelling the correct behaviour yourself is most important in influencing children. I had to begin to show positive images of me caring for myself. No more going out of the house with wet hair. Make-up and skin care were back on the daily schedule. I tried to introduce more colour and variety into my wardrobe. I made sure my shoes and bags where clean and in good repair.

Setting her up for self-care, self-image success – From time to time I give her  little gifts of cupcake shaped and delicious smelling soaps, I have provided a shoe shine box, so she had a special spot to clean her school shoes daily, I make sure her school uniform is not missing buttons, stained or the hem down.

Put a self-care routine in place – this may include mother/daughter friday night face pack/facials, DIY hot oil hair treatments, bubble baths or massages.

Occasional Self-care or pampering treats – About once every two months when I get my hair cut and foiled, I ask her if she would like a hair conditioning treatment. She has very long hair, so this is not only beneficial for reducing knots, she adores the pampering and for a week afterwards we can marvel at how soft it is. I recently treated her to a full-body remedial massage at the day spa I have my membership at. That went over extremely well.

Most importantly, I want her to know what it feels like when you treat yourself well and to be treated well by others – and that it is important not to rely on others to make you feel good.

I’d love to know what other mother’s experiences are on this topic?

The Good Old Bad Days

In the good old bad days at Windsor Road, we had some tough times. We had roadworks obstructing vehicular access either in front of us, south or north of us the whole 5 years we lived there. My partner would sit by the roadside whittling Noah’s ark animals. We sold a complete Noah’s ark with animals worth $800 for $200 and I intermittently taught marketing at Hawkesbury Community College for a little extra income. We ate a lot of rice.

In those early days the rocking horses were made from truck loads of undressed scrap box timber from the box factory in Wilberforce which would be dumped in our yard. We evolved to buying $2000 slings of kiln-dried NZ radiata pine milled to the correct sizes.

Also from Wilberforce were cow tails from the abattoirs which we would collect and tan ourselves. It was a filthy job and you could not think about food at all on tanning day. We evolved to importing bespoke horse tails in a variety of colours from China – the world capital for horse hair.

Our original stirrups were made from hand bent aluminium bar and pop rivets and were replaced by importing sand cast and hand polished solid brass stirrups along with the brackets and snaffle bits from India. The swing irons which were cut, bent and threaded ourselves evolved to being done piece work by a retired engineer with the correct machinery at one-fifth the price of an engineering shop.

The nail-on pad saddles responsible for my weak wrists were replaced by miniature English riding saddles made in various colours and sizes and imported from India by piggy-backing on the container orders of a major horse accessories importer.

Simply because we did not have the capital, we focussed on incremental change and growth. The first incremental changes involved improving the perceived value of the horses to get the retail price up from $695.00.

Originally there was not a maker’s mark on the horses, so we set to work to design a brass nail-on plaque for the stand. The plaque maker traded a kit rocking horse for the cost of the initial engraving/set up and individual plaques were only $2.00 a piece. We later introduced a “Certificate of Authenticity “ and a “Certificate of Restoration” which were both hand signed by the maker and presented with the horses.

We improved the finish of the stands by routering the edges and sourcing a commercial turner to make the uprights.We turned the pillar uprights for the stands ourselves, which was ridiculously time-comsuming and relied on turning them exactly the same by eye!

Plastic Amber Crystal Eyes were replaced with German Glass Teddy Bear eyes with hand glued lashes – something which other makers have since copied.

During our growth phase it was very important to treat our suppliers well and pay them on time. As soon as we knew there would be a delay in payment, I was on the phone explaining the situation and nutting out an installment plan. At that time even our annual volumes were not large enough to be able to order from some suppliers.

As the improvements kicked in, we increased the retail price of the horses about $100 per year to $1695 for a standard and $3750 for a large horse. These prices were still well below backyard operators and other specialist retailer’s prices of anywhere between $2000 and $6000. So we offered a beautiful product of  excellent value for a great price, what more could a customer want?

Evolution of a Shoestring Marketer – A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Where I am Now…

My shoestring marketer days must have all started when I was invited to attend a Hawkesbury Council Focus Breakfast designed to develop relations between council and local business. I must have stood out by being a little vocal about tourism issues and tourism marketing and as a result was asked to participate as a mentor with our council sponsored Youth Achievers Program.

I must have appeared sufficiently knowledgeable during the course of that program to be asked by the council’s Commercial Director to do a key note address on “Doing Business in the Hawkesbury – A Small Business Perspective” at a Mayoral Reception for welcoming new businesses.


From here I was invited by the then newly formed Windsor Business Group (a not for profit progress association), to be on their committee and help them put forward proposals to council for assistance funding. One of these was a series of Workshops for Marketing Small Business on a Shoestring Budget.

After conducting eight of the twenty shoestring marketing workshops contracted for, I was struck with the huge gap in the market place for tried and true marketing and pr generating techniques for those with tiny or no marketing budgets or know-how. The information had to be presented in bite-size chunks with a gradual progression of aggression, as most small business people need to “do” long before they can afford to outsource. Also, Australian’s are still hung up about blowing their own horns. Luckily I dont have this problem having spent 5 formative years in California learning the mechanics of how to do it with style and grace.

In the past I had responsibility for marketing budgets of $1M in one corporate arena; shoestring budgets from which miracles were expected in other corporate arenas and a nil budget when I started a small business.

I found after a while that I enjoyed the challenge and thrill of getting as much publicity and marketing done for as little money as possible. If I could run a household, family of four and a small business on a shoestring, surely I could do the same with my small business marketing program.




I calculated over a two year period, I got the equivalent of $250,000 worth of exposure in and on Radio, TV, Magazines, Newspapers, Trade Shows and local community for nothing. It got our business to the point where our classes were booked out 12 months in advance.  I actually had to stop shoestring marketing for a time in order to avoid frustrating prospective rocking horse making students with 12 month waiting lists.

In these blogs I will share with you how to do for your embryonic or established business what I have done for mine – Marketing PR  (Free Editorial in the Press) and Business Social Media exposure on a shoestring budget
in bite size chunks
for the 50 something brain
with an aggression progression.


Strap in –  should be a fun ride, cos I’m still learning too!