WITH CANDICE BRATHWAITE
I met Candice (mother, cake baker, content creator and hopefully soon to be published, author) during a final round interview process at Penguin Random House (she got the job!) and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. An inspiration to womankind, Candice really is one in a million, delivering sense and realness online on the daily. Here’s what she had to say about her career so far, as well as what it’s like to be a black woman in the workplace. Enjoy.
What are your main responsibilities?
Raising the kid! There is no book in the land that can prepare you for how all consuming being a mother will be. Trying to write is the other thing; having just secured a literary agent, I spend most of my time writing or thinking about writing.
What does your average day look like?
It’s so boring! Right now, a few things are different as we are preparing to move house and I’m feeling sick every day due to being pregnant, but usually, it goes something like this:
6:00 AM – Wake up, reach for my phone. I know I shouldn’t and sometimes leave it in the kitchen to avoid temptation.
6:30 AM – Coffee or some form of herbal tea whilst journalling or reading.
7:00 AM – Workout. Never for more than thirty minutes.
7:30 AM – Shower.
8:00 AM – Esme (my three year old) wakes up. On the dot, like clockwork, every day.
8:15 AM – Prepare her almond milk. She used to drink cows milk which it’s no good for anybody and it was really tough weaning her off, so one day I just told her all the cows had died. She thinks there is no other choice now!
8:30-9:30 – Bathe Esme, catch up on emails, make breakfast.
9:30 – 10:30 AM – Interact with Esme. She’s just starting to learn how to read so now will be a time we use a computer program or practice her handwriting.
10:30 -12:00 Record ‘TEATIME!’ They are always pre-recorded because usually, I’m taking her to nursery when it goes live. With Instagram stories only allowing uploads from your camera that were recorded in the last 24hrs, this takes away the temptation of bulk recording. I make lunch, usually a jam sandwich for Es and a mango, prawn and cashew salad for me.
1:00 PM – Nursery run. Esme attends nursery three afternoons a week from 1:30-6:30 PM.
2:00 PM – Post ‘TEATIME!’ to insta stories.
2:30 PM – 7:00 PM – Respond to emails. I’ve recently seen a surge in brands wanting to collaborate with me. Not all collaborations work out but it’s important I respond to emails in a timely manner. Then I write. Right now, my literary agent and I are working on a proposal for my nonfiction book. A lot of time goes into finessing the final product. Once that’s done, I focus on any outstanding cake orders for Cake By Candie. Then at 6:30 PM, I start to prepare dinner (AKA, scroll through Deliveroo!)
7 PM – 10:00 PM – Usually one of two things now happen. Firstly, Papa B brings Esme home. We eat dinner as a family, then Esme has quiet time in her room before bed at 8 PM. Then, dependent on the day, Papa B and I watch POWER or Game of Thrones. He goes to bed before me, always. Then I may write or scroll on Insta until my eyes grow heavy. If not all of the above then I usually hastily kiss Esme goodbye and head out to a blogger/content creator event. Funny enough, the online world is still very dependent upon networking in real life, so to keep up with the latest happenings, I try to go to most of what I’m invited to.
So, Tea Time. Where did that start and why do you think it has been such a huge success?
Teatime actually began on YouTube a couple of years ago. It was like a weekly gossip talk show very much in the same vein as the Wendy Williams show. It had a small but loyal following. After over a year of doing it, I just fell out of love with it. After returning from my holiday in Barbados earlier this year, I literally awoke at 2 AM and thought “TEATIME! is coming back!” but more from a motivational angle (and on Insta stories).
From the very first episode on Insta stories, it was a success. I think it struck a chord with many women and it was easily accessible. The fact it only stays published for 24hrs is a win for me too, as there is always room for new content without followers being overwhelmed.
Do you think an idea like tea time or making a podcast or starting a blog should be sat on in order to get perfect or should you just get going?
Just get going! What’s so funny is that when TEATIME! was on YouTube, so much pre and post production went into that. There was setting up a backdrop, fact checking, filming, editing, content sharing. It felt never ending. Now I just stand by my glittered out wall sockets with no make-up on and people love it. I would say perfection is the partner of procrastination. Once we understand that we cling to the idea of perfection as an excuse not to execute, it’s far easier to just work with what you have.
How do you juggle career and motherhood?
I don’t! They just kind of sit side by side. Esme actually knows how to cut and move clips in Final Cut Pro because she’s watched me do it so often. So when I think about it like that, why should I juggle them? Both instances have something to learn from the other.
Have you ever come across any difficulty trying to balance both?
Oh for sure, especially when I was working in an office environment. It just felt as though I was always in two places at once, especially when your child is younger and with childcare being so expensive, it really does add another layer of stress that those without children never have to worry about.
When it comes to now being a WAHM (Work At Home Mum) the difficulty is more self-imposed. I often become riddled with guilt when Esme comes wanting to have a story read to her when I’m on a tight deadline, but I can’t have it all!
And as a black woman in the workplace, do you think you have faced even harder challenges during the course of your career?
Funnily enough, I’ve never had a clear cut career path so I wouldn’t say I’ve faced challenges with regards to climbing a specific ladder. I will say that it does just get pretty fuck*ng exhausting being the only POC in the room. My friend has a saying, ‘the raisin in the rice pudding’, and that’s exactly how it feels. The issue with there being a lack of diversity in perhaps every career field you can think of is that those few of us who are lucky enough to penetrate it still end up feeling either wildly alone or misunderstood. At first, of course, it made me angry, but now I really try to use that anger by putting pressure on brands and businesses to understand why becoming diverse is necessary to not just inflate their pockets but be a driving force within society overall.
Do you think there are enough black female voices being heard online through YouTube and blogging? If not, do you think change is coming?
Funnily enough, I feel like there are plenty of African-American female voices filling the online space but in comparison, there are not nearly enough Black British female content creators given their space to shine. I often browse YouTube and look at the absolute trash worthy content that is available. Not to offend, but such content is usually made by white men on skateboards who are able to quickly grow their audiences because of how they ‘appeal’ to the masses. In contrast, there are Black British Female content creators who have been on the platform at least half a decade longer them and have one tenth of their subscribers. That in itself will make anyone exhausted. I would like to think that a change is coming. Black British Female content creators are on the rise and are finding new ways to grow their audiences but I still feel like there is a lot of opposition, which will make the fight to be seen as equal, on and offline, a hard one.
I know it isn’t about me, but as a white woman wanting to fight the good fight, I sometimes feel a sort of imposter syndrome (doesn’t help when I’m told on Twitter that I’m white so don’t have a say!). What would you say to someone like me, who feels that way?
I would say you have to ignore that feeling of being an imposter and continue to speak loudly about what you believe to be right. Many white people will only listen to other white people, so as a black woman who actually lives through racism and profiling every day, there is only so far that my voice can be carried. It takes black and white people to stand up and say ‘hold on, this is not and has never been fair.’ The waters muddy when you ask that of those who have always benefitted from their innate privilege, so those like yourself that are willing to stand on the frontline with us, I encourage you to do that.
Such a cliche, but what would you tell your 18-year-old self right now, if you could.
Firstly, I would tell my 18-year-old self to get my finances in order, save some of that untaxed cash and that credit is KING! The lack of education surrounding financial responsibility and having a high credit score really annoys me. Good credit is worth more than gold in hand and many of the things that you ‘need’ in adult life depend on the former. Secondly, I would tell myself that it all figures itself out and not having a ‘plan’ is not something I shouldn’t fret about. For a long time, I was annoyed with myself that I didn’t go to university. As the years have gone on, I actually feel blessed to have made that choice. I’ve been able to figure out what I’m good at and provide for myself without ending up in massive debt.
What advice are you going to give Esme as she grows up and embarks on her own career?
Despite what society says, I would encourage her to be a ‘Jack of All Trades’. Being good at only one thing just doesn’t cut it anymore. With more people being laid off than ever before, you’re really going to stand out if you have a plethora of skills under your belt. Your time to become a master at one of those trades will become clear to you later on down the road, but it’s important that she sets herself up for as many opportunities as possible.
And finally, do you think being your own boss is for everyone? And will you ever return to working for ‘the (wo)man’ again?
Being your own boss is definitely not for everyone! I don’t think it’s even for me! If it wasn’t for Papa B keeping a foot in my ass regarding invoices, or my agent reminding me when work is due, then I would probably be a starving artist. Anyone who decides to step away from ‘work’ as we know it, must have people on their team who keep them going. I would work for the (wo)man again! but it would have to be on more flexible terms. I want employers to realise how many good women they’re losing by being too rigid with their back to work rules after maternity leave. More women are pushed off a career ladder than those who choose to jump. The only positive thing I’ve noticed from this is that many women then go on to set up thriving businesses of their own and nothing is more inspirational than that.