Behind the Business: Charlotte Stirling-Reed
What do you do for work?
I’m a Registered Public Health Nutritionist and I specialise in Maternal and Child Nutrition. I’m a freelancer and so my work is incredibly varied. One day I may be talking at a conference and another day writing reviews and papers for clients. I also do a lot of work with the media and often attend launch events for brands.
When did you find the work you love?
I started freelance work very early on in my career, just doing bits and bobs here and there when I was employed by NHS and other local authority and private sector organisations. I certainly realised early on that I really enjoyed spreading evidence-based info to the masses and also that I liked working with big companies and brands to help them to make positive changes and spread positive messages themselves.
Once I went fully freelance, my business really took off and it was just so exciting working on different projects every day, exploring new fields, topics and working with a variety of people too. It was also scary and sometimes lonely but overall I love the work I do so much.
How did you get to where you are now? What was your journey?
Initially it started with lots of volunteer work – throughout University and also whilst I was employed as a Nutritionist too. Then I started to get noticed somewhat and I began attending more and more events where I met others working in my field. From this I picked up odd little jobs here and there, got more experience working with the media and then, eventually, was able to leave employment and run my own consultancy business – SR Nutrition.
Looking back, what advice would you give yourself when you were starting out?
I’d say “you WILL make mistakes but that’s OK – you’ll learn from them and become better at what you do as a result”. I’d also probably say “be brave and confident more often!”
How do you stay feeling creative and inspired?
It’s hard. Especially as I now have a son whom I want to spend more of my time with. Shutting off social media and getting back to the basics of my role helps. By this I mean, stop all the noise around me about Nutrition and do some good, old fashioned reading of the literature. There is no better way to become informed, confident and evidence based.
What does a good work-life balance look like for you? And how do you maintain it?
It’s hard as freelance means you don’t have a shut off time. Recently I’ve been trying to give myself boundaries and make sure I switch off on my day with my son. I generally also switch off for the weekend. It’s too much of a strain to work through the weekends now I have a family and it’s not good for mental health. I’m very lucky to have some great babysitters who are very local so I have a lot of flexibility with my work. I try to work in evenings when I have a busy week, but give myself a time to stop too, otherwise it can go on and on throughout the night. I don’t know if I’ve found the right balance yet. I’ll let you know when I do 😉
How does being a woman affect your work?
I work in a field that is quite dominated by females and so I’ve always worked alongside women. However, I’ve generally not had any negative experiences with this – especially in employed work when I always had such fantastic teams and managers to work alongside. The thing that was hard being a woman was being the main person to have to take time off for maternity leave. That’s when I really felt that it was tough. BUT I got to spend more time with and feed my son and help him grow into a healthy little boy and that’s better than anything else you can imagine.
How do you stay motivated when work and life get tough?
Having time out. It’s so essential for me. I love my work and it’s a BIG part of my life but it isn’t the ONLY part of my life by any means. We have great friends, family and spending time with them away from my professional life is essential for me. I see lots of people in our field who dedicate their lives to what they are doing – it’s incredible and inspiring but I want to also be able to shut off too.
How do you ensure you practise self care?
I try to exercise, I sometimes practice mindfulness and I give myself quality time off.
What does money mean to you?
It’s important, but it’s not why I do my work.
What one piece of money advice would you give to your younger self?
Always think quality, not quantity!
What’s next for you?
I’m working on a few exciting projects at the moment with new brands. I’ve also just started a new company LittleFoodie.Org, which, I think could do really well once I have a little more time to dedicate to it. I’m always excited about the future but being freelance there are always so many unknowns too! I’m hoping for more of the same in the years to come.