Meet Jamie-Lee Burns, a Sydney-based mum who is also a fashion and lifestyle content creator. We had a wonderful chat to Jamie-lee about her journey from working for a backbench MP in New Zealand, to creating content, running her own YouTube channel and starting her own eco children's wear brand.
Jamie-Lee also spoke to us about how she go too where she is today, what she does to keep herself motivated and how having a baby changed her outlook on life and fashion, and of course a few tips on how to get more mileage out of your closet.
Tell us a little bit about yourself - who are you and what gets you up in the morning?
Hi! I’m Jamie-Lee, a 32 year old freelancer and creative, living in Sydney. Despite being born here in Sydney, I actually grew up in Wellington, New Zealand. Given how much my accent has broadened in the past 6.5 years, I think this often comes as a surprise to people I meet.
Deep down, I’m a bit of a geek. I’m an avid gamer at heart (when I can find the time), and absolutely love getting into a good sci-fi series – my husband and I are currently making our way through all 10 seasons of the X-Files. I’m also an animal lover (we have three pets – two cats and a dog), and I absolutely love getting outdoors.
What gets me up in the morning…? Our 7.5 month-old son. He’s in the midst of a developmental leap, which means that my day starts at 5:30am. Thankfully I’ve always been an early riser, and I always find I’m my most productive first thing. So aside from getting up and having a play and cuddle with our boy, I’ll usually be driven to tick a few things off my to-do list. As a mum, it can feel a little like Groundhog Day as routine is everything. However I’m in the midst of launching my own conscious childrenswear brand, which has been a big motivator for me, and kept me feeling inspired.
Can you share a little bit about your professional journey so far - how did you get to where you are today?
I think a lot of where I am today in my career, has really been propelled by the passion I had for personal projects, even as a young kid. During my teens, I discovered coding and web design, spending hours every night building websites dedicated to my favourite gaming series, as well as a personal blog.
Despite this passion for website development and “creating”, it wasn’t what I studied at University. I ended up pursuing some of my other interests: political science, international relations, economics, and marketing. My professional career really started in the Beehive, where I was working for a Backbench MP. As my responsibilities grew, I started working on drafting more of the communications that came out of our office, which really drove my ambition and where I wanted to take my career when I moved back to Sydney.
All throughout this time, I was continuing to blog, though it had evolved from a personal online diary, to a platform where I was sharing my outfits, new purchases, and my style journey with other like-minded people. And I was developing relationships within the fashion industry. I loved this sense of community, and I think it was one of the reasons why I continued to post, even as I found blogging took up more and more of my time. Especially when I started YouTube – which to me, seemed like a fun way to connect with people on another level.
At some point in that journey, I was able to start monetising my website. And through a commitment to something I genuinely enjoyed, it eventually got to the point where I had to make a decision between giving up my day job as a publicist at a television network, or giving up my blog, YouTube channel, and freelance work opportunities. For me, that was one of those “pinch me” moments, as it happened so organically and wasn’t something that I’d been building up to, so to speak. I ended up choosing the less traditional route, as I’ve always felt that it’s when you take those leaps of faith, that you grow the most.
With the current climate of the world today have you found your day to day changing? In terms of creativity, has this been affected.
Working freelance from home for the past couple of years has been a big transition point for me, as much of what I do – or shoot – is in the house. So from that perspective, it hasn’t changed much, aside from the fact that I now have an “office buddy” three days a week; my husband. Having a baby has come with some major adjustments to the way that I work, though. Especially as I chose not to take any maternity leave, so figuring out how to balance being there for my son with completing my work obligations has been the biggest challenge I’ve faced. It’s also kept us in a bit of a bubble, as I’ve felt encouraged to stay home as I really thrive off routine.
Thankfully, my creativity hasn’t been affected – something I put down to focusing on positive inspiration, keeping my mental health in check, and continuously pushing myself to think outside the box. I feel like my biggest struggle is trying to get creative with my time – there aren’t enough hours in the day (especially with a wee one to chase after!).
It seems like your life is very busy! What does a typical day look like for you?
I think this is true for most new mums. My day typically starts around 5:30am when my son wakes up. I’ll feed and re-settle him, and take the opportunity to go for a run once he’s snoozing again in his cot. After I get back for my run, I’ll make my husband and I a coffee, and then have a quick shower and whiz through my morning skincare routine. Our son is usually up at this point so the rest of this early morning period is generally spent getting his breakfast ready and playing with him, before his first nap of the day.
My husband is generally in the city on Monday and Wednesday, so I’ll usually use that first “free” chunk of the day to film a video for my YT channel. I try to do my set up before our son goes down for his nap, just to stretch out how much time I have. After I finish filming, I’ll try and get to a few emails, or at least get a start on any projects I have going at the time. This might be personal or client work – I try and maintain a good balance between the two.
When our boy wakes up, I like to get out again for an hour-long walk with the pram. Can you tell I love being active? Once we get back, I’ll organise lunch for us both, and then I’ll get to a few more emails, before our boy’s second nap. I tend to have a bit more time in the afternoon to myself, so this is when I try and blitz through all the important things on my to-do list. The lighting is quite nice in our house around the middle of the day so I’ll also shoot some imagery, or get back to the manufacturer with any feedback for our childrenswear brand.
I like to try and be present with our son for that final stretch of the day, and love this special time that we have together.
I’m forever grateful that my husband is an excellent cook – so even after a long day at the office, he’ll come home and get something delicious on for us to eat. Once our son is down for the evening, I’ll finish up anything urgent, though I try to have all my work done by 7pm so I can enjoy the evening.
You love fashion and expressing your personal style. What is important to you when looking for brands or clothes to wear?
I’m not the type of person who blindly follows trends, so even in my early twenties, I have always been happy to spend a little more to add something special to my wardrobe. Style is an extension of self, and a way that you can outwardly express who you are. On a superficial level, I want the brands I seek out to align with my personal style, but on a deeper level, I also want these brands to align with my values. It’s really that meeting of the two that I’m seeking out, when looking for new items to add to my wardrobe – whether it’s from a new-to-me brand, or one I’ve loved for many years.
What makes a good wardrobe? What is your advice to someone who is just getting started on creating their ‘look’?
I think having a closet full of items that make you feel good individually, but that collectively also tell a story.
Your personal style journey won’t happen overnight. In my experience, it’s taken time – not just to explore what I do and don’t like, but to refine your colour palette, and invest in any key styling pieces you may not already have. It’s also fluid and evolves as we shift into new phases of our lives, whether that’s becoming a parent, shifts in your career, or relocating to a new city.
Temporarily removing items from your wardrobe and stashing them out of sight, is a tool I’ve used to narrow down and define my personal style. Similarly, trying out a capsule wardrobe can give you some real insight too, as it challenges you to get creative with the items you already own, and see what gaps exist, or what items no longer work for you.
Personally I like to begin by collating inspirational images that reflect the way I’d like to outwardly express myself. Taking into consideration silhouettes or proportions that work for your body type is useful too. That’s a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to feeling good in what you’re wearing.
And don’t underestimate the power of a good accessory. Something as simple as popping on a bold lipstick can instantly lift an outfit.
You are a new mum as well as a creator. How did having a baby change your outlook on life and fashion?
It’s really challenging to put into words how becoming a mother has made me feel, and ultimately, how it’s changed me as a person. It might sound cliché, but having a baby has truly altered my perspective and the way I look at the world. I’ve learned to take things slower, stop sweating the small stuff, and I’ve developed more patience and understanding. I’ve also got such a tremendous amount of respect for every other woman out there who is a mum. It’s challenging – the hardest job you’ll ever have!
From a fashion perspective, I’ve really started to embrace that “less is more” mantra. I’ve got a lot less time these days, so ingrained in me is focusing on having a strong style uniform that is effortless and comfortable. Before having a baby, I let my personal preferences drive my style choices. Now, that’s driven more by my lifestyle – what I wear has to be practical!
How do you keep yourself motivated to be creative?
By taking the time to recharge. Knowing when I’ve reached my limit, and pushing back against that desire to keep going. If I’m burnt out, I’m not going to be inspired or motivated to get up and get going, and this also impacts my ability to get creative, or think outside the box. Planning ahead helps too – it takes the pressure off!