Finding Magic & Creativity the Stedman Sisters
"It’s a mixture of smiles that take up your whole face, laughter that makes your tummy hurt and igniting a belief in magic where anything is possible. Oh, and glitter, lots and lots of glitter." - The Stedman Sisters
Q&A with Shannan & Tayla Stedman
The Stedman sisters talk about finding magic in the everyday, being inspired by children and the importance of surrounding yourself with things that spark your creativity!
Q: You are a bubbly sister duo dedicated to making children smile. Tell us all about your amazing company, ‘Happily ever laughter’.
A: Imagine you’re five years old again and your favourite princess from the movie you have watched about a thousand times arrives at your birthday party. She has come all the way from her faraway castle just to celebrate with you. For years after, the memories will live on and you will always remember that special moment you shared. The moment where your birthday dreams came true.
Anyone who knows us, knows that this business embodies everything that we’re about! It’s a mixture of smiles that take up your whole face, laughter that makes your tummy hurt and igniting a belief in magic where anything is possible. Oh, and glitter, lots and lots of glitter. Happily Ever Laughter is a boutique children’s entertainment company. We have been operating for over four years now and have a wonderful team of entertainers behind us. We provide entertainment, face painting, balloon sculpting, games and magic for events all over Sydney.
Our aim has always been quality over quantity. We want to ensure that everything we provide is of the highest standard and that we offer a personalised experience for each client. To us, Happily Ever Laughter is a community where we can build relationships with our clients and provide a stress-free experience for them. We are so blessed to have been invited back to celebrate with children multiple years in a row and watch them grow up before our very eyes, our clients feel like friends to us!
Q: Did you both always have plans to be in the children’s entertainment industry? How did your journey lead you there?
A: We hadn’t exactly planned on it, but being the big kids at heart that we are, and having a little sister to influence us, it seemed like the perfect fit!
We have always been ‘out of the box’ kind of girls and when job hunting, the sparkling world of children’s entertainment caught our eye. We initially started working with other companies in the industry. However, we soon discovered that the people we were working for cared very little about the quality of what they were offering and more about expanding and franchising their businesses. On top of that, we were put in situations where we didn’t feel completely comfortable and decided to leave the industry.
After a few miserable months away from magic and birthday parties, we missed working with children so much that we made the decision to start Happily Ever Laughter. This was during our early years of university. We spent all of our free time making appearances in costume anywhere and everywhere we could (this often resulted in countless strange looks and getting ‘escorted’ out of shopping centres). We would run competitions to win free entertainment, offer introductory sales and tried to build a social media presence, particularly on Facebook.
It is never easy getting anything up and running but because we are both so passionate and dedicated to Happily Ever Laughter’s success, the business took off faster than we could have ever dreamt. Although this is not the direction we initially saw our lives heading in, we are so glad we ended up here.
Q: We would love to know what keeps you both inspired?
A: Our working environment is a massive contributor to our inspiration. The fact that we get to work from home is everything to us. Even on the days where we are feeling less motivated, we are fortunate enough to be able to work in front of the fireplace in our pjs, cuddled up with our three adorable puppies. Or if it’s a beautiful day outside, we are not limited to being stuck in an office, we can take the pups for a walk or take our work outside and get some sunlight. We even café hop with our laptops for a change of scenery to keep things fresh. That kind of flexibility only comes with working hard and that is inspiration enough to keep us going.
Something else we try to do is to constantly surround ourselves with things that spark our creativity such as books, music, inspirational quotes and poetry. Oh, and tea, tonnes and tonnes of tea.
Q: What do you both do to zone out and take time for yourselves?
A: When you work from home, zoning out can be one of the most difficult things to do because you technically never leave the ‘office.’ Most days we are working from the second we wake up until we fall asleep, but we do have our ways of switching off when we need to.
Our pups Mya, Harlow and Bambi certainly help to put us in a fun playful mindset. Reading a book is also a great way to pull yourself out of your own head and delve into someone else’s world for a little while. Pilates is another way we love to distract ourselves from work. We’re pretty obsessed with it actually, so obsessed that we may or may not have purchased a reformer for our house…
Our other way of zoning out which is probably not the healthiest habit, is binge watching whole seasons of tv shows in basically one sitting, (Our most recent binge was ‘Younger’).
Q: You recently wrote a book that is soon to be released, how exciting! Tell us all about it.
A: Yes, we did, and we are still pinching ourselves!
It is a children’s picture book that was greatly inspired by our company. It follows the adventure of a fairy called Harlow and her sidekick fairy dog, Dixie. The book explores the meaning and use of laughter which we thought was a really important theme for kids. We have witnessed first-hand just how much bullying can negatively impact children and we really wanted to touch on that. If our story makes kids smile that’s truly fantastic but if the message of our book can resonate with them too, well that is just a dream come true!
We collaborated with the very talented Cathi Mingus who did the illustrations and brought so much life to our vision for the book. Her illustrations are stunning, and we can’t wait for people to see them!
A big part of why we love Happily Ever Laughter is because it allows us to spread magic to children, however we are limited by the fact that we can only personally do so in Sydney. Our aim for this book is to bring enchantment to kids all over the world.
Q: Here at the Launch Gals, we are all about chasing our dreams and making our passions a full time gig. You both have already done a phenomenal job at this, so, tell us what’s next for the Stedman sisters?
A: Thank you so much! At the moment, we are busy working on a few writing projects and operating Happily Ever Laughter. We have also spent the last four years saving like crazy and have just purchased our first investment property. Managing it will be occupying our time for the next little while. Our main writing focus at the moment is our children’s middle grade novel. The manuscript is definitely a work in progress, but we are really proud of where it is heading and are so excited for the day it can be out there for the world to read!
Juggling all of this definitely keeps our hands full but we wouldn’t have it any other way. You know your passions have become a full-time gig when your work doesn’t really feel like work. We are so fortunate to be chasing down our dreams every day!
Just for a bit of fun!
Q: When I face a big challenge…
S: I find it so helpful to just take a moment and breathe. We are big list makers, categorizing everything and figuring out the priorities so we know what to tackle first. I also believe that music is a wonderful method in helping you overcome anything and putting you in the right mindset!
T: Talk it out! Understanding the challenge is the first step in overcoming it. Clarity is everything! We are all about strategizing when it comes to challenges. Making a game plan always helps us move forward and tackle whatever obstacles is in our way, head on.
Q: The most courageous thing I’ve ever done as a woman is…
S & T: Starting our business, Happily Ever Laughter, was probably the most courageous thing we have done. We sort of leapt blindly into the business world and are so grateful to have wonderful and supportive people around us, but it really was a scary experience. Especially because we were 19 and 20 years old at the time and we learnt quickly that a lot of people don’t take you seriously at that age. We honestly had no idea if the company would ever thrive and if our hard work would pay off. We are so happy we did it though!
Q: The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is…
S: ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in what could have been, or what I should have done. But I just have to remind myself to live in the moment and be thankful for all of the incredible things that I have and that await me. There is always a method to the madness and we have to enjoy life while it unfolds around us, no matter the circumstances and trust that things will work out for the best.
T: Do your least favourite/worst jobs at the start of the day. This is something so simple, but once you implement it into your daily routine, it’s life changing! This approach definitely allows for maximum productivity and feeling accomplished before your day has even really begun.
Q: My BGP (best gal pal!) would describe me as…
S: Creative, bubbly and obsessed with my dogs.
T: Thoughtful, easy going and epic tv series binge watcher.
Q: My favorite girl crush is… because…
S & T: That’s a unanimous one for us, our girl crush right now is Nicole Richie. She embodies everything that we admire! She built an award-winning business, House of Harlow 1960, based on her passions and brought her unique vision to life. She is completely herself which is what we’re all about and not to mention she has a killer fashion sense. Also, she’s a small human who is accomplishing big things. We are both just over 5 foot ourselves so us power pockets need to stick together!
Q: My go-to beverage order is…
S: Anything from T2! We love trying all the new flavours, but some of our personal faves are; Sencha Vanilla, New York Breakfast and Caramel Brownie. Otherwise I am just addicted to cold water and drink about 3 - 4L a day!
T: I’d have to agree. T2 is our biggest beverage addiction, unless I’m craving a coffee which is a long black with a dash of almond milk.
Q: One book I’ve read that I’ve considered life changing is…
S: Growing up, it was Harry Potter and the magical world that JK Rowling created that really pulled me into reading. The Harry Potter obsession has definitely stayed with me and I am constantly impressed by the detail within the series.
In high school, I studied Wuthering Heights and that quickly became another favourite of mine. I adore the writing style and the fact that it was so different to anything else I’ve read from that time. I especially loved that Heathcliff was both the antagonist and protagonist of the story. It has influenced the way that I perceive and deliver characters – especially villains - in my writing.
T: ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert. If you are in need of inspiration, read this book. I guarantee it will put you in such a positive mindset and ignite your creative side. It prompted me to pursue writing in a real way and to start building the life I wanted for myself. It also helps to shift your perspective so that you no longer dread the creative process but appreciate the enchantment and the opportunity of simply being a part of it.
Q: My favorite quote is…
S & T: ‘Blaze your own glittery, sparkly, fiery, shimmering path. Surround yourself with the things that make you shine. Create your own bubble and thrive in it.’ – Cara Alwill Leyba
This is our mantra that is hanging in our office! Cara Alwill Leyba has an endless supply of empowering quotes but this one really speaks to our souls. It’s such a great reminder that hard work pays off and allows you and your accomplishments to sparkle. There is no glittery trail without the grind. Diamonds are made under immense pressure, after all.
Also, the idea of creating your own bubble is such a brilliant way to visualize yourself. Don’t be concerned with what other people are doing or thinking, just focus on your own passions and fill your bubble with so much positive energy that it lifts you up!
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