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Johanna Rossi, Founder of Raising Women

ML: How did you end up in Monaco?
JR: I am British, born and raised in West Sussex, and went on to study Art and Design and then Interior Architecture at the University of Brighton. There I met my husband, who was born in Monaco, and so I came here for love.

ML: You came to Monaco with your boyfriend-now-husband. What were your first impressions and was it easy to integrate into the community?
JR: When I first visited Monaco I was taken aback by its beauty and the magnificence of the surrounding area. I moved here 16 years ago and was very much surrounded by my husband’s friends, colleagues and family. I didn’t start to make my own “real” friends until I had children.

ML: What is something people would be surprised to learn about Monaco?
JR: I think just how much Monaco has changed over the last ten years. I do feel rather sorry for tourists as they negotiate the endless building and road works.

ML: Favourite place to take your kids to eat?
JR: As a family we don’t hang out much in Monaco, we use it as our home base and at the weekends we head over the border to Italy or up to the Turbie or Peille.

ML: You launched Raising Women in September. What were your goals when starting out and what were you most afraid of about starting your own business?
JR: My life has been a series of choices, some good and some bad, that have led me on a journey to where I am today. I’ve learnt who I am and why I am here. I’m driven by a need to belong, and to have a sense of true purpose and fulfilment. One of the main goals behind Raising Women was to create a community in which to inspire and motivate other mums to understand what they’re truly passionate about and to work out how they could use this passion in a unique way.

I’ve worked out that my purpose is to “encourage” which was one of the driving factors in creating Raising Women. I believe that we should all be allowed to be ourselves and be able to express our beliefs to the world, in our own way.

The thing I was most afraid of when I started was “Am I making the right decision?” But deep down you know, and you have to try.

ML: Tell us about how Raising Women works.
JR: Raising Women is a connected and supportive community helping women balance motherhood and becoming who they were meant to be. I’m creating a community, launching podcasts and I continue to coach clients.

The community is going to be built on women sharing personal written stories of self-discovery through motherhood, which will be posted every fortnight on the website. I’ve also created a Facebook group where women in the community can connect.

On the podcast, I interview the women behind the stories and find out more about their businesses and how they balance motherhood with being a “mumpreneur”.

Through my coaching, I work with women who either want to start their journey of self-discovery and would like support, or with women who already have a business and need help finding balance.

I have many goals for my business, but my immediate goals are to build the community and connect and support as many like-minded mamas as possible.

ML: When you refer to coaching, what does this entail and who would benefit?
JR: Yes I coach women through the journey of self-discovery that is motherhood. I know how it feels to be a mother and I’m just a little further along than the women I coach. I do one-off sessions and one-on-one mentoring packages that are carried out over a two-month period. I’m also working on a Signature program that will be in the form of a downloadable eBook.

ML: Why do new mums need a network?
JR: I think new mums just look for someone to understand. As a new mum you are so confused, and you are trying to make sense of so many things. Everything has changed over night and that is so destabilising, I think as new mothers, we just look for some one who can relate to what we are going through and feeling.


ML : You’re a busy mom! You also launched an online store, The Shop, that is linked to Care International UK.
JR: Raising Women is also about giving back. I consider myself lucky to have had an education and thus the tools to go on to further educate myself and do what I do. I wanted to help give other women this opportunity, and that is why I chose Care International UK as a charity. I created a T-shirt collection for women in the community to wear as a sign of support and €5 from every women’s tee and €3 from every girl’s tee will be donated to Care International.

ML: What’s the hardest part of running your own business?
JR: The hardest part of running your own business for me is keeping focused. I have a very creative brain so I come up with lots of ideas that I want to execute. You have to learn timing and knowing what is right for your business in that moment.

ML: What is a typical day for you?
JR: My day starts just before 7. We have the before school routine, breakfast, getting kids ready and out the door. My days differ, I go to have acupuncture therapy at least twice a week at the start of the day and then I will either see clients, have a podcast to record or be at my desk working on client files, preparing features or dealing with orders. I try and wind my day up for the school pick up and then I go into “mama mode” for dinner, baths, play, stories and bed. I also have my evening rituals of making sure I’m very much prepared for the morning: workbag packed, kids snacks and sports bags ready, clothes laid out. It helps so much with the morning routine. Then I’ll try to be in bed between 10 to 11 pm.

ML: What is the best/hardest part of aging as a woman?
JR: Well until I read this question I didn’t really consider myself as ageing. I know I am, but at the same time I feel like life is just beginning for me in so many ways. I would love to think that as I age I just learn to feel more and more at ease with my journey.

ML: What is something you’ve always wanted to do?
JR: There are so many things I would love to do. But two things comes to mind: the first is write a book about what I have learnt, and the second is that I’ve always wanted to give lectures to young women in their late teens. I think when we leave college and set about our lives there is so much focus on grades and what we did well at, and not enough emphasis on what we actually enjoy and what comes most naturally to us. Then we head out into jobs that are demanding and are perhaps unsuitable and we start to lose our sense of self gradually in return for the steady pay cheque. However the thought of public speaking fills me with dread!

ML: Best piece of advice another woman gave you?
JR: To ask myself who did I want my children to see when they looked at me. That was a game changer for me.

ML: What has motherhood taught you about yourself?
JR: Motherhood has taught me how important sense of self is.

Article first published November 2, 2016.

READ ALSO: The Women of Monaco Life, A Series: Margaret Hepburn

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