Interview with Tushna Ghadially, Founder of Marylebone Mums
Tushna Ghadially and her husband moved to Marylebone five years ago after living in the Lancaster Gate area for about ten years. The relocation brought huge benefits.
Read how, after giving birth to her daughter in March 2013, Tushna gave up work as a fund manager. However, she soon discovered that there was a gap in the market to create an established community for local parents, so she set up Marylebone Mums to connect with other mums and to help people exchange information about Marylebone Village and the local area.
What is Marylebone Mums?
Marylebone Mums is a group designed to help local people exchange information and support each other. I run a blog where news and information about the many local events, classes and coffee mornings taking place are posted.
We have around 1,600 mums and dads following the Facebook group and we have over 1000 followers on Twitter. Every day I get member requests from women who are pregnant or who have just had a baby who live in the area.
I’ve also had an increasing number of dads wanting to join the group and be involved with the community so I’ve renamed our Facebook group Marylebone Mums (& Dads).
When and why did you decide to create Marylebone Mums?
I started Marylebone Mums because within the first few months of having my daughter, even though Marylebone is a very family friendly area, it wasn’t easy to find information about children’s activities or mums groups that were available in the area. I run Marylebone Mums for free in my spare time for the benefit of our local community.
The great thing about the Marylebone Mums group is that we have such a mix of people. Some are born and raised in London, but many are people who have moved to the city for the first time. We have so many expats in the area who turn up here knowing nobody and end up meeting so many other people through the various events on offer.
I run a monthly coffee morning which is a really easy and effective way for people to introduce themselves to the community and to put people in touch with one another.
How did you get started – what actions did you take to launch it?
It was surprisingly simple to get things up and running – once I’d taught myself basic website editing, which is quite easy these days with website hosts such as Weebly and WordPress.
The real leg work was trying to find the information that would be useful to parents especially given that there was a real lack of reliable up-to-date information online. After that, word spread really fast once I told the mums at our local Church-run baby group.
I also posted flyers up in local businesses that mums with young babies would frequent: local convenience stores, the library etc as well as telling the local health visitor team. The community came together very fast!
How have you built up your following? What worked and what didn’t?
I am very particular about the content that I allow on the website and also in the Facebook group. I get many businesses that could be tangentially relevant to families approaching me but I try to keep content relevant and useful. Keeping content relevant and targeted on what families are interested in is key. The free-flowing discussion within the Facebook community gives me good insight into what topics and businesses to feature on the website.
Ensuring the group and website is a safe and supportive space has also been key. When new mums visit the health visitor in the early days after birth, they are now told about the Marylebone Mums community as I think healthcare professionals can now see that we are here to help, to be supportive.
Controversial topics are avoided as parents are already bombarded with so many conflicting views. Non-supportive comments are discouraged. We aim to try and embrace the great things about raising a family in Central London and Marylebone in particular, to share info so we can take advantage of all the great opportunities here.
Our social events are really popular. When time is as precious as it is today, local parents like to make the time to meet some new local friends over coffee (or wine!)
What do you like most about being based in Marylebone?
I love the fact that there’s a community of people in Marylebone who are settled here and are long standing residents, or who see themselves staying here for a long time, so you do get that real community feel, but at the same we’re right in the centre of London. You can walk down to Oxford Circus in 15 minutes, it’s amazing.
What are your top three tips for someone wanting to build an online community?
- Identify your community and what you want the core membership to be.
- Keep content relevant to the community, as tempting as it may be to accept offers from businesses that you’d love to try personally.
- Provide something unique so people want to engage with the community.
If you had one piece of advice for women who have just moved to the area, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to approach people in the community, especially in Paddington Street Gardens which has a great playground. Don’t be afraid to go up to a fellow mum, nanny or caregiver to introduce yourself. We are a really friendly community, you end up recognising people’s faces after a couple of weeks. There are so many opportunities right on our doorstep, you just need to know where to look!
Find out more about what’s going on in Marylebone and the local area on the Marylebone Mum’s website.