MEET THE LOCALS

Steffanie Rogers on parenting, being an influencer and following your 'why'

MY WHY: Steffanie says her children are her motivation. Photo: Amy Maree Photography.

MY WHY: Steffanie says her children are her motivation. Photo: Amy Maree Photography.

Steffanie Rogers is a mum of four who wears many hats.

She has a certificate in special needs education, a flair for styling and fashion and a passion for supporting small businesses.

When the social media app Instagram first launched, Steffanie decided to use it to share pictures of her life and growing family with her inner circle - little did she know, in just a few years she would have an entire community of people sharing in her journey.

"I've always been a creative person and got bored really easily when I was staying home with the kids - and after my son was born in 2012 I started on Instagram.

"I started a small business online when the app first started but I decided I didn't like being a small business owner."

SHOP LOCAL: One of Steffanie's passions is supporting small, local businesses. Photo: Supplied.

SHOP LOCAL: One of Steffanie's passions is supporting small, local businesses. Photo: Supplied.

Supporting small and shopping local 

Steffanie realised one of her biggest passions was supporting other small businesses in Mandurah and posting content about the products that she used and loved.

"I'm a big supporter of shopping small and helping other mums and creating content for small businesses," she said.

When her small corner of the internet started to grow, Steffanie found that an audience of thousands were engaging with and enjoying her content.

"I'm a hyperactive person at home - the internet gave me a bit more of a purpose and something to fill the day and gave me some other people to talk to.

"I hopped on it when it wasn't a thing - there was no such thing as an influencer or content creator. I was doing it for the love of it, buying little kids things - I loved online shopping and supporting small businesses in Mandurah.

"With the kids I would go find a cute café for coffee and that was our adventure for the day."

Steffanie began partnering with local businesses to create content, which started an additional income stream for her and her family.

"Especially when helping my family make money it's nice, it's nice to feel like I'm putting some good into the world.

"I've got four kids, Layla (12), Jameson (9), Lottie (7) and Pearl (3) and obviously they are my 'why'.

"They're why I get up in the morning and want to do well by leading by example, making money and pushing myself - and because I had them so young I feel like I just fell into it a bit."

'They are my why'

When Steffanie gave birth to her fourth child, Pearl, her online community grew further and with even more intention.

"When I was 18 and 19 I completed a certificate in special needs support at TAFE. I always wanted to be a teacher but I didn't like uni life so I decided to go to TAFE instead.

"When I finished I got a job right away in an early intervention autism unit which was pretty much my dream job - I loved it and still do it now occasionally as relief.

"I always saw mums of these kids and had so much admiration for them and their parents. There are a lot of extra appointments and support that they need which sometimes includes difficult behaviours at school."

Steffanie's youngest daughter was born with a tethered spinal chord, a neurogenic bladder and a rare genetic condition called 2q37 deletion syndrome.

"There are only about 250 cases documented in the world of 2q37 deletion syndrome," Steffanie said.

"From day dot Pearl had to have spinal surgery and tests done - she had to have catheters every day for her first two years of life and antibiotics - we had never experienced any of that and it was a different journey."

JOY: Steffanie says Pearl's journey has inspired a number of her followers. Photo: Amy Maree Photography.

JOY: Steffanie says Pearl's journey has inspired a number of her followers. Photo: Amy Maree Photography.

Friends and family rallied around Steffanie and her family to make sure Pearl could get to all of the appointments she needed.

"Everyone in the family had to rely on other people - we had to ask friends to pick up kids from school so we could get to appointments for Pearl in the city."

During this process, Steffanie's online content started to include information about Pearl's condition and the support systems the condition required.

"I saw it as another 'why' - as to what I should be putting out there," she said.

"My content was about kids and inclusivity and that was already my passion beforehand - I've been on both sides of it as a teacher and a parent.

"Pearl gave me that push to want to put that out there a bit more and speak for her and be her voice.

"If I wasn't going to be that person, who was? It was already my passion and she fuelled that."

Finding connection 

When Steffanie started using hashtags associated with Pearl's conditions, parents began reaching out to her to share their own experiences.

"So many parents have messaged me - people from other parts of the world telling me their kids are going through the same things.

"I used the hashtags for people to find me and a mum messaged me who had a child with the same deletion Pearl has - she messaged me and said 'I'm still pregnant and they've discovered the genetic deletion, how are you coping and how are you so okay?'

"I told her it's okay - yes it's hard with appointments and hospital trips but you have to choose to sink or swim for your kids - and we will choose to swim."

Pearl gave me that push to want to put that out there a bit more and speak for her and be her voice.

Steffanie also includes information about finding the right paediatrician, parent groups and other resources for children with additional needs.

"It's cool to feel like I can help, as miniscule as it might be, I'm glad that I'm there."

The future of 'influencers'

With Steffanie's audience on Instagram reaching over 11,000 followers, she said it continued to be a slow burn and a process which happens organically.

"It was a slow process but that's to be expected when anything organic-ish is happening - you can't expect your following to grow overnight when you're doing things organically without buying followers.

"I have a really good group and supportive community - it's all about the community and followers you surround yourself with and staying away from drama."

When asked what advice she would give to anyone wishing to navigate the world of social media as an influencer, Steffanie said it was important to find and focus on your 'why'.

"Stay true to your why and figure it out if you're not sure in the beginning.

"Don't let anyone get you down - some people don't get it and will try and dull your sparkle by saying it's silly but don't let them."

For now, Steffanie is focused on creating content for existing and emerging local businesses and spending mindful time with her family.

To follow Steffanie's journey, visit her Instagram page.