Rosie Sherry, Community building + indie hacking + unschooling
👩🏻💻 Job: I build communities, currently leading the community at Indie Hackers.
🇬🇧 Brighton, UK
👶🏻 5 kids, aged 3, 6, 9, 15, 17
Career and Parenting
Love for community and entrepreneurship
***Can you tell us a bit more about what you do? You used to be a Software Tester and founded the Ministry of Testing, you seem now to be more focused on coaching on community building with rosie.land. What led you to create rosie.land?
I fell into testing and whilst I enjoyed it I discovered, in the rise of the Web 2.0, that I loved marketing and community building more. I started Ministry of Testing as an excuse to build something and I saw a gap to do something differently than what existed out there. I never really had plans for it to go anywhere, mostly I was keen to just make something and see what happens. In the end, Ministry of Testing did go somewhere, but it took years to get there. I stepped back in 2018, 11 years after starting it. I still (co)own it and sit on the ‘board’
As I was building up Ministry of Testing I realised that I loved community, but very much didn’t want to serve the testing market anymore. I had become a bit bored and uninspired and needed to move on. Entrepreneurship and community has always excited me, luckily my world collided with Indie Hackers and I was given the opportunity to lead their community.
Rosieland is my efforts to focus in on learning and becoming a better community builder. I had spent years building a community, but never wrote about it, never hung out with other community builders…Rosieland was my excuse to do that. It started as a simple newsletter, then a paid newsletter…and very shortly an actual community. 🥰
I think it’s really important to take things in small steps, especially with community building and businesses. Stack the bricks. Build on your knowledge and network intentionally and slowly. When you look back a year or two you will soon seen how far you’ve become.
The path to self-employment & having 5 kids
Would you say that motherhood impacted your professional life?
Yes, definitely impacted it in a way that people didn’t want to hire me (as a mother).
Which is why I ended up working for myself. Forging my own path. People will say I’m better off for it now, which maybe I am, but still it hurts that I struggled to find opportunities.
My kids definitely keep me going, they keep me on my toes, quite literally. I strive for them as much as for myself. In the past I use to feel like I had to hide the fact that my kids existed, now I’m just so motivated to shout to the world that you can exist like crazy old rosie. You can run a business. Have (5!) kids. And why not unschool them all?
Of course, don’t be like me, the point is to be like you and for everyone to be ok with it.
Yes, we can.
Unschooling, “It’s about our rules”
The choice of unschooling your kids was it a long reflexion or did it come naturally? Have you been amazed by the activities of your children or did they come up with things that you would not expect and amazed you?
I guess I’ve always felt that I somehow don’t belong and all along the way. My eldest 2 went to school for a while, until aged 8ish, until we had the courage to pull them out.
Unschooling, to me is about letting go of societal expectations and creating our own rules. It’s not about no rules. It’s about our rules. We don’t always get it right, but we are always trying and adapting.
And to be honest, the lock downs here in the UK have been hard, but not that hard. We miss out on some groups and some support for our youngest two. It’s hard having zero support as we do now, but apart from that, life hasn’t changed that much.
Practically, though not right now (because of COVID and lockdowns), we would have a few regular groups that the kids would go to. Everything outside of that is basically lets take it each day as we can and see how we can keep the kids happy and entertained. To get work done, I generally do the morning shift until midday-ish, one of our teens helps out for an hour or two during the day, then my husband does the afternoon shift. This means we are doing 16 hours days, but aren’t all parents doing that? 🤷🏻♀️
I think it is easy to assume that things come naturally to people, people say that when they see the results, not the journey. It’s not easy, but at the same time it is so easy to work with your children. And you won’t see the beauty of unschooling, until you go on the journey and slowly start letting go of all the things you don’t need to do.
I never taught my 9 year old to read and he refused to read until a year ago. I was worried as heck, questioning everything I was doing. Luckily, his love for reading coincided with COVID and he’s spent hours a day reading in his room. Not coming down until 1pm. He’s read at least 50 real sized books in the past year. That’s the power of unschooling. My older boys have gone through similar phases. Reading lots for a while and then stopping. To be forced to read if no interest exists feels like torture to me, so why should I make them do it?
Kids are amazing, society should learn to listen to them. We don’t. And in my heart I feel that many of the mental health and ‘teen’ problems are put down to ‘they are just kids’. There is just something not quite right there.
I worry, like any parent, whether my kids will turn out ok.
I was reminded recently that it’s tough being a woman.
Shit attempt at a run.— Cassie Evans (@cassiecodes) February 6, 2021
Some moron slowed his car to an uncomfortable crawl next to me, then made it even weirder by circling back to honk and shout things.
I gave up running, started walking home and a dude stopped at the lights told me to cheer up.
It's 2020. Can we stop this
There is no excuse for that kind of behaviour. I made it into the Daily Mail (and other newspapers) for running ‘near’ waves with a buggy. At first I freaked out, I was not named, they had no idea who I was, but someone I knew recognised me.
We can let those things crumble us. Or we can own it. I chose to own it and created a fun ‘Reckless Mother’ brand around it, cause why not!
As a learning experience, take each day as it comes. I still live like this, I find that thinking or planning too much in advance stops me from actually making progress, and lack of progress stresses me out! Enjoy each day as much as you can,
Follow me on Twitter (@rosiesherry), Indie Hackers or Rosieland. I want to keep putting out more. I’m pushing content out daily in some form or another.