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02nd Sep 2015

How I Make It Work: TV producer and mum-of-two, Susan Broe

Sophie White

TV producer and mother-of-two, Susan Broe has worked in TV and Film for 20 years, including working on programmes such as music series Planet Rock Profiles. She started production company, Wigglywoo, in 2012 with her business partner, Gary Gill (Gilly). She lives in Dublin with husband, Diego and daughters: Scarlett (8) and Clementine (5).

How did you get started with your company?

Live action television isn’t conducive to having children, travel and long hours make it almost impossible. With two young girls I had to find something that worked around them and school drop-offs. So working for myself was really the best option given the fact I’m not very good at taking orders or working for anyone else.

In March 2012, I met my business partner Gilly (Gary Gill) who directs, creates and designs all our work. I never expected to get involved in animation, but once I saw how talented Gilly was, I knew we could achieve something great.

The last three years have been full of ups and downs, it’s a tough business, but finally the hard work and determination has paid off. Our first production Tea with the Dead (completed June 2014) has been winning awards at film festivals the world over.

We also just finished our first preschool series The Day Henry Met, which is currently being broadcast on RTÉjr seven days a week. It will also be broadcast on several international channels.

What’s your morning routine?

Alarm goes off at 6 am, animation is a very international business, so emails come in during the night. I like to answer them first thing, so I feel like I’m on top of the day! Porridge and cappuccino start my day. I try to swim and run a few times a week, I really feel the difference in energy when I don’t get the chance to exercise.

Describe a typical day/week with work and kids?

There’s really no typical day or week; I never know what the day is going to throw at me. If I do have meetings or events to go to it’s nice to dress up, otherwise I tend to dress for comfort as no one sees me! There’s also a bit of travelling abroad with work but I’m lucky as my husband, who also owns a start-up, is flexible so he can work from home when I’m away.

What are the main differences you found when you became a parent?

Pre-kids I definitely had the rock’n’roll lifestyle, all my money was spent on me and I travelled the world. All the things I used to think were important aren’t. It’s the simple things in life that are important, like family time.

What’s your favourite thing to do with the kids?

We’re a family of foodies, so we love to eat out with the girls now that they behave in restaurants, seafood and sushi are our favourites. They eat anything and really appreciate good food and nice restaurants. Plus they’re great entertainment and eating out is a geat opportunity to chat to each other for a few hours.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I tend to worry and stress about the unknown, my husband lives in the moment, so I’m trying to do that more.

What’s your favourite book to read to your children?

My 8-year-old Scarlett, in particular, is a great reader, she even has her own book review blog. She reads a book a week. Clementine (5) is currently making her way through the Dirty Bertie Books. We all read together in the garden then discuss what we read, so I’m big on reading!

What does being a parent mean to you?

It means your kids are number one, everything myself and my husband do, is for them.

What advice would you give to other mums?

Take maternity leave and enjoy the new baby time, my two kids were very premature and as I was freelance I barely took any time off, looking back I wish I had have taken a year off on both. Scarlett was ten weeks premature and I only took one month off after she was born….mad!

What nuggets of wisdom would you like to pass down to your kids as they grow older?

That they can achieve anything they want through hard work and determination. My daughter Scarlett has a t-shirt that says ‘Why be a Princess when you can be President?’ A reminder to aim high.

How do you manage the juggle?

Every day is different, I work from home, I have a fully-equipped, cosy office so I get loads more done, and it’s great not to spend two hours a day stuck in traffic. In fact our whole team work remotely, it really works for us! Myself and my business partner decided we wanted a good work/life balance, and number one priority was bringing our kids to school so after a short stint last year renting a studio in town we decided working from home was the way to go. My parents also live nearby, so I’m not sure we have ever paid for a babysitter since we had kids.

What product can you not live without?

My Nutribullet, we all have a daily smoothie packed with veg and fruit. None of us have been to a doctor in 3 years; I think that’s down to good food.

Tell us about your greatest indulgence?

Probably buying too many clothes – mostly boots. I have a boot fetish, usually big not very feminine ones!

How do you spend your downtime?

We love movies and TV series’ like House of Cards, Breaking Bad, Newsroom, etc. Also having friends over for a BBQ!

Myself and my husband started up new companies around the same time; the last three years have been tough, stressful and busy. We haven’t had much time for holidays or downtime but we did go to Aspen in Colorado in April as Wiggleywoo’s award-winning short Tea with the Dead was selected for the Aspen Film Festival. So this business has nice little perks, and I love the highs when we achieve something great, makes up for all the hard work and stress.

What’s your favourite thing to do as a family at the weekend?

Barbecues in the garden and eating out.

Heaven is ….

…. lying on a beach with a good book but I haven’t had the opportunity to do that in years!

What’s next?

We’ve lots more projects in development for adults and kids and can’t wait to see where the next few years bring Wiggleyoo.

Watch The Day Henry Met on RTÉjr every day at 9 am.

Visit Wiggleywoo