How I started a podcast in a pandemic

With her entire work calendar dressing brides-to-be upended for over a year, Mary Marshall seized the opportunity to realise her broadcasting dream

In a year when unexpected furlough and sudden lockdowns have forced us all to adapt our lifestyles, Mary Marshall has risen to the challenge and made the most of an uncertain situation. As manager of Haverstock Hill’s renowned bridal couture and wedding accessory store, Joyce Young, Mary was shortlisted for one of our Covid Champions Awards for her outstanding customer service, constantly rescheduling their diary as weddings were postponed into this year and beyond.

“It was so important to me that they weren’t missing out on their wedding journey”, she says, “so I was reassuring both the bride and mother of the bride that the magic of the build-up was not lost. Usually, you’d have a hen party and different meetings with your dress fitter, and that whole journey of fun things that you do with friends and family. I always rise to a challenge because that’s what life’s about – adapting and understanding how you can utilise a difficult situation. But I understand that’s not the same for everybody, so for me this year was more about thinking of what I can do for others.”

Taking the extra time she had while eventually furloughed as an opportunity to start a positive project of her own, Mary began recording her podcast, Closet Conversations. Since September it has gained over 800 regular listeners, and continues to grow each week.

“I had always wanted to do a podcast of some sort and after the stopping and starting of lockdown during Summer, I thought to myself, it’s either now or never, you never know when life will be in full swing again.”

When listening to Closet Conversations, you immediately feel as though you are catching up with a friend. We have been living in strange times this year, and the show aims to be your weekly pick me up, inspiring you to look deeper; aspire to a new challenge, and celebrate other’s journeys, too.

Each week Mary speaks with a different guest, including some of the locals in the Primrose Hill area, to discuss their journey. Dealing with a wide range of topics from grief to mindfulness, to discussing coffee with a World Barista Champion, and offering dating advice. “It’s a conversation rather than an interview,” she says, “and every time I speak to someone, we’re learning something new and understanding it from another point of view. If my guest is local it helps their business, while also enlightening and inspiring the people listening, so everyone gains something.”

As Mary passionately describes her initial concept, she tells how the idea was to inspire the everyday person, “because ordinary people do lead extraordinary lives. What you might think is mundane about your own life, someone else can think ‘wow I didn’t realise you could do that!’”

Mary’s favourite Camden hangouts… ❤

The Nook, South End Green: “I have discovered more of Hampstead Heath than ever during the lockdowns, and it’s lovely that you can pop across to this little coffee shop, get a hot drink, and head back in.”

Lemonia, Regent’s Park Rd: It’s a tasty Greek restaurant and I love it. I can’t wait to go back soon, as it’s cute, casual and all the staff are amazing.”

Putting yourself out there can often be a daunting move to make, especially during such uncertain times, so does Mary have any advice for someone wanting to take that first step? “Just go for it!” she exclaims. “Even if your first attempt is absolutely awful, it will always get better. If you haven’t done anything similar before, do your research, know your product and your audience and go for it, don’t hold back. It’s easy to say you’ll do it later, or start tomorrow, but what difference will that make? It’s amazing how many people will come to you with advice, tips and tricks and suggestions. It just develops and snowballs.”

Adding some final advice, Mary explains that starting anything, whether that be a business, career, or personal project, is all about perseverance and discipline. “If you work hard, and you’re consistent with your product and your delivery, it will organically grow. The pandemic has taught us we can never plan, and nothing is promised to you. I think there is time in everyone’s life to do things. It just depends what you want to prioritise.”

With the one-year anniversary of our first lockdown just passed, many of us have adjusted to working from home and the accompanying challenge of separating work life from home life. When discussing how to find the balance between the two, Mary points out that making time to look after your mental wellbeing is an essential. “Choose a mind set in the morning” she recommends, “inside my bathroom mirror I have a selection of positive mindset words stuck to it and each morning I decide from the get-go what attitude I’m going to take. Whether that be positive, excitement, considerate… but they encourage me to choose a particular approach to life that day. Secondly, I would say set yourself a daily challenge. It can be as small as baking some cookies or taking a 30 minute walk, but give yourself a small goal and you can build on it as well if you feel like taking it a step further in the future.”

Regardless of the challenges this last year has presented, it’s easy to sense how grateful Mary is for the positives she has experienced along the way, “I’m proud of myself for doing what’s best for me, but at the same time being able to help others, whether that’s with the podcast, or helping the brides at work. It’s been a learning curve, seeing the bigger picture and taking time to reflect and reevaluate.”

Mary recording the Closet Conversations in the most sound-proof part of her home

Listen to a new episode of Closet Conversations via your podcast platform of choice every Friday, and archived on the website. Keep up with the weekly challenges, snippets and episode quizzes on Instagram.

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