Chatting to content creator extraordinaire and first time mama, Geneva
You may already know Geneva. Or perhaps you know her as the mastermind behind A Pair & A Spare. Originally from Australia, Geneva Vanderzeil created the hugely successful blog turned business, A Pair & A Spare. She’s traversed the globe blogging about her travels, written a book, and has become a must-follow on Instagram and Youtube. We have loved following her pregnancy updates on IG (she seriously knows how to style a bump!) so of course we asked her to be our “The Bump” this month. We got to chat to Geneva about all things social media, her jet-setting lifestyle, how she has found being pregnant in HK and much, much more.
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Geneva and I’m a lifestyle blogger and content creator. I’ve been in Hong Kong for seven years (splitting my time between here and Australia), and am pregnant with my first baby.
Can you tell us about your work with A Pair & A Spare, you’ve created a successful blog, YouTube channel and online presence, what drew you to working online?
I actually graduated from university in Australia as a town planner, and did that for five years before transitioning to running my online business full time. Early on in the days of blogging I started my website, all about sharing my DIY and creativity projects. Within a short time, it had attracted an amazing audience, and I was approached by a publisher to write a book based on my site, which I did! This was the reason I left my job, and since then the website and business has evolved across multiple channels and platforms. It’s such as amazing feeling to be able to do something creative every day.
How did you end up in HK and what was your first impression of Hong Kong?
My partner Ben (who is the founder of an interior design firm) and I were in London for three years prior to coming to Hong Kong. He saw an amazing opportunity to start his interior design business in Hong Kong, focusing on restaurants, bars and hotels, and it seemed too good to pass up so we decided quite quickly to come to Hong Kong. I honestly love this city, it has such an incredible energy! That said, these days I spend at least a week or two a month in Australia as a significant number of my clients are there, so in that way I feel I get the best of both worlds.
How do you find living in HK while pregnant? The medical services, getting around, the heat, etc.
Honestly, I can’t complain about this pregnancy, it has been fairly uneventful and an incredible/strange process of seeing my body change and grow. The first few months were tough as I had terrible morning sickness, but once that passed I felt like I had a new lease on life! When it comes to Hong Kong, the hustle and bustle can be frustrating when you don’t feel great, but I’ve really tried to always keep a positive outlook and not get bogged down in misery. It’s so easy to do so sometimes!
I really just try to laugh when things get bad – my crazy swollen feet, being pushed and pulled in elevators and the heat. Attempting to keep a smile on my face (even whilst maybe fighting back tears) has really worked, I think. From a medical perspective, Hong Kong will always be more efficient than other parts of the world (I had a check-up in Australia and was shocked at how much longer our appointment was and how chatty/explanatory the doctor was!), but I’m sure that if you had any major issues then the doctors here would give you the time you needed. I hope.
Have you been given any advice during your pregnancy that you think is worth sharing? What advice would you give to any expecting mamas?
Before getting pregnant, I was really focused on doing it in a way that would reduce the effects on my business. I know, I know, probably lots of other mamas reading this are thinking, “Keep dreaming lady!”. But, I searched high and low for tips and tricks for women who run their own businesses. One article I read mentioned that you should time your baby’s birth with a less busy period of the year, which we did (summer is quieter for my business, the due date [was in summer]). However, what that didn’t take into account was that I would actually feel my WORST during the first few months of pregnancy, which happened to be the incredibly busy September to December period… Which just goes to show you really can’t plan these things. The body will do what it wants!
In terms of advice I would give to other mamas, my main advice would be to go with your gut and don’t get bogged down in other people’s experiences, particularly because you often hear horror stories more than the great ones. And let’s face it, birth (in whatever form it takes) is a wonderful, beautiful thing! Oh, one thing that has kept me sane during this process has been exercise. I don’t mean crazy boot camps but just a level of activity every day for the whole nine months – for me it’s been daily Peak walks (graduating to flat ones towards the end), pre-natal yoga and swimming. I think this has made all the difference!
What have been your favourite moments during pregnancy and what have you struggled with?
Seeing the growth of my relationship with Ben over the last nine months has been such an incredible thing. I mean, we’ve been together 12 years, you don’t expect to discover this whole other side to a person. I guess embarking on a new adventure like this is bound to bring out different sides to a person, but he’s really been my rock and at every juncture just reiterated that I can do it and that it’s fun and not scary. It’s so cliché but I do feel really lucky.
You’re also a travel writer. Have been able to travel at all recently? Do you have any tips for travelling while pregnant?
Travel when pregnant is so tricky, particularly now due to Zika. Add to that the fact that we have spent half our time renovating in Australia, and my travel schedule for the last nine months has been mainly long-haul flights to Down Under. I’m super excited to start exploring again when the bub is born! We’ve got Cambodia, Europe and Okinawa on the cards. In terms of tips for travel, after around 30/32 weeks I think it’s too uncomfortable to do long flights, so that’s a good time to go to short haul destinations around Asia. Before that, I completely recommended doing something amazing… I hate the term ”Babymoon” but you totally need one!
Do you have any pregnancy style or beauty favourites?
I have avoided buying maternity clothes during pregnancy, and have instead just bought dresses that I have sized up to fit the bump. In truth, I have worn six things on rotation constantly, and towards the end have opted for chic sneakers at all times… Comfortable feet are so so essential. In terms of beauty, I have been loving using pure jojoba on my skin to stop itching and stretch marks, and lots of amazing Epsom salt baths to reduce swelling.
You’re a fashion and interior DIY whizz – have you been preparing any projects for the new arrival?
So, so many! It’s getting a little out of control. I can’t wait to start including more of this content on the site once the baby is born, as I know so many mums love it.
You’ve recently been renovating your home in Australia – what has that process been like?
I have had such a good time renovating! We’ve been travelling every month back to Australia, so that has been a bit exhausting but luckily Ben does this sort of thing with his eyes closed so we’ve been able to enjoy it rather than hating every minute. We’re actually all finished and looking forward to sharing the whole series of renovation reveals online soon!
All image are courtesy of and belong to Geneva Vanderzeil. A huge thanks to her for letting us use these images!