When new! chats to Luisa Zissman, it’s fair to say she’s got a lot on her plate. The former Apprentice and Celebrity Big Brother star has a new business to deal with, a house renovation project to complete, a podcast to make, horses to look after and three children to boot. But go-getting, straight-talking Luisa tells us she wouldn’t have it any other way.
The 34-year-old, who lives in Hertfordshire with her businessman husband Andrew Collins and their daughters Indigo, five, and Clemmie, three, and her daughter from a previous relationship, Dixie, 11, is here to tell us all about her new business venture, Silly Sentiments.
But naturally, we veer on to other topics, such trying to juggle her work and home life, her connection to Outreach Moldova – a charity which provides care for children with special needs who have been abandoned or orphaned – and her time spent in a wheelchair after an accident that left her unable to walk.
Here, Luisa tells us why being a stay-at-home mum left her a bit bored, how special her friendship with
Sam Faiers is and why she has no time for playground politics.
Hi, Luisa! Where are you based at the moment? You’ve been spending time in Dubai, haven’t you?
We spent the first three months of the year there. We went away for the summer as well so we’ve actually only spent a few months in England this year, which is nice. We’re actually going to Dubai again
for a month over winter. Any time I can get some sun, I will.
And how is your new house coming along?
It’s a very long process. New house, new business – there’s a lot going on but that’s the way I love it.
You broke your knee in July. How did it happen?
Someone tackled me when I was playing polo, sadly.
Ouch! Is it better now?
It is better now so I’m back riding and exercising, which is great. It was a bit depressing not being active.
I started to think, “What if I never walk properly again?” When I went on holiday to Portugal in August, I had to go in a wheelchair. And do you know what it highlighted? People really look down on you when you’re in a wheelchair! It’s really sad. I remember going into a shop where I was buying my dad a drone and the woman in the shop didn’t speak to me or look at me because I was in a wheelchair. She’d only talk to my dad. It’s not very nice.
Did it give you more empathy for people who are disabled?
I always knew what it was like for disabled people because of all the work I do with an orphanage in Moldova. I had that empathy anyway, but it was quite shocking.
Do you still see a lot of your friend Sam Faiers?
Yes, we’re very close. We live about an hour away from each other. Our daughters Rosie and Clemmie have birthdays six days apart so we’re going to have a joint celebration for them.
She helps you to raise money for the orphanage, doesn’t she?
Sam’s been amazing at helping me raise the profile of Outreach Moldova. We’re going back in
a month to visit the children. She’s really generous with her time and support. When I asked her to come again because it was struggling and we really need to raise £40,000 by Christmas, she said, “You don’t even need to ask. I’ll be there.”
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You’ve also got a new business venture called Silly Sentiments. Tell us about it…
I came across a company called Filthy Sentiments years ago and loved it. It played so well to my sarcastic, rude personality! I befriended Vicki Gratton, who started it. She came to me last summer and said she’d been approached by an investor and I felt like I could offer her a better deal. We rebranded as Silly Sentiments. We’ve still got the filthy stuff but we also do pretty, personalised stuff too.
Is it nice to do something that isn’t parenting?
Definitely! And I’ve got more time now. You never lose that hunger for looking at numbers and wanting to increase them and thinking about different ways to do things. Sales have increased and it’s been really fun. As much as I do love riding horses all day, it’s nice to use my brain as well.
I remember when I was 28 and pregnant with Indigo and the lease was up on the warehouse I was renting for one of my businesses. I said to my husband I wasn’t going to renew it, I was going to concentrate on being a mum. I went back to work two days after I had my first daughter and never got the chance to be a mum. With the next two, I did get the chance and I loved it. I went to all the baby classes that I didn’t go to with my eldest, but my husband said, “You won’t be able to do this forever – you’ll get bored.”
Was he right?
He was. Some people are so happy being a stay-at-home mum. Personally, I like a little bit of everything. I like cooking, I love being a mum, but equally I don’t want to go shopping every day and meet my friends for lunch. It’s just not me. I’m lucky I have all the horses. I love being outside and being busy.
You said on your LuAnna podcast that now Dixie is at secondary school you’re happy you don’t have to be in a parents’ WhatsApp group…
Ha! When your kids first start at primary school you want to get to know people and it’s all nicey-nicey. One of my best friends has got five kids and she said, “Just you wait until she gets to year six – it’s a s**tshow!” And she was right. It was a nightmare with all the politics and bulls**t. I mean, I have got two other daughters but I’ve learnt my lesson with the older one.
What type of mum would you say you are?
I’m very fun, firm and definitely crazy. I like the kids to be really confident. All I want to raise is confident, independent kids. I put confidence and personality above academic stuff as I think it can get you so far in life.
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