In our monthly Founders & Faces column, we introduce you to inspiring founders and faces from fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. This time with powerhouse Anna-Maria Müller-Bartl who gives us an insight into her everyday life as an entrepreneur, influencer and mother.
How did you come to start your Instagram account and how was the beginning for you?
I started my first Instagram account in 2015 while pregnant with our first son Bastian – just as a mommy account. After giving birth I felt so overwhelmed that I deleted the account completely without a second thought – typical for me: it's all or nothing. In 2020, I started from scratch and built my base once again, initially because I wanted to use this for my own business. Over time, however, my channel became more and more a personal medium to express myself. A platform where I can be as I am, communicate my thoughts, inspire people – and this "goal" I still pursue today.
What mission do you have for your Instagram account and what topics are particularly important to you?
Inspiration, dialogue, added value and JOY – these are my key issues. I want to make people laugh, even shine; I want to inspire them, share my knowledge – whether banal or technical. To enter into a DIALOGUE with others, because even though it's me standing and talking IN FRONT of the camera, it's also about interacting with people behind the scenes, meeting them where they are – it's a GIVE and a TAKE, that's the only way this platform is fun and adds value for everyone involved. Interaction is the most valuable thing about Instagram.
You're active on Instagram every day, manage your family business, plus you're a mom of 2 sons, a wife, and you have a dog. How do you balance it all?
Do I? 😊 Just kidding, sometimes I do wonder myself. I want to be honest, it’s not always easy, even if it does look 90% smooth and easy on Insta – everything is a JOB: being a mom, business woman, wife and Insta. As with everything in life, there are good days and bad days. Some days you hardly notice the workload, other days it crushes you. It's all about finding a good balance. I've always promised myself that I would only do my Instagram "job" as long as I’m having fun with it, and that's always been the case so far – but I do have help with my workload and I'm infinitely grateful for that, by the way. I have a wonderful husband who has supported me 100% since the first moment, producing content with me and always having my back when I need him. I have a great family – especially my sister and my brother-in-law are great to discuss everything Instagram – and I have great child support from my dear Elke, one of the biggest Zoé Lu fans (possibly this is my fault 😉) and a great support both with the kids and Insta. Without all these people, I'd be really screwed. What I'm saying is: It's okay to get help, because life demands a lot from you and you can't and don't HAVE to handle everything on your own. That doesn't make you less worthy or less good at something. But this something I had to learn first ☺️
What does a normal day in your life look like?
Chaotic ☺️ no matter how well I plan the day, chaos always breaks out at some point... hahah that’s mom life! I don’t really have “normal” days. There is always something that does not go as planned. THAT is normal ☺️
Do you have any tips or tricks that have helped you balance or simplify everyday life as a mom and an entrepreneur?
SERENITY. That is the be-all and end-all. Accepting things that you can't change and taking situations as they come. The realization that it is almost impossible to plan the day down to the last detail helps a lot to get through the day more calmly. PATIENCE – which I probably still don't have ☺️ – I try this again every day. THANKFULNESS - being grateful for small things: a quiet night, a walk in the sun, a long bath. When you are able to enjoy small pleasures, big issues just feel less overwhelming and setbacks are easier to get over. EXPECTATIONS are treacherous. We usually expect something from others – reactions, behaviors, etc. but we always see this from our own point of view. Once we expect less, we’ll be less disappointed, but all the more SURPRISED. And finally: COMMUNICATION. Talk, talk, talk, even when it’s uncomfortable. Talk about things that bother, depress and preoccupy you. Vent. Talk about your worries, but also about what makes you happy. Communication is the key to happiness.
Your daily life must be stressful sometimes. How do you find balance?
It may sound like a paradox, but Insta is my balance. Here I can be and do me exactly the way I want to. It's like a diary, a picture book of my life and I have so much fun creating it. Apart from that, I love TV series and enjoy watching an episode in bed after a stressful day, my kids and husband lying next to me in the big family bed and our dachshund girl lying at my feet – and if it's not TV, then an audio book to wind down. I love to do puzzles and design our home. Actually, I always need something to "do", but it's these little projects that bring me endless joy.
Where do you get the inspiration for your content?
In part from my and our daily life, in part from the platform itself. I often have an idea in my head but miss that tiny spark to make it real – and then I see something: a picture or a reel of another creator and use little things from that, like puzzle pieces that I was still missing to make my vision complete. But mainly it's the everyday things that inspire me, like the fact that I REALLY hide the ZOÉ LU boxes from my husband when they arrive – he thinks I'm totally nuts – that's how the reel with the bag mission came about ☺️.
What was your biggest success with your Instagram channel so far?
My biggest 'success‘ was that 2 of my reels got over 1 million views – even though both happened quite spontaneously, without much pre- or post-production. And I’m still really proud when accounts I have been following for ages and which I always felt were way above me, repost me or recommend my profile. But the biggest recognition and success for me is the daily appreciation of my community – to see that people like what I do and that the "work" behind it is acknowledged, too.
Before you started your account, what did you think would be easier than it actually was?
Growth. I thought it would be easier to connect to people, increase my own reach and be "seen". It has become so hard to grow sustainably and organically these days, especially as a small profile. And I thought dealing with "hate" messages would be easier for me. Even though most messages and interactions are thankfully super positive, here are still so many people and accounts spreading hate; attacking, insulting and upsetting people. I'm still growing the thick skin that you need to ignore this hostility. I’m very emotional, so I still take these messages to heart even after a few years.
What do you love most about your daily business?
I love to do reels. Acting is my secret passion, so this is really my thing 😊. I have soooo much fun making people laugh, and also inspiring them – mostly really through fashion, my daily looks and my personal style.
What is the must have in your handbag you can't leave home without?
Nasal spray, lip care, hand cream and cell phone - obviously 😉 Also a spare pacifier and dog treats – hihihi.
Who would you like to swap handbags with for one day?
Ohhhhh good question: I would love to swap bags with @irinahp or @leoniehanne for a day ☺️ With Irina, because she just always wears the coolest ZOÉ LU combinations and usually the newest ones before anyone else ☺️ And with Leonie, to see what an absolute IT girl has in her handbag when you're out and about without kids.
What product or design do you think is still missing from our range?
An evening bag – like a mini ZOÉ LU for the minimalistas among us AND a real tote bag/diaper bag or even a ZOÉ LU backpack for all of the “Think Big” ladies and/or mamas that apparently carry half of the house with them everywhere but still need their hands free. And my personal wish for the ladies of insta: a ZOÉ LU cell phone bag. But somehow I think that we don’t have to wait much longer for one or the other ☺️
Find out more about Anna-Maria here.