It’s a story many people dream about – becoming an internet sensation and being paid to simply be your best self and live your best life. However, as millions of people have found, it’s not as easy as simply posting some nice pics of your kids looking cute. There has to be something of interest, good content, good consistency and little bit of magic. It can’t be forced, bought, or orchestrated. It’s like being blessed by the higher powers of the Internet world. And it happened to these people. Georgie and Darren.
“It all started when we went vegan about eight years ago,” says Georgie. “We noticed amazing health results. There wasn’t much information around about veganism back then – not as much as there is today. So, we decided to started a blog on it. We had no idea where it would lead to.”
Back then, their oldest daughter Mia (now 15) was seven and Sienna (now eight) was just a baby. The blog focused mainly on Georgie and Darren’s fitness workouts, eating vegan and how their plant-based eating choices impacted them physically.
They continued on that path for about five years until the later part of 2016, when they upgraded their blog offerings to include videos on YouTube. “We started doing videos on vegan fitness. Some people were interested in how we ate as a family as we had two young daughters at the time.
“People seemed to really enjoy the family videos as there wasn’t a lot about that at the time. In the lead up to Christmas, there was a campaign where people were posting a different video every day of December. We decided to commit to the challenge of a video a day and we changed the focus of our videos to being a vegan family. Overnight we became more of a family channel.
“We honestly didn’t know people would be interested in watching what we were doing as a family. We didn’t know that we would be providing value to people, but it seemed that we were – so from then on, our channel was about fitness and healthy eating, but also about family.”
The shift to being a family-focused brand certainly was the right move. In just three short years, the family is now running nine Instagram accounts and four YouTube channels, Mia has her first book out – top of the Amazon best-sellers list already! – and they have merchandise lines, with new ranges out regularly. The Family Fizz are a fully-functioning 360-degree brand and business, with each child having a persona, a niche and opportunities in their own right.
It’s a fulltime job for Georgie and Darren – a job which they have just had to pick up on the go, while simultaneously raising and homeschooling three daughters and, now, a newborn son too.
“Originally our blog was called Vegan Fitness, so we decided to change the name to include the word, ‘family’. Then we just came up with the word ‘fizz’ – I can’t remember who suggested it. We thought it sounded fun and full of energy, which is what we wanted our videos to be. And it just stuck. Now it seems really normal.
“Darren and I share the workload – and there is a lot of work to do, behind the scenes as well as in front of it. But I’m going back to the UK to give birth to our son this year as I had a home birth with Karma and I had such a positive experience, I want to have the same with this baby, too. So, I will be back in the UK for a couple of months, which will be tricky, but I think it’s worth the hassle.”
Read more: '5 Easy ways for your family to go meat-free in Dubai'
Georgie’s youngest daughter Karma is just 16 months, meaning that she currently is experiencing parenting girls across all the different ranges, from baby to teen. She says,
“I really like seeing my girls being confident. I love nurturing that in them and breaking stereotypes and gender imbalances.
“With Sienna, we are always trying to encourage her to do what she wants. Mia has just self-published her own book. I think the pre-teen phase was the age where she was changing and the toughest to handle. She was confused about who she was, but around that time, we moved to Gran Canaria. She went to Spanish school and picked up the language really easily and now she is almost fluent in Spanish. She really blossomed and grew at that point – at about age 13.”
It’s not easy though, dealing with the hormones of teenage-hood – especially when you have a child at the other end of the spectrum still in nappies. She says, “When girls become teenagers, it’s almost become like toddlers again – they can have mood swings and tantrums. I try and have a lot of empathy, just remembering what it was like. Sometimes Mia is forgetful, or lazy, and I try to remind myself that it could be her hormones rather than being judgmental.
“I’m pregnant right now and my hormones are all over the place. I try to remind myself that she probably feels the same.”
Read more: 'Is this Dubai's busiest mum? Dubai expat home-schools her 10 kids'
On top of everything else, Georgie and Darren homeschool the girls, which means that a large portion of time is dedicated to their education. “We started homeschooling about four, or five, years ago” she recalls. “We were moving to the London area and all the schools were full. We were told to homeschool Mia for a while and we really enjoyed it. We were able to spend more time together and do it our own way, so it just continued. It also gives us the flexibility to travel more.
“Sienna has dipped in and out of school depending on where we have lived. We have always managed to find child-focused learning opportunities for her. Sienna is very determined. She has always said she wants to travel to space and that she is really into science… Bookshops have lots of books featuring amazing women from history and what they have achieved. I read them to Sienna at bedtime and she loves them. When I was young, I thought I just wanted to get married and have children. So, I love knowing that the girls are confident and aren’t held back by anything. I know they are going to go far and be independent.”
Working together, learning together – the Family Fizz is a seriously tight unit. How do they manage being with each other all the time? “It can be challenging as we all want our own space,” says Georgie. “But at the same time, being together all the time is something I am really grateful for as not all families get to do that. Also, I think it’s good for children to be around their parents as they get to learn life skills.”
Raising a boy
With the arrival of their first son edging ever closer on the horizon, there will be a new dynamic in Family Fizz for Georgie and Darren to contend with. “I think Darren is more worried about it than I am as he is the male,” says Georgie. “I am so grateful that we have been blessed with a boy and I’m really excited. I think it will be a lovely way to end having children as we won’t have any more after this one, I don’t think. All the girls are so excited – I would have been happy to have four girls, but I just feel like this is so wonderful for us.”
The girls all help out a lot at home – through the working of the brand as well as through chores – and it’s important to Georgie that her son receives the same training her daughters are. She says, “Even though we have help at home, I think it is important for children to have roles in the house, so that they feel like they are contributing. I’ve read that a lot of mums naturally feel like they want to do everything for their sons, but then they just grow into men that don’t help out at home. And I don’t want that.”
Is she worried about having a boy, after having three girls? Georgie says that her youngest daughter, Karma, is such a character that nothing would surprise her, now. “Karma is a wild child – she is a real spirited character. We have to be totally on edge with her the whole time as she is always on the look-out for danger. A lot of people have been saying that I will have my hands full now that I have a boy on the way, but if boys are high action, we have been prepped by Karma. Parenting her has taught me a lot about myself – I have had to learn more patience. When I was breast-feeding her, she would bite me so badly that I was really in pain! Karma is such a lovely and lively little person. We are sure she will make a great big sister for a boy.”
Eight years into their veganism and their new life path, and Georgie and Darren are just as committed to being plant-based. “We are all vegan still,” says Georgie. “When I was pregnant with Sienna, I became vegetarian and was reading a lot about how we all need to eat more vegetables. But I wasn’t very committed to it and Darren wasn’t behind it. But when Sienna was a couple of months old, he watched the documentary Earthlings and it really resonated with him and it changed his mind set.
“We sat down and talked about it and came to the decision that we wanted to become vegan. It was a huge turning point for us. We did a lot of research about raising vegan children and learnt as much as we could so that we could do it responsibly. There was never any question that we would encourage the girls to be vegan too. It is so good for us and for the planet, there was no reason why we wouldn’t have done it for the girls too. We felt so good from it and wanted to share that with other people. It really was a starting point to where we are now. It’s really funny how it’s evolved.”
Eat the family fizz way
1. Porridge topped with nut butter and berries
2. Silken Tofu Nice Cream (silken tofu blended with frozen berries and vanilla protein powder)
3. Vegan English Breakfast: Scrambled tofu, tempeh bacon, sautéed spinach, mushrooms, baked beans, toast, hash browns
1. Green smoothie made with avocado, kale, pineapple, dates, almond milk & flaxseed
2. Baked sweet potato loaded with bean chili
3. Avocado on toast with lemon and pepper
1. Cauliflower, chickpea coconut dhal with rice
2. Sunshine stew made with yellow and orange veggies and a base of ginger, coconut milk, spices & orange juice (great for colds)
3. Mexican Night! (Build your own burritos at the table with loads of dishes such as bean chili, chipotle peppers, nachos, guacamole, tortillas, salsa, corn on the cob, vegan cheese)
Home Learning 101:
“The Ted Talk with Sir Ken Robinson, ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity’ for parents wanting to know the pros of homeschooling.”
“Oli Oli Children’s Science Museum, Parkour DXB and bouldering are our favourite outings for the girls. As well as real life situations, such as business meetings and grocery shopping.
Khan Academy, Duo Lingo, NASA Students YT videos
Georgie’s top tip!
“If you are thinking about veganism, read, ‘How not to Die, by Dr Michael Greger on the nutrition facts of being vegan and finding a balanced way of eating plant-based"
Photos by Anas Thacharpadikkal