Stib Meets...Martha Roberts


Stib Meets…Martha Roberts

Colour enthusiast, journalist, blogger shelfie expert & author of @shelfiebook; your Instagram account isn’t complete until you’ve pressed that blue rectangle @the_colour_file. This week’s Stib Meets is with the inspiring author Martha Roberts , who after a mid-life revelation, realised that her love of colour & styling was where her passion lay. After a long writing & journalistic career, she has recently launched ‘Shelfie’; a response to the clutter-clearing movement & decorating trend, where beautiful collections of our favourite books, flowers, photos, found treasures & collectables are curated on our bookshelves, desks, worktops & fireplaces as stylish mini works of personalised shelf art. Read about her journey,advice into sticking to your childhood passions & why Self Belief and Freestyling is a winning combination….

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I was never one of those children who had a strong vision of what they wanted to be when they grew up. I went through different phases, from traffic warden (apparently I liked the black tights when I was three!) through to an actress in musicals (I wanted to be Julie Andrews) or a doctor. I studied at a music school so for a while my family thought I might be a musician but eventually I fell in love with writing and decided I wanted to be a newspaper reporter, which is what I did. However, I’ve always loved colour – it’s been the thread running through my life – so I often thing that I was bound to start writing about it at some point. The Colour File (and, subsequently, my book Shelfie) came about because of that – I have so many colour stories, facts and thoughts running through my head that I had to have somewhere to put them down.


What advice would you give to yourself as a child?

Follow your heart and do what you love doing and be prepared to stand firm with your passion for it. My advice would probably be for parents, too: don’t be scared to let your child follow their dreams, even if it sounds like a crazy plan. I’ve met so many people who come to their dream job or set up a business doing what they love YEARS after they were children because they were steered in a certain direction by someone else. I think if we listen to our children and take the time to observe what it is that they throw themselves into with gusto, we can help them to make authentic, passion-filled choices.


What was the 'big idea' which inspired you to set up your business?

The ‘big idea’ really came out of a kind of mid-life crisis! Having been a writer for several decades, I’d found that the industry was changing and it was harder to make a living doing what I’d always done. Realising that I needed to make some changes, it was when life coach and Psychologies editor Suzy Walker who asked me, ‘What is it that makes your heart soar?’ and I answered it with ‘Colour’ that I realised I had to make some changes. It’s not easy and I’m having to find courage to persevere with The Colour File’ because it’s a journey whose end I’m not entirely sure of! In the meantime, I’m trying to be mindful and make sure I enjoy the scenery along the way.


What do you say to yourself when you need a confidence boost?

When my confidence dips I give myself a really hard time and undervalue my achievements, whether it’s as a mother, a friend or simply as a human being! I try to step out of myself and say, ‘Would you say these things to a friend?’ And I soon realise that I wouldn’t. I’d never be that critical of them so why do I think it’s OK to be that critical of myself? I think kindness is so important, and this has to start with being kind to yourself.


What's your favourite Stib word and why?

My tendancy would be to go for colour first and foremost because that’s the kind of person that I am! But if I look purely at the words, I think that ‘Freestyler’ or ‘Self-believer’ have to be my favourites. Without self-belief we can’t do much – how we love ourselves is so intrinsically linked to so many things, including how we love other people, how we approach problems and how we help our microcosm (and therefore the macrocosm) to be a better place. For me, being a freestyler is about being authentic and true to yourself and not listening to naysayers and critics who may suggest what you’re doing, thinking or saying isn’t of value. Be a freestyler with self-belief and I reckon you could move mountains!

Emily Sayer