Cat Juan Ledesma is a lifestyle writer, beauty journalist, print and TV commercial model, and a communications professional. Cat’s a familiar face, being a busy, public figure, but I was able to meet her up close when she attended one of The Spoiled Mummy’s events late last year, Unstyling: The Workshop.
She has a Master’s Degree in Media Practice from the University of Sydney where she graduated with honours. She is married to Carlo Ledesma, a film director, and they have two children: 2-year-old Fin and 3-month-old Nara.
Tell us a little bit more about who Cat Juan Ledesma is.
After graduating from college, I worked as a magazine editor, barista at a Sydney coffee shop, English teacher, and now I am a Communications Associate for Beacon Academy.
I am a lifestyle writer and my articles, photographs and styling have been published in Preview, Rogue, the Philippine Star, Inquirer, Seventeen Magazine, Lifestyle Asia, Thought Catalog, and Time Out Sydney, to name a few.
I was also the beauty editor of Metro Magazine for a number of years and I have worked as a print and TV commercial model in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore. I am also one of Calyxta.com‘s beauty experts.
You used to live in Australia and you are now settling down in the Philippines. Why did you choose Manila to raise a family? How easy or difficult has it been? Are you happy with your decision?
Living in Sydney with Carl for five years were definitely some of my favorite times together. Soon after we were married, we agreed that we would come back to Manila if we were blessed with children for two reasons: we didn’t want to rob our parents of the opportunity to bond with their “apos”, and we weren’t ready to leave our child in a daycare while we worked, which is what would have had to happen.
It was tough for me to adjust to life in Manila during the first year back. I missed everything about Sydney: the independence, our friends who were our family, and the sheer beauty of the city. It also took me a while to adjust to my new role as a mother while trying to keep my own identity intact. I did a lot of soul searching on those first few months and finally realized that there were three things I loved to do: write, take pictures, and help people. That’s when I called on Martine De Luna to help turn my simple blog into something with a little more purpose. And when Fin was ten months, I began working for the Beacon Academy and felt more at peace with our decision to move back.
I am very blessed to have a full time job as the Communications Associate of the Beacon Academy that believes in judging me on the work I deliver and not the hours I’m at the office. I am grateful that I often have afternoons at home with my children and can be there for all the important milestones in their lives.
Tell us more about your blog, catjuan.com. What is it about and what are your plans for it?
I’ve had a blog for over 10 years now. But only when we moved back from Sydney did I decide to blog with another purpose—to learn more about what was happening in the local industry and to share these discoveries with my readers.
My collaborations or posts have often been with three things in mind: beautiful images, promoting local finds, and writing with integrity. My recent project is going to be a movement with friends to help shine even more light on all the local businesses that deserve it.
Your blog readers and collaborators trust your ideas and your opinions. What inspires you on a day-to-day basis, what inspires you to write, and what inspires you to try something new?
I’ll be honest, it’s not easy to be inspired to write daily. Having two young children and a full time job means that time is valuable. Having an hour or two to myself when the kids are napping during the weekend is usually my only window to write a few entries. I usually grab an iced coffee, sit in our lanai, and type away. I’m inspired to try something new when I see a high level of passion or love put into a brand or establishment.
I love when I hear back from both my readers and the brands I’ve featured on how my blog post or Instagram snaps introduced them to a network of possibilities.
You’ve been busy since you’ve gotten back to Manila, between Calyxta and your blog, and others, I assume. Can you share with us your best or favorite projects yet?
In the two years since we’ve been back I’ve produced workshops, signed on as a beauty expert for Calyxta.com, hosted an online lifestyle show, and recently curated a pop up event with the awesome women of Pop Up Kids.
One of my favorite projects I’ve done would be when I lead teacher-training seminars for the teachers of Mano Amiga, a non-profit school that offers quality education to children from underprivileged families. It felt good to give back the training I had received as an ESL teacher trainer in Sydney.
But I have to add that each project I take on has its own share of fulfilment or I wouldn’t event attempt to do it.
What do you have planned for the rest of the year? Anything exciting on the home/kid/work front?
I think this year is more about finding a stronger balance between everything— an equilibrium where I don’t allow myself to be consumed by my projects to the point that my children or husband are placed on the back burner.
Much of your career seems to have centered a lot on beauty and/or writing. Why is it that?
You’re right, writing is something I can’t seem to shake off no matter what I’m doing and I don’t think that’s ever going to change. Beauty is a fun outlet. I love offering women tips through my blog and on Calyxta, an online beauty hub that I create content for. I’ve learned that I thrive best in an environment where every day is different and I’m constantly learning.
With a very busy daily schedule like yours, how do you balance your time between your work and your being a mummy and wife?
Honestly, by politely declining quite a few event invites. I always ask myself, “What will I regret in the future if not done today?” and the answer is always more time with my kids who are growing up faster than I would like them to.
Wellness is something you seem to value. And beauty is your expertise. How do you take care of yourself?
I grew up in a home where I knew from an early age that health was wealth and food should be as close to natural as possible. Staying active was also a given for us. My mom devoted a good portion of her life to spreading the gospel of fitness and still teaches a class almost every day, my dad is a kite boarder at the age of 60, and my husband competes in triathlons. I have no excuse to not be active or eat right.
Relaxing for me is getting out of the city, whether it be a beach trip in Negros or a weekend in Lake Caliraya.
I always say that there’s a “Spoiled Mummy” in each of us. What do you think makes you, Cat Juan Ledesma, a Spoiled Mummy?
Definitely my blessings : our close family, a husband I am crazy about, two kids who teach me something new every day, a career which I enjoy, I could go on and on. It would be crazy for me to ever feel that I wasn’t spoiled with such a bounty of riches!