Ask anyone about Brisbane’s Pip Russell and they are happy to talk about an extraordinary young lady with the biggest of hearts.
But as you would guess, there is a lot more to the creator of Juiced TV, a unique television show made for kids by kids in hospital.
So much more, in fact, that she has been chosen as Queensland’s Local Hero nomination in this year’s Australian of the Year Awards.
Once the host for children’s television shows Toasted TV and Totally Wild on Network Ten, Pip launched Juiced TV in January 2015 at Queensland’s Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.
Since then the weekly episodes of the show have been watched by more than 1.5 million people on YouTube and there are plans to expand the show to other hospitals around the country.
SheBrisbane caught up with Pip just before she left for the Awards announcements in Canberra on Friday and began by asking how she started on the Juiced TV journey”.
And in line with someone who’s earlier life adventures took her from aid work in remote villages of Africa to presenting a documentary on Australian Aid in Cambodia, as well as raising over $20,000 for cancer research, volunteering played a prominent part in her response.
“It all started with my time volunteering at the old Royal Children’s Hospital in Herston where I met some unforgettable children and their families,” said Pip.
“I was taking a year off work and living in London when I realised how powerful TV was as a medium for storytelling and connection. I started to think about using this medium in a purely positive way, to create tangible memories for patients and their families, to normalize the hospital journey and reduce the alienation felt by kids when admitted.”
As she talked to more and more people she realised she wanted the concept of the show to encapsulate fun and hope in every moment. Next minute she had booked her flights back to Brisbane to kick start Juiced TV.
“Very Honoured” was how she described her nomination as Queensland’s Local hero, adding that it was “humbling to think that I have the opportunity to fly the flag for so many local heroes across Queensland who are making a significant impact in their communities”.
Looking back, we asked if it had been difficult for her to cross over from her presenting and producing role with Channel 10 to managing Juiced TV?
“Not at all,” she said, again with her trademark big smile.
“I knew with all my heart I needed to take a leap and make Juiced TV a reality! Working in the kid’s TV department at Channel Ten was a fantastic place to be able to learn from very skilled and passionate people about all elements of TV production.
“However, I was searching for a stronger sense of purpose. As soon as I began conversations about launching Juiced TV I knew that I had found my calling.
“Of course like any start-up there have been many challenges along the way, but the journey has been made a whole lot easier as we live the vision to give sick kids back their childhood.”
Pip has no hesitation in nominating one of her proudest moments during Juiced TV as the day the first episode went to air.
“It was a moment I had envisaged for over three years so to see it come to life with so many kids smiling in the process of creating it was magic,” she said.
“The feedback from families and the broader hospital community made us recognise just how much of a difference the program could make in improving the hospital journey.”
Pip said she and her team were now very lucky that with every week we have proud moments watching the patients and their siblings build their confidence, smile and embrace the program and forget about their treatment, even if it’s just for a minute.
“I often have to pinch myself every time we have a patient, parent, or hospital staff member tell us about the positive impact of the program. It’s changing their lives.”
SheBrisbane asked Pip what had been the biggest lesson she had learnt (in life or business)?
A: Everything happens for a reason, and at the right time. There are lessons in every moment, although sometimes it might take time to realise what the lesson was.
Q: What do you think the key to success is?
A: Purpose, passion and resilience.
Q: What has made you so passionate about supporting meaningful causes such as Care Australia and The Children’s Hospital Foundation?
A: I grew up surrounded by a lot of people who always worked hard and whole-heartedly to contribute to the community, and it was a very natural path for me to seek out opportunities to do the same. I’m constantly inspired by every member of the hospital community from the researches, doctors and nurses, to the fundraisers, volunteers, and of course the families and the kids themselves. The selflessness, resilience and courage that they bring to each day is what makes me want to create the biggest impact I can.
Q: How can we encourage and support more female entrepreneurs in Australia?
A: I had no business experience or studies behind me when I first started Juiced TV, but I quickly found the best way to learn was from listening to other people’s stories who have walked this path before. Both men and women. Continuing to foster and create opportunities for like-minded women to come together to share their stories is key. Having the chance to surround yourself with inspiring and passionate people will ignite the confidence for others to pursue their dreams.
Q: What are your future plans for Juiced TV?
A: It is my mission is to change the way that children experience hospital, in the same way that game changing companies like Apple and Facebook have transformed the way people connect and communicate with one another. I want to see Juiced have a positive impact in the lives of every child in hospital and continue building our community right across the nation. It starts in February as we begin connecting regional Queensland patients with the ‘Juiced Box’, our very own mobile app giving patients from across the state access to Juiced TV. This is the first significant step in continuing to expand our community.
It won’t be long before Juiced TV is touching the lives of all patients across Australia! Stay tuned..
Q: What are three words you would use to describe Brisbane?
A: Surprising, calm, social
Q: Your best spots in Brisbane?
A: New Farm Park, The Powerhouse, Doc Brown Café, West End