Mums in Business

THIS MONTH MARKS BOTH INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY AND MOTHER’S DAY, SO HERE WE FIND OUT HOW THESE LOCAL MUMS AND BUSINESS OWNERS ARE PAIRING PARENTHOOD WITH THEIR PROFESSIONS

Charlotte Wilson-Tompsett is the owner of Hair at 15, a hairdressing salon in Tenterden, and has two children, aged four and 18 months

HOW LONG HAVE YOU HAD YOUR BUSINESS FOR?
The salon will be four years old in July.

WHERE DID THE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR BUSINESS COME FROM?
I’ve worked in salons since I was 12. I managed two salons after qualifying, so opening my own was always a dream and a natural step.

DID YOU START YOUR BUSINESS BEFORE OR AFTER HAVING CHILDREN?
My eldest, Zara, was just six months old when I opened!

WHAT WERE THE MAIN CHALLENGES OF SETTING THE SALON UP WHILE BEING A MUM?
Opening any new business is challenging and a risk. Throw in a six-month-old baby, a building that needed a complete makeover, and the fact that I was still working part-time in another salon…it was a very tiring, stressful, scary time, but so worth it!

WHAT ARE THE BEST THINGS ABOUT BEING A MUM IN BUSINESS?
There are so many great things; being able to tailor my hours to fit in with seeing the children, being financially independent, my children seeing that being a working mum is a privilege, and teaching them work ethics and morals, to name but a few!

AND WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES?
Being a workaholic is my biggest challenge! When I went on maternity leave to have Paddy, I realised the salon wouldn’t fall apart without me, which was hard to swallow, but it made me realise I could take a day off here and there. I think when anyone starts a business, they put their all into it, and I went a whole year without a day off when I fi rst opened; I lived and breathed it. I missed Zara a lot, but now we reap the rewards as a family.

HOW DO YOU JUGGLE WORK AND CHILDCARE?
Zara goes to a great little preschool in Benenden three days a week, and Paddy does the same hours with a childminder. Monday is paperwork day, and Fridays are strictly for the kids and I – I try not to even check emails on a Friday! The government childcare funding for working parents is a real godsend – otherwise childcare costs can outweigh working for mums.

HOW DOES BEING A MUM IMPACT THE DECISIONS YOU MAKE FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
Being a mum impacts every decision I make every day. I opened the salon for them; every hour I work is for them, so that they can have the best.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER MUMS THINKING OF STARTING A BUSINESS?
DO IT! It’s a wonderful feeling being your own boss. It’s aged me physically and mentally over the last four years, but I wouldn’t change it for all the tea in China!
www.hairatfifteen.co.uk 

 

Deborah Richards is the owner of Maddisons Residential, a residential sales and lettings estate agents in Tunbridge Wells. She has three children and started her business five years ago

WHERE DID THE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR BUSINESS COME FROM?
I had a real passion for property and dealing with people, and always wanted to work in an industry that married the two. I’ve renovated many properties in my time, and felt there was a need for a truly proactive, service-driven estate agent, who put their client at the heart of everything they do.

DID YOU START YOUR BUSINESS BEFORE OR AFTER HAVING CHILDREN?
After my two eldest children, but before my youngest. My children are 15, 10 and 18 months, and it was very different having older children and moving back to having a baby who is now a toddler!

WHAT ARE THE BEST THINGS ABOUT BEING A MUM IN BUSINESS?
You get to decide your working hours, meaning that if I want to go and watch one of my children in a match, or at a school concert, I can. It’s just not in my make-up to be a full-time at-home mum, and I take my hat off to anyone who does this – it’s the toughest job of all! My children have a better mum because I work and make my time with them really special. None of them have an issue with me working because it’s always been that way. Finally, it’s lovely to be building something that you hope one day might be a legacy for them to take forward – if they want to!

AND WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES?
The pressures of keeping all the plates spinning! If all I had to do was get up and go to work, my life would be a breeze! But I have to make sure that I give them the time they need (my son is in his GCSE year this year, which is particularly stressful), and also my husband is really important too!

HOW DO YOU JUGGLE WORK AND CHILDCARE?
I have an excellent nanny, who is more like my wife! She looks after our youngest brilliantly and also helps with the older two. It will all change when my youngest starts school, but as a working mum, you’re always making plans for the next phase.

WHAT ARE YOUR WORKING HOURS LIKE, AND HOW DO YOU MAKE THIS WORK WITH HAVING CHILDREN?
My working hours are too long! My day typically starts at 7.30am, and then I always make sure that I get home for bath time, stories and homework, and then as soon as they’re all in bed, I’m back at my laptop. Working long hours into the evening is the norm.

HOW DOES BEING A MUM IMPACT THE DECISIONS YOU MAKE FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
I have to make sure that I can always give my family the time that they warrant, deserve and need, so I suppose that, although I’m very ambitious, the business just cannot scale up at the rate that I would perhaps desire.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER MUMS THINKING OF STARTING A BUSINESS?
Just do it! Mums are resourceful, intelligent, incredible creatures who often have years of experience in running a different type of business, called the home! Trust me, running a business is a breeze compared to that!
www.maddisonsresidential.co.uk

 

Katie Redfern is the founder of Meaningful Recruitment, and as a career coach, adviser and recruitment expert, she helps clients to realise their true potential. She’s mum to two teenagers

WHERE DID THE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR BUSINESS COME FROM?
I felt that I needed to create a business to help people overcome barriers in their work life, which were becoming more and more obvious with the economic climate and challenges around today. My clients’ needs weren’t being met at work, and they seemed overwhelmed by similar frustrations like being ‘over performance managed’, ‘required to deliver unachievable targets’, and ‘feeling like a number rather than a person’.
Many people also needed help reconnecting to who they are ‘now’, rather than five years prior to having children or career breaks. I could relate to these feelings as I’d felt all of them too, but luckily, with my background, skills and desire to find meaning in what I do, I was able to move on. Not everyone is so lucky.
While I was starting to think about creating this business, two big events happened in close succession that spurred me on; my two dear friends, Amanda and Holly, sadly passed away in the same year. These events made me realise that life can be too short, and it needs to be lived doing things we love and jobs we love. Holly and I used to talk about the fact that roughly 30% of our lifetime is spent working, and it hammered home to me that we need to be grateful for what we have, and make sure we’re doing something that we find fulfilling and makes us feel energised.

So, Meaningful Recruitment was born, and my mission is to help people move to a work life with purpose and financial reward, in the right working environment that suits them and their personal needs. I help people rediscover who they are now and align them with career options, coaching and support, to help them navigate their way to a working environment where they’ll blossom and find meaning in what they do.

WHAT ARE THE BEST THINGS ABOUT BEING A MUM IN BUSINESS?
Being a mum in business helps me strike a whole new level of work-life balance. It means the world to me to go to school events, shows and sports matches, and this job has enabled me to work my diary so that I can do this. Being around for the children when they need help with homework or other things they need to talk through is important to me. We share the happy times and more complex times together – that’s why I wanted to become a mum, and I think as our world becomes more complicated and speedy, every child needs good support. I see all too clearly the benefits of the fast-paced lifestyle that people live, and also the frustrations and challenges that it brings, and I want to help those close to me and those that I work with to manage it, so that it’s a positive experience. I love that my children have learned valuable hands-on lessons of how to set up a business. They’ve been through it all with me, and given me lots of feedback and tips on my website pages. They also understand that it’s important to follow to your dreams, and that they don’t come to fruition overnight – it takes persistence, time and energy.

HOW DOES BEING A MUM IMPACT THE DECISIONS YOU MAKE FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
Being a mum really does impact the decisions I make; not so much in how I run my business, but more about the clients I work with and the information I spend time researching and passing on. I want to support the organisations that are doing great things to support their community and our world. I’m interested in working with companies that are becoming B Corporation-certified, and those focusing on areas such as sustainability, climate change, helping humanity and easing suffering. I want to help the talent blossom in my generation, so that we generate momentum with positive impact, and make a difference now, so that it will help my children and their generation to support the world and our planet when their time comes.
www.meaningfulrecruitment.co.uk 

Vanessa Ferrett runs Bodiam Boating Station, Riverside Cottage Camping and the Lime Wharf Café in Newenden. She has two children, aged 14 and 10. Before this business venture, she and her partner Alex ran a tapas restaurant in Bath

WHERE DID THE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR BUSINESS COME FROM?
Initially, we were inspired to move to Kent to be closer to family, and when we found the site, we could see the untapped potential in the vicinity, with the KESR steam train and National Trust’s Bodiam Castle drawing thousands of visitors to the area already.
In terms of what we offer and our style of service, my inspiration has come from, and continues to come from, places I visit and people I meet. I’ve been fortunate to have travelled the world three times, and am always on the lookout for new ideas.

WHAT ARE THE BEST THINGS ABOUT BEING A MUM IN BUSINESS?
Despite working more hours than your typical 9 to 5, I’m grateful that I’m able to do the school run, watch sport matches and be at home when the children are sick.

AND WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES?
I love my job, and our businesses are busiest during the weekends and school holidays; if I wasn’t a parent, I’d be at work for all of those hours. Being torn between family and work is tough. I find it hard, but I’m learning to let go… a bit, at least!

HOW DO YOU JUGGLE WORK AND CHILDCARE?
I can’t lie, for the first four years it was really tough; some days, the children would barely have our attention at all. We’ve now moved off-site, which has been a revelation for our family life, and I’m lucky that I’m not doing it all on my own. Alex and I now take it in turns to look after the children, house, dog and ducks, or the business. This has helped us both focus and be more productive with our time, though needs really clear communication.

HOW DOES BEING A MUM IMPACT THE DECISIONS YOU MAKE FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
We decided early on that we would close our business for six weeks from the day our children break up for Christmas. I think our customers would prefer it if we didn’t, but because we don’t get a chance to take time out as the four of us at any other time of year, this period is vital for us. Our staff also work incredibly hard through the summer months, so this long break goes down well with them too, and allows us to take our full-time members of the team on a city break!

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER MUMS THINKING OF STARTING A BUSINESS?
The perfect time to start will never come, so if you’ve made up your mind that you’re going to do it, then just go for it. You’ll always feel guilty about working too much or leaving your team too much – be kind to yourself and remember that you’re just one person, so build a team of good people around you and lean on them. Children are resilient, and ours have first-hand experience of their mum at work; I hope this will teach them that hard work pays off, that women are as strong and capable as men, and that if you enjoy your job, you really don’t need to work a day in your life!
www.bodiamboatingstation.co.uk

 

Kerri Sargent runs Logbox Firewood, as well as PR and design company Sweet Creatives. She has three children, aged 15, four and three

HOW LONG HAVE YOU HAD YOUR BUSINESSES FOR?
I’ve worked as a graphic designer for over 20 years, and set up Sweet Creatives with a friend after we were both made redundant from a creative agency when the recession hit in 2008. My sister joined last year (also a mum in business), and we’re looking forward to working together on some exciting projects this year. Logbox Firewood launched in 2015.

WHERE DID THE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR BUSINESS COME FROM?
For Logbox Firewood…my husband! Ben’s background is in forestry and tree work, and he had a brilliant idea for a super convenient and mess-free method of delivering logs, pre-stacked in a purpose-built log box, which is then fully replaced when required. My input is branding, marketing, website build and maintenance (all orders are taken online), admin and, most importantly, looking after our customers. With Sweet Creatives, it was a natural career progression to go freelance, and then to offer a wider/scalable range of creative services by setting up in business with a photographer friend and a PR sister.

HOW DID YOUR BUSINESS CHANGE WHEN YOU BECAME A MUM?
I really love what I do, so returning to work after having my first child felt right much sooner than I expected. I was lucky to find flexible hours in-house, and then go freelance. In recent years, with the arrival of two little ones quite quickly one after the other, the main change was needing to be extra focused and efficient when on the clock. Bullet journaling for making lists and time planning has been my saviour!

HOW DO YOU JUGGLE WORK AND CHILDCARE?
It’s only just started to feel like I’m on top of it now Fern is at primary school, and Forest has just qualified for the 30 hours of free childcare.

WHAT ARE YOUR WORKING HOURS LIKE, AND HOW DO YOU MAKE THIS WORK WITH HAVING CHILDREN?
I don’t really have formal working hours; it just wouldn’t work. I work around school hours and in the evening. My most productive hours are usually between 9pm and 2am (not all the time!), but when the kids are asleep and there are no phone calls or emails to deal with, I tackle tasks or projects that require more concentration or creative deliberation.

HOW DOES BEING A MUM IMPACT THE DECISIONS YOU MAKE FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
It would be easy to say, ‘It makes me focused on a better work/life balance’, but that simply isn’t true. There’s no magic job for parents, and there’s always compromise. So for me, it’s more about making sure the kids are happy, but that they also see that I’m happy too. I truly love my work and I’m very proud of the two businesses that I ‘ve developed, just as much as I love being a mum and am proud of my kids.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER MUMS THINKING OF STARTING A BUSINESS?
Having kids can be a perfect time to make a change in your career and do something you have a passion for. Starting a business is really hard work, but when you’re in control and your work fits around being a parent the way you want it to, your family’s quality of life can only benefit. Connect with your local business networks for advice and support from people who’ve gone through the same process, and find someone who you really trust for sane advice in those moments when everything is a bit much.
www.logboxfirewood.com