One in five (21 per cent) millennial mums expect to be their own boss and turn mumpreneur in the next five years, according to a study by the .uk domain.
Having a child can be a critical juncture in the life of a professional woman; how can work and personal life be balanced in a manageable way? It can be a dilemma and an understanding boss is imperative. Failing that, many women are tempted to start their own business on their own terms, giving them them the freedom to work flexibly, build their business, look after their child and enjoy the best of both worlds.
In this piece, we speak to three mumpreneurs about taking the plunge: Emma Rogers, founder of beauty treatments company Beauty by Emma (ER), Anouska Lancaster, founder of interior design business Noushka Design (AL), and Cat Gazzioli, founder of organic baby food brand Piccolo (CG).
1. What were you doing before you started the business?
ER: I was an apprentice at Weston College training as a beauty therapist.
AL: Before I set up Noushka Design I was busy being a mum. There was no time for anything else! Being a mum is a full-time job in itself and there are always things that need doing around the house while juggling young children and running a household. When I set my business up, it was a case of making time to lock myself away in my office and get my head down. It’s essential to have time for yourself with no distractions, particularly when setting up a business.
CG: I was always in the food industry professionally and was also a home cook. Before founding Piccolo, I was CEO of Slow Food UK, and a global board member of Slow Food, an organisation that promotes good, clean and fair food, and before that with the United Nations working on food education, policy, and nutrition.
2. What was your idea and how did it go from concept to reality?
ER: I run my own beauty salon and my idea was simply to have the best salon in the area, and to offer treatments and advice, not just to ladies but to men and also not to neglect the teenage market.
AL: My idea was to set up a new type of interior design business that embraces individuality and celebrates life. In my experience, there were no design companies out there that were reflecting individual personalities and family lifestyles. I was bored of seeing uniform grey and lifeless interiors that were cold and soulless. It didn’t happen overnight; more than anything when you set up your own business, it’s about gaining personal confidence in yourself and your brand before you can start treading into unknown territory.
CG: I am not a ‘go-at-it alone’ type of person, more a team and consensus type. I believe very much that a committed group of people with shared values can create even more magic, so my first step was to seek a few kindred spirits who would join me, even in baby steps in the beginning.
3. Describe your work-life balance as a mumpreneur.
ER: I started running my own business as soon as I qualified and as I already had my eldest, who was two at the time. It was the easiest way to work as it gave me greater flexibility with childcare. I think having your own business offers greater opportunities to have a work-life balance but you do need to take care you don’t overdo the paperwork in the evenings. Having premises away from home was vital as it gave a divide between the two. I was also really lucky as I’ve had lots of support from my family.
AL: Time management is really important when you are a mumpreneur. For me, it was a case of making lists of things that needed doing and scheduling these throughout the day. For example, I couldn’t watch my son’s football match at any other time other than 3pm. So, it was making sure that this was my priority, and moving everything else in my diary around so that I could fit everything in. I have found that there’s no 9-5pm being a mumpreneur. It’s a case of getting things done when you can, even if it means answering emails at 10pm when the children have gone to bed.
CG: I love to work so I don’t feel very balanced if I am not ‘working’! I don’t particularly enjoy putting my feet up. I do make quality time for my family. I feel strongly that non-interrupted focused time without checking a ‘gadget’ is really important as a mum, plus my toddler will tell me off if not and rightfully so!
4. How has your business grown and what is your new lifestyle like?
ER: I opened my first Beauty by Emma salon on my own in the heart of the Somerset levels, in the picturesque village of Wedmore near Axbridge, in 2012 and then in 2015 after the birth of my second child, and in order to grow the business further, I moved to a larger salon in a busier location in Weston-super-Mare, which is a large town.
Larger premises, staff and more clients do mean I am much busier now but I still have greater control over my lifestyle than I think I would if I was working for someone else, as I am able to take time out for key events such as school sports days and we also recently were able to have a long break in the USA together as a family. So although some days I do work late, I feel I have a greater flexibility than others might have, you just need to be very organised!
AL: Noushka Design has grown as I have grown, and as my family have grown. As your children get older, things develop and change. I have more time on my hands now the children are older and the children understand and respect my work commitments. I see Noushka Design as another child and it grows and develops more and more every day. I am faced with new business challenges daily just as I am with my family. There is no instruction manual when you set up a business, you learn as you go, which is exactly the same as motherhood.
CG: There isn’t a member of the team who hasn’t seen me in my pyjamas because we ran Piccolo in the early days from my home. As I am a late night person, and like to work into the small hours, I would have team members coming to the house, and my daughter and I were just barely awake. So there isn’t a big change in lifestyle in that I always am ‘what I do’ – so even before more home was always part of my work place, but with Slow Food, it was chefs around the kitchen table at lunch, so at least not first thing in the morning!
Further reading on the mumpreneur lifestyle