I am so excited to be starting a new series on the blog, just for mum's in business! I have been part of the business world for 4 years this year, but have been creating and selling my own things for quite some time.
Right before Baby Duck was born, by business was my baby! And now that I am a mother, I find that not only have my circumstances changed, but also my thoughts on business and my priorities in life. You can read all about my journey here!
But I am also interested in hearing about the journey's of other mums out there. I want to be able to share as much information and stories as possible so that Mother Duck can be a source of help, encouragement and support to mum's in the business world, and those thinking about stepping into it.
So I have teamed up with the Women's Business Club to speak to members who are also mums and share their stories. I have been a member myself for the whole 4 years that I have officially been in business and I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without the help and support of these incredible women!
So to start us off, I thought I should share my own story.
The story of creative business owner, magazine designer and mummy blogger.
So for the first time, formally, my name is Lorah-Kelly! I am 25 years old, wife to my best friend and mother to a beautiful 16 month old girl. I have gone from a full time creative business owner to full time mum whilst my husband managed to land his dream job by teaching himself to code and running his own sideline web design business.
Together, we own Strawberry Studios, which is a dream that we hope to run with once our daughter and any possible future children don't need us quite so much!
Did you get into business before or after you became a mum?
I was in business long before I was ready to be a mum; but I think in the back of my mind I was preparing for that role 'one day'. I know that I wanted to create my dream job and be settled into it before thinking of babies. I knew that if I didn't start my business right away, it would be harder to do it later as it would mean giving up an income that we would've grown accustomed to and relied on. Adding a baby on to that would probably mean that I wouldn't be able to afford the luxury of starting my own business!
What was your reason for starting up your own business?
For as long as I remember, I tried my hand at making and selling stuff. It started with cards, then some of my artworks while I slowly got into photography. As soon as I realised I was actually rather successful with photography I knew that I wanted to earn my living that way. I have a very entrepreneurial mother who always encouraged me to pursue my dream and why not make it happen for myself? Instead of looking for a job, why not do it directly and charge people myself?
Only after getting married and moving out did I really start to take the whole business thing seriously. Probably only in our second or third year of marriage did I actually make any real money to contribute to the bills!
My husband is also very creative and resourceful and loved the idea of creating our own income and he quickly found a passion for web and graphic design. He then started his own design business which we eventually merged with my business to create a business together which I am currently working under as a magazine designer for the Maximise Women's Business Magazine
How do you juggle being a mum while running a business?
Honestly, I really struggle! In fact I pretty much shut my business down after I had a baby and only took on one client, the magazine which is an on-going project. I absolutely love doing it this way as there is no pressure to find work and as it is quarterly magazine I have months to work on a project rather than weeks or days.
I did juggle the full on business with motherhood in the early months of Emily's life, but absolutely couldn't handle the pressure of working full on every day with a baby. I felt guilty and like I was being robbed of a precious time that I should be enjoying! So I stopped taking on clients and simply focussed on one project, which I work on as and when I can.
I ideally only work during nap times, when Emily is with her grandparents and on the rare occasion in the evening. This is absolutely perfect for me as it means I can continue doing the work I love, in my own time and still spend my days being mum and focussing on that.
Sometimes it gets harder when the deadline is pushing or extra work is needed to ensure the magazine is always the best quality, but I don't think any situation will ever be perfect! With motherhood, and life in general, there will always be hard days.
What does a typical day look like in your family?
We get up around 7.30 and have some breakfast as a family (unless Emily sleeps late - then I generally do too!) and I make Sam his lunch for work.
When Sam leaves for work at about 8.10 we usually just chill for a bit, watching (children's) songs on TV whilst I drink a cup of tea and probably scroll through Facebook!! Recently I have been trying to use that time to also say a quick prayer and read some scripture until Emily demands my attention!
Some days we go to playgroup in the mornings, or see friends and then come home for nap time at around 11. Other days we stay in this chilled state until sleep calls.
Whilst Emily is napping I quickly squeeze as much work in as possible! Either working on the magazine or writing for the blog. Sometimes I even get to do a spot of tidying as well!
After nap time we have lunch together (which could take as long as an hour with the way Emily eats!) and then we usually go for a walk to the shop or the park or if it's raining we play indoors!
Then from around four o'clock we start to get ready for daddy to come home! Dinner gets cooked slowly and the house is tidied... slowly! Everything happens slowly when a one-year-old needs you to come see something or help with something or needs a snack or a drink every 5 minutes!
When daddy gets home we all have dinner together then get ready for bed! After bedtime is grown up time where we usually chill and watch TV, do some work or do more tidying if we didn't quite manage to get it done beforehand.
What advice would you give to any mum wanting to start their own business?
I can only really advise based on my own story, with perhaps some gems I have picked up along the way from other business owners who have shared their journey with me. If you want to start a business, and don't necessarily need to produce a full time income right away, I would advise you just to start slowly! Finding the balance between being mum and business owner can take some time and jumping in full steam ahead may overwhelm you. This comes from a rather laid back person though who doesn't like or thrive under pressure, so it may be that this only works for a similar personality! But to be quite honest, no harm can be done with starting slowly, growing organically and in your own stride.
I would also advise spending some time putting together a business plan. It is essential to have this in place for a successful business, so rather than worrying about it whilst also trying to run your business and balance family responsibilities, I would get it done before anything else. The biggest advantage to getting it done first is that you have a chance to really think about what it is you want to achieve and can have more of a realistic idea of whether or not it is actually achievable.
You could also put some systems in place in line with your business plan such as your working hours, marketing strategies, cashflow predictions and goals, and the most effective ways of executing your work flow. Have an idea of all this ahead of time to ensure your venture starts off smoothly and with minimum stress!
Finally, make sure you know what your priorities are. My priority is always going to be my daughter. If she needs me, I will drop everything I am doing! I have simplified by business so much in order to be able to serve my priorities. I have found a client who works with my priorities and I am saying no a lot to many opportunities because I know they would get in the way of me be being able to put my daughter first. This my my PERSONAL priority though and is by no means going to be the same as your priorities, so have a good think about what really matters to you. ☺
What advice do you seek being a mum in business already?
My big question would probably be; how do you appear professional whilst technically being a full time mum who sometimes works in her pyjamas whilst little one is napping? Although I am very much at peace with this, I would be interested in hearing some thoughts or stories from other mums in the same boat!
How has the Women's Business Club been there for you in your business journey?
Honestly, The Women's Business Club is the very reason I have the confidence to be in business. In reality, my temperament, personality and lifestyle choices would say otherwise! The Women's Business Club has always encouraged me to completely be myself. Business is hard, dealing with people is harder, and trying to do that whilst keeping up a facade of a 'pulled together, professional business woman is even harder!
I have loved the freedom of just being me, and I think my clients keep coming back for that very reason. What you see is what you get, I maintain my integrity in everything I do and don't apologies for who I am. Although, my nature is very apologetic, so perhaps I do sometimes apologise a bit too much! But still, the Women's Business Club is a club of real, authentic women who happen to also be in business. I love it. Go check them out 😉
Connecting, supporting and empowering business women