Welcome to the first interview in our Wonder Women Collective!
Every Wednesday we will be sharing Mumspirational Stories from Wonder Women who happen to be parents. We hope that these real stories inspire you to believe that you can achieve your goals and be a great Mum at the same time. There’s no need to compromise, if you have a dream, Follow It!
This week we introduce Madelaine Furnivall, a Mum of two from Leamington Spa who is living her dream as the owner of The Bridal Boutique Warwickshire nestled in picturesque Henley In Arden. Madi talks to us about how she juggles being a Mum and business owner and talks about how her husband has embraced flexible working so that they can balance family with work together.
Tell us a little bit about your job or career before you launched your own business.
I worked in beauty for years and worked my way up to become a Spa Manager of a top spa but due to a back injury I had to give that up. I then kind of fell in to recruitment which really wasn’t for me, but I met my husband there so not all bad! When I had my daughter my NCT friend told me that the lady she brought her wedding dress from needed a manager for her Wedding dress boutique, long story short I applied and got the job.
What made you take the leap to decide to start out on your own?
I loved my job and bridal as a career and I wanted to create something with a more unique offering. So I went on a mission to find something that would have the wow factor and I found it! I now own the Bridal Boutique Warwickshire in Henley in Arden, we sell top designer wedding and bridesmaid dresses. The business focuses on making girls feel amazing and styling them from head to toe.
I get to make people feel amazing everyday. We help find your style for your wedding but also really make a difference to all aspects of that special day. Be it dealing with mother-in-laws, bridesmaids or helping with recommendations on photographers, florists, make up artists etc. I feel like we really make a difference and our brides leave feeling inspired and excited about their big day.
How do you juggle being a Mummy and having your own business?
Being a Mummy and juggling my own business is the part I’ve found hardest. We bought the business two years before we had really wanted to. But the opportunity came up and you have to go with fate and follow your heart. The first two years really tested us. I had one in nursery and one at school, both at opposite ends of the town and nowhere near my Boutique. Also having to work two if not three evenings a week and every weekend was very draining on our family time and my energy to be able to be the best mummy. Since building the business up and managing to recruit good staff my hours have reduced which means very rarely do I need to work evenings. It also means I can have days off and not have to spend every second working from home.
Do you have any particular ways or rules to make sure you balance things so you get family time too?
Monday and Tuesdays now I walk to and from school, which I love and also take the children to after school activities on those days.
Wednesday to Saturday I work full time but the great thing is now I’m in a position that if a school assembly comes up or sports day or any activities like that I can schedule my brides around that so I get to attend nearly all school functions now. This has made a huge difference this year to my children’s happiness. Also the business is so strong now that I very rarely offer to see people on a Sunday, this is now our strict family day. I have realised this is so important as we only get one day a week as a whole unit. In the first two years I worked nearly every Saturday and spent two to four hours on a Sunday at the boutique as well.
In the last month my husband has started a flexible work day on a Wednesday, meaning we all get to eat dinner together mid-week too which has been amazing.
I never thought something so small would make such a difference. People who eat together every night as a family really are very lucky. I would really urge families to look at their dynamic and if you find yourself in a similar position to me, look at flexible working. It really can make all the difference, and it isn’t just for the women as we are proof.
Is there anything in particular that makes things a little easier for you?
Our mums play a huge part in us being able to function. If either of the children are ill and we can’t take time off work, they step in. If I need to work late and can’t collect the children they are there for us. They also help with school holidays, which is huge for us as it costs such a lot of money to find childcare during that time.
I won’t lie I struggle with the guilt of not being able to take more time off in holidays and we never get round to seeing all the people we want to, but that’s my busiest time as a business so I have to work.
Do you come across any negativity from others because you’re a working Mum?
I have come across some negativity because I’m a working Mum, I think people don’t always mean to make the comments they do and maybe don’t think about what they are saying, some of the comments I get can be quite upsetting such as “I could never work weekends or evenings” or “I would never send my kids to holiday clubs, the holidays are for families.” Comments like that really that do make me feel guilty.
Business nowadays are not just about contact via email, potential clients reach you via social media as well as websites, do you feel a pressure to keep up to date with social media?
This is a big one for me as I have a real issue with social media and phones and ipads being too near children. But this is a problem when I have to answer emails, Facebook messages, staff texts, Instagram posts everyday 24hours a day! In the last year this has become a something that I have had to become better at. Brides want to follow you and you have to update all these social media apps everyday, this means my children rarely see me without my phone. This is my biggest annoyance with myself but also one I have no power to do anything about at the moment as to be the best I have to be contactable all the time and have to post to social media regularly.
What do you think the hardest thing about having children and being your own boss is?
Guilt! No off switch to work it’s never ending
And what’s the best thing about it?
Being able to make time now we are successful to go to the little things that I couldn’t have done if I worked for somebody else. Even just being able to walk to school makes me happy.
What advice would you give another Mummy who is considering changing their job or career to follow their passion?
Go for it! But remember it takes at least three years to succeed and get time off, even then it’s constant when it’s your business you can’t turn off when you get home like you can when you work for somebody else. I love that my children also understand and value money: they know mummy and daddy work really hard do that they can have the nice things.
We would like to thank Madi for taking the time to talk to us and inspire other Mums to follow their dreams and ambitions. You can follow Madelaine’s Boutique on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram .
If you are a Mumpirational Wonder Woman and would like to share your story, we would LOVE to hear from you and help you to inspire the world. Contact Us Here
Till Next Week! x