Uncategorized · Wonder Woman Collective

Wonder Woman Collective Pt4 Rachel

Welcome to Part Four of our Wonder Woman Collective, thank you for visiting!

This week we meet Rachel Turner, a Mumspirational Mum of two who lives in Warwickshire.

Rachel made the leap from working for an engineering company to ‘paying herself and others to do the hokey cokey’ (her words haha). Read all about how she made such a huge change in career, how she juggles parenthood and the challenges of running your own business and Rachel’s advice for anyone thinking of making a change in their career.

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Hi Rachel! Tell us a little bit about your job or career before you launched your own business

I worked in waste management in Birmingham for a big engineering company called Atkins. Writing reports for planning applications for large waste facilities.  After having my children I did 3 days a week, but it still meant getting the 7.12am train to Birmingham and the 5.03pm back, rather a rush and a 2 hour commute each day.

Tell us all about your current business

I run Rhythm Time music classes for babies, toddlers and pre schoolers. These are great fun,

I pay myself and other people to do the hokey cokey!

A dream job after thinking I would have liked to be a childrens TV presenter. I teach 4 mornings a week and then do the admin for the business in the afternoons and evenings. I work some weekends for parties, and events. In 2016 I was networking mummies networker of the year. This year I was a finalist in the networking mummies small business awards.

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What made you take the leap to decide to start out on your own?

It was a gradual thing and almost happened by chance. I had stopped working as it was just getting too much, the long hours the constant rushing, my husband working away a lot. I wanted to spend more time with my children while they were little and cute and liked spending time with me.

After being at home for 6 months I started assisting at Rhythm Time, then trained to be one of the teachers. Then the current owner was retiring she asked if I wanted to buy the business.

It was something I had never considered, being a business lady, it seemed too grown up.

I have some very good friends who encouraged me, gave me lots of support and advise and I made the plunge and became a business owner.

I am usually better being told what to do, I don’t feel like a born leader! As it is a franchise there is a lot of support from head office and the lesson plans are provided. if I need marketing material this is pre designed and there is lots of help with marketing and running a business etc. There is also support from the other people leading Rhythm Time classes across the country, I feel like part of a big family.

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What do you love most about your job and why?

The interaction with the children in class, seeing them singing, dancing, enjoying themselves. Seeing their progression and confidence increase as they learn how to play in time and sing solo. Listening to 15 pre schoolers sing a song to me un accompanied, watching the pride in their parents faces and the happiness we all have. Seeing the babies smiling and laughing and gurgling along to their favourite tunes and just the sheer enjoyment of the classes. It is truly joyful and great fun.

Through my job I am able to help support and fundraise for local charities and good causes. I put on Rhythm Time sessions at charity events, provide prizes for charity raffles and charity collections in classes at Christmas. it is great to help local charities through my business.

How do you juggle being a Mummy and having your own business?

It is rather busy, the children help me set up the class before the school run, they also help me practice the songs. I then take them to school and then go back to start the classes. In the afternoons I do admin, but am there to do the school run. They are in after school club 1 night a week so I can catch up on paper work.

Do you have any particular rules to make sure you balance things so you get family time too?

This is one thing I need to get better at doing, stopping working! So I can just sit with them and chat after tea instead of working.

I am also leaving my work phone at home when we are on holiday and leaving someone else to answer the emails.

Do you come across any negativity from others because you’re a working Mum? If yes, what?

Not because I am a working mum, as most of the mums I know do work. Perhaps sometimes because I don’t do a normal job, but I think working flexibly is becoming the norm.

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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 and if so do you find this impacts on your time, especially in the evening?

Yes I need to stop checking Facebook after a certain time and even emails. Of course I want people to be able to contact me , but I need to be strict on when I answer, I need time to unwind and switch off and watch Eastenders!

What do you think the hardest thing about having children and being your own boss is?

Time management, as I do feel guilty if I am working  when they are at home.

And what’s the best thing about it?

That I am there for them, have tea with them, get to take them on school trips when I can, spend hours at the park after school and just enjoy being with them while they are still little. It is good that they see me working and want to join me when they are older. My 5 year old wants to work at Rhythm Time when she is older or work on the computer at home!

What advice would you give another Mummy who is considering changing their job or career to follow their passion? 

I would say to go for it. Life is too short to hate your job and be unhappy at work.

It will be hard work but you are strong and can run a business or change your career.

Do not regret not following your dreams and doing something you love.

My friend sent me a card which read, “she believed she could and so she did” it hangs above my desk. I know she believes in me and I believe in myself.

We would like to thank Rachel for taking part in our Wonder Woman Collective! You can find Rachel’s Rhythm Time classes here.

Rachel is currently taking bookings for baby, toddler and Pre-School music classes in Leamington, Kenilworth & Stratford Upon Avon to start in September.

Make new friendships and have fun whilst helping your child develop!
Our fun activities help brain development, balance, concentration, listening skills and language which in turn help with reading, writing, maths, co-ordination and socialising.
Rhythm Time also helps stimulate your child’s imagination and develops specific musical concepts such as rhythm, pitch and listening. It’s the perfect foundation for school and future music making!
🎶 Join in the fun and start your child’s musical journey by visiting www.rhythmtime.net/rt232 to book a class (Places are limited) or email Rachel at rachelrtime@gmail.com.

If you would like to nominate a #mumspirational Mum for us to feature please do get in touch!

Wonder Woman Collective

Wonder Woman Collective Pt3 – Lauren – Founder of Kokoso Baby

IMG_0207We first came across Lauren & her beautiful brand Kokoso back in 2014 when we used her gorgeous products on our 1 year old. Fast forward three years and Kokoso has launched a new baby wash in addition to it’s already acclaimed coconut oil and has successfully gained investment from the one and only Touker Suleyman in a nail biting Dragons Den.

Kokoso is also now stocked in Boots, thanks to a triumphant win at the Boots ‘Inspired by me’ competition!

Lauren is the perfect example of a Mum who is juggling being a successful entrepreneur and running her own business and in our interview we discover just how she does it.

Tell us a little bit about your job or career before you launched your own business.

Before Kokoso Baby I was a copywriter in advertising and marketing. It’s a skill I’ve been able to use to help build the brand – everything from writing the labels on our packaging to press releases, blog posts, website and social media content.

Tell us all about your current business.

Kokoso Baby offers pure, natural and oh-so-gentle skincare for little ones packed full of organic coconut oil goodness. Our hero product is our premium organic coconut oil and we’ve recently added two gorgeous baby hair and body washes to the range, with more coconutty skincare treats in the pipeline. 

IMG_0209What made you take the leap to decide to start out on your own?

Fate! I was on maternity leave with my first daughter in 2012 when I had the idea for Kokoso. Like a lot of new mums, I was concerned about the nasties in mainstream baby toiletries, so when my little girl developed dry and sensitive skin problems I wanted to find something natural and organic to care for her.

I was a total coconut oil novice at this stage but was literally blown away by how it made her skin feel and the amazing multitude of uses. It magically cleared up her troublesome skin and we continued using it as a baby massage oil, bottom balm, daily moisturiser and so much more.

I started buying coconut oil for friends with new babies and that’s when I had my light bulb moment – to share the coco-love with parents everywhere by sourcing a premium quality organic coconut oil that’s the very best product for little ones.

The idea was born but I’d already arranged to return to work. And then fate intervened. On my second day back in the office I was told my whole team was being made redundant. This was the catalyst I needed. Sometimes life just pushes you in the right direction…

What do you love most about your job and why?

I love working from home with my husband and working my own hours – the flexibility means I can always do the school run and be there for my children whenever they need me. The flipside is we’re often working late into the evenings after the children have gone to sleep.

How do you juggle being a Mummy and having your own business?

The juggle is real! I do find it hard to switch off sometimes and immerse myself fully in mummy mode, especially as work is so easily accessible via my phone. And of course starting a business is all-consuming because you have to put everything into it to make it work. It can leave you feeling guilty and pretty frazzled. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Is there anything in particular that makes things a little easier for you? 

Grandparents!

Do you come across any negativity from others because you’re a working Mum? If yes, what?

No, never. Any negativity comes from myself.

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 and if so do you find this impacts on your time, especially in the evening?

I try to make sure I respond to customer emails during conventional work hours. My husband is always reminding me that the business won’t collapse if I don’t send that email tonight. Social media is trickier as there’s a sense that you should respond to comments and questions quickly. It does mean I’m often on my phone in the evenings.

What advice would you give another Mummy who is considering changing their job or career to follow their passion? 

You’ll never work harder but no other job will ever mean as much. If you’ve got the support network around you then go for it!

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Thank you so much to Lauren for talking to us about her journey! I’m sure you’ll all agree she’s truly #Mumspirational and is living the dream we all think about while on mat leave! 

If you know a #Mumspirational Mum please do let us know and we will feature them in our series of incredible women who are also parents!

You can buy all of the amazing Kokoso products here on their website. We love this gift set which is perfect for baby showers or for a gift for a new baby/mummy!

Newborn gift set Kokoso

 

Wonder Woman Collective

Wonder Women Collective Pt2 – Karen

Welcome to part two of our Wonder Women Collective!

In the second interview of our series of inspirational women who also happen to be Mums, we talk to Karen Wood. You may not have heard of Karen.. yet, but you will almost certainly have heard about her business! Karen is the MD of Strider Bike Distribution for the UK and Ireland. Strider have now sold 1,000,000 bikes and have taught more toddlers and young children how to ride a bike than any other brand and Karen has been instrumental in that success. In our interview we hear all about her brush with a bullet in Columbia and how she spectacularly quit her job following struggles meeting travelling expectations whilst being a Mum to a four year old and an 18 month old. Karen’s exciting and inspirational story is a must-read. We defy you not to feel empowered by her story.

Tell us a little bit about your job or career before you launched your own business:

I Spent 10 years driving overland expeditions – taking people in a converted truck across Africa, S.America and across to India after back packing my way around the world whilst dodging uni. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I just didn’t want to be told what to do, so I guess that was the first hint that I was an entrepreneur and needed to do things my way. I learnt to be very resourceful, fix engines in jungles, deal with difficult passengers and blag our way out of difficult situations. I had also been shot at in Columbia so decided I had used up my lives and came home to the UK. By chance, I was offered my first “proper” job by chatting to a guy in a waiting room of a recruitment agency that was there to interview others and he offered me a job on the spot. I worked my way up to being a business manager for a blue chip medical company within 5 years,  before standing up one day in the boardroom and quitting on the spot. I had a 4 yr old and an 18 month old and I missed spending time with them whilst stuck on motorways and corporate life wasn’t for me. I knew it so decided to not prolong the agony longer, I figured we would work the financial problem out later and my husband was very supportive.

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“We were broke but then I spotted a Strider Bike in the USA.”

Tell us about your current business:

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Strider was a business I started 7 years ago, with toddler in one hand and laptop in the other. I spotted the unique balance bikes being manufactured in the USA and just knew I could do something with them. I missed signing the distribution contract for the UK by only a few hours, so I built myself up as the largest Strider dealer in the UK instead. Back in those days we were the only brand that wasn’t a wooden toy bike and Strider are the originals but it was still a struggle. Selling online was a new venture, so I bought a coding book, built a website and told anyone that would listen about the bikes. In 2014 I then got the call to offer me exclusive distribution that I accepted on the spot. Despite needing to raise funding for our first container, finding a warehouse and with Christmas only a few weeks It simply felt right to take it. Mind you, that autumn was one that I don’t actually think I slept more than 4 hrs a night. I even had to drive to the port and cry outside the port directors door as our first container got pulled for a customs check, except the port had no staff to drive it through the x-ray machine. I made them sort it in time to meet our own deadlines.

What made you take the leap to decide to start out on your own?

Gut feeling it was the right thing to do

What do you love most about your job and why?

Being completely in control of the brand and what I do with it. I love holding the reigns and the responsibility of the whole brand for the UK and Ireland is mine to shape as I like. I am really proud of it and I am still as enthusiastic as I was on Day1. I simply love getting out of bed and working on it. I am also quite partial to the business trips to the USA where I take the whole family and we go and hang out with the global Strider Team. I get my travelling fix.

How do you juggle being a Mummy and having your own business?

Not brilliantly! The first year of distribution I was also a full time mum and doing the school runs. Rarely was the house clean, clothes were never ironed and food was more often than not still in the shops and I worked late every night so was tired and grumpy. However the kids got stuck in and helped. They have both developed good business sense and now have their own jobs at events we run and a salary so it is teaching them great life lessons. In 2015 my husband quit his career and joined me. Now I take on most of the business decisions and and he runs our warehouse and the logistics. We share the responsibility of the kids although I probably do less than my share.

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Do you have any particular ways or rules to make sure you balance things so you get family time too?

Yes, we now have an office away from the house and the phone automatically diverts to answer at 5pm. I also never allow phones or gadgets upstairs so whilst I do tap away on the phone in the evenings on occasion, we do have our evenings and weekends back. Its also lovely we never need external childcare as the kids come with us everywhere, and if they are sick then it isn’t an issue.

Is there anything in particular that makes things a little easier for you? 

Online shopping! If it can’t be bought online and delivered we don’t have it. I work with brilliant reception staff that take in everything for me.

Do you come across any negativity from others because you’re a working Mum? If yes, what?

I don’t think I have ever stopped to notice. My social calendar is next to non-existent anyway if it isn’t school or work related, but being a mum helps me relate to our customers, as I can offer genuine honest advice to other parents looking to buy their child’s first bike. I think the only way it becomes negative is if you use it as an excuse for poor performance..

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Businesses 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 and if so do you find this impacts on your time, especially in the evening?

I use a lot of scheduling tools for social media so evening posts are set up weeks before. I am very organized and have a photographic memory so it all helps to keep on top of it. I am also very fortunate that Strider parents often become great friends to the brand and also to ourselves, so often questions left by others are answered by our own customers before I even spot them.

What do you think the hardest thing about having children and being your own boss is?

Last minute demands from schools. Too often I get info about sports days and events that I simply need more time to juggle my diary. However, I haven’t missed anything yet. The other thing is dealing with their demands when I am stressed. In distribution I am at the mercy of other suppliers and shipping containers around the world has problems of its own so trying to keep it altogether and not get cross with the kids under pressure can be a toughy.

And what’s the best thing about it?

That I am doing this to give them a far better standard of living and I can do it around them as they inspire me. Customers comment that my kids are very grown up and polite and its all down to them helping me with the family business. I don’t mean to go and buy material things, but I do spend a lot of money on experiences and holidays so I can show them the world. I take holidays to suit us, although don’t ask me to count how few I have taken this year..

What advice would you give another Mummy who is considering changing their job or career to follow their passion? 

Be prepared that there will be tough days. There will be times you wonder why you are doing it and times that partners “don’t get it”. Also be completely honest with everyone at all times. I see too many mums trying to sell themselves on the basis of unproven track records. Work hard, very hard and with luck it may come good. Don’t give up at the first hurdle…

You can see all of Strider’s fantastic products on their website here . Karen organises a host of fantastic Strider events across the UK where you can take your little ones to participate. See the events calendar here for more details.

We would like to thank Karen for taking the time to talk to us about juggling motherhood  and work. If you know a #mumspirational Wonder Woman you think the world should know about, let us know! Comment below or contact us here or via our social channels.

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Wonder Women Collective Pt1 – Madelaine Furnivall

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Photo credit Anna Clarke

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.

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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.

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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

 

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All about Mumspirational

Mumspirational is a project to support, inspire and empower women across the UK who happen to have had babies. 

We will be featuring some incredible Mums who have created businesses while creating small people and proving that being a Mum doesn’t define or determine what you can achieve.

Being mindful and having some time to focus is so important, we will share #mindfulmondays to give you that gentle reminder that you deserve time to be you and doing something just for you once in a while will ultimately reward you with more energy.