Wednesday, 24 February 2010


I was lucky enough yesterday to attend the launch of the first Businessmums' Networking Lunch in Chiswick, hostedby my lovely associate Caroline, and was educated and inspired by the great Cath Kidston. Those that attended, and those that missed out because it was booked out, will know what I mean.

I loved listening to Cath because, first and foremost, she's hilarious, secondly she's very approachable and lastly, because she reminded each and every one of us that she was, and is, just like us and made us realise that there is no secret to success. It's a step by step process and it takes time, energy and passion.

What I learnt from Cath during her talk is that you can be a success focussing primarily on the desire to do something creative with your life instead of the need to make a fortune, and make a fortune in the process! She likened the building of her business to raising a child. She always wanted her child to flourish and didn't particularly care if her child married a rich or poor person.
This attitude to money meant that she resisted borrowing money, grew slowly and reinvested much of what she made. Much like Laura Tenison of JoJo Maman Bebe did (see my previous blog).

Cath also spent a lot of time on her brand and developed a strong idea of what she wanted Cath Kidston to represent; practicality and prettiness. This focus has allowed her to develop a name that is instantly recognisable, understand which products to develop and ensure her market are able to relate to her ongoing.

The last thing she really impressed on me was that it can be scary sharing your business but the only way to achieve success is by doing just that, letting people come in and doing what they're good at. Cath felt that as a businesswoman she needed to be honest with herself and identify the areas she would never be good at, or wouldn't want to do, and farm them out.

Other things I learnt from Cath were:

  • Don't make ironing covers out of flammable materials.
  • Don't have someone else negotiate orders for you in Czech or you could end up with a pallet of duvet covers.
  • Get help with areas you don't excel at, like warehousing, otherwise a customer may get an empty can of Special Brew with their order.

So I'm going to walk away from yesterday's lunch knowing that I am running my business because I am passionate about what I do, that I won't be aggressive financially and it will never be all about making money (or even a little bit) and that I can still be a success anyway. What a lovely lesson to learn x

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


Usually I write about business topics but today I felt moved to write about something more personal. Firstly, because as a mum in business you can't separate the two and secondly, because I always feel like if I'm thinking these things, there may be other mums out there feeling the same.

So there is something in my life that far outweighs the guilt of say, putting my daughter in nursery a couple of days a week or working on the computer when she wants to play and that is leaving her Dad and separating them. It gets worse though, in September I will be moving to Oz and taking her with me.

For those of you who are in a similar situation to me, you will understand the guilt associated with this move is the worst of all. To take your child away from their father. And it's probably magnified three-fold for me as I am a product of a broken home so I know exactly how it feels on all sides. I feel my pain, I feel his pain and I know all of the pain she will feel in coming years when she has to leave her Dad at the end of the holidays or when she's angry with me for something and wants his comfort. And I'm feeling it all now.

It isn't pleasant, it is sometimes debilitating, so how can I do it? Unfortunately, this world isn't black and white and there is no perfect answer, nor any street signs pointing me in the right direction. Every step I take is unsure and laden with doubt but I have to take a step otherwise nothing happens at all.

So first, I go with my gut. My gut has never let me down yet and I can't imagine it will start now. I have also looked at the pros and cons and thought about what I want for my daughter and I. Now, after looking at this list there is still no right answer but at least I am sure about the reasons why; like it will be a better, more outdoor lifestyle in Oz. I also know that if I stay in London I will probably have problems with depression and feel that my daughter needs a mum that is happy and healthy and not wallowing in misery.

The cons? She's not with her Dad all of the time. But I have to try and remember every time I feel like crying with frustration that I am only trying to create the best possible scenario and this is all that is in my control. I can do no more.
The other thing I always try and remember is that this will be a better life in that she won't be growing up with warring parents (as I did). And that by the time she's 18 she'll probably be living in London anyway and travelling for 10 years (as I did) and then he'll be the one getting the pleasure of all her company.

So the next time I feel the guilt come over me I'm going to remind myself that I have a good heart, that I love my daughter, that I care for my mental health, that I respect my ex and that I am doing the best I can in a world that isn't perfect.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010


From time to time during the three years running my business the issue of money has come up. Not the lack of it, I've always had enough to get by, but the question of whether my business was financially viable when all was said and done. The answer? I honestly have no idea. To date, I have never sat down and actually worked out how many hours I worked and whether I was running at a loss when I accounted for my hours. I love what I do so it seemed fine not to account for something that is just so fun!

My ex was the opposite. His first question when I would share good news with him on my business would always relate to cash. How much are you making? What is the profit? I used to get so annoyed as rather than sharing in my joy of achieving something personal it always boiled down to money. And, in the world of business, this is the norm.

Well, so I thought. But at the Laura Tenison (MD of Jo Jo Maman Bebe - lunch today, run by my associate Clare of SE London Mumpreneur Network ( she shared the unthinkable - money isn't important to her, job satisfaction is! I couldn't believe my ears as this is what I have been waiting for all my business life - to hear someone so successful in business share the fact that you can create a success built on crazy notions like doing something you love, investing in people, donating to charity.

It made me believe that maybe I could do it too - and wouldn't have to go down the road of trying to make people membership for Motivating Mum (something I have been advised to do but have always resisted) or increase my prices for lunches and events (as I want them to be accessible to everyone).

It also made me realise that there are different reasons people enter into business and it doesn't always have to be about making millions. Although in the pursuit of your passion, you just might make them anyway...

Saturday, 6 February 2010


I recently held another of my Brainstorm in a Teacup sessions and whilst sitting listening to the six mums around me offer advice and support to each other, I had an epiphany - we are bl**dy amazing really!

This wasn't just a meeting of seven mums, but seven incredible women who have backgrounds in marketing (Shazia Mustafa of Third Door), IT (Linda Louis of Maison Louis), coaching business mums (Robyn Hatley, running successful villas in Tuscany (Rita Kobrak, and mums with a social conscience (Kristin Hayward and Jessica St Clair, Green Families and A Yoga Life). All of whom are, of course, having or raising kids at the same time!

Between us we managed to give feedback on the viability of a gluten free cake business, marketing of a natural birthing site, getting coverage in magazines and newspapers, the use of Twitter, handling accounts, identifying the niche for a yoga business and much more. I couldn't help but marvel at the breadth of experience each mum brought to the table after years of schooling, career, babies and now, running or launching their own business.

It really helped cement for me the reason why I run these sessions and also, made me so proud to be a mum in business. Not only are we extremely under-estimated in the world of business (in my opinion) but we are a force to be reckoned with as not only are we all brilliant, but we're willing to share it with our fellow mums and help each other to greater heights. Not a trait I have come across in business before...