This week it is International Women in Business Week so I thought I’d share a little about our story and how we became “women in business”.
I’d be lying if I said that I had always wanted to be an entrepreneur. In fact, the thought had never crossed my mind up until I read the words REDUNDANCY on a work email. I hated my job and always thought that there had to be more to life than working for someone else. Especially when that someone made David Brent look like Britain’s Best Boss?
What do I want to be when I grow up?
I was heavily pregnant with my second child, fuelled with pregnancy hormones and at 32 was coasting in a job I hated, not knowing exactly what it was that I wanted to do with my life when I grew up. I knew I wanted a comfortable lifestyle. No, I wanted to be rich – let’s be clear about that. I wanted nice holidays, fancy car, big home and the freedom to be able to purchase all of those things without having to scrimp and save.
That was never going to be possible in the job I was in and suddenly it dawned on me that Redundancy could be the answer to my prayers! For the first time, the thought of setting up my own business came into my head and filled me with excitement.
I had spent 10 years in various jobs and completed a whole host of qualifications trying to figure out what exactly it was that would fill my belly with fire and excitement. It certainly wasn’t Further Education!
How to hem a skirt
The thought of going back to this job once my baby was born was becoming decreasingly likely as time passed. I just didn’t know what my alternative option would look like though and that kept holding me back. Fortunately for me, my friend and colleague (Robyn) was also heavily pregnant and unlike me, she had already been made redundant and so had the choice taken from her. We had never really thought seriously about going into business together, least of all when both on maternity leave with new born babies, but then one day a passing comment suddenly seemed to spark something in both of us.
As a teenager in high school, being an entrepreneur wasn’t something that was ever promoted to me as an option for my future. Not once did the school careers advisor (yes we had them back then) suggest that a possible career could be self-employment. Even the lessons I did at school didn’t lend themselves towards skills required for self employment. Unless you had a parent who had their own business, there really was no one offering it as viable option to consider. I often wonder if things would have been different if I had learned about the basics of business and about self employment rather than how to hem knit a skirt 5 different ways?
We bought “ALL THE BOOKS”
So, yes, it took me a lot longer to get to that way of thinking than it probably does for those leaving school today but here I am, an entrepreneur with my own business! Like many newbies to the world of self-employment we bought ALL THE BOOKS!. The thing is, none of them really say it like it is and if I’m honest, most were just a little bit too cheesy for my liking.
As much as I love to read about all of their successes and their somewhat useful anecdotes around business. Sometimes, it would be refreshing to actually hear about the massive cock ups they had on their journey rather than how the universe generated them six figures each month just with a little manifestation and some sage!!
Inspiring the future generation
It hasn’t been easy, believe me, but I am really fortunate that I got to experience it all with one of my best friends. The excitement, the risk, the highs and the lows. I can’t imagine how isolating it must be when going it alone – seriously, hats off to you as I’m not sure I would have been so forthcoming to quit my job for a solo adventure!
Although we are ten years in, we are still not “there” yet (wherever there is as we change our minds more than the weather!) The hardest challenge to date has been the Covid-19 pandemic. And unlike previous recessions, this one has disproportionately affected women, and was very nearly the end of the road for our business too. Trying to run a business, home school and hold your shit together while everything around you is falling apart is no mean feat.
But here we are, post pandemic with a new name, a growing team, a wider customer offer and showing our daughters that women can be successful in business.