@The_Double_Mama

It’s Monday. And I’m starting #MumBag and #MumBoss #Monday where some very talented and interesting women let us into their minds and their bags to see their inner workings.

First up it’s Siobhan Miller aka @the_double_mama, a 31 year old mum to 3 boys (aged 10, 2 and 10 months) who quit her career in digital marketing to teach hypnobirthing. She founded The Positive Birth Company to help pregnant women and their partners prepare for a positive and empowering birth.  She teaches in London and Devon and has helped first time mums through to fourth time mums, whatever type of birth they’re having.

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When did you start the business and why at that time?

Back in 2013 I decided to leave my digital marketing career to pursue something more fulfilling. I wasn’t entirely sure what that something was but I knew I wanted to work with people, adults preferably, in some sort of therapeutic capacity. I enrolled to do a psychology masters at Westminster University with the intention of becoming a counsellor or clinical psychologist.

In 2014 whilst studying and pregnant with my second baby, I discovered hypnobirthing.

I did a course will Hollie at London Hypnobirthing, embraced the practice, and went on to have a completely magical homebirth. My son was born in front of the Christmas tree and I felt incredible, like an actual superwoman!

It was the polar opposite to my first birth experience. My eldest was born in theatre by forceps after a 2 day induction with lots of interventions. I had an epidural and couldn’t feel anything and the overwhelming emotion at the time of his delivery was panic. So hypnobirthing really did change everything for me.

The summer after my second son was born I completed my degree and it was one of those moments in life where the universe seems to align and everything seems to fall into place. I was searching for something meaningful to do, had an interest in and understanding of human psychology, and had just experienced something amazing that I felt all women should get to experience.

So in 2015 I decided to train to become a hypnobirthing teacher. I did my training with Katharine Graves and that’s where it all began. I started teaching couples privately initially and now I teach small groups. I absolutely love what I do. Hypnobirthing essentially is the psychology of birth and so it feels like exactly the right thing for me to be doing.

I’ve also subsequently had my third baby. Another boy! Again I practiced hypnobirthing and he was born in the pool at the birth centre. I finally got my water birth. It was so peaceful and calm and I was able to catch him myself. It was such a perfect moment.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

Running a business is far more demanding than I initially anticipated. It’s been a big learning curve. I might only teach for 12 hours in a week but I easily clock 40 hours plus doing everything else.

I often work late into the night, finally falling into bed at 2am. The thing I’ve found most hard is trying to do it all.  It’s only me and it’s full-on and I’m often learning how to do  the design work, the branding, the marketing, the website development, the accounting ‘on the job.’  Finding that time when you’ve also got three children and, until very recently, zero childcare is some juggling act.

What has been your proudest moment?

The incredible feedback I get from the couples I teach after they’ve completed the course and again after they’ve had their babies gives me goosebumps. I’ve always wanted a job where I felt I was helping people and now I’m finally doing that and it feels pretty amazing.

I’m also pretty proud of the fact I’ve had two babies in the last 2 years (there’s 15 months between the little ones), completed my masters, qualified as a hypnobirthing teacher and got my business off the ground. I’ve no idea how I’ve managed it.

What is your best mum hack for making it all work?

Ha – I wish I knew! I don’t know if there is a way to make it all work. Most of the time if some area of my life is going well e.g. the business; then I feel like the other side of my life is being neglected e.g. my kids. I’m striving for that magic work/life balance but it’s pretty elusive.

However something that definitely helps is having a partner who is willing to raise the children with you. If it wasn’t for James I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. This weekend for example he is with the 3 children whilst I’m away teaching in London. Things aren’t always rosy but we do make a good team and I’m proud of the fact our kids see us both switch equally between working and being ambitious and being at home and nurturing them. It’s a modern set up and I like that.

What encouragement would you give a mum thinking of starting her own thing?

You GREW and BIRTHED an actual real-life HUMAN being. You are a superwoman. There is literally nothing you can’t do.**

**My disclaimer would be that you’ve got to be prepared to put in the hours and sweat and tears. It’s hard work behind the Instagram-pretty scenes.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Probably wear shorter skirts and more crop tops and have less inhibitions.  When you’re 30 and you’ve got 3 kids and everything is saggy you’re going to wish you had appreciated that body more.

I don’t know what else. I don’t believe in having regrets. Rubbish stuff has happened but I believe there’s always a reason for it, even if we can’t see that at the time. So often in retrospect you can see that something bad happened which put you in a situation where then something wonderful happened. I try and see everything as a learning opportunity and focus on the positives. I’m definitely a YES person.

Will you show us your #MumBag?

Number of items in your bag: about 25

Mark your #MumBag out of 10 for:

Entertainment: 7 – It would appear I’m pretty good at carrying entertainment for myself like a magazine in the hope I might get to read it if the babies crash out at the same time (Very rare). I always have my phone and my work with me, which I’m always to get on with. I haven’t got any entertainment in my bag at the mo for the kids (bad mama). Unless snacks count as entertainment? Do they??

Food: 8 – I always arm myself with snacks for the kids when leaving the house because in my experience it’s the quickest way to bring things back from the meltdown brink. But I usually forget snacks for me and nobody likes me when I’m hangry….

Drugs: 10 – I carry an Epi-Pen so I’m always armed and ready!

Clothing: 0 – I don’t tend to carry spare clothes anymore. A risky strategy I know. The kids usually end up pretty filthy by the end of the day but with 3 boys I can barely keep on top of the washing as it is, without multiple costume changes.

Skank: 4 – I will admit that I sometimes I do find a mouldy tangerine rotting at the bottom of my bag but today is ok. The mini Milka have been hanging around for months but are probably still edible. Oh but there is that stash of miscellaneous receipts hidden in the gold clutch…

Actual nice things for you: 8 – I always carry a red lippy and I love the little mirror I got when I had my ear pierced at the Maria Tash studio. Hand cream from L’occitane is pretty nice and because I have a subscription to Living and Grazia I always have a mag to hand. Oh and I LOVE my new Tiba+Marl bag, so that’s a pretty nice thing for me.

What is the most comedy item you have found? An empty packet of migraine tablets. I carry it around empty instead of throwing it away to remind me to get some more…

What is the oldest item in there? The Milka which *may* be from the summer hols when we went to France and has just been moved from bag to bag since.

What is the item you’re most proud of?   Probably my work folder. There’s loads of stuff in there I’m working on. I’m speaking at some upcoming expectant parents events with Mothercare and so I recently designed a banner for my stand. I’m not a designer but I’m pretty proud of how it turned out.

I’m also pretty proud of my Tiba+Marl bag. I’m lucky enough to be friends with Anna and Lydia who set up the brand. They are both mums and they work so hard. They do everything between them and are such a great team. They only launched just over a year ago and are already stocked in Harrods and have an exclusive line with Selfridges. This bag is from their new collection with Mamas and Papas. They’re absolutely bossing it.

Describe your baggage-type:  Scatty. I have a few Tiba+Marl bags so I regularly switch between them. Which means I have multiple bags on the go with different bits and pieces languishing in each one. It’s all a bit of a disorganised mess to be honest.

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You can find Siobhan at  www.thedoublemama.com and http://www.thepositivebirthcompany.co.uk

Thank you for reading x

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#MumBossOfTheMonth – Nicky Clinch

Five years ago I was freelancing at the legendary Mother advertising agency. Nicky was the super-efficient and glamorous PA to the four partners.

Every 6 weeks the company liked to move all the staff around so people didn’t get too cliquey or stuck in their spaces.

I was missed off the floor plan and the only space left was in between Nicky and one of the big cheeses. So we ended up next to each other. What a happy accident that was.

I had never met anyone with so much energy, glossy hair and glowy skin. She seemed to exist off plants and something called almond milk. This was all new to me back then. But she was an effervescent picture of health; running 5 miles before work and being the life and soul of the office. She was getting something right.

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At that time she was also studying to be a Macrobiotic Chef, Nutritionist, Life Counsellor and Specialist Healing Cook at the International School of Macrobiotics. She had also just met a new man.

I was quite low and had been struggling to get pregnant for over a year so she suggested that I could be one of her ‘guinea pigs’ for her studies. We had a session that covered my physical and emotional state and she made some simple suggestions to changes in my diet and life-style. 2 months later I was pregnant. And she was in a relationship with said man.

Five years on and Nicky is a full-time Macrobiotic Chef, Counsellor, Teacher, Blogger, Instagrammer, Public speaker, #MumBoss as well as being married to that man and has a beautiful daughter.

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We have kept in touch and championed each other’s new ventures, so it seemed fitting that she should appear here.

As we are talking, she is effortlessly creating the most delicious lunch for me  as practice for a live cookery demonstration at The Natural Foods Show.

Where are you right now?
I am at a time in my life when I am starting to realise that anything is possible. All the things I dreamed about years ago are not impossible to reach now.
I am still teaching my 6 week course, I have launched a new half day workshop about what our cravings are telling us: Stepping away from emotional eating to empowered eating.

I’m also starting to do more public events, beginning to share my story and talk about topics such as how eating plant based has become sustainable to me, seasonality, cooking for children as well as cooking demonstrations, my supper club at Daylesford , writing for Neal’s Yard, Planet Organic and writing my book.

How have you got to where you are now?
It sounds like a cliché but step by step and one day at a time.

My first step when I qualified 5 years ago was to build my 6 week course. I started teaching before I was ready which I would advise to anyone.  I needed to do it before my baby was born.

I then had Teia and had a year off. The next step was to get back to teaching again.
On my next course I met the soon-to-be owner of Tiosk – where I then went on to be head chef.

Everything has been very synchronistic. A student of mine had a breakthrough and put me in touch with an agent. I met my publicist through you. (Me: I introduced Nicky to my talented friend Jess at Bang Talent).

Doing this as a mother has been a really interesting gift for me as I can only do it this way, one step at a time.

No matter how much I love my work, Teia will always be priority.

First it was 3 days a week, then 4 days a week. Motherhood has softened me, it’s a good thing. It has made me more playful, more creative, forced me to take life less seriously and really benefited me.

Would you/ Could you have done it pre-Teia?
I think I COULD have done it but I think the way it has happened is the way it was meant to.
I wonder if I would have tried too hard, I might have shot myself in the foot; been too ambitious, not had enough balance. Got divorced.

The week I think is the most important in my work life, Teia will get chicken pox and I will have a week in pyjamas watching Frozen. And I’ll think that is actually what I needed. To rein in my ego and keep me humble.

What made you start when you did?
I was going to have a baby and I needed something for myself that was mine so I had something to go back to that I didn’t need to start from scratch after maternity leave.

What is the best thing about being a business owner?
That I can create anything I want to create.
The downfalls are that I can never switch off and there are 20 hour days unless I make sure I switch off. But there are no limitations and that motivates me.

What advice would you give someone setting up on their own?
Get really clear on WHY you want to do it first, and only then move on to WHAT you do.

What people are interested in is what is at the heart of your work.

People buy WHY we do things not just WHAT we do so it has got to mean a lot to you. When you invest so much into this new business, this new dream, you better love and care about it otherwise you are just surviving something and not creating something.

What would you tell your younger self?
My 20 year old self. Nicky – trust the process, you are exactly where you are meant to be, don’t give up.
My 30 year old self. Nicky – trust the process, you are exactly where you are meant to be, don’t give up.

I wouldn’t change a single thing because it makes everything I do mean an awful lot. I am who I am today because of all that I have experienced in life, the good, the bad and the ugly. It has all been a gift.

What has been your greatest challenge so far?
To continually trust my instincts no matter what everyone is telling me.
I have a publicist, agent, branding consultants, lots of voices, lots of opinion (all very positive and helpful I’d like to add) but there is a danger of me getting lost. My vision. My heart. I need to keep remembering WHY I am doing what I do. With social media, for example, there is a pull to do what people like but I must stay close to my intention. Not everyone will like it but my integrity is important.

Biggest achievement so far?
It has to be how I am bringing up my daughter. I am so proud of who she is blossoming in to and I am proud of myself of how I am showing up for her.

With work it is not the flashy stuff. It’s when I watch my students or clients transform and get themselves back. It is remarkable watching someone come back to life and have a feeling that you have contributed to that in some way. There’s no better feeling in the world.

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How do you get a work/ Mum balance?
I have to be disciplined. When I am working, I am working. When I’m with Teia, I try to be present for her. No Instagram, close the laptop (although I am still really working on this). Days off are quality time. It’s not always perfect but I think it works. She will always be my priority and if there are signs that it’s not working anymore I’ll do what I need to change something. It’s all about balance, for all of us in the family, and we continually need to check in with each other to see if something needs to be shifted to bring us all back into balance.

Last year I miscarried and my husband lost his job in the same week – it was one of the worst times of our marriage. Two weeks later I was in a depression and grieving and my husband was feeling really low. Teia seemed her normal lovely cheery self at home but at school, we found out, she was just sitting in a corner constantly nursing her baby doll and not wanting to play with any of the other kids. She had seen me crying and broken for the first time in her life when I am normally so strong. Her teacher told me what was going on and I cleared the diary and we went off to Malaysia to bond and get all loved-up again.

What do you want from being a working mum?
I used to feel really guilty for loving my work. But I’ve realised it is who I am and the more honest and truthful I am to myself about who I am, the more at ease my daughter feels too.

I am learning that what I am doing is showing my daughter that it is possible to be a woman who follows and fulfills her dreams. That she is capable of anything. I want to teach her how to be a grounded and empowered woman.

Do you miss your ‘old’ life?
Oh goodness, no. I don’t miss my old life at all. I have had moments, though, when I’m desperate for some space to myself or some time out.

I’ve had one weekend to myself since being a mum, when I was alone in the flat for 24 hours. I was like, “Hey Nicky, I haven’t seen you in ages!” and I missed that. It was the first time I had been unattached to anyone else as a wife, mother, counsellor, teacher, a Nicky that didn’t belong to anyone but me and it felt really good. I enjoyed every moment.

I used to spend a lot of time alone doing so much self-pampering.   Nowadays it is very much a luxury but I still wouldn’t change it for anything. Becoming a mother is the best thing that’s ever happened for me.

What are your tips for making it work?
My husband always reminds me that if I go down everyone in the family does so I would say to other juggling mamas, you must take care of your own health and wellbeing. If we neglect this then it will effect our ability to be loving mamas. This is a lesson I have to re-learn over and over.

You also have to be very flexible on any given day. Be open to things not working out. And trust life a bit. No a lot.

And what is the BIG plan? Anything you can tease us with.
Well my big news is that I am writing my first book which I am absolutely thrilled about. It is another dream that I am trying to realise.

I also have some big public festivals and events and workshops coming up. And to try and get in baby number 2 in there somewhere!

It is an exciting year.

And with that, Nicky puts a huge bowl of golden tempeh triangles with rainbow slaw and satay sauce in front of me. It looks and smells so good that I tuck in straight away and have finished the bowl before she has even finished taking her picture (below) of the dish.

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There is a joke in my house that nothing can be eaten until it is photographed. I can’t remember the last time I sat down to my meal while it is still hot!

Nicky really is her own best advert. And since meeting up I have booked on to her September course Transform your diet, Transform your life.

For more details about courses, Nicky’s recipes and her blog go to
www.nickyclinch.com

Watch this plant-based space.

#MumBossOfTheMonth – Caroline Macleod-Smith of Style Bureau

When my daughter was about 10 months old I started to think about going back to work.

Then I looked in the mirror.

I was wearing a uniform of black maternity leggings, a saggy nursing bra, whatever top didn’t have signs of baby-led weaning splatted on it and massive knickers that would make even Bridget Jones’ eyes water.

I had also just got a new passport photo taken.  I had managed to trowel on a bit of make-up, done my hair and put on a new shirt that I had recently bought.  I thought it was a good day.

When the photo came back I couldn’t believe it. Not only that this photo was set to haunt me on every holiday for the next 10 years but WHAT HAD BECOME OF ME?  I had unwittingly entered my “Amish Teacher” phase.

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I had always been pretty clear on my own style; never that trendy but a love of vintage, spots, stripes, bows, interesting prints and figure hugging dresses. Or a sailor ­crossed with a clown if you want to put a label on it. Suddenly I felt sartorially at sea. My body shape had changed and I had lost confidence in what I liked or what even suited me anymore.

Help came from my fashion-phobic husband. A man who hates shopping so much that he buys everything in navy blue as he knows it will go with everything else that he has in, erm, navy blue.

He bought me a session with Style Bureau to cheer me up. Caroline Macleod-Smith offers personal styling and shopping to men and women, any age and any budget.

We know Caroline through friends and I had gotten to know her over the years at various birthdays, weddings and christenings. She is that girl at events who always looks fantastic; she carries off stylish and on-trend with ease and always gets it right. Plus she is always wearing something that makes you think “Ooooh I like that, I bet it’s really expensive.” And you’ll ask her and she’ll just say a regular high street shop.

She’s not intimidatingly trendy, though, it’s friendly trendy. Trendly?

No wonder, then, that she has carved herself a successful personal shopping and styling business that I got to experience first hand.

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After filling in a detailed questionnaire and setting our budget, Caroline and I hit the shops at Westfield Stratford. Part of the service is that she researches and reserves clothes at the shops you visit, as well as picking up bits you like on the way. It is an absolutely wonderful way to shop as she is doing the hard work for you. You just have to try things on and decide if you want to buy them. Plus you get the advice of a professional who will tell you whether things are suiting you or not and how to style them for different occasions

Caroline is also so nice that it is actually like shopping with your best mate or sister.  Minus the arguments.

Our trip was a huge success and she kitted me out with tops and bottoms and even managed to make me feel good about myself. I was expecting to feel like a turd polished by TopShop so this was no mean feat.

Three years on and I am still using her advice (namely wearing camis under tops for a smoother line), not hiding under shapeless tops and I still LIVE in my TopShop Joni jeans which are skinny with a bit of a higher waist than normal. Something I am thankful for after 2 kids.

Style Bureau is now 5 years old and thriving. I caught up with Caroline to find out how she’s made it such a success.

Where are you right now in your life?

I am currently in a very good place. We have just done the big move out of London to our forever house and I feel that I have managed to strike the right balance between work and family.

I am 5 years into Style Bureau and I’ve built up a good, regular, client base that comes back again and again. When I started I didn’t know how much repeat business I’d get. Some of my clients now don’t shop any other way and do a seasonal shop with me plus ad-hoc bits on top.

Plus up here in Nottinghamshire there are huge new opportunities for me working with spa hotels, corporate work and charity events.

All this as well as my personal shopping, styling parties and regular TV work, so it is a very exciting time.

How have you got to where you are now?

A lot of hard work, determination and self-belief.

When I started out I used to ask myself, “Can I actually do this? Am I doing a good enough job?”

This really drove me to go the extra mile to give the client everything. From the prep for each session, to the follow-up and the time I gave them on the day. I went over and above to really wow them with my service.

From that I would get great feedback; clients saying that the session had been brilliant, that it had made their week and they felt amazing. Making my clients happy gave me confidence and that drove me to keep going. I felt like I really had something of value to offer.

What’s your background?

 I studied fashion at Leeds and then had a career in fashion buying for 10 years.   So I knew I had a skillset and a good eye as well as a commercial experience.

I then did a personal styling course with Chantelle Zinderic to learn the ropes and specifically about marketing and how to charge myself out to clients.

So what was the catalyst?

I was made redundant from Jane Norman in 2011 when I was on maternity leave with my second baby, which wasn’t ideal. I was at home with a 2 year old and a 2 month old and I had always had it in my head that I would start a business when the boys were at school but my husband said to me, “This is the right time, just go for it.”

So I did the course with Chantelle, which was exactly what I needed, and then I just needed to get my name out there.

We were living in Kingston at the time, which had a wealth of potential clients. Lots of new mums going back to work with new body shapes to deal with saying “Can you help me?”

I donated loads of vouchers as prizes or to charities and then literally built it up from scratch. I relied on word of mouth and to this day have never done any advertising. It was tough as only had one day a week childcare for ages. Plus I worked loads of weekends.

Being made redundant is possibly one of the best things that happened to me and was definitely the kick I needed.

I now do personal shopping and styling for 100s of clients, corporate work, fashion shows and TV work.

I really have found my dream job, the mix of fashion and the 1:1 with people.

TV work? Tell us more …

A couple of my team at Jane Norman were also made redundant at the same time and they started working at QVC. One of them passed my details on to the talent manager who recruits guest presenters and I got called in for an audition.

I am now on air 2-4 times a month. It is live and the first time was terrifying but the weird thing is once you get going you’re fine. I have to tell myself that I am just chatting and that makes me feel OK.

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After the first one had gone well it gave me massive confidence and I thought “I can do this.” I felt comfortable and I really love it.

Do you think you could have done all this pre-kids?

Would I? Probably not. I loved my buying job and all the travel. I saw so much of the world that I would never visit normally. When you have kids one of you needs to be around more so I knew I had to create something that would allow that. My priority was being around when they were younger.

What advice would you give someone setting up on their own.

If you love what you do, you will succeed. Your passion and love for it will get you there. People will be inspired and energised by that passion.

Don’t underestimate how good you are.

And crucially, never give up.

I didn’t get the QVC role straight away. After my first audition I was told that the brand itself didn’t think I was the right fit. So I called and called asking about new brands. Lulu Guinness came up.   I did a really good audition but Lulu herself said I didn’t fit the brand as she wanted a mini her.

It was fairly soul destroying but I kept on calling as I knew I could do it.

Then Liz Claibourne NY came up. I was the 17th auditionee and the production manager said to me “Please be amazing.” I got the role.

I could have let that opportunity go but I kept on calling. Getting that role has been brilliant for me in many ways but especially being part of a team as I do work on my own a lot too.

Be really, really brave. And just talk to everyone about your business as leads come from the most random chats. The more exposure you can get for your business, the better.

What has been your greatest challenge so far?

The most challenging was the first Rose Theatre Fashion Show. I had done others but this was managing students in all the roles from hair, make-up, music, models, dressers – the works.

It is a public theatre, paying guests and a team who I didn’t meet until the day. It was a huge learning curve for me. But it was awesome, I have done three more since and now it’s a permanent fixture on the theatre calendar.

I love working with younger people and it has lead to some lecturing and mentoring too.

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What has been your greatest achievement?

Other than getting the QVC role I think it has to be last April, it was an outstanding month for me. I had a variety of personal and corporate jobs as well as working for ITV doing a personal shop for the X factor Final ticket winners. Their head stylist called me up afterwards and said I’d done an amazing job which was just the best feeling.

I was also a finalist in the Kingston Business Excellence Awards for entrepreneur of the year.  I was up against established, hugely successful businesses with huge teams which was the biggest confidence boost ever. I felt pretty proud that night.

How do you make it work with the kids?

The boys are now 7 & 5.

In the early days I had 1 day a week of childcare and I massively relied on friends, neighbours and my amazing Mum who lived 3 hours away and worked herself. I couldn’t have done it without her.

Then when the boys were at nursery I built up to 3 days a week and had my regular clients.

Now both boys are at school I do 3 days of pick-ups and drop-offs and my Mum does the other 2 days. It’s definitely very balanced and I really treasure my time with them when they are back from school and I can really focus on them. It also means I can be involved at the school. I use my commute back from London to do my admin, which means I can switch off my laptop and enjoy my evenings.

What do you want from being a working Mum?

It is important for me to realise my ambitions. It is also important that it runs along side being there for my boys. I am a better mum for them working than not. Sometimes I wish I was completely satisfied by being a stay at home Mum but I worked and studied hard at something I am good at and I make people happy and wouldn’t want to give that up either. I thrive from working and achieving and bringing money in and it gives me self-worth.

Do you miss your old life?

Now and again I long for a proper lie in but apart from that, not at all.

What would you tell your younger self?

That we are in control and we can make things happen. When we are younger we don’t know that and think someone will tell us what to do. Work flipping hard, be determined and you will make it work.

And finally what is your best tip for making it work?

Don’t give up on leads and don’t give yourself a hard time about having time off, it will do you good.

I am currently gearing up to re-entering the fashionable world of advertising and don’t think my new uniform of wonky-boobed-mime-artist-in-skanky-Nikes will cut it (well maybe in some agencies) so I think it’s time for another session with the Style Bureau.

If you think Caroline could help you or someone you know,  get in touch here.

1st #MumBossOfTheMonth – Hannah Padden of The Glitterbox

The big idea behind this blog is to create a place where I can champion all the brilliant #MumBosses I know. Women doing their own thing since having kids and making it work. I’d like it to be a place where people come to find out about amazing women. Maybe even a place where people can connect for business, for friendship or for inspiration.

I think it is fitting for my oldest and dearest friend Han Padden to be my first ever #MumBossOfTheMonth as seeing her achieve so much with a young family was my main inspiration when setting up my company, Mrs Robinson Recruitment.

St. Albans-based Han started her face painting business, The Glitterbox, when her youngest daughter was 18 months old and I have stood in awe in the sidelines and watched her and it flourish through her hard work, dedication and most of all her vision to create something special.

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When people think of face-painters they think of kids painted as tigers at birthday parties. But she has shown that you can be way more creative and beautiful than that … as well as doing very stylish tigers when the need arises, of course.

She has also invented a ‘walkabout’ kit (In action here). She can click on her custom-made belt and roam around events painting as she goes. It is a lighter and more inclusive approach that her clients love. It especially suits grown-up events. And it avoids long queues of party goers missing out on the fun.

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The Walkabout Kit and Han’s on-brand nails

Within 3 months of starting up she had secured the London 2012 Olympics as her client and was the ONLY official face-painter at the whole of The Games. This is always the fact I spout when I am talking about her as I think it speaks volumes. Not only the painting skills required but her personality and approach. She has to be artist, new biz and logistics. People are often creative or organised – she has an uncanny knack for both as well as being REALLY nice.

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She has also covered weddings, bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, hen parties, football matches at Wembley, landmark adult birthday parties, corporate events including Disney, Kodak for Glow Innovation, Tesco F&F Clothing, Channel 4 through Hattie and Flora, Waterstones, St Albans Film Festival, A-List footballers private parties, a whole host of children’s parties personally and through her partnerships with Wish Upon a Party, Twizzle Parties, Dazzle & Fizz and Sharky & George, plus Camden’s Koko nightclub as well as having the Secret Garden Party and Wilderness festivals for Elissa Gold Events on the schedule for this summer.

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Last week she had 12 painters under The Glitterbox banner at the Imagine festival at London’s Southbank for the second year running – painting London’s kids as they congregated at Festival Hall for some half-term entertainment. She is un-stoppable.

All this and with 2 young children.

What made you start The Glitterbox when you did?
After I’d had my second daughter, I was looking for both an income and a creative outlet. Being my own boss was the key thing.
I had some creative skills (Art and Design Foundation as well as post-grad certificate in drawing from St. Martin’s) and I could see my girls’ response to the painting.
Friends in entertainment companies told me that the work was there and that it would be a viable business.
So I went for it. I just practiced at home on the quiet and then a friend booked me on a high end event which was a total baptism of fire.
There I met one of the best painters in London (Rachel Tweddell). I quickly saw the gulf in skills and kit between us so I had to professionalise. We kept in touch, she trained me and that’s how it all began.

Would you/ could you have done it pre-kids?
I could have done the artistic side but not the business side to the standard that is needed. All my previous roles in film PR, account management and relationship brokering have given me the business grounding to make it way more than a glorified hobby.

What do you enjoy most being a business owner?
So much.
The main thing is that I love the client management first and foremost. I really enjoy finding and retaining the clients – looking at what they want, decoding the event, working to their brief and working out what they need.
I have enjoyed the evolution of it being just me to building a crack team. I also love that I have created at an artistic career in a social environment where I can champion other people’s skills rather than competing.

What advice would you give to someone starting their own business?
Be generous with your knowledge. Not just sharing your own but being good at listening to what other people are doing.
This means not being blinkered just to your own industry. Look at other business products, see where you might fit in to the broader picture of any business that crosses your path.
Be low effort and low maintenance to your clients. Not being a pain goes a long way.
And don’t be put off by competition. Be confident in yourself and your abilities.

What advice would you give a #Mumboss starting their own business?
Decide how much time and energy you want to spend on your family and your business and keep the balance in check.
Again, don’t let competition put you off just because you have been out of work.
If you do have a passion for something specific, look into it.
You will need patience, strategy, intuition, trust and listening skills. Much like being a mum.
Pay people promptly. Even if I haven’t been paid I make sure I do this. It definitely comes back to me in return.

What is the best thing about being your own boss?
So many things it’s overwhelming but mainly being present at the school gates.
Being able to design my working life to suit my own interests.

What would you tell your younger self about where you are now?
Don’t worry that you can’t be all things to all people and
If you don’t have passion for something or someone else’s something – it doesn’t mean you don’t have passion.

What do you consider your greatest achievement so far with The Glitterbox?
Growing a great, trustworthy and talented team. Socially, professionally, and artistic, they are very polished.
Having great relationships with clients who book events that I want to work on.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?
Pushing through from being a one-woman band to having a team of painters.          Learning how to trust others representing me (luckily my team are a very trustworthy bunch) and letting them use their own initiative.                                                                                    I had to shape the business to meet demand and this has been a rite of passage for me.
Also the balance with family; I am doing this for them and for the work life balance. It takes work to maintain that you are doing it to facilitate that life.

Any plans for the future you can tease us with?
My walkabout team is rapidly expanding. There are only a select few painters that can work that way so it is an exciting time. I also have new trainees developing glitter work, feathers, jewels and metallic leaf for our high glamour events. Plus having a Glitterbox presence at The Secret Garden Party and Wilderness festivals is a step in another really fun direction.

If you want to get in touch with Han:
hannah@theglitterbox.co.uk
http://www.theglitterbox.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/theglitterboxfacepainting/
Instagram @thegltrbox