#MoreThanAMutha is all about celebrating the things that women are, as well as being amazing mothers. In a world where many women feel like they lose their identity when they become a mum, it is important to celebrate and shout that we might be mums, but we are not only that and we are still a force to be reckoned with.
What makes you more than a mother?
Being mum to my eight year old son and ten year old daughter is always my priority in life, but design is my passion! I’ve been a graphic designer for two decades, making the leap to self-employment after having children.
Working independently, I noticed a rise in female entrepreneurs (a trend I find really exciting!) and also became aware that many small businesses were struggling to go to the next level. I saw an opportunity to help them reach their full potential. As a result, I launched Beehive Green, my boutique branding and design studio in July 2017.
I believe the right branding is transformative and empowering. I’m devoted to making this power accessible to all businesses, no matter how small. My design studio offers branding design to help them get to where they want to be, with continual support along the way to make the journey straightforward, motivating and fun.
I thrive on collaboration, and it’s amazing working with like-minded, ambitious small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs… especially female-led ones!
Best of all, starting up my own business has enabled me to balance life, work and family on my own terms. It’s a juggling act, but oh-so rewarding. My creative career is a big part of my identity — it’s something I just love doing.
Are people surprised when they realise you are more than a mum? Does that bother you?
The design industry is perceived to be young and trendy, so yes, people often do a double take when I say what I do. A mum of two in her 40s at the school gates everyday doesn’t fit the stereotype!
It doesn’t worry me at all though, I take it as a compliment. I’m trying to make the best of both worlds and get the balance that works for ME. The main thing is I love what I do and my kids think it’s great. They find it really inspiring (and love the fact I designed their school logo)!
What challenges do you face when you’re juggling motherhood and being more than a mum?
Like most mums, lack of time is by far the biggest challenge. I don’t use childcare, so have to be super organised and mindful of what I take on. The school day is also my working day — and it goes in a flash. Then there’s the school holidays to contend with!
I’m always upfront with design clients so they know what to expect. But sometimes I have to turn down opportunities I’d love to do, which is frustrating.
A happy life — for all the family — is about compromise and finding the right balance. Another challenge is setting boundaries — it’s a must. And something I’m still working on!
My design studio is based at home, so it’s easy to blur the lines between life and work. If I didn’t set myself rules, I wouldn’t be able to focus on the job in hand. And that’s not fair on anyone — me, my clients or my family.
It’s hard not to be distracted by housework when I should be at my desk, likewise, not to check email when the kids get back from school! So I have to be disciplined. I try my best to separate work and home — my working day is 9 til 3 and during that time it’s all about Beehive Green. After 3, it’s family time!
How long did it take you to remember you were more than a mother after you had your child(ren)?
To be honest, it took me until they started school — a good few years. Being mum is the most important job in the world to me. That’s why I didn’t return to the London agency I worked for after having my first child. I figured I could restart my design career in the future, but knew I’d regret missing out on those early years. I wanted to cherish every moment!
Change is inevitable becoming a parent, but it got to the stage where I was so used to prioritising everyone else’s needs I felt guilty doing anything just for me. Ridiculous! So when my eldest started school, I knew had to make changes and get my mojo back.
After being out of the game a few years, the problem was I just didn’t know where to start! Gaining employment was a daunting prospect and part-time roles literally didn’t seem to exist in my industry. There were lots of tears and self-doubt, but one thing I was determined about was to have flexibility.
My gold moment was having the confidence to startup independently. I certainly never envisioned taking that path, but it was the best decision — my business has gone from strength to strength. I’ve got the flexibility I desired and I’ve reignited my creative passion.
Who, or what, helps you to make time for yourself? What do you do to escape the stresses of motherhood?
Remembering to prioritise myself. I learnt my lesson the hard way and now share the load a lot more! I give the kids responsibility too —they know it’s not mum’s job to do everything.
Family life just seems to get busier the older the children get, but I plan time for myself to escape for a few hours and exercise regularly. Working from home can be lonely, so I plan regular dinner or coffee (and cake!) dates with friends.
What advice would you offer a mum who might not be feeling like they are more than someones mum right now?
Don’t ever feel that being ‘just’ a mum is not enough. Enjoy it! Motherhood is a a journey that continually changes as your children grow and life happens. There’s plenty of time for new opportunities!
At the same time, being a mum can be challenging (and exhausting!), so don’t be too proud to ask for help and remember to take some time for yourself too.
There’s a lot of judgement out there. I was surprised to experience negativity from some working mums when I took time out from my career; it was like I was letting the team down! We’re all different and you can’t please everyone. My motto is… Do what’s right for YOU!
Any advice for someone who is going through the same things as you are right now in their quest to be #MoreThanAMutha?
Firstly, believe in yourself — self confidence makes all the difference. Don’t worry about what other people think. Just keep going.
Secondly, keep things in perspective. Even a small step is moving forward, things don’t happen overnight — it took me a couple of years to get to where I wanted to be! Every step you take is one in the right direction.
Who would you like to see featured next in the #MoreThanAMutha series?
Fearne Cotton — as well as being extremely successful, she’s so friendly and effortlessly stylish — what an inspiring mum!
Are you #MoreThanAMutha? Get in touch to share your story.