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47 Cantata Drive
Mission Viejo, CA, 92692
United States

Collegiate Kids Store

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(Mis) adventures in Parenthood, Little League & moving your family 5,500 miles from London to California.

Filtering by Tag: Working Mums

Just don't say the 'M' word

Laura Bonnell

Classic Mompreneur moment - attempting flat shots with Captain Sticky Mitts

Classic Mompreneur moment - attempting flat shots with Captain Sticky Mitts

A few weeks back I headed out to meet up with some local small business owners to share our stories, hints and tips. It's one of the things I really enjoy about running a business, getting out and meeting other like minded people, hearing their stories, telling them yours, and finding ways to help each other out. Meeting in a pub, park, play gym or even my living room with or without the smalls is way way more fun than the stuffy, laborious, angst ridden board meetings I used to have to sit through when I worked in the corporate world. 

Towards the end of the meeting the organiser happened to mention her disdain for the word 'Mumpreneur', given that just because you are a woman, with child, why should you be classed any differently from a man who happens to be a parent who runs a small business. In that moment I have to say my heart sank a little bit. Mumpreneur/ Mompreneur was kinda how I thought of myself, that was kinda my 'schtick'. Without being able to use that word I'm not sure I could say all I wanted to say about my business, Mumpreneuring was my business.

After a latte and walk home, I had time to reflect a little. I could understand a little where she was coming from. Wanting men and women to be seen as equals, why should a woman and mother be viewed as anything different or special compared to a man running a small business? I'm yet to ever hear the word 'Dadpreneur'. Now, I would say I do have feminist tendencies, I'm certainly not an all out bra burning, man scorning (well a bit) campaign sign toting feminist, but I do heavily support women's rights, and I do honestly think we've still got a ways to go. 

I was reminded recently of the frustration we have returning to work post children. One woman attempting unsuccessfully to request flexible working post mat leave, and another trying to justify and hold onto the flexible working she had negotiated 4 years ago at a job she loved.

I've now managed to find a little peace with the ridiculousness of post child work situations. (Even managed to do this without the aid of meditation, just lots of moaning, and bitching. Am fully moaned and bitched out now, and diverting my energy into doing something about it). Workplaces should offer more flexibility, and hold onto mums working for them. We have all the technology in place to make it happen, yet so many work places lack the trust and vision to allow it to happen.

I feel I am part of the first generation of kids to grow up with the internet and e-mail (I remember getting my first e-mail address when I went to Uni, yep showing my age!). Naively, we thought all this wonderful technology was going to simplify our lives. In fact we created a heck load more work for ourselves, and raised expectations to achieve more in a working day. We often feel compelled to carry on the work at night back at home because we have the devices to do it.

Now that my generation has had children, we've realised we can't keep up with the expectations of work. Or, maybe we don't want to. So we quit, get made redundant, or maybe we stick it out. Maybe we overindulge on coffee to ensure semi-professional attention span at work. Maybe we leg it to and from work most days, perhaps arriving with 5 minutes to spare before we incur late fees and a call to child welfare (who would that be?!). Ok, I'm making sweeping generalisations, but you get the gist of where I'm coming from right?!

I've found my peace by saying to myself, "Right corporate world, if you don't think we're worth hanging on to, we're gonna start a revolution, and do it our way". If I may steal a quote from my blog-guru Anna Whitehouse (aka Mother Pukka), she pretty much always speaks my mind, just in a much better, more eloquent and quick witted way:

Forget ‘Instamums’, forget the ‘cool mum’ blather, we’re all laughing as much as we’re crying and wondering how long that Thomas the Tank Engine plaster has been stuck in our barnet. We’re in this together – be that Lennie & Co’s FRIYAY t-shirts or Don’t Buy Her Flowers’ packages for knackered new mums and every new parent-run business or blog in between.
We’re just a rabble of mothers who don’t want it all, but want something.
My something is to be with my daughter and pull in cold, hard cash whenever, wherever I can (without it being illegal) – be that in the playground or at my Ketchup-smattered kitchen table.
Career, you’ve been fruitful but it’s time to stumble (not jump – too knackered) off the precipice into something else; something that will involve fighting for flexible working in global brands; fighting for reducing extortionate daycare rates and trying to build a platform that champions parent-run businesses one Instagram post at a time.
quote from Anna Whitehouse's blog post 'I quit' on Mother Pukka

So, Mumpreneur, Mom Boss, Parent run Business, what ever you want to call it, I'm proud to be one. I embrace the title however cliche and overused. Because it's takes a unique skill and energy to keep those plates spinning; school run, after school fun, park trips, sore nips, IG blags, packing gym bags, keeping up with online orders, and ensuring the smalls are not board as.... okay you get the idea! I'm stumbling off to get the muklets to bed and go sew another t-shirt.

Burning the midnight oil & calling in the cavalry

Laura Bonnell

Well, I'll be honest, I wasn't quite sure I'd survive it, but I did. I made it out the other side of an epic run of Christmas fairs & order fulfilment! In hindsight I was maybe a little ambitious with how many Christmas Fairs I signed up to, but as with everything it's a big learning curve right now. In the run up to the festive season I even managed to squeeze 5 fairs into one week! Admittedly I did get help one Saturday when 2 fairs were actually going on at the same time, but I can tell you Starbucks did very well out of me in November and December. With my history in retail though I knew that many business can make around 40% of their turnover at this time of year, so I decided to power up and make the most of it!

Mucho coffee was consumed in the festive run up to Christmas

Mucho coffee was consumed in the festive run up to Christmas

I've oft heard it said "when you decide to start your own business for a better work/ life balance - DON'T!" You'll work harder than you've ever worked before! And it's true, but you know what, I'm a grafter, and I actually like working. It's so much more fulfilling when it's your own business, and I truly believe the more you put into it the more you get out. You hold the reigns, it's really only me giving myself a hard time if I haven't finished something in the time I wanted to.

The reality of juggling running a business and having 2 young children is that you are very time poor. I had initially budgeted in my business plan to give myself 1 day of childcare for the first few months to get me up and running. Unfortunately the reality of the cost of childcare in London is that it'll set you back the best part of £100 a day. Maybe not an issue to some, but for me, until the business can generate an income, it's not really viable or sustainable. So, for now I'm grabbing time when my youngest is napping, calling in the Grandma babysitting services when I can, and once the muklets are in bed cracking open the laptop or sewing machine and catching up e-mails, admin and orders.

I was sent some literature a while back from a lady I met at of the networking groups I belong to. It's entitled "The Simple 5 Step Formula To Double your income within 12 months" by Sarah Cox. Sarah has some really great tips, particularly focusing on how you can be very time and money poor when running your own business. Sarah introduces the concept that if you were told you could invest £5 and you would get £10 back, wouldn't you want to invest? It illustrates that you will have to spend money in a business in order to gain back. Reading that passage opened my eyes to another way of thinking. If I was having to pay someone £10/ hour to look after the kids to enable me to work, why not pay someone else around £10 to do some of the work for me, and have the added benefit that it is their area of expertise?!

So, still working on a button and a shoelace budget I set about looking for people that were willing to work with a small business in manageable fees on an ad-hoc flexible basis. I'd also recognised that there was great potential in my local parent peerage. Mostly Career Mums who had either decided not to return to work or struggled to find a work situation that offered flexible hours to work around family life. So, why not utilise this amazing skill base, and offer projects that could fit around their schedules? I also discovered fellow Mums that were happy to meet whilst one or both of our children played so we could have a meeting. Fantastic - making progress at work and not having to pay for childcare! As long as the muklets were happy, entertained and nourished I managed for the most part to achieve productive fulfilling meetings and get some exciting plans in place!

Meeting at  Crafted London  with the smalls to plan Xmas Fairs and joint marketing campaigns

Meeting at Crafted London with the smalls to plan Xmas Fairs and joint marketing campaigns

So, this is who I've managed to bring on board so far:

A Momma whose helping manage my production - planning and costing making our muklet wares. Also currently costing and planning out my next collection, possibly moving all our manufacturing to the UK

Momma & Poppa photographers - both professional and amateur, helping with lifestyle and flat shots, also sending out muklets wares to Parent bloggers in exchange for photos

A Momma who's become my Editor reviewing my web content and blog for me

A lovely Muklet buddy who helps at Fairs, and is always up for a challenge so has been tasked with small research projects to fit around her busy week

A lovely Momma seamstress - helping to build my stock levels so I'm not always needing to make to order

And a Social Media Momma - helping to send out e-mails, review my website, ensure continuity across my web store platforms... and more tasks growing by the week!

Now, I'm not exclusive to mostly working with Mommas, it's kind of transpired that way as these are the people I'm crossing paths with now. But having that level of understanding that the reason I took 2 days to reply to your e-mail was because I haven't had a child free moment to breath. Or understanding that I can only arrange meetings during the school run window is a rather priceless, and much less stressful way of working than navigating family life with a 9-9 job! I think the people I've found to work with hopefully can share some of the passion I have for growing this business, and hopefully get a kick out of being part of this 'story'. 

I'm certainly very thankful to these guys and all our muklet buddies that have helped us get this far. It literally wouldn't have been possible without them. Now, grab a double shot flat white, roll up your sleeves and let's get cracking with the next bit!


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