Juggling parenting and being their own boss. Meet Rachel from Brownlow Brown Designs
Hi! I’m Rachel. I live in Bruton, Somerset, with my husband and two boys (Toby, age 4 and Rex, age 1). I grew up here, but spent my university years in Southampton and Winchester studying Fine Art and my twenties working in London. After falling pregnant with Toby (and unsuccessfully trying to navigate the London property market) we decided to move back out to the countryside. I worked in the charity sector for over a decade, but in between having my children I got the creative itch and started up my business as a side-hustle in 2017. After being made redundant at the end of 2018 I have spent the last three months full-time on Brownlow Brown Designs.
Tell us about your business baby
I originally started my business after I learned about the problem of plastic pollution, a little while before Blue Planet came along and everyone else realised it too. I wanted to do something to highlight the problem, so I created a tote bag emblazoned with the slogan Use Me Instead, to encourage people to use re-usable bags instead of plastic ones. However, momentum on building the business quickly slowed once I found out I was having Rex, and by the time I picked it up again I realised I wanted to expand and incorporate more products into what I was doing. After experimenting with brush lettering and painting, I eventually found my signature digital style of typography that I now use on prints and greetings cards. I want my bold and colourful designs to bring people positive vibes and brighten up their lives.
What’s your why?
I spent the last few years in employment working flexibly from home, travelling in to the office every couple of weeks. This really empowered me to manage my own time and workload, and it is something that’s massively important to me with my own business. Now that my eldest is in school, I find it really hard to fathom how I could get another role that gives me as much flexibility around family life as working for myself does. Being my own boss and managing my own time is probably my biggest driver. I’m also gaining a lot of confidence from having to make myself do everything – when you’re a one-person organisation there is no one to pass the scary jobs on to! It also means I get to learn lots of new skills, which also massively motivates me to carry on.
What do you find the hardest bit about doing the juggle
Despite the empowering feeling of being able to manage my own time, I’d also love to have more time to work! I’m quite strict about my working hours and I’m not really willing to give up evenings (neither do I have the time or energy to work in the evenings after putting the kids to bed/tidying/cooking/re-settling the baby) so I have to get my work done during the times my kids are in school/childcare. I have a constant internal battle about wanting to be there for the school run vs. wanting to do a couple more hours at my desk!
Who’s your support network?
I am extremely lucky to have my parents down the road, and they are a fantastic support. I’ve also benefited from The FMLY Store being in Bruton as I was able to keep the business side of my brain ticking over during maternity leave by attending their business workshops. Through these events, and Instagram and Facebook, I’m slowly growing my online support network. I’ve realised recently that, while it’s great to have more established businesses to follow and aspire to online, it’s just as (if not more) important to create connections with business owners who are at a similar point in their journey to you. Those are the connections I’ve been trying to nurture more recently and its made me feel much more connected to other self-employed people out there.
If only you knew then what you know now…
It’s taken me a while to realise that the people who have big launches and lots of overnight sales are in a minority – most people take years to build up their businesses enough to make a decent profit. It would have saved me a lot of self-doubt to have known this sooner! That’s why I’ve spent the first few months of full-time self-employment trying to properly set up the foundations of my business so that I can grow it in a sustainable way.
What’s your favourite inspirational quote?
I wrote this down when doing the Game Changers course by Guilty Mother’s Club before I set up my business at the beginning of 2017. I’ve had on a post-it note stuck up on my desk ever since and it is something I try and remind myself during difficult times.