Introducing Becky from The Art of Healthy Living

Juggling parenting and being their own boss. Meet Becky from The Art of Health Living

 

Hi, I’m Becky. I’m a full time blogger and copywriter as well as being a mum of two. Life is hectic but I feel so lucky to be doing work I love as well as having the flexibility to fit it around my family. I love running, baking, moaning, drinking prosecco and eating – ALWAYS eating!

 

Tell us about your business baby

The Art of Healthy Living is a healthy lifestyle website that started off as a bit of a hobby and has grown into something much, much more. It takes on the format of a magazine style site with articles posted both from myself and contributors covering all things fitness, health, food and wellness. I like to approach health and fitness from a balanced and realistic viewpoint – it’s all about everything in moderation.

 

What’s your why?

I love writing and wanted to get my voice out there. The response I’ve had from people has been amazing and knowing that I have helped someone feel better about themselves and made them feel as though they are not alone is amazing.

 

What do you find the hardest bit about doing the juggle?

Switching off at the end of the day. I’m currently living in a rental house as we’re doing a big house renovation and I don’t have a separate office. It means I have to be quite strict with myself when it’s time to down tools. However it only takes a child being off ill and it throws my work schedule completely off.

 

Who’s in your support network?

I have built up a fab network of local and not so local female business owners who inspire and support me every step of the way. We work alongside each other, refer each other and I know that if I ever need them they’ll be there.

 

If only you knew then what you know now…

It is OK to say no!

 

What’s your favourite inspirational quote?

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Introducing Rachel from Brownlow Brown Designs

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.

Photo by Danni Reeder – https://daniellereederphotography.com/

 

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.

Photo by Danni Reeder – https://daniellereederphotography.com/

 

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.

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Introducing Natalia from Clear Desk VA

Juggling parenting and being their own boss. Meet Natalia from Clear Desk VA

 

I’m Natalia and I’m a Mum of two young girls – Rose, who is almost 3, and Arabella, who is 1. I was an English teacher for almost ten years in a previous life and now I run a Virtual Assistant business called Clear Desk VA. I’m married to a blooming incredible guy, called Chris, who puts up with my ridiculous house rules and is endlessly supportive.

I am the oldest of 4 girls, love being surrounded by female friends and having a boogie with a couple of glasses of fizz. We live in sunny South Gloucestershire, right near the estuary and the bridges that cross to Wales. Originally, we are from Worcestershire (yep, we met at school and then came together in later life!) and we live in a house that we are slowly renovating, one room at a time.

 

Tell us about your business baby:

 

My biz is Clear Desk VA. The idea for Clear Desk was born, as all brilliant ideas are, at 3am on one of the many long nights of being up with my youngest daughter, when she was tiny. I had this fire in my belly that I wanted to start my own business (I have lots of amazing female friends who are business owners and I wanted in!) but I just couldn’t think what it would be. I don’t “make” anything, so that was out, and I really wanted to do something brilliantly and be successful…which is when I realised that I just needed to marry together all of the qualities that I love: organisation, support and efficiency!

So, the idea to become a VA was born. I researched the heck out of it (love a bit of research!) and knew this was for me. Now, I am about to recruit my first Associate and my books are full, which is still hard to get my head around, as I only launched in September 2018! I simply ADORE my business and what it has brought to my life, as well as my family. It has brought opportunities, new friendships and a passion that I thought I’d left in the classroom, before I became a Mama. I pinch myself each week, honestly!

 

What’s your WHY

 

Ooh that’s a good question. This is the sort of question where you expect to read “my children”, right?! And, of course, they are a massive part of my ‘why’. I want to be a strong female role model for my girls and show them that working flexibly is an option, as a Mother.
But, to be perfectly honest, my main ‘why’ is Me. I want to keep striving to be the best person that I can be and pushing myself to be successful. I think I lost part of that, when I became a Mum, and finding that again has really made me feel like my old self.

What do you find the hardest bit of doing the juggle?

 

Childcare! Ugh – childcare! The blooming childcare juggle is hard, for sure. We don’t live near family so, when one kink in the childcare chain breaks, we have to try and work around it and it can be really hard to keep the balls in the air, keep clients happy and manage the dreaded Mum Guilt!
My husband and I have promised each other that, if we ever become grandparents, our motto will be “always offer”! Even if we live miles away, I think that’s something that I will really remember about this period of our lives.

 

Who’s your support network?

 

I’m so lucky to have a bunch of really strong female friends that I’ve met in the last couple of years, particularly Danni McCabe, who runs Mama Tribe and is a shining light of possibility and wonder. She has a great, creative brain and she’s such a fab support. Also, Maxine of Digital Bon Bons, of course! Her positivity is infectious and she’s such a wonderful friend.

Then I have my lovely girlfriends who I try and keep in touch with as much as I can. My best friend is in Oz for three years, completing a PHD, and I miss her a ridiculous amount. My other bestie is in London and we send each other lengthy voice notes on WattsApp everyday! Such a simple thing but it really helps to keep connected, when you don’t see each other as often as you’d like too.

 

If only I knew then what I know now…

 

How much your heart grows when you have children. It catches me each day!

 

Inspiration Quote that you love:

 

 

Find out more about Clear Desk VA here:

 

Clear Desk VA

 

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Introducing Shelley from Ivy’s Library

Juggling parenting and being their own boss. Meet Shelley from Ivy’s Library

 

Hello! My name is Shelley and I live in SE London with my fiancé Simon, our 3-year-old daughter Ivy and our cat Esme. I am a stay-at-home mum (all day, every day), a freelance marketing consultant (evenings and weekends) and in my spare time (!!!) I run a site called Ivy’s Library.

 

Tell us about your business baby:

Ivy’s Library (www.ivyslibrary.com) is a children’s book review site with a difference. 1) I only feature titles which have had the seal of approval from my story-obsessed toddler, and 2) my reviews focus on both my impressions from the point of view of a parent and her thoughts and reactions to the books.
My aim is to help parents and carers quickly and easily find (and purchase) the books which their children will enjoy. I love finding little hidden gems outside of the mainstream which people may not have heard of!

The idea for the site sort of came about my accident. When Ivy was tiny, reading to her was one of my favourite things for us to do together. We amassed a lot of books in the first 18 months and I found that all my friends with little ones would ask for advice on what they should buy themselves. This turned in to an Instagram account that I set up for fun and I added a Facebook page once it was apparent that people outside of my own circle were interested in what I had to say!

At the start of 2018 I took the plunge and set up a website to house my reviews, which allows people to search by category, theme, author, illustrator, publisher etc and to click through to purchase from a retailer via affiliate links. It was a gamble as this was the point at which I had to put some money in to the site to make sure I was happy with the look and feel. Fortunately, it paid off and I still get very excited looking at the site stats and seeing how many people are browsing!

The next step will be to look at further ways of monetising the site and getting the Ivy’s Library brand out there!

What’s your WHY?

Reading has been a huge part of my life since I was a child and I am so happy that this love of good stories seems to have been passed down to Ivy. I think reading with your child is so, so important. Alongside the obvious benefits of improving literacy, vocabulary and imagination, reading together creates such a lovely bond. Books are part of our daily routine and I love to see Ivy’s mind at work as she picks what she wants to read each evening before bed.

Since starting the site, I have received lots of emails and messages from parents who really want to get their children excited about reading but who haven’t been able to find books which have sparked their imaginations. Being able to help them do this (and often seeing pictures of them with their new books) makes me do a little happy dance!

What do you find the hardest bit of doing the juggle?

At the moment I guess I have 3 jobs – parent, marketer and book reviewer. Each of those things takes up a significant amount of time and there just aren’t enough hours in the day! Being a parent is my number one role and it’s important to me to always be ‘present’ when I am with Ivy. This means I don’t (and to be honest, can’t!) work during the day when she’s with me. This pushes my other two roles in to evening and weekend territory. Some weeks the balance is perfect, and I feel like I’m winning at life. Others I find myself staring at my laptop late in the night wondering exactly what I’m doing. Overall, I think I’m doing ok but as soon as you throw a holiday or house guests in to the mix then it all threatens to come crashing down!

Who’s your support network?

When I started to flesh out the idea of Ivy’s Library, I went to a couple of local business events (most notably at Space at 61, where there is a fantastic small business group) and discovered a whole network of amazing women in my community who I had not crossed paths with before (despite living in this area for over 10 years!). Through meet ups like these I’ve met some fantastic people and made some great friends – all of whom go the extra mile to support each other because they understand the juggle.

This is what inspired me to start a regular feature on our site called Ivy’s Guest Book, where I chat to small business owners about the books which they like to read with their kids. It’s a win-win because it gives me a lovely piece of content to share and it gives them the opportunity to promote their business to a wider audience

If only I knew then what I know now…

In retrospect launching a site for my passion project whilst freelancing and looking after a toddler 24/7 was perhaps a bit full on. If I’d known how much work I’d have to put in to Ivy’s Library to keep it ticking along I would perhaps have waited until she started school!

Inspiration Quote that you love:

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The Jugglers: Lucy from Brand New Mum

Intro us about you:

I’m Lucy, Mum to two lovely, energetic and funny little girls: Cora (8 months) and Bea (age 2). I live with my partner, in a lovely, peaceful market town in rural Cheshire, which we’ve just moved to after 10 years of city living in central Manchester. I work from home and run a coaching business called Brand New Mum. When I’m not working, you can usually find me with my head in a self-development book, or escaping the chaos with some trash tv and a big glass of red in hand: my favourite guilty pleasures.

Tell me about your business baby:

Brand New Mum is the business idea I conceived and launched between having my own two children; whilst on mat leave with my first in fact. It’s a coaching business, and my services are designed to support new mothers navigate working for themselves once they have children; be that starting up an entirely new venture or simply adjusting to new ways of working and figuring out how to still grow their business now they have kids to care for too. I offer 1:1 support via coaching programmes, and will be launching workshops and online courses soon as well, focusing on time management, productivity and generally making things happen. I’m all about helping mums to find simple ways to get more done with minimal effort in their businesses – making work as easy, fun and productive as possible amid the chaos of family life.

What’s your WHY?

I’m driven by the desire to help women forge an alternative path for themselves and find their own way to work through motherhood; supporting themselves and growing a business that fits their brand new life.
It came about as I had so many mums around me, who I’d got to know on mat leave, who I realised were dreading going back to work – as was I. What were perfectly good jobs just no longer seemed to fit once the baby had arrived, either because they didn’t stack up financially, weren’t flexible, or because they just weren’t stimulating enough to satisfy any longer. Motherhood changed everything for me, and for many women I knew they were seemingly between a rock and a hard place – not wanting to be a fulltime, stay at home mum, but likewise unable to happily just return to the old workplace once mat leave was over.
I knew these women wished they could do something different that gave them a better, more satisfying and flexible way of bringing in an income, but were held back – often by fear, indecisiveness, or simply confusion over how to make it happen. I realised the coaching and business skills that I’d used in my previous career to support creative entrepreneurs and small organisations could help new mothers deal with the difficult decisions and leaps of faith they were facing, as they got started on their own successful business ventures.

What do you find the hardest bit of doing the juggle?

Not gonna lie, I miss my old-style working life; which included a quiet office, hot coffee and proper lunch breaks! Now I’m more likely to be found working at the dining table ignoring a messy kitchen while the baby naps, or stealing an hour in a cafe while my mum takes the toddler to the park. I also found squeezing work into small windows of the time hard at first, and have worked a lot at staying organised so I can make the most of any unexpected opportunity I get; for example, to fit in a few emails or do an extra social post.
I have to keep working at prioritising myself as well – basic stuff like getting a haircut or booking a health appointment can get put to the bottom of the list too easily, so I always try and factor in my own needs to my to-do list as well as the family stuff and my business workload.

Who’s your support network?

My own mum has been SO important to me in getting my business off the ground and helping me with my own juggle – honestly don’t know how I would have done it without her supporting with the childcare she does, and am eternally grateful. My partner, who is incredibly supportive of my ambitions, and never doubted me for a second even when I handed my notice in whilst on maternity leave with zero savings to fall back on! I also owe so much to the wonderful insta-mum community I discovered online after having my first baby who continue to inspire me, motivate me and be there for me in some very lonely, 3am moments when I’m finding motherhood (and business) tough.

If only I knew then what I know now…

That building a business might take longer, or have more twists and turns than anticipated, but that you can make that stuff in your head become real. So I guess; to keep the faith!

Inspiration Quote that you love:

 

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