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!

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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!

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The Jugglers: Mads from The London Mother

Tell us about you:

I’m Mads Panchoo and I run online parenting magazine, THE LONDON MOTHER and online course programme TLM Social. I have 10 years+ experience in sales, marketing and PR and have worked in fields as varied as teaching, television and technology. I LOVE writing. I used to write all the articles myself but now I have a team of (paid) freelancers and I focus mainly on teaching how to turn your passion into a full time job via my TLM Social online courses. My real break came when I started writing an unpaid fashion and beauty blog for HELLO! Magazine Online. I was prepared to write for free to get the on the job training and PR contacts.

 

Tell us about your business baby:

THE LONDON MOTHER highlights the best in things to do, see and eat in London when you have children. It’s not about me at all – I made the conscious decision not to feature myself or my children. I wanted to be a business owner, not an influencer. My real passion is helping others which I do as a coach and online via my courses at TLM Social. I get great pleasure in showing people, usually parents, how to access the freedom, flexibility (and hard work) that comes from running your own business.

 

What’s your WHY?

I loved my job when I worked in the city but it was so hard juggling childcare and an office job, and my employer was very flexible as I worked two days in the office and two half days from home. I wanted to break free from the corporate world and really flex my creative muscles and I knew writing was what I was good at and what I loved. I was also pragmatic – I knew I wanted to work for myself but I knew there had to be an audience for what I was going to ‘sell’ and parenting in London was what I was doing so I thought why not write about that. Before long brands were paying me to write and THE LONDON MOTHER was born. Along the way I met lots of women who also wanted to freedom and flexibility that comes with having your own business and after a few in-person coaching sessions, decided to create a course so I could teach everything I knew quickly and at scale.

 

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

Knowing when to switch off. Working for yourself can feel like you’re never not working.

 

Who’s your support network?

My husband Ryan who runs his own business – a niche, gluten free, vegan bakery Borough 22 and is the yin to my yang. He’s creative and has an eye for colour and scale while I’m all about numbers, Excel spreadsheets and business strategy. He balances me perfectly.

 

If only I knew then what I know now…

Social media isn’t as important as you think it is. Own your audience via your website and email list; income is more important than follower count.

 

Inspiration Quote that you love:

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The Jugglers: Claire from LittleFolk Tales

Tell us about you:

I’m Claire and at the time of writing I am Mum to Jacob who is nearly 4 and ready to go with baby number 2 any day now! My full time job is as Head of Drama is a Secondary School; I’ve worked in education for the last 12 years after a brief stint playing ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ in a touring theatre group, and as a Community Theatre Leader for a local theatre.

 

Tell us about your business baby:

It’s been almost a year since I officially launched ‘LittleFolk Tales’, an online children’s bookshop. I also hold pop-up shops and storytelling sessions in and around Liverpool. I aim to bring inspiring and imaginative books to parents who want to go beyond the usual offerings when it comes to the children’s books you can get on the high street (although don’t get me wrong, these books are great too!). I’m interested in books that have a great story, whilst also focusing on great illustration and design; books that can really be treasured and loved, and that look great in the home too!

 

What’s your WHY?

Like a lot of working Mums I guess, after having my little boy I began to consider how sustainable my current job would be around my family, especially given the changes that have taken place in education over the last few years, and the marginalisation of creative subjects such as drama. I remember doing a sort of ‘rediscover yourself’ type activity, which suggested making a list of things I used to love doing when I was younger, and reading came out top of the list. I used to devour books when I was young, and really want to pass that love on to my children, and what better way than to nurture that love from a young age through brilliant picture books. In this digital age, I think it’s important to preserve the pleasure of turning the pages of an actual book, and I think it is a great way for parents to bond with their children and focus on being together and present in the moment as they share a book together.

 

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

Finding time to fit everything in! Working full time is tough for anyone, being a Mum is tough, and running a small business on the side sometimes seems like a really crazy thing to do! But I get such a positive reaction about the books I choose whenever I host a pop up event, and I’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside some other great businesses such as Parentfolk who have been a great supporter of LittleFolk Tales since I started, and I feel like I have become part of a really positive community of independent, family led businesseses.

 

Who’s your support network?

My family! My husband is always encouraging me to keep going with the business; there are times when I question if I should just give it up and get that time back for myself and my family, but he reminds me that what I’m doing is something I really enjoy. And my parents are always there for the practical help, such as looking after Jacob and bringing him along when I have an event. This has really opened my eyes to how much our working lives impact on our children; Jacob has seen me ‘do my bookshop’ and he loves to make his own bookshop at home, laying out all his books on the sofa or the coffee table and says he wants to be a shop keeper when he grows up!

 

If only I knew then what I know now…

Well I still don’t know how to organise my accounts and keep track of the ‘business’ side of things so I would definitely like to know that! Otherwise, I think I was a bit naïve about the amount of work that needs to go in to an online store, to encourage traffic and regular sales…but when I hear that little ‘ping’ on my phone that tells me a sale has just come through it really does put a smile on my face!

 

Inspiration Quote you love

 

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The Jugglers: Carly from Bloomingals

Tell us about you:

Hello, my name is Carly, I am a mum of two strong-willed toddlers.  My children are 3 years 6 months and 1 year 10 months.  That’s right I am hitting the terrible two and threenager stage simultaneously!  Good Luck Me!

I have a BSC degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy.  I work for the NHS three days a week as an Occupational Therapist in a rehabilitation unit on a stroke ward.  My job is to help someone that has had a stroke, re-learn everyday activities that they now find difficult in order for them to be as independent as possible.   I do this, whilst juggling being a mum, wife, daughter, auntie, sister, friend (you get the jist) alongside my online business Bloomingals.

I love nothing more than spending time with my friends and family, eating, going on holiday and drinking prosecco.  I was born in Essex and have never flown far from the nest. I am generally quite a shy person which doesn’t always make the best first impression, but I love meeting new people and have learnt to push myself out of my comfort zone both on a personal level and in business.


Tell us about your business baby:

Bloomingals is an online luxury family shop that showcases Maternity and Breastfeeding wear, Baby and children’s clothing, Nursery items and family gifts, which I personally select from independent brands. Bloomingals conveniently introduces you in one click to products and brands that you will not find in your usual high street shops.

It’s an evolving business and we have just launched our maternity dress hire collection.


What’s your WHY?

When I was pregnant I always found it hard to find stylish yet practical maternity clothes which gave birth to the idea of Bloomingals.  I wanted to create a convenient place for mums and families to find items that would make you look and feel great on your journey from pregnancy through to parenthood.

By having one destination to shop all things parenting not only saves you time but also provides you with a trustworthy place for you and your family to visit over and over again.

Initially, Bloomingals was set up as an online store for expectant mums, however, since becoming a mum myself and entering the wonderful journey into parenthood, it has naturally progressed into an exciting destination for the whole family.  I have a passion for helping others and the parenting game can feel quite daunting.  Alongside my business, I like to share my experiences and lessons learnt via social media posts and blogs.  If my story helps just one person, then I am happy.

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

I find many parts of doing the juggle hard but the biggest challenge for me is overcoming the constant guilt.  I am busy, really busy. I am constantly on the go, taking the children to a class, play date or carrying out general mum duties whilst juggling dinner, nap times and housework.  On top of what feels like a full-time job being a mum, I have my part-time job and I work on Bloomingals around my family life and my part-time job.

That’s when the guilt kicks in. I constantly feel guilty that I am not fulfilling my to-do list for my business, or when I am working on the business I feel guilty I am not spending time with my children.  On top of this, I feel guilty that the evenings that I used to spend with my husband when the kids are in bed are now consumed with work. Then, I feel guilty that I do not have time for everyone else around me.

But I remind myself that this is all part of the larger picture and all that I do is to better my life and that of those around me.  What can I say but “The juggle is real” and I wish I had paid more attention in juggling class at school.

Who’s your support network?

My husband is my absolute rock.  He is the person that pushes me to succeed and helps me with all the parts of the business that I find challenging.  He is also the person that takes my backlash and gets the least of my time.  But he loves my business, he wants me to succeed and he supports me with everything I do.  He is not only a support for me, but he picks up the slack with the children too.  If Carlsberg did husband…he’d probably be the best husband in the world!

 

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