What is your professional title, purpose or passion?
I’m the founder of Seventeen Minutes, a subscription box start up. These days, my everyday purpose and passion are the same thing – my family and growing my small business. They both keep me going, give me something to strive for and motivate me.
What did you want to do when you were a child and what changed?
I was desperate to be an author or a journalist. Writing has always been a passion of mine so it has surprised me in some ways that I’ve ended up taking this path in to business. But I’m really loving the business side of things as well as the chance to be creative.
What's the best career advice you've ever been given?
Three simple pieces of advice but for me, the most effective. Just start. Keep going. Believe in yourself. I’ve got these pinned up on my office wall. I procrastinated for months about whether to quit my job while on my second maternity leave and finally, I did it and the feeling was the best ever. I knew it was the right decision. One of my biggest weaknesses is thinking I should give up if something isn’t working. It’s out of frustration I feel like this sometimes but deep down, I know that I need to keep going. Rome wasn’t built in a day and great businesses don’t happen overnight. I’m in it for the long-haul with Seventeen Minutes and that means I need to keep going, despite the quiet times and bad days. To start your own business, you have to believe in yourself. Believing you can do it is the first hurdle!
What is the best thing about your current working environment?
The peace! I used to work in a busy noisy office so I love the peace and quiet of my own home. I’m a big tea-drinker so it’s handy to work from the kitchen table, right near the kettle!
Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
Still running Seventeen Minutes and ideally with a good team around me. I hope to have expanded the business so it would be managed from an office rather than my home. Most importantly, I hope to have a loyal subscriber base who love our boxes.
Tell us more about a charitable organisation or project you think is great.
Seventeen Minutes is so proud to support PANDAS Foundation UK, a charity supporting parents with pre and post natal mental health. £1 from every box goes to PANDAS to help the brilliant work they do. They offer support to parents, family, carers, even employers to help those suffering with the aim of ensuring that nobody feels alone.
What drives you?
My children. It’s so important to me that I can be a strong role model for both of them. In today’s world, they need to see that there’s a place for women in the business world and that they understand the values of equality in the workplace and at home. I also want them to believe they can achieve anything they set their mind to, even if there are challenges in the way. I also have a list of some financial goals pinned up in my office – I want to be able to fund a trip to Lapland for the family at some point. Sometimes, we all need a fun goal too!
Any final comments?
It’s very early days for my business and it’s been a real rollercoaster ride so far, with lots of good days and also a few bad days. I’m not paying myself a salary and some days it’s easy to feel disheartened, but I accept that it is all part of the journey and I’m feeling positive about the future.
What does a normal day look like for you?
No two days are the same at the moment. I work on Seventeen Minutes 3 or 4 days a week, depending on the childcare I have in place for my two young children. As I’ve started my small business literally from my kitchen table, a work day is nothing like it used to be (I worked in central London for 10 years in Publishing). It always starts with a cup of tea and checking emails, then I make a t0-do list for the day. I’ll work my way through the list but now I’m working from home, there are always interruptions. Anything from the postman delivering new stock from suppliers, to the food shop being delivered, getting the washing done – basically house and life admin gets jumbled up with working. The day-to-day varies so much at the moment as the business is at such an early stage. It can include getting orders out, preparing email marketing content, updating the website with product details, sourcing new products for the next box, packing boxes on my living room floor and engaging with customers and followers on Instagram. I tend to have 30 minutes for lunch and then get back to it before picking the kids up late afternoon. My children are young, just 1 and 3, so we talk about our days before bathtime, storytime and bedtime. About 8pm, my husband and I usually collapse on the sofa with a blanket and a good TV show.
What have you achieved that you feel most proud of?
In life, without a doubt, my two children are my biggest achievement. Although every mum probably says that. In the working world, I’m proud to have started a small business on a budget of £1,000 and I’m learning as I go. It’s just me at the moment, packing boxes on the floor, talking to customers and planning the future. I’ve learnt how to design a website and how to market a product. This is the start of my second career. I had a 10 year career in Publishing that I’m extremely proud of. I was the Asia Sales Manager for a leading UK’s leading Children’s Publisher and had opportunities to travel. But when the job no longer fitted in with family life, I had to make a change and I took a massive leap of faith in myself to start this business. I’m proud of the fact I went for it.
Tell us about a a woman who inspires you
To me, Steph Douglas, the founder of Don’t Buy Her Flowers is the ultimate woman in business. I find her honesty about the highs and lows of running a business so refreshing. Seeing how she’s grown the business from starting a blog and building the idea, to recruiting a team and now offering so many different product ranges, it’s so inspiring. Hearing how she packed boxes on the floor of her spare room in the early days of DBHF makes me excited for the journey ahead.
What was your biggest failure?
Not having the confidence in myself to go for it straight away. It took me months of umming and ahhing about whether to quit my job and start up a business. I wish I’d had more self-confidence and believed I could do it. I wouldn’t have wasted so many sleepless nights and felt so lost in my life.
What do you like most about yourself?
Once I get an idea in my head, I’m completely determined. As soon as I had decided to quit my job and pursue the business, I knew I would give it everything I had to make it a success. I want to make the business something I can be proud of and my family too.
How can we make the world more inclusive and accepting?
By being honest and open. Sharing our stories and experiences helps us all understand different perspectives. For example, maternal mental health was not something so openly discussed several years ago. It was ‘normal’ to suffer in silence. Now, with the spotlight on mental health, we’re all sharing our experiences and that helps people dealing with serious issues feel like they’re not alone.
What skills have been key to your journey so far?
My background in Sales & Marketing has really helped me get the business off the ground. I’ve been able to select products, forecast, budget and work on a social media marketing campaign. I’ve had to be patient, listen to my gut instinct and plan as much as possible.