When I first started my interior design practice a good friend of mine tried to talk me through branding. He asked me did I want to brand myself as a designer who also happens to be a mum or a mum that designs? I did not have a clue and put this in the too hard pile along with marketing, sales and scary financials. So, I decided to just get on and do what I know and start designing and that’s what I did and I’m fortunate that I’m still doing it to this day.
A second child later and while I’m sort of on maternity leave (I’m not too good at taking time out) I decided I should properly start thinking about my “brand”. I found Instagram quickly became my obsession while breastfeeding in the middle of the night. I quickly discovered how many amazing mothers are out there juggling a family life while trying to run a creative business and posting gorgeous images and blogs. So many women have started completely new paths as their careers could never work with their family life. Their words are inspiring, honestly funny and creative. They think outside the box because let’s face it as a mum there is no neat little box. Each kid brings a different dynamic and challenge, if you bring this free way of thinking to your business it can only be inspiring and give you an edge over the big boys as they have so much red tape.
Back to my friend’s question, do I want to brand myself as a designer that happens to be a Mum or a Mum that designs, well currently on my instrgram page it’s all about the kids with a few interior shots when I remember, my goal is to always work the business around my family and that is my daily challenge as it’s hard to get the balance right as I can never stop thinking about new design challenges. I can always make more money or sleep more but I can never get this time back. Design is a passion and I need that for my sanity. I am fortunate that I love what I do so it never really feels like work. I know I over share about my kids with my clients and I bore them with their achievements but I decided if you work with me they come as part of the package. Harry has had a cuddle with all my clients and Jack is always on hand to give me his keen creative eye before a major presentation.
Some days it’s hard but this is not a sob story this is a thank you to all my amazing Mum friends including my own amazing Mum who all give honest advice whether I want it or not. Thank you to the Mums who have their own challenges but get by with so much grace and with a big smile on their faces and to the oh so cool creative mums on Instagram who keep me company in the small hours when I can’t sleep as I’m either worrying I have forgotten something or I’m feeding the munchkin, to you all I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day.
- Remember to enjoy it all. Put the iPhone down and get on the trampoline with your kids. We had a little night time trampoline in the summer and Jack has not stopped talking about it. These are the memories they, and us, will have forever.
- If you are working Mum enjoy it, if you are a stay at home Mum enjoy it, but whatever you do don’t judge another Mum for their choices, working or not, its not cool.
- I have realised there is no such thing as a balanced life, you just have to take it as it comes and plan your family life like you would a work project, that way the year does not run away with you.
- You will hear your Mum’s words coming out of your mouth and it will scare the life out of you. But it’s ok. I now realise my Mother was winging it just as much as I am. I think she did a pretty good job so hopefully so can I.
- When I had Jack I realised I knew no one in my local area with kids, all my friends were in the City working and I had never felt so isolated. I tackled it like speed dating! I turned up at as many Mothers groups as possible and introduced myself to everyone I could. It was so scary but it was worth it as I have a strong group of friends I can turn to. Your network of friends is so important, you need to surround yourself with people that make you feel good about yourself and who you can have a laugh with when the sh!t hits the fan, or the down the slide in my case
Whilst at University I spent a summer working in a farm house on a country road called Christmas Pie lane. There I was armed with a glue gun sticking baubles onto garlands and Christmas trees, which would then be displayed in high streets up and down the country. During my visual merchandising career we would start planning Christmas window schemes in July with Christmas songs playing while drinking ice lattes in the studio. I love the run up to Christmas. So I always feel a little late when decorating my home in December.
I love clean lines and simple interior design, however this all goes out the window at Christmas. My tree is full of hand made felt or knitted decs, I love monogramed miniature stockings, bespoke gift tags from the lovely Fraser and Parsley or beautiful white ceramic baubles with our names in metallic. You can’t beat the personal touch at Christmas.
Faux vs Real Tree
I’m a real Christmas tree girl. However, I also like my tree up on the 1st December thus ensuring all my decorations are on the floor come the big day with a very sad dead tree in my bay window. This year I purchased a *whispers* faux Christmas tree. It took me longer to dress as I became obsessed about angling the branches like a real tree. The benefit is I can display the heavier decorations without worrying that they will fall off and it will still look great on Christmas Day. The trick is to invest in a very good faux tree which looks real and spend the time playing with the branches and make sure it is not too uniformed. However, I do keep smelling the real Christmas trees in Wimbledon Village High Street as I walk by and ‘pine’ for a real tree.
If something stays still long enough in my house it will end up draped with fairy lights. There is something magical about fairy lights, bistro lights and scented candles this time of year, in fact any time of year. I was a little thrown this year as my lights had broken and it seems you can only purchase LED lights now. My golden rule with lights at Christmas is it has to be soft glow lights and you always need a little more than you think. I have a 7ft tree this year and 400 lights look perfect. More than that and I would not have been able to see the tree or decs. Use a green string of lights on the tree so it is hidden but a clear string if you are draping around frames, mirrors or plants or family members if they stay still long enough.
Bringing the outside in
You can’t beat a little winter foliage to complement the metallic baubles and tinsel. I suggest using eucalyptus and foliage from your garden such as ivy, holly and rosemary. It creates a wonderful woodland feel and an amazing scent without spending the big bucks. Take the kids on a walk to forage for foliage. They will love being a part of it and making table decorations or a Christmas wreath. We always collect pinecones in the autumn and fill vintage glass vases and hurricane lamps with them. Try grouping them into 3s and dot them over the tree. Always dress the tree with pinecones or decs in odd numbers. 3’s and 5’s work best.
I love giving my clients a small gift at Christmas to say thank you. Last year I gave clear bauble and filled them with chocolates, tied them with a simple bow and a Nikki Rees stamped gift tag. This year I found the cutest miniature brown paper bags, popped a little scented white candle inside and stamped the tags again. It’s just a little gift that I hand deliver. It also doubled up this year as gifts for my son Jack’s school friends. You don’t have to spend a lot it, just needs a little thought and a personal touch.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year
I have dithered more about the opening post for my interior design blog than any interior.
I’m writing this on my maternity leave with all the time I have, or thought I would have while my 5 month old baby boy is sleeping. A maternity leave is very different second time around, particularly when you have your own company. With Jack, now 7 years old, I worked for a corporate company and totally switched off, only counting down the months until I had to go back to work and enjoying sitting around in circles waving colourful parachutes above my head and singing nursery rhymes and blowing bubbles.
This time it’s completely different. When I get a moment to myself I can’t help wanting to be inspired and working on ideas. I have come to the conclusion that I love working! (I say with a little guilt) I’m passionate about what I do. The highs, the lows, it’s all part of the design process and when it’s your company and an idea comes together it’s an amazing feeling. It just does not get better than having happy clients enjoying a space you have created for them. Apart from hearing the comical belly laughing from the boys. That’s what it’s all for.
So the juggling act has begun, I have always managed my design work around the school run. With 5am starts and late evening emails after story time it’s all part of the fun of a start up and wanting to be around for the kids.
So if I’m not enjoying baby yoga or pilates to lose those extra baby pounds, Harry and I are off soaking up the new cool things at trade shows, experiencing exhibitions or just taking in our surroundings wherever that may happen to be; Wimbledon, London or on our travels.
It’s going to be an exciting maternity leave and I hope to share a few new ideas with you along the way.