- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.6XeXEVt9.dpuf The Curiosity Project: Having It All - Two New Babies

18 April 2012

Having It All - Two New Babies

Today's working mum in the 'Having It All' series is a newbie to both motherhood and self-employment and her story makes a very interesting read from the viewpoint of someone embarking on a whole new journey. Meet Erica Willoughby-Smith...

When I think back over this last year, so much has happened that I really cant believe what I have achieved! I have given birth to my pride and joy, my little boy Indiana (now 13 months old), and have also worked my butt off to launch a new business.

I come from a background of working in London for fashion magazines and fashion PR, being creative and working alongside amazing brands. For ten years it was what I loved and thrived on, the celebrity shoots, the daily contact with fashion, event organising, the shows, the parties. But after becoming quite ill and finding out I had coeliac disease and the daily 3-4 hours travel to and from work, it became a chore rather than pleasure so I decided to call it a day and find work closer to home.

During this time my then boyfriend Lee and I had set up home and I had found some local work doing PR and marketing. In 2006, Lee rather romantically asked me to marry him whilst eating chips on the pier in Brighton- I could not have been happier and said yes immediately! It wasn’t until I started to plan our wedding that I found it hard to find unusual wedding services. I didn’t want a bog standard white marquee, the rolls Royce and the 3 course meal, I wanted something more relaxed, something cooler, something that stood out, something more ‘us’.  In 2008, we got married in a friend's back garden, in a stunning marquee and we couldn’t have chosen a better day for it.

When I searched for unique suppliers, I guess that’s when I decided I wanted to create my own website, one that would focus on new, unusual and unique wedding services. It would also be something I could channel my creativity and PR skills into. So I spent some time with a couple of friends with graphic design skills and we came up with an idea ‘ Mr & Mrs Unique’ and began to design some pages. But this is where the dream temporally ended- we had bought a house that needed full on renovation and with both Lee and I working 5 days a week and long hours it was put on the back-burner.

It wasn’t until I fell pregnant that I started to think what will I do once the maternity leave was over? What the hell would I do during the 9 months off that would stimulate my mind outside of the sometimes all too consuming baby world?! I had always talked about my website and it must have sounded like I was talking a lot of hot air to everyone, but I decided that the next 18 months of pregnancy and maternity leave could actually be my one opportunity to develop the site and finally do it!
So this is what I did and the website finally launched two weeks ago.

I can’t say it’s been easy because it hasn’t. I guess at some stage when I became a mum I replaced the love and energy I put in to my social life and learnt to channel this energy into my family, being a mum and launching a business.  The only reason I can justify working so late every night is the fact it’s been a dream for so long! I have been so blessed with an amazing family on both sides that help me out with child care, a great husband and creative team that have supported me and helped launch the website, and friends who are happy to listen to me ramble on about the madness of launching my own business or the daily love verses struggle of bringing up a baby.

Work is obviously easy when I have childcare but on days that I don’t I have to rely on my team. Every spare moment I’m not with my boy I work, develop or plan for my business. Even when he goes down for his afternoon sleep, I’m straight on the computer contacting businesses or uploading information. Soon as he is asleep in the evenings I’m back downstairs researching. Don’t get me wrong, my son always has priority, but I have had to learn to delegate and multitask to make sure my work and personal life don't affect the other.  Some days I do feeling like pulling all my hair out and I’m at the end of my tether, but the over-whelming feeling of pride for doing something for myself and achieving something in my professional life keeps me going.

Lee has been a godsend. He knows I’m a great mum and fully supports me with my business dreams. I'm pretty sure the idea of me bringing in a wage to help support our family and lessen the burden is also pleasing, so fingers crossed all goes well over the next year. We’ve had fantastic feedback and we are taking on lots of new amazing businesses every week so all the signs are promising!
I guess it comes down to the fact- I know I’m an amazing mum who loves her son and family dearly, why not be a successful business woman too?!

Erica found a great way to utilise her maternity leave and whilst motherhood may become a little more challenging as Indiana starts to find more of his own independence her business is something she can nurture along side him.  I wish you all the best in your brand new venture Erica!


Tomorrow we meet another creative mum who manages her time around school and nursery...

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