Number of children: Harry 23, Elly 20 & Luke 13
Job title: Director of ‘The Country Garden Workshop’, Textile Designer and Art Tutor
Duties: I am a renowned freelance textile designer who has been in the business for over 25 years. My designs can be found gracing the accessories and clothing of well-known brands and designers such as Paperchase, Nike, The North Face, Next, DKNY, Disney, CK, plus many others. I am also an artist, and have run many workshops teaching children and adults everything creative.
My dream has always been to share my skills and knowledge and now I am able to do this through my latest venture ‘The Country Garden Workshop’, where I will be running workshops and tutoring from my beautiful studio in my garden in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire.
I am starting off by offering a range of creative art based classes over the Christmas holidays children and next year there will be regular classes and workshops for both adults and children in all aspects of art and the creative field.
The aim of this studio is to teach something different, rather than just the usual standard learning to draw and painting with oils. I want the students to understand firstly that we all don’t have to be amazing at art to enjoy it but secondly creating something wonderful can be achieved by using different materials that they would never have though of trying before and the outcome can be amazing. I want students to come away, taking their new skill with them and feel inspired enough to carry on as a hobby. Workshops on offer will be art journaling, screenprinting, textile design, mixed media, doodling, crochet and so much more.
Hours: As many hours as I can fit into one week! In fact there aren’t enough hours in the week to get it all done! I always start the day off with a gym class straight after the school run. I find this sets me up for the day, and gives me bags of energy. I then work on and off throughout the day, either marketing my workshops, or designing a collection for my fashion freelancing customers. Later on in the day, usually in the evening, when my son has had dinner and finished his homework, I will often than not work some more. I am a bit of a night owl, so I sometimes finish working around 1am.
Childcare arrangements: None, although I occasionally rely on friends or my mum!
What I love about work: I absolutely adore teaching. There is nothing better than seeing others produce creative work from learning a new skill that you have taught them. I have been drawing since I could pick up a pencil, so creating and designing is my passion. Not a day goes by when I don’t create something, whether its crochet, drawing or painting in my art journals.
What I find difficult is: I find it hard to switch off seeing as I work for myself. The pressure of having your own business is enormous, and sometimes overwhelming, with not enough hours in the day as well as multi tasking to a whole new level. Trying to promote ‘The Country Garden Workshop’ business is also hard, and something I am learning all the time is marketing and getting yourself known. You have to teach yourself to be patient, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that it takes time to build your business up. I have learnt to prioritize and that to organize myself better, so that all my ideas don’t fall at the wayside but are parked in a notebook for now, and when the time is right to pull out that idea and use it.
My working life would be easier if… I had 10 pairs of hands and more importantly if I had regular money coming in. Freelance designing is very hit and miss, you never know when you are going to sell any work or get paid! I would love to have someone to help me run my marketing side for my new business venture so I could concentrate on the other stuff. That certainly would make my life much easier.
Work/mum life balance: I really don’t think any mum that works quite ever gets the balance right, especially when you work for yourself, as you tend never to switch off. As a single mum, everything is down to me, so I often find myself working most nights as well as during the day when my son is at school. Its not all bad, I do feel that working for yourself means that you can take time off when you want to, and you are around for parents evening, school drop and pick up, and to tuck them into bed at night and so many more lovely things that makes you a parent. You just have to keep on prioritizing, organization is the key, and take note that you cant do it all, let alone all at once.
How having children has changed the work I do: I am definitely skilled enough to have a full time design job for a big company. But I know that it would be too full on, seeing as I’m a single mum and wouldn’t be able to be around much for my son and most of these jobs are in London and involve a lot of travelling globally. I have to find a balance and I think working from home is definitely a bonus. As my children were growing up, they loved the fact that we had many arty days creating wonderful masterpieces. This gave me an insight into what kids enjoy creating and learning and inspired me to share my skills teaching young children something different rather than just learning to draw with a pencil.
Fantasy job / If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be…… I really wouldn’t to be doing anything else other than using my creative skills and knowledge and sharing it with others. So, in my fantasy world I would still be creative, but maybe instead being a head of a major design team in the fashion world.
Mojomums helps mums get their mojo back – what advice would you give to mums who feel they have lost theirs? For many years I just drifted especially with my career and that’s when you start to lose confidence. Bringing up kids is a full time job and the added pressure of feeling like you have to have a full blown successful career on top is crazy. Not everyone achieves that! My advice would be to find something you are good at and love, take that passion and use it in a way that fits in with your life without constantly feeling inadequate. If you want to work more and seek help to look after your children, then there is nothing wrong with that too. Don’t beat yourself up with your decision, your kids will thank you whatever path you take.
Anything else? Never take anything for granted. We can all wish for things we don’t have, rather than being thankful for the things that we do. We all lose sight on that one. I have definitely learnt it’s the small things that matter and that I get the most pleasure from and when the day starts off bad and doesn’t get any better, don’t fight it, go with it, and tell yourself ’tomorrow is another day, and it will be better than today!’.