Jennifer Bailey, CEO of specialist shoe company Calla Ltd

Name:  Jennifer Bailey

Age:  39

Number of children:  2 girls – aged 2 and 4.

Job title:  CEO Calla Ltd

Duties: Founder and CEO of a start-up ladies specialist shoe company, Calla.  Duties are everything and anything it takes to get my business off the ground.

Hours: As many as I can get in

Childcare arrangements: Nursery two days a week, our parents the rest of the time, “Mummy day” two days a month.

What I love about work: I need to be kept constantly challenged otherwise I get bored, which makes me feel down and frustrated.  I absolutely love being a mum but the first time I went on maternity leave, I found it a bit of a struggle mentally, as I was quite bored at times and felt I could have been doing so much more with my time.

Work makes me feel like I’m contributing to the family, I like to earn my own money and don’t like to have to rely on anyone else.  I spent a long time working very hard at school and university to achieve the qualifications, I’ve never wanted to walk away from all that hard work to become a full-time mum.

With Calla I have created a solution to a health condition I have personally suffered from – bunions. Knowing that I will help other women with bunions wear stylish, but more importantly, comfortable shoes makes me feel really proud of the work that I’m doing.

What I find difficult is:  I find it hard to switch off from the business and sometimes try and sneak off to my office when I’m supposed to be spending time with my girls.  This behaviour isn’t good for me or my children as I find I get quite stressed that I haven’t done much work and I haven’t spent much quality time with my children either.

I now try and block out a couple of days a month where it’s just me and the girls, where I do my work before they get up and we spend a proper day together.  They really appreciate that and I feel so much happier too.

My working life would be easier if… I didn’t have to do all the domestic jobs around the house.  I work from home a lot and need my house to be clean and tidy otherwise I can’t focus.  Plus I do the majority of the other domestic duties like cooking, washing, ironing and sorting out bills, family activities etc.  I can’t wait until I can give some of these tasks away so I can focus more on either doing work or being with my girls.

Work/mum life balance: I’m pretty happy at the moment.  I see my girls more than my husband does, he works full-time and leaves the house before they’re awake, and I do feel bad for him about that, as he adores spending time with them.

Sometimes I am so busy the girls do get put on the back burner but I always tell myself that it’s only short term and I make a conscious effort to spend more time with them after busy periods.  We also take regular holidays as a family and although I have to take my laptop with me to do a bit of work, for the most part it forces me to take some downtime and I always feel at my happiest when we’re together as a family.

How having children has changed the work I do: When I was pregnant with my second child I didn’t like the idea of working in an inflexible environment where I had to throw my kids in to nursery as soon as the doors opened in the morning.

Starting my own company has so far been a fantastic solution because although I work far more hours than I used to, I actually spend more quality time with my girls as I’m not commuting to and from the city centre.

Fantasy job / If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be… Already running a multi-million pound successful business where I had a full team around me and I just had to do the strategy work rather than everything, but that’s exactly what I’m working towards with Calla.

Mojomums helps mums get their mojo back – what advice would you give to mums who feel they have lost theirs?

I regularly lose my mojo!  As a mother and a wannabe entrepreneur the guilt of feeling like I’m not performing either role well enough makes me feel a bit rubbish at times.

What I’m good at is using tools to make sure I’m mojo’d back up really quickly!

My key piece of advice would be to surround yourself with positive people who are in a place where you want to be.

I’m part of a fantastic business accelerator programme with a community of start-up owners.  A good chat with them and they always help lift me up.  After talking to them I realise that I’m doing as good a job as any one of them AND I’m the primary carer in my family too.  I know that most of the men on the progamme would never be able to do both, so I stop beating myself up about it.

Another trick is to write down everything you’ve achieved in the previous month both personally and in work.  I heard somewhere that you should celebrate success but I’m rubbish at that!  Instead I use it as a way of making myself feel better about any struggles I’m going through with my work/life balance.

 

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