Lisa Lessware and Philippa Doyle, Directors of The Bshirt

Name: Lisa Lessware and Philippa Doyle

Age: 37 and 41

Number of children: Lisa has two boys (4 and 7 years old) and Philippa also has two boys (4 and 7 years old).

Job title: Directors of ethical breastfeeding clothing brand The Bshirt.

Duties: Pretty much everything – we run the show at home and at work!

Hours: We work a 4-day week between the hours of 9-3 as well as some evening work when needed.

Childcare arrangements: We are the childcare! We are lucky enough to have been able to design our work to fit around our childcare responsibilities, not the other way around.

What I love about work: We love the rollercoaster ride of running our own business! When we started the Bshirt everything needed to run the company was up to us. We were designing the product, doing the marketing, picking and packing orders, bookkeeping, accounting, admin, etc. Now as our business expands our team is growing and our roles are changing. We have brought in some help to enable us to focus more on strategy and ensuring that our team (mainly working mums) is empowered, inspired and motivated to do their very best every day. We love that we have created an amazing product that mums love and an amazing workplace that values parenthood and provides true flexibility for working parents.

What I find difficult: Is how we had to leave our paid work in order to find a decent work life balance. So many people wish they could work the way we do. Their eyes light up when we tell them that we run a profitable business during school hours and work reduced hours to enable us to spend the school holidays with our kids. They can’t believe it. When we were employed, we were shocked at corporate attitudes towards flexible working. They all pay lip service, but it was our experience that we were still expected to put work before family. We never felt like we were good enough at work or at home. But it’s the 21st century and we want to see all working parents have the option to truly work flexibly (not just when it’s convenient for the employer).

My working life would be easier if…there were three of me!

Working mums are simply the most amazing people on the planet. It’s not just about being organised and delegating tasks. Us mums can have a division of labour when it comes to household chores but the mental load (planning everything that comes with family life) often still resides with us. So, to stay sane you need to make sure you not only delegate tasks but also responsibilities. Things like chores are easy to divide up but who’s responsible for the after-school arrangements, or the doctors’ appointments, or new clothes, or making sure the swimming kit is ready? It’s us. So, look after yourself – plan ahead as much as you can – forgive yourself when things go wrong – because they will go wrong – and ask for help when you need it. And enjoy being at work for the rest it gives you!

Work/mum life balance: When you run a business you are passionate about, it’s easy to work on it 24/7. So, to have a life work balance it’s so important to be strict with yourself about finishing work on time. And because we answer to the school bell that’s pretty easy most days. Prioritise the urgent stuff and accept that Rome wasn’t built in a day!  Turn off your phone notifications when you are not working so you can check in with work on your own terms. Be present and look after yourself. We’re both runners and aim for two 5k runs a week although this is an aim rather than an absolute! We really notice our stress levels when we skip this, it can be tempting to skip exercise when you are busy. And we try and get out to the pub or for a meal with our hubbies at least once a month for some ‘marriage therapy’, which when you have kids, is essential.

How having children has changed the work I do: Well, we wouldn’t have started this business if we hadn’t become parents first. We have found traditional employment really rewarding  if you are a woman – you can totally crash through that glass ceiling – but the sacrifices you are required to make in today’s society if you want to also be a mother were too great for us. We refused to sacrifice our roles as parents simply to have a career. We wanted to be mums and work on our own terms. The only way we were able to do that was to start our own business and make our own rules. Our office hours are primarily 9-3. And working from home is encouraged, not begrudged. No one is in the office for more than 4 days a week; this is really important, because working more hours doesn’t mean getting more done. This allows everyone to schedule appointments as needed, do the school run and work from home if your kid is sick. And now that both our kids are at school OMG consider for a moment a working mum having an entire child-free day to herself once a week – revelation!

Fantasy job / If I wasn’t doing this: I’d be running a Charity to support breastfeeding mums.

We love that our product makes a real difference to breastfeeding mums, our customer survey has shown that 83% of mums feel more confident breastfeeding in front of other people while wearing their Bshirt, the breastfeeding vest we designed. We would love to do more to support breastfeeding mums and in fact we are in the process of setting up a charity to do just that. We are really excited by the idea of organising fundraising events and feed-ins to raise the profile of breastfeeding.

Mojomums helps mums get their mojo back – what advice would you give to mums who feel they have lost theirs? One of the hardest things about motherhood is losing your sense of self. We go from being independent women totally in control of our lives to being totally selfless and having to put our children’s needs above our own, which of course we do willingly and with love, but as the years go on it can really take its toll. Asking yourself – what do I want – is a really hard thing as often mum’s needs are at the bottom of the totem pole. Simple things like the clothes you wear, and your hairstyle can have a big impact on your personal identity. So, it’s really important to check in mentally with yourself when you can. But then one of the best things about motherhood is simply watching your children grow up and the rewards of all that self-sacrifice are played out within their little worlds as they forge their own friendships, make choices, and blossom in the environment you so lovingly created for them.

Anything else? Being a working mum is amazing. At first, it’s hard to leave your baby and we’ve both used nurseries, childminders and pre-schools for childcare while we’ve been working. It’s not always easy, especially if your baby is young, but being a working mum is just marvelous. Having that first cup of uninterrupted tea is bliss. Feeling like yourself and achieving things outside the home is so rewarding. But so is being there for your child. Being at home is just as rewarding and the two roles needn’t compete. They compliment. So be easy on yourself. Especially if you haven’t slept. Fight for your rights to work flexibly. Don’t apologise for being a kick ass parent. And if they don’t value you – make your own rules!

 

Take a look at our review of The Bshirt here…

For more information about The Bshirt visit www.thebshirt.clothing

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