Life has a peculiar way of working out just the way it should.
For Jen Outlaw an unexpectedly redundancy helped her to achieve her dream of launching her own jewellery line, 88&Cloudless. Her first collection is ‘Forever’ a stunning selection of timeless necklaces and earring designs.
She very kindly took time out of her very busy week to let us in on some of the secrets of her success, AND she’s offering a 10% discount on her elegant collection (just enter ‘mummyslittlemonkey’ at check out).
Oh, and did I mention she’s also a mum of one, with another on the way?
Becoming a mum is a demanding job in itself – what drove you to also set up 88&Cloudless at the same time?
I was made redundant when I was 3 months pregnant, which at the time was awful, but looking back it was the best thing that could’ve happened. It really spurred me on to make big changes and look to the future. I’d always wanted to create my own jewellery line and fortunately my previous roles had given me the opportunity to pick up and learn a wide range of skills that have helped set me up to do what I do now. That, combined with really wanting to be a stay-at-home mum, it was the perfect opportunity. I wrote a business plan in my last few weeks of work. I was so excited. It just felt right. I was then offered a great role on a part time basis at a publishing company. This was my 88&Cloudless start-up fund where everything I earned I saved. It was all falling into place.
What was your biggest challenge?
Time. Working by myself and not having the budget to hire anyone else, time was definitely my biggest challenge. I’d hoped to launch a few months after Jesse was born. I launched nearly six months later. Everything takes so much longer than you imagine; production, packaging, website, marketing etc. but you can’t rush any of it. Everything needed to be right and in place, and I needed to be 100% confident and happy with what I’d achieved before I could launch, though I find myself making tweaks and changes all the time.
How did you overcome this?
I didn’t rush launch. Once I realised I wasn’t going to hit my target – problems would crop up and it would be a case of one step forward two steps back – I changed my timeline and set myself targets and goals that I tried my best to stick to.
What time does your day begin?
When Jesse wakes up! Unless I’m ticking, in which case I’ll come downstairs, open up my laptop and make myself a large coffee.
What time does your day end?
When it ends. I’m not one for routines, not with my child or work. If I have a load of work to be getting on with, or haven’t reached my goals, then I’ll ask DH to do bath time and bed and I’ll work into the evening and finish when I feel happy with where I’m at.
Lack of time is an issue most mums battle with – how do you maximise your efficiency and/or make the very most of your time?
Jesse is at childminders for a day-and-a-half a week so those days I work like a bee, and I love it. I then take any opportunity where and when I can. For me not having a routine has made life easier. I don’t have to work around a schedule and I can take Jesse with me to meetings etc. DH also takes the kiddie reigns on Saturdays so I can have time to myself and crack on with work. A supportive husband is essential!
What sacrifices have you had to make?
Probably my friendships really. I use to catch up with friends for dinner or drinks regularly after work, but like every Mum that changes drastically once little ones come onto the scene. That, combined with the little time I do have I try to focus on 88, playdates become few and far between. We’ve just spent the last year renovating our house and we finally have a dining table, so I have lots of dinner parties to organise!
Is there a working mother that you particularly admire? If yes, why?
All mothers, working and not working, as I truly believe that looking after a child 24/7 is probably one of the most stressful (but fabulous) jobs out there.
What kind of example are you trying to hoping to be for your son?
A good one. A kind, honest and fair person. I’d love 88&Cloudless to really kick off, but that’s probably more for my personal satisfaction. As for Jesse I can just hope he’s a hard worker and loves what he does when he grows up. May sound like a cliche, but I want him to follow his dreams and will try and instill that at a young age. Hopefully seeing both his Mum and Dad fight for theirs, might be a nice example.
Every mum can relate to feeling totally in control on some days, and completely out of control on others – how do you cope with those bad days, when everything seems so overwhelming?
I try to keep going. I’ll try to achieve one little thing that I can be happy with and that usually gives me a little lift. If there’s something particular I’ll usually call or wait till DH comes home and talk it over with a glass of wine. Working on your own can be lonely sometimes and I think it’s important to get someone else’s perspective as I know I can create mountains out of molehills in my head!
Is it important to you to keep work and family time separate?
Definitely, but it’s also very difficult to do both; I definitely can’t focus on work when I’m looking after Jesse, though sometimes I try my best to jot down an email or write to-do lists while he’s entertaining himself. I grab those seconds while I can. Peppa Pig sometimes comes in handy 😉 Sundays are definitely the days we hang out altogether and go for a walk etc. We also like to sit down to dinner every night even if Jesse has already eaten.
Describe your perfect day at work:
I tend to check my emails and alerts as soon as I wake up in the morning and before Jesse wakes. I then get him packed off for his day or half day. I get home, make myself and jug of coffee and open computer and work through my never-ending list of to-dos. I’ll grab something I can find in the fridge for lunch and crack on until my alarm goes off to leave and pick him up. Those days are full on but liberating.
Describe your perfect day out of work:
Just hanging out with my family and seeing Jesse grow up. It’s been a hectic year what with babe, moving and renovating a house and work but we’re now really starting to find a balance. It takes time.
What are your future goals for life and business?
To continue with where we’re going. We’re also expecting number two, so 2017 will be another hectic and exciting year!
What’s your best piece of advice for working mums, or mums wanting to set up a new business?
My husband gave me the cutest card soon after launch when I was feeling a little bogged down and I keep it on my kitchen shelf to look at on those tougher days: ‘There are no shortcuts to any place worth going; but so long as you’re still enjoying what you do and wanting to continue to learn and be challenged, keep it up. You’re doing GREAT.’
Don’t forget you can get 10% discount off any orders from Jen’s her elegant collection; just enter ‘mummyslittlemonkey’ at check out.
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