Do you remember what it was like two years ago when we saw empty shelves at the supermarkets? Can you imagine some mums-to-be also panicking because there were no more nappies on the shelves to prepare for their newborns?
Being a new mum can be a lonely and isolating time, least of all in the height of a pandemic. We recently talked to one of our mumpreneur clients, Karen Rudd, to find out about her and her business. To Karen, creating space for new mums to meet others is incredibly important as she has become a first-time mum herself during the lockdown in June 2020. While there was little-to-no support out there for new mums when they needed it the most, she has decided to buy into a franchise business called Moo Music. She is now delivering music and multi-sensory sessions for babies and toddlers, which also gives new mums the opportunity to meet and support each other.
Family comes first
While working for a bank, her role often felt uncertain with seemingly constant restructures. The instability, plus the long working hours and frequent traveling, had led to Karen experiencing anxiety and depression which damaged her mental health. Karen said: “I didn't see how that would fit into family life as I wanted children, which was more important to me. So, when I left the bank, it was another round of redundancies, so I just ticked the voluntary redundancy box.”
After 11 years working in the cooperate world as a PR professional, Karen retrained herself to become a yoga teacher, teaching postnatal mums, babies, and toddlers. She is also a children’s swimming teacher. Before Covid hit, she tried to take over a studio, but unfortunately, the plan fell through. Then she got pregnant while working part-time, and she gave birth to her daughter when the world went into lockdown.
Like other new mums, Karen was looking for support and a place where she could meet and talk to other mums in those early days to help her get over the baby blues. Speaking of her experience and her reasons for approaching EnterprisingYou, Karen said: “There was nothing for new mums in the area where I live, so I was having to travel half an hour to go to a baby class. I know there is demand in my area because I can't find anything to get my kid into on the days when I want to do an activity with her. There are really limited options out there in this area. Whilst I was on maternity leave, I considered franchising but decided to launch my own Baby & Toddler yoga classes. I want to be there for my child, so I need something flexible so I can work around my daughter and pay my bills and child care. In my head, it was going to work but I quickly realised that, I actually don't know enough to be able to fill these classes even though I knew there was a big demand. So I signed up the EnterprisingYou scheme, and bought into a franchise to give me the hand hold I needed.”
Balancing the roles as a boss and a new mum
Being your own boss clearly has its benefits in terms of flexibility but juggling between a clingy baby and a new business both crying for attention - on top of everything else – meant that Karen reached her limit. When she bought into the franchise business, her baby was about 12 months old. “I started looking at what I needed to do to prepare for it, and I was very quickly on a fast track for burnout”, Karen said.
She added: “Because I had no childcare, my girl was with me all the time and she was very demanding. It was really intense. I struggled to get showers and to start a business, let alone marketing it and learning all the new systems on 3 hours a day, which left no time for me to have downtime.”
Karen then took a step back and looked after herself as she realised that was a much-needed break. When Karen first enrolled onto EnterprisingYou, she was suffering from anxiety and her confidence was low. After the initial appointments with our Business Coach, Vikki, she has been referred to our Health and Wellbeing team.
“That was the game-changer moment for me. She reminded me to work smarter, not harder.”
Karen has nothing but praise for Naomi, her H&W specialist. Karen said: “She broke things down really practically for me and reminded me of everything that I already know from my many years in corporate life, in terms of time management and how to prioritise my tasks. I was able to tackle things one at a time and actually feel like I was getting somewhere. And then as time went on and I've gotten more and more support through the EnterprisingYou program my confidence has grown massively. My Business Coach introduced me to one of her clients, Anna, from Boo Marketing. Anna has been really supportive in terms of my marketing strategy and ended up being my mentor as well. She really challenges me to think about my decision-making and pushed me in the right direction. Since then, I’ve gone from having six people booked onto my class when I first started in September 2021, to having my classes almost fully booked now. It’s amazing. I probably would have folded the business before it even got started after that wobble of anxiety but because of EnterprisingYou, I've changed my mindset and stayed positive. It is a long-term goal, I just need to keep tweaking things to overcome the challenges ahead.”
With the support from her husband and family, she is in a much better position now, and things have gradually got back on track.
Overcoming her anxiety
“I think anxiety and managing my mental health were definitely a big challenge for me”, Karen said. “I left my work because it wasn't helping my mental health. It was a bit of a kick to start my business and end up suffering from anxiety again. But I knew it was temporary because I had no time for self-care, and I was very aware of this. I must confess that I was setting self-imposed deadlines but I think this is part of starting a business. You set yourself quite high targets, but you have to in order to run a business. I think that's probably one of the features of most people who run businesses - that they demand a lot of themselves. It was an intense worry, and I don't know of any business owner who doesn't have some worries about the business, it just depends on what scale it reaches. My symptoms are very physical when it peaks, but I recognise it. I think that’s the key - recognising what’s happening and trying to find the tools to help you manage that worry and move forward. Also getting all the support from the EnterperisingYou program has been so invaluable. It was really important to be reminded that I am able to do this, and I've got the skills and capability to do it.”
Bright future ahead
While chatting to us, Karen was also multitasking and making the props for her classes, as she’s got to manage her time and money to make it work for her. Karen said: “My goal for this month is to actually take a wage, because I’ve still not paid myself. Everything is just pumped back into the business at the minute because I’ve got to buy lots of props and accessories.”
She is passionate about working with children and parents, adding: “It's heart-warming that I have been able to provide my classes and a space for people who can spend time with their babies and other mums during their maternity leave. Motherhood is such a special journey and it was beautiful to see a little boy crawl for the first time in my class. They are going to miss it when they return to work. I want to give people a big hug to make them feel like someone is looking out for them and caring for them. The financial hardship on new mums is crazy. The biggest shock for me was the cost of childcare. As part of the long-term vision for my business, I might campaign on issues like that because I think it's atrocious.”
“My goal for this business is to expand and take on freelancers to deliver some sessions for me, as I don't have enough days in the week - I am only one person. I can also support them in building their own business and drawing income from that. I love what I do as it gives me the flexibility I need so I can operate around school hours and this is something that could see me through for the next 10 years. When I have people running the business for me, it'll free up the time for me to look at what else can I do. I could start my own business and possibly scale up my own franchise model.”
We are delighted to know that Karen found the support she needed on our programme, and now feels confident about the future. You can find out more about Karen and her business here:
If you are a mumpreneur living in Greater Manchester like Karen, please get in touch and find out how EnterprisingYou can support you and your business. Register online or email email@example.com now. More information about our programme can be found here.