I gave up work to raise my family. When I say gave up work, work gave me up. I was on maternity leave when a restructure was announced at work. My name didn’t appear on the new structure. I was over the moon! Perfect timing. I was leaving a joyless job that gave me no opportunity for creativity. The salary plus benefits were good but there’s only so many fabulous shoes you can buy! I needed more. I was starting to re-evaluate my life. I loved being at home with my children but once school was looming for the youngest I knew I needed a plan.
I started my business 15 months ago after 18 months of planning. I’d had an idea that I’d pondered over for some time. Basically it was an itch and I needed to scratch it. It was a leap of faith into the unknown. I had no prior experience in the food industry; just a huge passion for cooking and a desire to build a brand around healthy eating.
It has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It feels like a never ending cycle of highs and lows. Working as a small scale food producer with the challenge of a chilled product is not for the fainthearted. Being a mother of 2 young boys is demanding enough but factoring in all the responsibilities of running a business can feel quite overwhelming at times. As well as working during the week I regularly work at weekends. I miss my children and feel guilty that I can’t be with them enjoying family activities. It’s not all bad. Running your own business allows you plenty of flexibility. I’m able to do the school runs and attend school events without having to beg someone for the time off. That means of course that I end up working in the evening but you can’t have it all.
I’m much less organised than I used to be. I don’t have the time to scan the school newsletters and put important dates in my diary. Recently I sent my youngest son to school in pyjamas on the wrong day. He cried and was so embarrassed. We had to borrow some school uniform but it wasn’t the end of the world. Some would say it’s character building stuff! I missed my eldest’s sports day this year because I hadn’t put the date in my diary but had committed to doing a cooking demo on the same day. I managed to get there for the final relay race where his team scooped 1st place. However I missed the rest of the day including him coming 2nd in two running races. As a parent you’re constantly feeling guilty about something.
No matter how organised you are sometimes events just happen that are beyond your control. This is an example of how everything gets thrown up in the air from time to time. I booked a full day with a photographer to shoot some new photos for my website and recipe cards. The day before I spent the whole day cooking and preparing and felt pretty organised. I went to bed but had a restless night for some reason. I was awoken abruptly at 5am by my eldest son vomitting. Disaster! That meant no school for 48 hours. After sorting him out I crept back into bed but lay there wondering how on earth I could manage this set back. Luckily I have an understanding Mum and she happened to be free so looked after my son for the day. What would I have done otherwise? When it’s your own venture no one else can step in and take your place.
There’s a huge amount of satisfaction to be gained from starting and running your own business. I’m really proud that I’m inspiring my children along the journey. They often talk about what business they want to run when they’re grown up. One son wants to make pies and the other has decided he wants to make hot chilli sauce. The chilli sauce son turned to me recently and said “I want to call my company Chilli Cop” which I think is a rather brilliant name but I initially misheard him and thought he pronounced it with a “c” at the end of cop instead of a “p”. I did have a giggle to myself!
I’m also really proud that my children understand what a healthy and balanced diet is. We all love to sit down together at the end of the day and enjoy a home cooked meal (mostly made from my bace products). My recipes are quick and easy to follow so I’m not spending hours in the kitchen cooking meals. It’s heartening to know that my children are getting lots of veg in their diet along with fibre and protein from the beans and peas. We have a healthy relationship with food so treats are not off limits; our mantra is everything in moderation.
Life is good. It can be fairly chaotic at times but it’s a fun adventure to be on. There’s never a dull moment in our household and that’s the way I like it!