The highs and lows of a lockdown launch by MOTHERS MEETING MEMBER Alison Mcaleavy, ZIG & STAR Founder
‘If I could give my kids one thing, it would be freedom: freedom to choose styles that show their individuality, and freedom to move around comfortably and to have fun,’ explains Alison McAleavy, founder of Zig + Star. ‘Why can’t boys be free to wear animal prints and metallics, and why do girls have to wear shoes they can’t climb trees or run fast in?’ That’s the ethos behind her gorgeous new footwear brand, approved by podiatrists and styled with years of experience working for some of the fashion world’s hottest brands.
After working for more than 20 years in fashion, starting in footwear for some of the biggest names on the high street and culminating as head of buying for Topshop, London-based designer Alison spotted a huge gap in the market while on maternity leave with her son, Ziggy.
So it’s 14 weeks since I’ve launched Zig+Star… the idea I’d been working on for 2 years… starting in very normal times, but taking in some very surreal times too..
14 weeks sounds like the blink of an eye… but it feels like a lifetime
So what have a learnt in that time??
Every single customer makes it all worthwhile
That ping sound you get for a sale never gets old… don’t get me wrong, its not because of the money… but because it’s a little bit of encouragement that comes at just the right time when you might be doubting yourself, or questioning what your doing. Starting a business on your own can be a lonely place and every customer email, sale, recommendation feels like a lifeline.
I feel so thankful for every single follow, like, comment… All of it is a validation that you’re on the right track and to keep going even when it feels like a hard slog.
Thank-you to everyone that has supported our small biz so far, I hope you stay on this journey with us.
You have to learn to roll with the punches
So we launched mid March… the reaction blew me away… the sales were coming in, I was growing on instagram, there was great customer feedback, everything felt so positive.
And then…. It rained for 3 weeks… and iron’t just mean it rained a bit… it poured every day from morning to night. My poor old 80’s conservatory couldn’t cope, and we had at least 6 bowls out to catch the rain.
It was hard not to think back to last year… yes we were in lockdown, but we basically had long balmy days from April to September.
So with the rain came quiet weeks… yes it’s raining you think, but maybe people just don’t like what we’re doing? Maybe there’s something we need to change or do differently. All these questions go through your head, and when you work alone, as `I do, they can dominate your thoughts.
But roll on a few weeks later, the sun came back (for now) and so did the sales… You learn not to take the lows to heart… and it’s the same with the highs. There will be good weeks and bad weeks. You just need to stick to your mission and your instinct and keep pushing forward.
Instagram isn’t as bad as I thought
Before I started the brand, I wasn’t really into social media. I never posted, but would only go on for a bit of a nose. The idea of posting about myself and the brand sort of freaked me out. The thing that really shifted my mindset was doing Lucy Sheridan’s Good Gram course. I started to think about instagram as a community (it is a “social”network after all). I just had to find my tribe. And once I started thinking and interacting in that way, it didn’t feel like work… It felt like a support network, whether it be other small brands, or people that took the time to encourage you.
Yes it can be time consuming and a bit arduous sometimes, but the more consideration your put in, the more you get out of it, and it’s been an absolute godsend to a small lockdown business like mine.
But IRL is even better
Even without the lockdown we’ve had, I think a lot of small Ecom businesses like mine operate pretty much 100% virtually… We don’t have shops, most of us don’t have teams or offices… It’s just us and our laptops living through Shopify and social media (and the Mothers Meeting gang which has been a lifeline). But still, having in real life conversations with people other than delivery drivers has been rare.
The best thing I did was to start doing local London deliveries to customers… I can honestly say it’s been the best part of the job. Meeting customers, having a chat, getting direct feedback… it’s been amazing. I have learnt more from a 5 minute chit-chat on someones doorstep than I have from the many hours of market research googling I have done.
Work with people you’d want to hang out with
I launched with one stockist (thank-you at Windmill shoes in Crouch End!) but as soon as the restrictions allowed, I got out to meet new potential stockists… I wasn’t in the market for trying to flog the brand to anyone, but it wasn’t about exclusivity. It was about finding people I could partner with… People that appreciated what we were trying to do with Zig+Star and we could collaborate with. I have 5 stockists now, and every single one is totally lovely. The feedback and support I get from them is amazing at this early stage of our journey and will help us grown and develop as a brand. Thank you to Word Store London, Luna&Curious, What Mother Made and Jump shoes for all your support.
And when the time comes to hopefully expanding my little team of one, I will take that with me. Working with people who mirror your values, who you trust, and and who you like spending time with… that’s the ultimate goal
Thank-you to everyone, both professionally and personally, who have supported and helped develop the business so far… It means the world.
When my husband and I launched our business, KeepEmQuiet.com back in 2016, I went from a private Instagram to a public one, to connect and network and help to spread the word about our new venture, in what at the time was a mainly female blogging space. As time went on I started sharing more and more about me personally. About my grief on losing my Mum to breast cancer at 27. About Mental Illness, with a family history of depression, bipolar, and suicide attempts. About my eating disorder in my teens and body issues. I started to realise that connecting with people on this deeper level and sharing my story felt right, even if it helped just one person then it was worth it to be vulnerable and honest. I have always found writing a cathartic, therapeutic experience.
In October 2019, I stripped to a pink bra to raise awareness for Breast Cancer Awareness Month having lost my beautiful Mum to the disease, just as she lost hers whom I never met (I’m hanging out the top window!). One month later, aged 37, I was diagnosed myself. For 6 months I had not mentioned online about my older sister’s Ovarian cancer diagnosis. It was not my story to tell and so I had lived and breathed cancer for 6 months whilst my Instagram told a different story. And now, here I was, with my own diagnosis. Do I silently just go quiet and knuckle down with treatment or invite others along for the maddest ride of my life? For over a week, my family and I got our heads around the diagnosis. I told friends. I had tests. And we celebrated our baby girl turning 4 in amongst the agonising upheaval of all that lay ahead. And then on Sunday evening, I wrote the words “I have breast cancer” and clicked share. The support and outpouring of love was immediately overwhelming and filled me with strength.
My intentions with sharing my journey have always been to spread awareness for Breast Cancer and get people to check their boobs and know what to look for. Back in October, before my diagnosis, the message was loud and clear…Early detection is key. And here I was living proof that early detection is key. Stage 2, Grade 3 Triple Negative Breast Cancer with a BRCA1 gene mutation. Stage 1 and 2 are considered early. Grades refer to the aggressive nature of the disease. Early stages and aggressive, so I faced an aggressive treatment plan, and radical surgery due to the gene, but things were looking positive. Due to some chunky painful lymph nodes which I discovered on a chemo ward with my sister, I immediately booked to see my GP and within a week of finding them I had a diagnosis. My early detection likely has saved my life.
Clicking share meant that I have shared my cancer journey much like I would writing in a diary. Initially I went into warrior mode, as my therapist put it. Very few tears but a strong positive mental attitude. People resonated with the positivity. Positivity is contagious. I have found sharing my more vulnerable moments way harder. Not wanting to make anyone feel sorry for me. But just honouring that I have opened myself up to sharing the highs and lows of my breast cancer journey, and this chapter of my life, and therefore the lows are par the course. And there have been some of the highest highs and lowest lows. Some days I’ve felt like I’ve had nothing to give, riddled with fatigue, chemo fog & relentless negativity. Those are the hard days where I feel like perhaps sharing my journey may hinder the help I was wanting to give people. As the realities of cancer can be very, very ugly.
Recently I have really struggled with the loss of most of my hair, after retaining it for 12 cycles of chemo, at the last hurdle and with the stronger chemo that I am now on, the AC, it has taken a hit. A physical adjustment to this has been hard. Looking more unwell. Changing for my husband and my children. I have cut my hair shorter but so far still managing to retain some hair with the use of the dreaded cold cap, which although dreaded, I would recommend to anyone to try that would like to attempt to keep some hair. The first ten minutes are impossibly hard, and as my hair has thinned I have started to take a Lorazapam to chill me out for these 10 minutes, as they make me pretty nauseas, but after these initial 10 minutes I find the whole process way easier. I’m very glad I have stuck with it, and although I have very little hair left, I will continue to cold cap for my last session to retain what is left. I’m grateful to the device that allowed me to feel like me for as long as it did. That is for sure.
On a more positive note, I have found that sharing my story has been a vehicle to allow a lot of people that care about me an insight in to what is going on with me, and to a degree has meant that I am not repeating myself, which when exhausted from the treatment and two little children, can be a relief. Although at times, the pressure I have put on myself to share has felt a little heavy and this has made me look at my personality and reflect and take stock.
And the highest points throughout sharing my cancer diaries have absolutely been the messages I have received in my DM’s from people who have checked out pains, and lumps, that they had previously ignored, and that they have had the incredible relief to find out that they are benign. Those messages make the sharing so, so worth it. And the messages to say that by sharing my experience I have helped others going through their own cancer journeys. It is totally true what they say, a problem shared is a problem halved. Which brings me to the point that if you have gotten this far, please do me one favour and check your boobs immediately. Don’t be scared, get to know your body, and get to the GP if you have any concerns. I felt like I was wasting everyone’s time as I waited to have my ultrasound. Please, please know that checking your health is NEVER wasting anyone’s time. Doctor’s get a whole lot more joy from telling you that you have nothing, than telling you that you have something. Please CHECK YOUR BOOBS.
I have connected with so many wonderful people in the cancer community through sharing online. It truly helps you to feel less alone. I have no shortage of wonderful friends, family and loved ones who only have my best interests at heart, but chatting with someone who truly knows the ins and outs of breast cancer, chemo, and so many fears that come with being told you have cancer, has lifted me through some dark times and I am truly grateful I clicked share to have connected with these warrior women.
A cancer diagnosis flips your world in an instant. It gives you a perspective for all that you want your life to be if you can get to the other side of it. I’m nearing that side now, and I’m so driven to live to my fullest, my healthiest, my best me. I have never ever been more convinced that all that truly matters is that we have our health and our loved ones. Fundamentally this is the true basis of happiness, and having cancer has made me reflect on all the beauty that love and health can allow in. True healing: it’s a journey, but that is the one destination I have on my horizon.
My cancer diagnosis may just be the catalyst to stop living in dis ease and start to live in harmony. I know that clicking share was the right decision for me and I am forever grateful to everyone that has joined me for this mad rollercoaster ride. We are almost off this crazy train, and I’ve never been more ready to start living at the destination.
(This blog was written just before my final chemo but here is the happiest most joyous picture straight after my final chemo session with my best cheerleaders – my family!)
Founder of NUZLIN
Before I had my first baby Sam, I had high aspirations for maternity leave. I envisaged long productive days. My baby sleeping calmly next to me while I sipped on a coffee and plotted entrepreneurial success on my MacBook.
Well, it didn’t quite work out like that. Reality hit with a wave of dirty nappies, snotty kisses, washing (all the washing) and previously unexperienced love. I didn’t have time to shower never mind launch a business.
Before I knew it, my first maternity leave had whizzed by and I was back in the office. I had the idea for NUZLIN starting to develop in my mind. Plus I knew that I wasn’t going to continue working non-stop for someone else.
But that was it. It was a dream but nothing substantial enough to launch or live from.
3 years later, I have managed to launch that little idea. It’s a baby business, launched in a pandemic. It’s not yet clear if it’ll survive the craziness of the world right now. But I am so intensely proud of what I’ve managed to achieve in just making something happen.
So here are my biggest learnings that have got me this far:
Change What You Can
Working full time on my business idea hasn’t been an option. I wouldn’t be able to make enough money from a start up to financially support our family.
If I couldn’t quit everything straight away, I started to think about other smaller changes I could make straight away. I ended up quitting my permanent job and going freelance, which has been one of the best decisions of my life. I have no job security, health insurance or pension. But I have much greater freedom to choose how, when and with who I work.
Going freelance might not be the change you need. But there are always choices, which can start to edge you towards your dream. If a big change isn’t an option, find a small change that edges you towards your ultimate destination.
A Small Step Is Better Than Nothing
I’ve never had a 3 year plan. I struggle to think about what I’ll be doing in 6 months. I roll with the punches rather than trying to set an ultimate direction.
So trying to write a business plan was a struggle – I became overwhelmed with everything I’d need to do and all the skills I’d need to learn. It seemed ridiculous that I could do all of this around work and children.
So instead of trying to do things in the right way, I focused on the things I needed to do right now. Everyday I wake up and write down the 1 thing I need to do that will make the greatest difference. Everything and everyone else has to wait.
These tiny steps don’t feel like much at all - but after a couple of months you can see your progress. And eventually you will get there.
Find Yourself A Network of People Who Get It
Finding a group of women to support and inspire you when you’re aiming for something new is invaluable. Friends and family who’ll talk through your ideas with you and give you the honest feedback you don’t want to hear. Friends you can make online who will support you from afar having never met you in person.
In particular, seeing the progress of other women in the Mothers Meeting group has helped me understand I’m not alone in this. It’s hard, it’s a struggle but it’s 100% possible. Practical, no bullshit advice from women who have successfully set up their own businesses is more useful than generic business advice.
So if you’re looking to make a change after having a baby or already on your way, I wish you all the luck in the world. Whatever that change might be, I hope it brings you positivity and joy. And remember, there’s a group of women who are making it happen, so you can too.
I have been rattling my brain with trying to come up with a blog that isn’t half boring. But who knows you may well feel that way about this. Anyhoo! I thought I would start at the most obvious topic for me…. SEX! Why on earth is the word SEX still so controversial? Why is it in 2020 (and boy that’s been a crazy year to say the least) that we shy away from openly talking about SEX. Why is it that it comes with shame, embarrassment, and fear of not being good enough? I mean, I could on with the list but clearly this fairly negative.
But before I do that, I guess I should tell you who I am? My name is Manolee and I decided a long time ago that becoming a sex therapist would be a pretty awesome profession.
There is something fun about going to a party and meeting someone for the first time and them finding out you’re a sex therapist. Trust me I have heard it all, most people want to know that wildest thing I have heard. Well what is wild first of all? And of course I would never break client therapist confidentially.
So here’s the thing I am not like the sex therapist in ‘Meet the Fockers’ massages a part of some ones body and unlocks some hidden sex button that gets them going again. Trust me if I had that I would use that.
I’d like to think I help people to work through sexual difficulties that come up for them individually or when they are in a relationship. This excludes working through psychological or physiology difficulties (Your GP will be able to take the lead on that) but, it’s interesting don’t you think? We are taught most things in our life. Yet, its one of the things that brought us on to this planet? Much of teaching is limited at school and done through experience. Most it is fairly negative not really showing the side of pleasure and fun. Often people come to see me, when they are really in crisis and desperate for things to change. So if your worried that you will have to take your clothes off in therapy, please be assured that I wont even ask you to take your coat off. No one should have to suffer uncomfortable sex in silence. Please don’t, you really don’t have be silent.
I really believe sex can pleasurable, positive and fun for everyone.
BY SEX TALKING MAMA
I am Laura Abba, mother of two young and intense girls (20m and 3y and half), and as a Cognitive Hypnotherapist and Maternal Coach I run Mind the Mother, a safe space for mothers and mother to be to feel better. And there has always been the debate about luck, even with the mums I see. Because people “are” lucky or “are not” lucky. Like if it was the universe that flipped the coin and decided that for you. And where is your responsibility in all these? Is just the universe’s fault your luck? Whilst I do believe that there’s no freedom of choice, I also believe that I won’t be conditioned by that, or by whether the universe has assigned me any luck or not. Having said that, I believe that you own your own luck.
As a Cognitive Hypnotherapist, I work a lot with people’s unconscious minds. I know that we can rewire our brains to more of what we like. And with that comes our luck. I will introduce a few concepts for you to absorb, in your own time, for the penny to drop
* Your luck is conditioned by the positive or negative outlook of the world you have.
There are several studies done on luck. And they conclude that lucky people are more prone to see the positives in the same situation an unlucky person would see the negatives. A study done by Richard Wiseman1 asked a group of people to count the photographs in a newspaper, the unlucky people took in average 2 minutes. Whereas the lucky ones just a few seconds as on the second page there was a message saying “stop counting there are 43 photographs in this newspaper”.
What this means, is that you need to train your mind to look for the positives. When you find yourself only seeing negatives, think again, what are the positives?
* The mind works on what you feed it
What the thinker thinks, the prover proves. You mind only knows what you expose it to. The more you expose it to negative outcomes, the more negative outcomes you will get, as that's what your mind will know.
Be conscious of what you feed to your mind, and you will get more of that for your life.
* Be social
Lucky people don’t just run into people by chance. They make the chance by being there. I am not talking only about business. It is important to put yourself out there to expand your life. If you are single you might meet someone; you might meet a friend for life; you might actually be the person that can help somebody else. The possibilities are endless. Show up, be social.
* Be a change factor
Try a random act of kindness or plan it. It doesn’t matter. What it matters is that these good deeds are contagious, and in one way or another, they get back to you. It is a good way to give something to the universe and put a little gamble on your luck for it.
Many mums I see, come with low confidence, thinking that they can’t build their luck and compare themselves to others. With Cognitive Hypnotherapy the results come from within, taking ownership and being able to trust the process. Within the first session, most of the mums say that they feel more relaxed. From there, we can work on what they want, including their luck.
If you want to know how Cognitive Hypnotherapy and Maternal Coaching can help you, contact me or book your free insight call in here
DipCHyp, NLPP, HPD, NCH (Reg)
Cognitive Hypnotherapist & Maternal Coach
1 Richard Wiseman, author of The Luck Factor
When Jenny Scott became a mum, she didn't want to give up the rest of her identity and everything she loved doing. She created Mothers Meeting to meet like-minded women and remind the community that there's a world outside motherhood See less
watch the video here
facilitator - Roundhouse London📍Newham council
MILF’ing since ‘17
raised on pop tarts and Lauryn Hill.
Supporter of women. ❤️
“I’m pregnant!” I will never forget the look of confusion, mixed with slight panic, in the eyes of my fellow actresses as I made my announcement. I was at a private screening for a short film a college of mine had produced and I was happy to see quite a few within the industry that I knew.
“Do the agency know? They’re not going to like it just warning you.”
Not quite the reaction I was expecting. The panic set in. I was 5 months pregnant and not showing yet. I already had some anxiety about what my post baby body would be like and how long it would take me to be able to get back to auditioning. As a woman we’re constantly told by everything around us we’re just not good enough as we are, and that pressure is tenfold when you’re an actress. We want a women for this role that’s super talented but that also looks great on screen, we want you to be pretty, but not too pretty, skinny, sexy but not too sexy, authentic but not TOO real - (I mean we want to see a BIT of vulnerability but no one wants to see you have a genuine melt down about something that’s important to you Susan, that would just make people feel UNCOMFORTABLE and we certainly wouldn’t want that )
It’s one of the few industries out their where employers are actually allowed to politely tell you you’re too old for the job or just don’t have the right “look.” I felt the pressure of all this before but I never was actually too fussed about being overly skinny, I always stayed between a UK size 10 - 12 but pregnancy sent my brain into overdrive. I was in an unhappy relationship and the thought of being a new mum and losing a career that I loved on top of all that seemed like too much to bear. I started spending hours on the internet researching how long will it take to get my body back, how to hide a bump, working mum success stories, meal plans while breast feeding, top 5 tummy wraps, snapback body stories, how to still have energy with a new-born. After reading some disconcerting stories in mum chat rooms my google search changed. Effects of depression during pregnancy. Will my baby be born unhappy? How to know if you will suffer will post-natal depression. Top 10 signs you might get post-natal depression. I tried my hardest to put the thoughts out of my mind. At 6 months pregnant I was powering through a theatre show but My morning sickness was out of control I felt awful. My son’s dad begged me to stop. It was an all-female cast and I’d worked with the director before and she told me it was completely fine if I needed to drop out. However, I’d already worked out that if I did the performance at 7 months and then recovered quickly there wouldn’t be a massive gap in my CV. I flaunted my pregnancy to my friends and family but kept it a secret from my agent and employers. I remember going to an audition for a part in a bbc drama and hid my belly under a baggy top because I didn’t have the courage to say , “no, I can’t audition for this because I’m 7 months pregnant and if you hire me I’d most likely be giving birth on the floor of the set.”
Then the inevitable happened. I woke up one morning and BOOM. There it was. My son had moved from growing in my hips to full blown baby belly and no amount of clever fashion trickery was going to hide it. An audition came through (shockingly it was not for a programme or theatre show that needed an emotionally charged, heavily pregnant women that forgets where the hell she’s supposed to be going mid journey) so instead of drop everything and run to the audition like actors are expected to do I had to admit I was pregnant. But not just any old pregnant no no! I had to admit I was super-duper pregnant with bells on about to give birth any day now (I wish I could have been a fly on that wall) but it was fine. Nothing happened and the world didn’t come crashing down around me. I was proud of what I’d achieved during those months. I’d bonded with the growing baby in my belly at that point and I was just excited to meet him. A few days after my due date my son was born, my birth was straight forward I felt stronger than I’d ever been. All my fears of depression dissolved. My relationship completely broke down and I found myself alone with a tiny baby for the most part, but I knew everything was going to be okay.
I think Tighe was 3 weeks old when I got the email to say my agency was scaling down and they were letting me go, but best of luck in future. I felt deflated at first, I knew I could put myself forward for stuff on my own but I didn’t have time for that, I was a single mum now with a new born and I just wanted to be with my son. Then something amazing happened. I started to get messages from friends and people I’d worked with in the past, “Are you still acting? I’ve got an audition for you! I’d think you’d be great for this part / I’ve put your name forward for this...”
Tighe was four months old when I had my first day back on set of a short film and I felt great. I went on to be cast in a play with a company that had the budget to pay for my childcare and I got to bring Tighe on tour with me, he wasn’t even one yet! Most recently I did a one woman show and found out I’ve been nominated for Best Female Performance in a Play for 2020. Even just to be nominated goes to show how the industry is changing for mothers.
Yes, in the acting world a lot of these spaces are still run by middle aged white men that don’t get it and seeing an actress for a part with a family is a burden to them. Yes, it’s not still plain sailing at the moment, I still have inappropriate things said to me at auditions, I’ve lost jobs and opportunities because of my son. But there is also a revolution happening - women are refusing to audition for unrealistic two-dimensional parts, companies are offering childcare budgets for actors with children, women are writing work about abortion, motherhood, depression, and more and more places are putting these story’s on stage and on screen. I might not win the award I’ve been put forward for but as a single mum of a 2 year old it just goes to show if we keep pushing, keep sharing our stories and supporting each other, we will be seen, we will be heard, because we deserve to be here and be celebrated even after becoming someone’s mum.
BY KELLY MULLANE AKA https://citymumblog.wordpress.com
So I called this blog ‘City Mum’ because I’m a mum and I work in the City. To be honest, I don’t work in the City as such….my office is in Canary Wharf really. I do work for one of those giant financial institutions (although mine had nothing to do with the credit crisis…promise!) and I’ve been in this world for 8 years now. Before joining the universe of corporate policies and multiple computer screens, I was in the Army. I served for 7 years, I went to Iraq (twice) as well as other places, and although I was by no means the toughest mutha in the platoon (I wasn’t married nor a mum at that point and most of my old Army buddies will remember me as the chubby (okay, fat) jolly bird who was good at languages (I was an interpreter), I was pretty resilient in my own way – I achieved a bunch of stuff, made it to the rank of Captain and was pretty self-confident despite not looking fabulous in uniform (but let’s face it, only the very lucky ones do)).But then came the day that I decided to have a go in the ‘real world’. I uploaded my CV onto a load of websites and got a call a few weeks later from a retired Infantry Major who wanted to know whether I was interested in a role in the ‘City’. My first question was ‘which city?” (I kid you not!) And then once I had been thoroughly patronized, I stuck on my M&S suit, polished my sensible shoes and headed to St Paul’s to learn all about Investment Banking and how I had ‘transferable’ skills aplenty that these giant conglomerates would lap up in spades! And do you know what? They did!!Five roles in three different companies later, a fabulous female mentor or two (my first boss in the City was an incredible woman who taught me all about fabulous shoes and that civvies were all shit and wouldn’t do what I asked – even if I asked nicely)* I am now a slimmer (stress, coffee, a variety of crap, sawdust-based soup diets and then finally being sensible at slimming world!) and more stylish (much better wages and better shopping opportunities) version of that Army girl. I still like being in charge, I don’t like being questioned and watch yourself if you undermine me in any way (Immi and Ted don’t seem to understand this yet). I crack on with tasks – often not bothering to think about the wider strategic picture (Ooh how I remember the Combat Estimate – as long as my two-up boss has given me the steer, I know what I need to do – why do I need to check with absolutely everyone and their managers?! Oooooh, decisions by committee…what fun! FFS!)So what’s it like as a mum in the City? I have literally no time – as mentioned in all my early blog, I’m still in a minority group and I’m often the only woman in the meeting. Oh and I’m not paid as much as my male colleagues but that’s all starting to change. There are lots of women’s networks discussing women breaking through those glass ceilings, corporate policies, important business ideas and preparing for the next generations to join us in the workplace and nothing like how the old boys, desperate to hold on to the power, refer to us. No, we are not knitting groups! Christ, my bra literally self-ignited after hearing that little gem recently! But to honest, I’m much the same as any other working mum – I prepare my work outfit the night before (who has time to hunt for that other earring?!), I scrape food off my shoulders before getting to the office, I’m always surgically connected to my mobile in case school or our childminder (Mary Poppins) calls. I leave the office early even though I’ll be working much later that everyone else and I need a ‘mummy pass’ to join in with the office drinks on a Thursday night (thanks to the long-suffering bearded one who never says no!). I like being a City mum – I don’t always like my job but coming home to my little rays of sunshine is always the best welcome home ever. And I always hold on to the fact that although a lot of these City-types think they’re masters of the universe, they haven’t really experienced much outside this bubble of a world – and I’ve definitely got one or two up on them there!* She didn’t mean all civvies – only some of them! And she didn’t actually say ‘civvies’ – she said ‘people’ but at the time, ‘civvies’ is what I heard!
Clockwise from top left: Aisha Carrington; Rebecca Walker; Leila Fataar; Katy Worwood; Caroline Watson; Rima Theisen; Founder of Mothers Meeting, Jenny Scott; Carrie Anne Roberts
‘Mothers Meeting is a collective, a community, a welcoming space for women, because motherhood is hard. When you wake up and feel really sad for no reason, even though you’ve got a healthy child, only another mother could understand that. So, it’s really important to have a platform where you can vent, whether it’s how you didn’t sleep the night before, or because you’ve got a business idea and don’t know how to make it happen. Having that group of women around you – who are ready to listen and give you feedback – empowers mothers to be the best version of themselves.
‘The idea for Mothers Meeting came from my heart. It wasn’t about making money, it was
about making friends. I gave birth to my first baby, Sonny, when I was 28, and had no idea
that having a child would change anything. I didn’t realise motherhood would be so hard,
or that I’d be so lonely. So, I thought, I’ve got to do something about this. I looked in Time Out
for an exhibition that I wanted to go to, but knew if I just said I was going, I’d end up watching The Jeremy Kyle Show in my pyjamas and feeling sorry for myself. So, because I’m a graphic designer, I designed a poster [inviting others] to go to the exhibition and put it on social media. Then I had to go, in case someone else turned up. One person came to the first one, and that was the beginning of Mothers Meeting. I started a blog and it grew organically; [it seemed there were] more and more women who wanted to be mums, but also didn’t want it to be the end of their lives.
‘Mothers Meeting has been my saviour; it’s like my fourth child. I’ve got three children:
Sonny is nine, Jasmine is five and Sky is two, and each time I’ve had a newborn, I’ve found
motherhood lonely in different ways. When Jasmine was eight months old and Sonny was
five, their dad cheated on me and left, so Mothers Meeting became my best friend in
a way, and it has changed and evolved with me. ‘We’ve hosted more than 500 Mothers
Meeting events now. We have our meet-ups for Soho House members, we do events for brands
from Netflix to Estée Lauder, and we have an online group with about 200 members. It’s full
of so many different types of women.
One of the things I was really psyched about before
I had my first baby, was meeting people who worked in different jobs beyond the industry
that I was operating in. As a graphic designer working in streetwear, I was going to the same
type of events and talking to the same kind of people. I was so excited that I’d be able to sit in
a room with lawyers and estate agents and people from all different walks of life when I
had a baby. I think a lot of mum groups are very white and very middle class, but Mothers
Meeting has always been diverse. Our Instagram [page] is full of quotes you can relate
to, whatever your age or background. I try to find our common ground.
‘We’re all here to inspire and support each other; to watch these women grow together is
just amazing. Mothers Meeting gives so many women a springboard. Loads of mums have
come to me and said they’d really like to do a talk about a certain subject, then that talk has
been seen by [someone from] a publishing company. More than 20 women have launched
books off the back of attending our events. ‘Honesty is really important in building
a community. When you have a baby and meet people, it’s always, “How are you doing?” “Great!” Because for that split second, you are alright. But when I introduce Mothers Meeting events, I’m always like, “I’m really grateful for you being here today because, no matter what type of mum you are, whether you work full time or stay at home, it’s really hard.” I want everyone in Mothers Meeting to feel like they’re on an equal footing; all the speakers at the events that we put on talk in a way that’s accessible. It might be a highbrow subject, but we always make it digestible. ‘How do you build a family out of a group of strangers? Talk from your heart. I think that’s really important. There’s so much bullshit out there these days – as soon as people feel like you are being real, it gives them licence to drop their guard. I try to pair people up, knowing who’s doing what and who would get on with who. I’ve done that since I was a kid; my mum used to say I was like the Pied Piper. I love
bringing everyone together, I get a thrill from introducing people to one another.’
SOHO HOUSE X MOTHERS MEETING
Joining forces with private members club Soho House - we are delighted to launch a 6 month series of inspiring and motivating talks.
When women gather we can go further and faster together. Mothers Meeting serves as a community that brings mothers with the desire to keep their identity alive at the same time as 'raising the future’ we do this through friendship, support circles, professional mentoring, networking, events, workshops and bonding over shared experience.
MOTHERS MEETING SOFA SESSION turns the usual mum and baby coffee morning on its head and creates that special time with your baby to learn, spread ideas and get inspired! Perfect for those seeking a deeper understanding of the new found world of 'parenthood', Mothers Meeting Sofa Sessions welcomes mothers from every discipline and culture, providing an opportunity to discover new paths and ideas all with a little person in tow. Mothers Meetings is for those mothers who wish to see motherhood not as the end of their lives but just the beginning.
We want our community of ‘women who happen to be mothers’ to engage with ideas and each other, both online and in person at our Sofa Sessions. We will discuss culture, business, life, art, design and the most complicated issue 'surviving every day as a mother’ - the ups, and downs.
If you think you would like to talk/advertise etc at one of our events drop us a line - firstname.lastname@example.org