Stop dreaming, start doing

The Step Up Club is a fresh, new voice in the women’s career conversation. We are here to celebrate all women – whatever your job. The two of us sit at either ends of the creative/corporate spectrum: we know that it’s just as valid to aspire to career contentment, as it is to want to become your company’s next CEO. We are the authors of the newest women’s career manual: Step Up: Confidence, Success and Your Stellar Career in 10 Minutes a Day. Through our stylish events, online content and newsletter, our aim is to make women feel empowered, boost their skill set and broaden their network to really love their work and life.

Phanella is a former lawyer and banker who retrained as an executive career coach, working (alongside The Step Up Club) on women’s leadership and diversity with all kind of big companies as well as individuals. Alice is a former fashion features editor at The Times, Marie Claire and Red, who alongside The Step Up Club continues to write freelance for many of the broadsheets and glossies. Between us we have five children and live in North West London.

How has digital technology and social media changed the way you work?

Getting our message out there has definitely been enabled by social media and digital technology. Our book, of course, exists offline and contains a huge body of content, career workouts and advice. But without our blog and social feeds, it would be that much more difficult to get the more personal element of support out to our community of women – many of whom can’t make it to our events in person. We are working on a full online programme to reach and connect these women, but in the meantime we rely on these other channels to have an impact.

It is hard, when Instagram and similar feeds are bursting with edited images of life perfection from all corners of the world. It takes a mind of steel to remain completely unmoved by this – but as we say at the start of our book, finding success (and when we talk about success, we do so with a view to all facets of life) is about celebrating our own uniqueness and not allowing ourselves to have the lives of others impressed upon us negatively. Sure, it’s brilliant if other women inspire us to reach our own goals, but it is also important that we stay true to our own beliefs and values, which is why we spend a lot of time helping readers (and attendees at our events) unearth theirs. We like to refer to values as the hashtags of our lives: we can’t get away from social media, but we can let it help us guide us towards our own success.

What are your confidence building tips for women in business?

We feel passionately that confidence is an integral part of career success, fulfilment and enjoyment. Confidence turns our thoughts into actions, it is the emotional driver that we hold within ourselves and women do tend to struggle more acutely with confidence levels. Why? Because our internal thoughts, the ones that make us empathetic, kind, unique and brilliant, also have the capacity to hold us down. Who hasn’t succumbed to the voice inside their heads that says we aren’t good enough, or that that other person is much more capable? Of course, everyone has these thoughts but when we allow them to feel comfortable within our heads – when we let the proverbial devil dwell for too long – it has a negative impact on how we feel, how we function and in turn, how others respond to us too.

Confidence is not innate, which means that we all have the capacity to change our internal rhetoric and in turn, build our confidence. Also, in our book, we explore fully the practical tips that you can employ to also improve your confidence levels from the outside in. Neither will happen overnight, but if you can break the negative belief cycles that dictate your thoughts, and implement some positive physical changes – standing bigger, speaking more slowly and taking the time to really listening, all of us can become a more confident, self-assured version of your current self.

Finally, we believe that each of us is uniquely brilliant. We each have our own unique definition of success and if we play to that – no one else’s – then we will feel more confident about our careers.


Alice and Phanella are following…

Style Me Sunday: We love Nat’s no bullshit message, incredible sense of style and massive smile. She is gorgeous inside and out. We are especially loving her Friday finger slot.

Cherry Healey: We’ve both been watching Cherry on TV for years and she brings the same sense of humour, openness and honesty to her social feed and in real life.


The Step Up Club

We send out a weekly newsletter with loads of career advice, our latest blog posts, first dibs on our event tickets – they often sell out here first – and (coming soon) discounts on our favourite work related brands. At the moment we’re giving away an exclusive excerpt from our book that WILL help readers define their personal success when they sign up. Just follow this link: bit.ly/SuccessGiveaway.

Solving the work puzzle

Meet Anna Ives, owner of HR Puzzle, an independent HR consultancy. Anna’s story is strangely similar to mine in many ways – she took redundancy from a career job whilst pregnant and then struggled to find flexible employment post-baby. The frustration we collectively feel as women in this regard seems to be having positive outcomes however. Firstly, women are campaigning harder than ever to achieve flexible working rights for all (not just mums and dads), and secondly it’s breeding a new generation of female entrepreneurs, surely something to be celebrated? Anna’s new company offers support, advice and assistance to those very women.

What led you to setup your HR consultancy?

Picture the scenario, you’ve just found out you are pregnant, you feel amazingly happy, scared, excited and in shock all at the same time. You’ve made the decision to only tell your family and a few close friends before your first scan and you’ll tell your employer after that. Then you get called into a meeting at work and are told the life changing news (at any time, let alone when pregnant) that you are being made redundant.

That’s precisely the situation I faced just over two years ago. I literally couldn’t believe it. I had worked at the insurance company in question for about two and a half years as a HR Business Partner. I had graduated with a BA in Business and HR and started my first role as a HR Assistant 10 years prior. I had experience in working in a number of different sectors such as the NHS, education and local government, as well as large national and multinational private companies across IT and communications, insurance and service provider consultancies. I even went back to university to gain a Masters in HR Management (studying part-time, while working full-time) and I’m a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD).

What was I going to do? I didn’t want to be out of work for the next six months of my pregnancy (although it would be lovely, and I wanted to have time off with the baby when she arrived).) So, I took a few short-term contracts and ended up working two days before my little girl Beatrix was born in November 2015.

Fast forward nine months and I felt I was ready to start looking to return to work, I was fully aware the redundancy money wouldn’t last forever and I was looking forward to finding a new flexible/part-time role. After about two months of searching I hit a wall, I just couldn’t find any flexible or part-time positions in HR. I knew I didn’t want a full-time role, and it had always been a dream to set up my own HR Consultancy, so why not now? So with the rest of my redundancy money I set up HR Puzzle. I specialise in helping mums and women with SMEs, for those who already have or want to take on an employee/s and all things HR related.

How is digital technology and social media enabling the way you work?

The whole process of setting up and running my own business was new to me. Digital technology has enabled the flexible working pattern I require. Not only does it allow me to work where I want, and when I want, but also allows me to serve clients who aren’t always local me to. I can send emails with a sleeping baby lying on me, or after we visit the park and she is napping on the way home in her buggy. In many cases HR can be dealt with remotely and digital technology enables this.

Social media has also taken on a whole new meaning. I have always had a love affair with Instagram and it was one of the things that inspired me to set up my own business. Lots of really inspirational women, some who are parents, and have great careers or have their own business – showing you can have it all.

I have found lots of great people to speak with and to also help share my journey with through social media. I also regularly use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. It does take a long time but I can already see the rewards and it’s a great way to find new opportunities. After all I wouldn’t be writing this piece on here if it wasn’t for the power of social media.

What are your top tips for women starting a new business?

  1. Follow your passion. It may sound like a cliché but when you do, it doesn’t really feel like work. What I am really passionate about is helping others, especially those I can relate to – in this case women and mothers.
  2. Find a shared work place. I started off working at home to save on costs and a few months in was going stir crazy. I’m a people person and I am at my best when around others. I found a local hot desk via Wenta who offer loads of free business support including a three month free trial. This really helped with bouncing ideas off others in similar situations. I even joined a few Facebook groups who have meet-ups for those who work from home.
  3. Market your business. There are lots of free ways to do this out there, especially on social media, so make use of it. Join groups, follow others (even those with the same businesses) and comment on people’s posts. You never know where this will take you. Don’t get me wrong it’s a long and hard process but it will pay off. Why pay someone else when in the early stages you will have the time to do this yourself.

Anna is following…

Laura from @themodernnursery: she actually inspired me to set up my own business. Her blog post about how she started her business when she had her little girl inspired me to do the same.

Next is my new girl crush! The gorgeous @Eimearvarianbarry. I first heard her of her when I signed up to a Mothers Meeting session on “How to Get Social Media Savvy”. She is so down to earth and talks nineteen to the dozen but you can’t help but watch her. She has two little girls and works around them flexibly, another inspiration of mine.

Finally, it has to be @blossomingbirds not only do we share the same name but again she is an inspiration. She has a really good career and is a mother with two little girls, and has an amazing blog. I just don’t know where she gets her energy!


Anna’s work

hr-puzzle.com
instagram.com/hr.puzzle

My HR services include contract writing, policy & processes, employment law advice, recruitment, training, company handbooks, performance issues and absence management.

I am also campaigning for more businesses to take on flexible roles and helping to support mums with getting back to work after maternity leave/applying for flexible working, just to name a few.

I have some great events coming up, but one that I am really excited about is the Mums Enterprise Roadshow, a child friendly work and business exhibition for mums on a mission (#shootforthemoon). I will be an exhibitor at the London show on Monday 25th September 2017.

The blogger making her own luck

Meet Sunita Harley an HR consultant, blogger and event organiser. She is one busy lady and is organising no fewer than 10 social and networking events around the UK this year.  Sunita has also been asked to speak on a panel at Blogtacular and has recently been nominated for London’s Top Mummy Blogger Award by The Mother Hood. So who better to ask about how to run a successful blog and host events than Sunita.

Tell us about yourself

I blog over at Lucky Things, chatting about confidence, career, wellbeing, life and style. Having gone through IVF myself, I also spread awareness of IVF experiences and the support available.

My career is pretty diverse – from editorial, fashion, the music industry and DJ-ing (where I appeared on Top of The Pops a few times!). I’ve spent the last the past 15 years working with talented teams in corporate HR and now run my own HR consultancy. One thing I love about my HR expertise is that I also coach business women and  bloggers on their confidence and strategies to achieve different things.

I know myself that life is full of ups and downs. So I try to encourage others to look after their own confidence as well as their online and offline wellbeing.

How has digital technology and social media changed the way you work?

Well, I’ve realised how you can support people through blogging and social media. If I had thought of looking at blogs or Instagram when I went through IVF I think I would have benefited from loads of support. If I have a business query, I check out other blogs.

I’m a connector and this is important part of my work. I love Instagram as it connects me with lots of different people. With my HR consultancy, things like LinkedIn and Instagram are super helpful.

What are your top tips for running events?

DO

  • Plan ahead as much as you can, this means getting save the dates out or confirming dates even if it’s months in advance. This also means working how much you need to do, what’s a priority and what’s manageable.
  • Do your research. Ask people what they want from an event – never assume.
  • Make sure you eat and drink well before or during your event. When you’re an organiser, it’s easy to switch into hostess mode and forget about yourself. When I mention drink well, I’m recommending staying hydrated (not loads of booze!).
Sunita and friends at a recent Lucky Things event in London.

DON’T

  • Don’t try and do everything yourself. Ask for help or accept offers of help even with small things on the day.
  • Don’t worry if something doesn’t go to plan on the day. Events are really hard work. Sometimes there are things beyond your control or they might be insignificant in the big scale of things.
  • Don’t be afraid to try things out. Some event ideas will work, some won’t. It’s your intention that’s important and you always learn something from each one.

How do you make your blog a success?

Start with you
Figure out how much you can actually blog. Blogging could be a 24/7 thing if we had enough energy and hours in the day. I’ve seen bloggers overwork or put too much pressure on themselves when blogging should be fun.

Don’t set high expectations
We can’t do everything and be on every social media channel constantly. Don’t worry about what other bloggers are doing – focus on what you want to get out of your blog.

Be a collaborator rather than a competitor
OK, so a bit of competition is healthy at times as it ups our energy and drive. But don’t let it consume you. Collaborations are one of the best ways that my blog Lucky Things has gained exposure on different social media channels and to different reader groups. When people have approached me about appearing in interviews, it’s been a great way to get to know other bloggers too.

What do people want to read about?
If you want people to read your blog, then think about what people want to read about? The blogging sphere is saturated with blogs. So what makes your story or your blog stand out? People love reading about top tips. They also enjoy reading about who the blogger is. Your story will make your blog stand out? A lot of people come to my blog for practical tips, whether it’s about career, wellbeing or IVF. I’m super excited about speaking at Blogtacular this year about looking after our wellbeing whilst blogging and managing life and work online.

Promote your posts via social media
Don’t be shy to using social media platforms to promote your blog posts. Bloggers put in a lot of effort when writing posts. Mention your blog posts on your favourite social media corners. I always flag new (and old) blog posts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Different people like different platforms. If you’d like to read more blogger tips, check out this blog post.


Sunita is following…

@the_mama_works: I love Sarah’s Instagram posts. Her mottos always give me a boost. Her advice always feels practical.

@kemikids: Yvonne is a true business woman who also has a strong and bold heart. Her captions on her Instagram post are inspiring.

@mother_pukka: Not only is Anna the first blogger I came across who also loves 90s hip hop, she’s also making serious moves to push forward the #flexappeal campaign. This is something close to my professional heart as a HR bod. Who doesn’t want to work flexibly?

I’ve been lucky to have met Sarah, Anna and Yvonne in real life over the past year. I love how supportive, focused and down-to-earth they all are. They have all given me good advice.


Sunita’s work

luckythings.co.uk
instagram.com/luckythingsblog
facebook.com/luckythingsblog
twitter.com/@luckythingsblog

Lucky Things Meet Up: social and networking events for women. In 2017, I’m organising 10 events to take place around the UK. They always feature a talk so people leave with some practical takeaways for their own personal and professional development. Lucky Things Meet Ups are known for being friendly and inclusive events which I love. You can check out the video promo here if you want to see what we got up to at the January Lucky Things Meet Up.

During my HR career over the past 15 years, I’ve coached clients to work on their professional and personal goals.  If you’d like to find out more about how coaching can help your confidence, business or career pop over to this corner of Lucky Things.

As my blog focuses a lot on career, confidence and wellbeing, it’s lovely that I’ve been nominated for 2017 London’s Top Mummy Blogger over at themother-hood.com (only 20 of us have been selected). I’m pretty proud that I’m not a blogger with huge numbers of followers – but proving that you can still get involved in interesting things when you’re a so-called “micro-blogger”. Take a look and if you’d like to vote for me, I’d of course appreciate it! Voting opens at the end of April over at themother-hood.com

Getting to grips with digital

Meet Maxine Kerley, a digital marketer and owner of Digital Bon Bons, a marketing company for parent and children focused businesses.

Tell us about yourself

I am a digital geek and I can’t hide it. I’ve worked for a number of different industries over the years from a dental software company to a fashion brand and it was while I was working for this fashion brand that I really discovered and fell in love with digital marketing. I say love because I really did, it hit me hard and to have something you do for a living be a passion as well – I’m grateful for that.

I’d had experience working with parent and children focused brands in previous job roles and it was while I was on maternity leave with my daughter Ava, that I really started to get to know these type of businesses and what their challenges were. I returned to work in 2015 and then last summer created Digital Bon Bons – a marketing company helping business owners reach their target audiences of parents and children, digitally. I officially launched on New Year’s Eve 2016.

Top tips

Getting to grips with digital marketing takes time and making a business work online can take even longer. For a business owner, you want to see results for all the efforts you’re putting in. I’ve collated together some tips that can help you get started.

Get verified

You have a fantastic website and it’s live but Google doesn’t know about it and it won’t until you verify. You need to tell it that it’s there, waiting to be crawled and picked up for search results. This is done using Google Search Console, so you will need a Gmail Account to do this, but a Gmail Account is so important, especially if you want to take advantage of Google Analytics too. Once verified you will start seeing your site appear in listings.

Have a plan

To really make a success of digital marketing in your business you need to have a strategy outlining your goals. Ask yourself – “What do I actually want to achieve with my digital marketing?”. Is it website hits, e-commerce sales, thought leader? Whatever your goals, you need to have these on record. The next step is creating a plan. This will detail how you will achieve those goals, the actual methods that will be put in place across all the digital platforms you are using. This will not only help you stay focused but will save hours of time, crawling the internet for content ideas, posts, designing newsletters late into the night.

Local search

You want your business to get found when people type words into search engines – this is all down to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and one of the big topics so far this year is about ‘local search’. If you have a local business, for example, a class or a bricks and mortar shop then you need to be thinking about local search. Using tools like Google My Business to highlight all your business information is really key. This means when someone is searching and your business is applicable, it will not only pop up in the page results but also on the right hand side with a box full of your images, website, opening times, address and reviews.

Use tools

Being your own boss is hard work and time management is an issue a lot of my clients struggle with when it comes to social media. With so many platforms and trying to reach the right customers, it can be overwhelming trying to keep up. A social media management system is a huge help in not only planning your posts and content but also for providing reporting so that you can see how well it is all going or where your challenges are. I’ve used several systems over the years so some of my recommendations are Buffer, Hootsuite, Sprout Social (ideal for larger businesses), Planoly and Later. The last two are specifically for Instagram and while they won’t automatically post for you like other systems for Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, it does prompt reminders for you. Come on Instagram, change that API and help us business owners out huh!

Digital success definitely doesn’t happen overnight, even though it may seem that way for some. It takes work and planning but it can be done and you can do it.


Maxine’s following…

Doing it for the Kids
When I launched the business I discovered Frankie’s account on Instagram and it was brilliant. For a newly launched business I felt like I was amongst friends. The community she has created around DIFK is brilliant because not only are there regular blog posts from inspirational people but you always feel you have support and you’re never alone.

A Branch of Holly
Her blog is filled with productivity tips to help keep you focused on what you want to achieve in your business. I’ve read so many of her amazing post on helping you manage your time, how to achieve better results in your blog and much more. She is truly fantastic at what she does.

Emma Gannon
I discovered Emma on Twitter first and before I knew it I found her Podcasts and I just couldn’t stop listening. She interviews truly amazing women about their journeys, their inspiration and it’s funny and light.  Her website is a fantastic hub of life online and last year she published her first book of the same name all about growing up online. So many things I identified with having grown up with Yahoo Chat and AOL, not to mention a dial up modem.


Maxine’s work…

digitalbonbons.com
instagram.com/digitalbonbons
twitter.com/digitalbonbons
facebook.com/digitalbonbons
pinterest.com/digitalbonbons

The authentic face of PR

Kelly Pike is an arts and culture PR Consultant based in Bristol, and owner of Folk Public Relations. The phenomenal rise of digital and social media has changed the landscape of public relations. With that in mind we asked Kelly to share her thoughts on the industry, the age of the social media influencer, and how best to promote your business online.

Tell us about yourself

A lot of things can lead a girl into PR and for me it was books and a love of talking to people. Non stop. I spent most of my career working in London publishing houses looking after household names and award winners of all kinds. I loved it. Big time. But children and London’s crazy property ladder saw a move to the south-west and Folk Public Relations was born. Slowly and on the back of very little sleep. I specialise in arts and culture PR but am excitingly branching out into some mama-brands such as This Mum Runs.

How has digital technology and social media changed the PR landscape?

Recently I’ve found myself thinking back to the start of my career, in the early noughties. Back then we used to joke about bloggers asking for review copies and how really they were for their nan or a present. Not for promotion. Publicity was very traditional then. It probably hadn’t changed for decades. Digital technology and the social media revolution have changed my industry more than many. It’s not enough to get great coverage in a women’s glossy or a TV show. Now a campaign needs to feel holistic and organic. And it needs to feel real.

Social media is a key part of this. We’ve seen the traditionally fairly separate disciplines of marketing and publicity merge so that quite often now publicity includes social media marketing and all my plans will include social media influencers now in the way they used to include celebrities.

It’s actually quite nice because I think it all feels a bit more authentic. Influencers are already your target demographic so what you end up with is publicity which feels much more authentic and real. And PR which feels like that is much more likely to end up creating the much courted and incredibly elusive word of mouth affect.

What are your top PR tips for women wanting to promote themselves and their businesses online?

What social media has also done, of course, is make promoting yourself much more accessible. Social media influencers should be the core part of anyone’s campaign; sometimes the only part of your campaign. And because you can usually contact them directly through Instagram or twitter, there’s no excuse.

Make it authentic
You need to get to know the influencers and treat them as people. Chat to them, make friends. It’s social media after all. Then they are much more likely to want to help you by featuring your product. And you gain some new friends. Win, win. It all makes sense really. Call it PR karma if you will.

Stories
If a career in book publishing has taught me anything it’s the power of the story. Stories sell; stories get under the skin; stories help people connect with a product. Everyone has a story and the key to a great PR campaign is finding its story. I will always ask my clients if there are any personal stories behind what they are selling. And there is always something – be it that eureka moment, a journey through adversity or a family member who inspired them.

Read the papers
Whilst social media adds depth and voice to your campaign and many great brands have started out there, you lose nothing by knowing the media. I keep a reference collection of newspapers to remind myself of columns and writers and headlines which work well. And I read as much as I can. You then start to get a sense of where your story will work best – life and style sections for example, or first person columns. Keep and eye on the news to see if you can use it as a launch pad for an opinion piece.

And don’t be afraid to pick up the phone
I’ve noticed that fewer people like to do this. It feels almost rude but it’s still the best way to make sure things happen. At least you know they’ve heard you when you speak to them.

Don’t give up. Keep being you. Making friends. You’ll get there in the end.


Kelly’s is following…

This Mum Runs: I recently started running. I never ran. Ever. I would stand in the cold and laugh in people’s faces weekly at the park run as I waited yet again at Park Run. I would never run. But then I came across This Mum Runs and it’s ethos has been a total game changer for me. Mel Bound is an incredibly inspiring woman who has made it her mission to empower women who felt like they had lost themselves, or felt lonely, isolated, depressed or just lacking in me-time and give them headspace through free social runs and a hugely supportive, welcoming and active Facebook community. She also runs a totally parent friendly business and she recently was picked as a figurehead for a huge Facebook campaign #SheMeansBusiness and was picked by the Sunday Times as one of their 100 disrupters.  They have done incredible things in the south-west but are expanding to London in April. I urge all mums everywhere to check her out.

Doing It For The Kids: One day when I was felling a bit worried about where my next project was coming from I came across Frankie and her blogline Doing It For The Kids. We got chatting and before I knew it I was writing for her. It has hugely increased my love and engagement with Instagram because the community of freelance parents there are so supportive. We’re all going through the same issues. It’s great to not feel alone. Plus I got some projects out of it


Kelly’s work

folkpublicrelations.co.uk
twitter.com/publicistkelly
instagram.com/bristol_mama

Coach your way to success

Ruth Kudzi had a successful career in recruitment before moving into education, where she was a senior manager for 10 years. It was during the selection and coaching process for a fast-track head teacher program, that she became interested in retraining as a business coach. Ruth realised her skills and natural aptitude could lead to a successful career. Finding a job which fitted around family life, utilised her expertise, and that she felt passionately about, has proved a winning formula. Ruth now specialises in supporting mums who want to achieve in business. If anyone knows how to do it she does, so we asked Ruth to share her career story and top tips for aspiring businesswomen.

Tell us about yourself

I am Ruth, I started my career in recruitment and executive search before moving into education. I spent 12 years working in education, the last nine as a senior leader and consultant. In 2011 I was selected to be part of a fast track program for aspiring head teachers. Through the program I got a coach and I found the impact transformational. I started to become really interested in coaching and I began to coach on a voluntary basis as well as through work, completing various courses and training.

When I became pregnant with my first daughter I started more coaching training and set up my own blog, I worked on this and a couple of other ventures during my first maternity leave but didn’t put much effort into making them work. When I returned to work full time I found juggling my career and my home life really hard, I knew I wanted to start up on my own. So, I completed more training, got myself a coach and started coaching. It took me about six months to settle on my niche working with mums and it wasn’t until Autumn 2016 that I decided to focus on the business element. By this stage I was an experienced and qualified coach and I realised that my passion lay with helping mums create the work/life balance that I had been able to create.

I love working with mums on their businesses and it is very satisfying seeing other mums build the lives that they want and develop successful businesses.

How has digital technology and social media changed the way you work?

It means that I can be a lot more flexible in where I work and how I work. I have clients from all over the world so I can communicate with them easily which I would never have been able to do before.

I have really used social media to build my brand which was invaluable when I had my youngest with me full time, it meant that people could find out about me without meeting me.

I have built up a strong group in Facebook and on Instagram and have met so many brilliant women – women who I am working with, collaborating with and who are working for me in various roles. It has been amazing to hook up with all of these women and help each other.

What are your top tips for mums who want to start their own businesses?

Money matters
I think planning is key and I know it is boring but financials, work out exactly how much money you need and then add 20% to that. So many businesses fail as they haven’t got their head around the financials, if these really aren’t your thing get an accountant or a book keeper to help you.

Support network
Getting support and building a network around you is key. It can be really lonely so finding others doing a similar thing is a great way of having the team aspect without working in an office. If you don’t know how to do something or you lack confidence then get someone to help you. I work with lots of women who have tried to do everything on their own and they find themselves becoming burnt out and demotivated, there are people who can help you so use them.

Devote time to yourself
Spend time on you every day. You are your business and you need to value yourself and nuture yourself for your business to be a success. When you focus on you and being the best version of you it will have a massive impact on your business (and your life).


Ruth is following…

Mother Pukka is bloody brilliant for her flex appeal campaign, she speaks to so many women as we do still want to work but just more flexibly.

Rachel McMichael

Rachel McMichael (aka the techspert) is a lady I have worked with on tech and she is really inspiring, she is the person to go to for tech presented in a really user friendly way (and is a whizz on Facebook ads).

marie forleo

I love Marie Forleo and my coach Emily Williams is awesome. They are both really authentic to themselves and show how you can create mega businesses online.


Ruth’s work

ruthkudzicoaching.com
instagram.com/ruthkudzicoach
facebook.com/groups/careerchangemums
twitter.com/ruthkudzicoach

How one Cheltenham mum is connecting the Cotswolds

Kate Starkey is the woman behind CheltenhamMaman – a website that not only publishes articles and information for the trendy mums of Cheltenham and the surrounding Cotswolds, it also connects them by hosting a range of live events. It’s hard to believe Kate only started the company last year and its appeal is growing rapidly. Recent notable events have included the book launch of Clemmie Hooper’s ‘How to Grow a Baby and Push It Out’ (@mother_of_daughters). It’s inspiring to hear the back story to a business which from the outside might appear effortlessly glamourous. Clearly a lot of hard work goes into producing the content and running the events, so with that in mind we asked Kate to share her story and explain what it’s really like to run an online business whilst juggling family life.

Kate Starkey Cheltenham maman
Kate with her youngest child. Credit: Gill Thomas Photography

Tell us about yourself

My journey to a career in journalism was rudely interrupted by the surprise (but ever so wonderful) arrival of my first child at the tender age of 20 swiftly followed by his brother just eighteen months later. I spent the next decade working my way up the career ladder as a multi tasker and manager in the NHS before trading it all in again for a new baby and the search for a life that needs to work around my family. I needed a way to make staying at home work financially and in the middle of one of those long nights you have far too many of with a newborn I came up with my big idea. I launched CheltenhamMaman a blogzine and events site for the super cool Mums of glorious Gloucestershire in June of 2016 and I’ve been trying to keep up with it ever since.

How has digital technology and social media changed the way you work?

It’s not just changed the way I work – it has enabled it. I firmly believe that a business like mine wouldn’t have had a place without social media. My social media platforms are really the foundations on which the main site, the blog and the events are built upon.

Having been a new mum before the digital revolution I can state first hand that the likes of Instagram and Facebook have completely transformed my pregnancy, childbirth and mothering experience. That first year of motherhood is one of the most lonely times a woman can experience and stepping into a virtual world that connects you with other Mums who have had just as little sleep and are feeling just as overwhelmed as you is so empowering.

But of course there’s a flip side. Lots of mums out there have built up rock solid relationships via their mobile phones with people they have no intention of ever meeting in the flesh. That’s where I come in – I provide opportunities for Mums to build on these virtual communities, get outside, get some fresh air and feel better about themselves on and offline.

Mums pushing buggies Cheltenham Maman

What advice would you give to aspiring business women?

  • If your business is based online be prepared to spend a lot of time sat behind your laptop and be open to finding more sociable ways to do that and also to control it as you’re never far away from work and it can end up taking control of your life. Your website is your shop front so make sure it is well presented at all times. Spend money on a decent logo and web theme and schedule a monthly reminder to edit your ‘about’ page and read all of your content. It’s really easy to spot a site that’s not cared for and refreshed.
  • You’ll be in one of two camps and will either spend time fussing over every image and every article or you’ll be a little more decisive like me and just publish it and see where it goes. Always make sure you test out the pathways that you are shouting about on social media – don’t tell your audience to click on this link if it’s not going to land on the right page – as an end user there is nothing more likely to make you switch off.
Kate Starkey Cheltenham Maman and Mother Pukka
Kate invited Mother Pukka to speak at her launch event before she had a strong following – looks like it paid off! Credit: Mouse About Town.
  • On the events front you need to be fairly ballsy as the costs for venues and catering can be really high and the day you release tickets is always terrifying. I invited Mother Pukka (above) to be my main speaker at my launch event before I had any followers at all at a time when I was really undecided about the site and where it was headed. I told myself that if she accepted my invitation to speak it was destined to be and I would just get on with making it work. She did and so did I!
  • It’s also worth remembering that events are seriously labour intensive and I guarantee that you will work harder and earn less than you did in your old day job – its’ easy to watch other people doing it and think it’s all glamour and huge profit margins – not true! If things go wrong there’s no-one to hide behind and every hiccup eats in to any profit you might have built in (which is your reward!) When the Scummy Mummies came to Cheltenham for a sell out evening of comedy the lift to the venue broke and at midnight it was just me and the sound man lugging the staging and PA equipment down a spiral staircase. More recently I hosted Clemmie Hooper (@mother_of_daughters) as part of her book tour and included a copy of her book in the ticket price. Two days before the event there was still no sign of the books and that was nobody’s problem but mine.
Kate Starkey Cheltenham Maman and Clemmie Hooper
Hosting events like the book launch for Clemmie Hooper can be stressful – particularly when the books offered in the ticket price don’t show up on time! Credit: Felix & Fox.
  • On the flip side it’s great to be the one that is bringing together groups of women who have so much in common. You can feel the collective sigh of relief in Cheltenham right now from mums who are so pleased that at last they have somewhere to congregate and just be themselves free from judgment and restrictions to behave a certain way just because they are mums.

Kate’s following…

dee campling

Locally I’m loving following Dee Campling (@deecampling). She’s a Cheltenham mum of three too but is busy showing us all how to get the cool back into our homes when the children are a little older and we have fewer sticky fingers to contend with. Dee and I are hoping to work together later in the year on an interiors workshops for Mums at one of our favourite design inspired venues, No 38, The Park.

Nicola Redman

I’m forever inspired by Nicola Redman, aka @life_of_pea on Instagram. I followed her first pregnancy journey with her son Winter Wolfe (who passed away after just one day in her arms) whilst pregnant with my baby daughter. I’m inspired by how much good she has brought about as a result of her suffering and I was further inspired to launch a charity of the month initiative on the site. You can read Pea’s story in our interview here.

clemmie hooper

I also have a massive Insta crush (along with half of the UK) on Clemmie Hooper (@mother_of_daughters) and sitting alongside her at our event was one of the greatest CheltenhamMaman days to date. Sometimes you meet your Insta crushes only to realise they’re not as genuine as they come across online. Not so with Clemmie – she is a warm, open and honest person so to all those that follow her and eagerly await the next instalment in the Hooper household (rest assured) she’s a goody.

Kate’s work…

Things are definitely busier than ever at CheltenhamMaman HQ. We now host monthly MumBoss club events for freelance Mums to meet and network and learn something new at each event. We’re developing Maman Moon Meets where we celebrate ourselves at a health or wellbeing event once a month under the light of the full moon. We’re constantly striving to bring fascinating mothers to Cheltenham to share their stories and we’re also looking at events where we can all just let our hair down together for no reason at all – no justification needed. Add that to our weekly Push It Real Good walks in Pittville Park with private antenatal provider The Bump to Baby Chapter and we’re pretty busy really – as are the mums of Cheltenham now!

On the blue sky front we’re just about ready to roll out a franchise for anyone out there looking at developing something similar in their area.

cheltenham maman logo

 

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