Living a healthier, happier life

Meet Amy Rom, a former teacher who retrained as a health coach after having children. She brings a unique and honest approach to helping others achieve a healthy relationship with food and maintaining a positive body image. Amy shares her career story and tips for nurturing a healthy mind, body and soul.

How did you become a health coach?

After embarking on the first of innumerable life long diets while still at primary school, it’s fair to say that my battles with food and my body have shaped most of my life. It wasn’t until I was fast approaching 40 that I finally decided that enough was enough.

I have two young children (now 6 and 8) and I wanted to do all I possibly could to prevent them from wasting their energy fighting similar exhausting battles with body image. The best way to prevent this happening is to prove that I can be happy, healthy and confident in my own “imperfect” body. So I started reading, learning and soul-searching until I reached a place where I now feel more comfortable in my own skin than ever before.

I took a career break from my previous teaching role in order to raise our two children, and just as my youngest started school, I decided to put my experience to good use by embarking on a change of career. I’d felt so empowered by the lessons I’d learned that I wanted spread the message far and wide. I knew that I’d be able to offer a slightly different perspective to many of the other health coaches out there, because I look nothing like your average yoga toned health coach! I have a wobbly, 40-year-old, size 16 body and I wanted to prove that if I can make peace with my body, and lead a healthy and happy life, then anyone can!

After gaining a Diet and Nutrition Advisors diploma I then decided to take my education further by embarking on the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) Health Coach Training programme. I loved my year with IIN and shortly after finishing the course I established my coaching website happilicious.co.uk.

My thirst for knowledge hasn’t yet been satiated and I’m now embarking on a Psychology of Eating diploma – something that I’m very excited about!

What are your top tips for women who want to regain a healthy relationship with food and their bodies

  1. Nurture yourself
    I love the concept that we should treat ourselves as we would a small child: eat good nutritious food; offer ourselves words of comfort, love and encouragement; get plenty of sleep; and try to get some fresh air every day!
  2. Social media detox
    Try to distance yourself from diet culture and instead cultivate your own happy social media party. Speaking from personal experience, it really helps if you start following accounts which showcase real, every day bodies. Women of a similar age to you, complete with wobbles, lumps, bumps and stretch marks. The more you are exposed to these body types, the more you appreciate that they (and you!) are totally normal. The media has dominated and twisted our view of female bodies for such a long time that we now have to work hard to redress the balance.
  3. Crowding out, not cutting out
    We could all write a book on the foods that the diet industry tell us we should cut out. But once you start concentrating on all of the things that you can’t have, you automatically feel deprived and hard done by. So try shifting your focus. What goodness can you crowd IN to your diet? You’ll find that by just making this one simple mindset shift, your food options are suddenly abundant and the world looks like a much brighter place!
  4. Feed the soul
    We all know that in the real world, food isn’t just fuel; it plays an important emotional part in many aspects of our culture and pretending that it doesn’t is a waste of time. Take the time to really notice and appreciate how the food that you eat makes you. Most of the time food is nourishment for your body, but there are also many occasions when it becomes nourishment for the soul – and that is totally legitimate! But likewise when we are missing fulfilment in other areas of our life, we sometimes try to fill the gap with food. Pay attention to what really lights you up.
  5. Ditch the inner bitch
    This is something that I talk about A LOT, because I believe it’s so important! So many of us are trapped in a perpetual cycle of negative self talk which does nothing but make us miserable. If your best mate came and told you that her new man was talking to her in the same way that you talk to yourself, you’d tell her to get out of that abusive relationship quick smart. Notice when that inner bitch is piping up and make a conscious effort to silence her. Tell her to shut the f**k up, and then find alternative words to fill the gap – a positive affirmation that you can memorise and repeat to yourself works a treat.

Amy is following…

Taryn Brumfitt: the lady behind the inspirational Embrace Documentary. If you haven’t seen it yet, you really should!

Louise Green (Big Fit Girl): an awesome plus size fitness trainer and triathlete.

Dana Falsetti: a plus size yogi who makes me realise that all yoga poses are accessible to me, I just have to practice.


Amy’s work

Through Happilicious, I offer a one to one coaching programme which can take place face to face at my office in Truro, or via Skype. If you’d like to find out more call me for a chat to see if coaching would work for you.

I’m also preparing to launch an online programme where you’ll be able to work at your own pace through a range of materials. If this is something that appeals to you, why not join my mailing list for all of the latest Happilicious updates? You’ll also receive a free seven-day challenge and e-book with other top tips.

If you’re looking for a body positive online body positive community, come and join my Happilicious Living Facebook group which is a private and safe space in which like minded women discuss their successes and trials and share tips, articles and support. We’d love you to join us!

Gifts that rock

Meet Charlie Male, the self-titled ‘Chief Rocker’ at Rockbox, an independent business that sells stylish and beautifully curated gift boxes. If like me you struggle to find original gifts for friends and family then these thoughtfully themed boxes are the perfect solution. You can even personalise your box, choosing from a range of covetable goodies. We asked Charlie to share her story so we could find out a bit more about the woman behind the business.

Tell us about yourself

I launched Rockbox just over a year ago, although it was a few years in the planning. The initial inspiration came in 2012 when Mr Rocker and I moved to Singapore. Whilst this was the most excellent adventure it was very far from our favourite people and their celebrations. Maintaining connections became even more important and I wanted to still send beautiful gifts that felt like I had chosen and sent them myself rather than something generic and impersonal. I struggled to find something that really hit the mark and the idea for Rockbox started to form.

We’ve moved back home to the UK in 2014 and the next life event hit – Mini Rocker was born adding another dose of (fabulous!) chaos. Time became precious and gift giving became a last-minute rush or (more often than not) totally forgotten. What I needed was a stylish yet effortless gifting solution and in 2016 I was able to put my ideas into reality and haven’t looked back since!

Simple, stylish packaging.

Before Rockbox my career has mainly been in aviation (I’m a bit of a secret plane geek!). Being in aviation has given me the opportunity to travel to some amazing places and work with some great people. I met Mr Rocker whilst working at an ‘orange’ airline where our eyes met over a check-in desk. I love to travel (I am an airport geek too!) and I have a wandering spirit, although currently my feet are firmly planted on the ground in a little village near Buckingham. I have a daughter (aka Mini Rocker) who is nearly three and Baby Rocker is due in July this year. I could live on sushi and cold beer with a large gin chaser although all three are currently off the menu until July so in the meantime I am a tea and cheese addict!

How are you embracing digital media to promote your business online?

As Rockbox is an online gifting service digital media is hugely important. Our website is our shop front and it is essential that this represents the Rockbox brand and provides a strong indication of the level of quality you can expect from our gifts. We are continually reviewing the website to identify opportunities for improvement to ensure our customers have an easy and consistent shopping experience that totally rocks!

One of Charlie’s favourite boxes ‘Sleep’.

Social media has been a huge part of the journey. Rockbox is a very visual product and it is important for potential customers and suppliers to be able to get a visual sense of what we offer and what our brand is all about. I use social media to not only promote the brand but many of my current suppliers have been sourced through Facebook and Instagram. I have built a great network of friends because of interactions on social media and get so much support from this community – it’s amazing how people you have never met in real life become your go to tribe!

What are your tips for aspiring businesswomen?

Never underestimate how much time social media will take if you intend to actively use it to promote your brand. You need to clearly define your social media presence – how do you want your posts to look, what do you want to say and make sure that it really represents who you are and what your brand is all about. Take time to plan your posts and think about what is important to share and what will engage your followers.

What are your personal favourites from the Rockbox collection and why?

I genuinely love all the our products and spend a lot of time researching the brands that I work with and the products that I offer. A particular favourite however is ‘Lazy Days’ (see photo below). As a busy working mum, I often need encouragement to take time out for myself and I believe that this box is the perfect way to get someone to put their feet up and chill. I love seeing people send this as a gift to their mothers, sisters, daughters, besties to encourage them to take some much-needed time out. The ‘Sleep’ box (see photo above) that we launched as part of our first Mother Day campaign is also a favourite and I just love the Tom Lane Alpaca bed socks – they are one of our best-selling products and I wear mine constantly!

‘Lazy Days’ features a range of items to help unwind.

I am a huge fan of our ‘Rock Your Box’ service where customers can choose from our selection of products to make a customised box for their favourite rocker. I absolutely love being able to offer this and it has been a very popular choice with our customers – the ability to create your own Rockbox to suit your budget and the style of the person receiving the gift really enables the customer to feel in control of their gifting decisions whilst still letting us do most of the work.


Charlie is following…

Hayley Southwood @hjsouthwood: inspires me with her infectious enthusiasm for women and business. She is a great support and is all about building women up and working together to achieve fabulous things.

Etta Loves @ettaloves: Jen is massively inspirational – she has launched a super cool brand whilst working full-time and caring for her gorgeous mini rocker Etta. I love watching her brand develop and evolve.

Not So Smug Now @notsosmugnow: Cat makes me cry with laughter almost daily – which is a pick me up that every busy, stressed out mama needs! She is massively supportive of women in business along with her work wife @gayle_carry_me_home who collectively are @hustleandfox.


Charlie’s work

rockboxrocks.co.uk
instagram.com/rockbox_rocks
facebook.com/rockboxrocksgifts

Giving women a voice

Johanna Rossi is the woman behind Raising Women, a community that supports each other through the challenges of motherhood. We asked Johanna to share her story.

Tell us your professional story

I’m a trained interior architect, however I started my career working for The Walt Disney Company designing children’s clothing. When I moved to Monaco I work as a freelancer and then worked for a photographer here who also published a fashion magazine. My husband opened a restaurant so I started working with him, before having our first child. After my second child I studied to be a health coach and then set up my first company Live a Nourishing Life, a holistic coaching, cooking and organic produce delivery company here in Monaco. I then launched Raising Women in September 2016 when I stripped back to concentrate on coaching. Recently I have taken a step back from my work to reassess and have made the decision to stop coaching and realign my work with my creativity. For the moment I’m enjoying writing a lot.

How has social media changed the way you work?

Social media has changed the way I work hugely, for better and for worse. Social media allows us to connect with people all over the world, that we would very probably never have the chance to connect with. However I do find social media has also been detrimental to my creativity, and often to my confidence as trying to grow a brand at the same time as evolving on a personal and creative level can be hard when there are so many ‘rules’ to adhere to if you also want your business equally grow.

What advice would you give to women who are lacking in confidence?

Make sure you know what it is you are trying to do/achieve, confidence comes with clarity. The clearer you are about what it is you want to do and what it is you want to create the more confident you will be.


Johanna is following…

instagram.com/elisejoy

instagram.com/jordanaclaudia

instagram.com/valleybrinkroad


Johanna’s work

raising-women.com
instagram.com/raising_women

Stationery in a digital world

Meet Rebecca Bradley, owner of Proper Post, a monthly subscription delivery of greeting cards and stationery. In a digital world there is something special about receiving a card in the post or simply taking time to write your thoughts down in a notebook.

Tell us about your career journey and why you launched Proper Post

It’s been a winding path that led to Proper Post. I started out as a nanny in London, worked at University, gained an MA in HR and ran a social enterprise children’s centre for years along the way. All that experience led to knowing exactly what business I wanted to grow. I didn’t want to create a job for myself because I already had one, I wanted to create something I felt passionately about and Proper Post was born. I wanted a relationship with customers that was ongoing to feel as if I was sending products to people I actually know, to add to their lives and help them, not to create ‘just another’ consumable.

I also run a Pinterest training and consultancy business, Pinright, which has allowed me to use my social media skills to grow Proper Post and learn all about Instagram too. Bringing the threads of various visual digital mediums together is perfect for a business like Proper Post because it is so visual, but also emotional and these are perfect ways to connect with customers.

Why is the giving and receiving of mail still important in the digital age?

Essentially post is pieces of paper, folded or otherwise. But in reality it is (and represents) so much more than that. Post and letters in general are a way of connecting and strengthening relationships. Who doesn’t love receiving a card or letter and feeling thought about and special. There’s something about good old-fashioned snail mail and receiving a thoughtful card that just can’t be beaten.

Try one of the monthly subscription packs.

Letters and greetings card are a way of expressing emotion in a tangible way, they can tell a story and have more meaning than the physical card itself. Whether it’s wishing someone a happy birthday, letting a friend know you are thinking of them at a difficult time, showing someone how special they are to you or simply just saying hello, cards spark joy – fact!

What other product can do all of those things in one form? Cards and letters are a positive product in a sometimes negative world. They are a solid, physical, tactile and real ‘thing’ in a digital age.


Rebecca is following…

@etceteravintage: Shelly and I have been friends forever she has always been creative and entrepreneurial and most importantly she marches to her own beat. She has always been an innovator and ahead of most trends and she doesn’t follow others. She inspires me to be creative and to be brave.

@nutmegandarlo: Elle is someone I am lucky enough to have met online and what a lucky find she is. She inspires me because she has stumbled into her business quite by accident and has had huge success because her design work is gorgeous. She has had a really hard year personally and in spite of that her business has flourished, her positivity and her humour inspire me all the time.

@jengotch: I think I had to include someone I don’t actually know but that I follow and Jen as the Founder of Ban.do has the dream business and work set up and she makes me laugh every single time I watch her Instagram stories. She has built and incredible brand and stayed utterly true to her own personality.


Rebecca’s work

properpost.co.uk
instagram.com/properpostuk
pinterest.com/properpostuk
facebook.com/properpost

Our subscription service is all designed to make life easier, reminders for birthdays and important occasions, cards to choose for the right person and a monthly delivery to make sure you have your stationery addiction sorted and unique and design led cards that will make you look like the best friend ever. Our blog series the Collective features 14 writers from all over the world covering stories from craft DIY to stories of family hope and connection.

Essentials for your wardrobe

After a successful career in retail, Lucy Knights decided to take the plunge and start her own business after the birth of her second child. We asked Lucy to share her story, divulge her social media tips and select her favourite wardrobe essentials.

How did your career in fashion begin?

Ever since I was 16 and got my first part-time job in a fashion boutique, I’ve always been drawn back to retail. I love the buzz and how every day is different. Following my Business Degree in Sheffield, I moved to London to complete a Retail Management graduate scheme. I then became a manager for GAP’s flagship on Oxford Street before moving over to Harrods and spending eight years working with them on driving their womenswear sales and strategy. After always dreaming about having my own business, I finally took the big step of launching BORN AT DAWN after having my second child.

BORN AT DAWN brings focused, effortless style with a personal touch. Mostly Scandinavian and French inspired brands, it offers an alternative from the mainstream as our pieces aren’t widely available and are more exclusive. Our collection is made up of beautiful, easy-to-wear wardrobe heroes that are versatile and can be worn multiple times and in different ways, taking you from day-to-night. We also offer a “Night In” experience in selected areas of London where you can book an evening for us to bring the collection to you, meaning you can shop with your friends in the luxury of your own home. 

You’re really embracing social media to promote your business online. Have you got any tips for aspiring businesswomen?

I love social media especially Instagram. I have met and keep in touch with so many women through it that inspire me every day. When I first started planning for BORN AT DAWN I started attending (and still do attend) networking groups such as Mothers Meeting and Southwood Social Hub. They both have a big focus on social media so once you meet someone at one, it’s easy to keep in contact with them through Instagram. This is something that helps me enormously – whether I’m pinging a DM to someone for advice on something, collaborating with people on projects, it’s incredible to have met so many lovely supportive women in similar situations – I never feel alone despite working solo a lot.

I love interacting with followers and they were hugely influential in how I set up the business. I often asked questions on my Instagram account to get feedback on certain decisions in the planning stages. For instance: “What are you wearing today?”, “What’s the most worn piece in your wardrobe?”, “What’s your top style tip?”, “Where do you buy most of your clothes and why?”. I wanted to create a collection that really suited busy women’s real lives and offer a service that really suited them.

In terms of creating content for my account. I really planned who my target customer was and what her life looked like/what she was interested in. I then centred it around that. I always asked myself – would she enjoy reading this? Is it of value to her?

I’ve only recently launched and I have a lot more to learn about the business side of online marketing but in terms of raising awareness, making sales and interacting with my target customer, Instagram in particular has been great. I think something I need to work on now I’ve launched, is how to balance social media with the realities of running a business. When I’m dealing with customers, stock, orders, buying appointments, accounts and a million other things, it’s been hard at times to give my social media the attention it is so important it receives. It’s early days but I am sure I will get there and create some balance.

LUCY’S TOP WARDROBE PICKS

STATEMENT LEATHER JACKET

Perfect for giving a plain outfit an effortlessly cool, luxury feel. We have a great black leather and suede one on the site (both by MINIMUM), but if you’re looking for one that makes a statement but is still timeless – this Mads Norgaard leopard print biker jacket is fantastic.

CLASSIC TRENCH COAT

It’s worth investing in a good quality trench coat as it’s something you can bring out year after year and makes any outfit look chic. I saw so many on my buying appointments, but this one by Samsoe & Samsoe was my favourite by a mile – the material is so soft so it hangs nicely and is really comfortable to wear.

LAYERING T-SHIRT 

A great fitting plain t-shirt is so useful for layering with everything. Our Perfect tee is made from Pima cotton, it fits really well, comes in three colours (black/white/grey) and only costs £15.

THE PERFECT BRETON

You can’t go wrong with Breton for a pared back feel that never goes out of style. Look at pictures of Jane Birkin and Brigitte Bardot in the sixties – the look still feels so fresh and relevant today. I looked long and hard to find the perfect Breton stripe tops and Mads Norgaard do it best for basic styles to invest in – they’ve been perfecting theirs for over 30 years and this particular style is 100% organic sustainable cotton.

BOYFRIEND JEANS

We love boyfriend jeans with a plain t-shirt and trainers or sandals/sliders for a relaxed daytime look or with heels and a blazer for a smarter feel – they are really versatile. This pair by 2nd DAY are to the ankle and we like the mid wash denim as not too dark or too light/distressed.

LUXE JEGGINGS

For the days when you just want to be wearing leggings – these give you the comfort of leggings but look a lot better. This pair by SELECTED FEMME are super soft and high-rise so no unsightly lines and they suck you in a little too. Everyone who’s tried them, loves them.

JUMPSUIT

Jumpsuits are perfect for if you are busy as they are a ready-made outfit. You can still give them different looks depending on what shoes and accessories you wear and how you layer them. This jumpsuit by Numph is wide legged and cropped and has a loose top section so it’s easy to wear, lies nicely and doesn’t cling.

STYLISH SHIRT

A good shirt is a fantastic wardrobe staple to wear with jeans or tailored trousers/chinos. This army green one by Maison Scotch is a classic and the material feels super luxe so it’s worth investing in.

INVESTMENT TOP

Stacey Duguid recently wrote in The Pool about how a “posh top” with jeans was a perfect go-to outfit for an evening out when you want to look nice but still be comfortable and not too overdressed. This one by French brand Suncoo would look great during the day or on holiday too.


Lucy is following…

Hayley Southwood @hjsouthwood: she’s supportive, positive and is always championing other women. I’m part of Southwood Social Hub, her network to inspire and empower women in business and it really is great.

Kelly from @cultofyouth: her posts are always beautiful and often make me cry. She always speaks from the heart and has a beautiful way with words.

Clemmie @mother_of_daughters: she amazes me with how she juggles four children, a job as a midwife and still finds time to share it all on Instagram, talk regularly at events and not to mention write a book! She is just ridiculously lovely in real life too.


Lucy’s work

bornatdawn.com
instagram.com/bornatdawn

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 florist who is living the dream

Meet Fiona Lafon, a lawyer turned florist living in Bristol, and owner of Emerald & Jade. Her story proves it’s never too late to pursue a creative career. In fact, Fiona is also launching a new coaching programme, so it’s going to be one busy year.

Tell us about yourself

Originally from France, I have always loved the creative arts. Although born in Versailles, I am lucky to have mostly grown up in the French Alps, with a few years initially spent in Ireland. This, combined with the fact that I spent a lot of time travelling thanks to adventurous parents, lead to my love of nature and green things coming about really early on. I went to an International School in Grenoble, I then came to the UK to complete a law degree in French law and English law at University of Kent. I never intended to become a lawyer, but found myself qualifying as an employment lawyer in Bristol a decade later. There, I met my husband to be and have been living here since.

Following the birth of my two children, I started a blog: Green Loving Girl. Through this I remembered how much I loved writing, and realised how much I was craving a more creative job. I loved running this blog, but my corporate job as a lawyer took too much time for me to run it properly. At the time, my job also took over everything else, leaving me stressed, run down and generally not a very pleasant person to be around, and it seemed my partner and children got the worst of me.

Following a series of events in my personal life, my mind-set changed and I started to think that there had to be more to life than working in a stressful job which seemed to leave me with nothing good, there had to something else. I have always been a proud working mum. Going back to work after having my children was always my choice. I always enjoyed being at work, and I knew the children thrived at the nursery we chose for them so I had no guilt.

However, it got to a point where I really did not want to go to work, so I started thinking about handing in my notice. Financially we worked out that I would be better off for not working, as my salary got engulfed into childcare (crazy isn’t it!!). But I had no plan B. I was really scared but I also knew that I couldn’t carry on like that. It took my 3-year-old to have appendicitis & peritonitis whilst on holiday abroad, which forced me to be off work for 4 weeks, to think it all through and actually hand in my notice. I decided that I would take a career break for a maximum of two years. This left me time to explore my options, and the children could then go to the local preschool and school, therefore facilitating childcare options. It was terrifying, I had never envisioned being a stay at home mum and I had never not worked from choice. However, I have always trusted my gut feeling, and I knew things would be ok. I had no idea at the time what to go for. All I knew was that for my next role, I wanted to start-up my own business and follow a more creative route.

Fiona and Barry on their wedding day.

I therefore took various opportunities that presented themselves to me. I was already blogging on a monthly basis for French Wedding Style writing about my wedding planning. The editor then offered me an internship, which I started shortly after leaving my legal job. From there, I met a lot more creative entrepreneurs, and started seeing a different world and a lot more opportunities. Around this time, I was helping my sister plan her wedding, as she lives in Australia but was getting married near Bath. I found her a florist, and got chatting to her about where she’d trained etc. Before I knew it, I had attended a taster session and then was signed on to an intensive training course via the fabulous Tallulah Rose Flower School in Bath. Emerald & Jade Flowers was born, and I have since been working as a Florist, working on weddings, funerals, events and holding workshops. I love it!

I absolutely love being a florist. Going to the flower market, meeting so many creative, talented entrepreneurs in the wedding industry. It truly is a wonderful industry to be part of, and very supportive, even amongst florists. I am so happy to be part of it. A couple of years after I started my business, I started to feel as though there was something else I could be doing. I had a feeling I wanted to help others but I couldn’t quite figure it out. This took me a good few months to work out (and assistance from my own business coach) to figure out that I had a new passion which could be turned into a business. Since starting my own business, I have loved this new world I live in. I realised just how much I love talking to people about starting their own business and the journey that goes with it. I have loved my journey and am really excited about what is it still to come. I have also greatly benefitted from a business coach. Whether someone is thinking about starting their own business, fancy a change from their job, or want to make some changes to their lifestyle, I always love talking to them about this and trying to help them find how to materialise their thoughts into actions. How to make that seedling of an idea in their mind, grow and blossom into a new, beautiful way of life. In light of this, I have just set up my own coaching programme, due to be launched this month under Emerald & Jade Lifestyle.

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

I’m all about my online presence. Running a blog and doing an internship for an international award-winning wedding blog has helped me gain understanding on SEO and other terminologies. It was like a foreign language at first, but it’s amazing how quickly it can be picked up with some research and good mentors. My businesses are both home-based, therefore I always knew that my online presence had to be strong and clearly represent me so that, when people saw a photo or an Instagram post, they would automatically recognise it as mine.

My online presence is effectively my shop window. This is why my website is quite different to most florists. I knew it had to reflect me and the type of work I like best, in order to attract my ideal clients. I have had brides tell me that as soon as they found my website they knew they had found their florist, and that was great feedback to hear!

My website is a great base. I also love using Facebook as I can tag in my clients and other suppliers, which makes it a great networking and sharing tool. My all time favourite though is Instagram. With my floristry business, it allows the photos of the flowers to speak for themselves, and again, it gives people and potential clients a great first insight as to what my business is about.

For my second business, Emerald & Jade Lifestyle, it will have a different feel to it, but still in a way that reflects me. I am going to focus this one more on my love of travel with almost a dreamlike, yet energising, positive feel to it. Learning to find my voice for each businesses has had a great effect, and is clearly reflected on my social media and my online presence. These are noticeably different to my personal Instagram account greenlovinggirl. Yet all three fully reflect me, and I love that.


Fiona is following…

@laurapaynestanley: I met Laura when writing for my blog Green Loving Girl. She asked me whether I would like to blog about my wedding planning journey for her website French Wedding Style. When I decided to take a career break, she offered me an internship. She has now been my business mentor for over a year. I have known her over three years now and can safely say that my life has changed since meeting her.

@victoriafarrmua: I discovered Victoria and her work about three years ago. I have seen her business grow and love seeing how she made her business her own and made it incorporate her love for travel. She is also really lovely.

Nicky King/@Bobbyrabbitkids: I met Nicky when I was looking for ideas on decorating the kids bedrooms. We realised we had a lot in common and have since become Instagram friends. When I first met Nicky, she was working on her new business. Bobby Rabbit is now a great business and I find it really inspiring seeing where she is now, knowing how hard she worked, especially as she has children similar ages to mine.

Joanne Hegarty/@stylistandthewardrobe: I have just discovered her feed, and it is absolutely gorgeous. I love her Instagram account, filled with gorgeous photos of her son, her home and her travels, it is really beautiful to look at and inspiring, reminding me that as a woman, a mother, we can still aspire to living a beautiful life and having beautiful things and travels. This is a big part in my businesses.


Fiona’s work

emeraldandjadeflowers.com
instagram.com/emerald_and_jade
facebook.com/EmeraldandJadeFlowers

emeraldandjadelifestyle.com
instagram.com/emeraldandjadelifestyle
facebook.com/emeraldandjadelifestyle