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

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

Why do men never get called dadpreneurs?

Dadprenuer, dadboss – we’ve all heard of these terms, right?

Wrong – that’s because they’re not well-used labels attached to men who are successful in business and happen to be be fathers. My point? Well, I came across an article this morning by a writer called Alice Judge-Talbot, aptly titled ‘We’re not sodding mumpreneurs’. It hit me so hard I felt compelled to write this before I head out for lunch with my mates (not working on Fridays is the best now the kids are at both at school).

It spoke to me on two levels: Alice articulated exactly what I’ve been feeling since having kids AND reminded me of an embarrassing truth. What’s that I hear you ask? Well, I started Social Butterflies for two reasons (part therapy – ask any blogger and that’s usually on their list) and also because I felt marginalised as a ‘mum’ who wanted to redefine herself in the world of work again. But I’ve been too afraid to be outspoken about how uncomfortable I feel with the whole ‘brand-mum’ phenomenon. I’m savvy (and cynical) enough to realise it’s a marketing tool but when I go to work I’m not being a mum at that moment – I’m me!

social butterflies magazine

I’m not trying to fight a cause with my magazine/blog (call it what you will), but to give a voice to all the women like me who happen to have grown babies in their tummies AND ALSO enjoy working and crave a different identity to that of mummy. I love being a mum – I stayed at home while they were little and loved doing it. But it gets a bit boring after a while (if you’re honest with yourself) and that’s why I want to work, not just so I can justify a retail splurge in Cos and Whistles, but mainly because I’m a better mum, wife and friend when I am fulfilled.

Do labels matter? Well they shouldn’t, as the old playground chant goes: “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”. It’s all about personal choice and what you feel comfortable with. Personally I have several identities: mum, wife, friend, daughter, sister, colleague. But importantly the identity of being a mum for me is entirely wrapped up in my kids – it’s got nothing to do with me at work.

So, I guess my message is this: women should push against this reductive label which limits us. We are women first and foremost and we should be judged in the workplace by our abilities not by our wombs and boobs. Rant over, but not without thanking the far more articulate Alice who inspired me to write this morning (no mean feat before I’d had my second cup of tea!).

By Amy White

Ten minutes with designer Laura Heeks

Laura Heeks is a 34-year-old graphic designer and illustrator. She has an eight-month-old baby boy and lives in Liverpool.

How did you become a designer?
After studying English Literature I started working in the marketing department at the Guardian, but quickly realised I wanted a more visually creative career than that. I retrained as a designer at the London College of Communication on a highly practical and intensive course before throwing myself full throttle into a series of internships and low-paid positions at high profile design studios to build my experience up, these included Pentagram and Brighten the Corners. Since then I have steadily worked my way up in permanent positions at design studios to where I am now. I am currently on maternity leave with my 8-month-old baby boy, but when I’m working I divide myself between working as a designer for a university and as an independent freelance creative.

Laura Heeks designer
A selection of Laura’s design work

Why did you become a designer?
To live a creatively fulfilled life! I don’t think I could do a dull office job anymore. I love the variety and detective/researcher/nosey parker nature of design – you have to really understand a brand, company or project before you find the right visual solution for a design, so no two days are the same and you never get bored. Plus, I enjoy making things look beautiful – and that’s pretty important in my line of work too!

Illustration by Laura Heeks
Illustration by Laura

What inspires you creatively and what do you aspire to?
I am in a passionate love affair with all things visual – all things aesthetic make my world go round. My interests are diverse within the arts though – from fine art to fashion, design (of course) to photography and architecture. My ambitions change day to day! I have a strong interest in perhaps teaching graphic design one day in the future. In the short term I would just like to get through each day happily with my baby – small achievements like doing the washing up, getting out and about in the fresh air and playing with rainmakers are about where it’s at right now. Once I’ve become a pro at the juggling act that is being a mum I’d like to throw my freelancing back into the mix and up the pace beyond the few tiny bits of works I’m doing at the moment – exciting times!

Child at computer desk
Trying to work around kids isn’t easy…

My inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. The natural world, architecture, fine art, photography, my environment, travel, things I see on TV and the web, the shape of a cup handle or a paving stone, anything really. It’s funny how things strike you like a bolt out of the blue sometimes, you can be looking everywhere for inspiration for a logo design and find the key to it in the pattern and repetition of holes on a manhole cover!

Does digital technology and social media influence the way you work?
I’ve got to admit, I am not the most tech-forward person. I have embraced Instagram because it suits me – in fact I love it. But my Twitter account is severely neglected. Unless it feels useful or fun to me on a personal level I struggle to use it, even for work. Instagram and Pinterest are my top apps and I use them heavily, Instagram to record my ‘visual journey’ through life and work and Pinterest for project research. Both are incredibly good tools for design. I guess I use these platforms for tapping into what’s going on in the industry as well, in addition to various blogs and websites.

How has your working life changed now you’re a mum?
At the moment I’m only working on tiny, little easy projects or pieces of design for very understanding clients!

Laura’s work…

Laura is following…

jessica hische

Jessica HischeA fellow graphic designer, Jessica Hische is a typographer extraordinaire. She’s very well known for her letter art and has worked for lots of big brands – she’s currently commanding 110k followers on Instagram and raising a sweet little girl as well.


Mamalina: Emma AKA Mamalina is a lifestyle blogger and mum with hippy tendencies – she lives life on a very loose schedule which appeals to me, as I’ve never been great with routine. She’s into travel, food, the gentle raising of little ones, nature and mess – what a lady!

jet set mama

Jetsetmama: If I need a laugh, this is my go to account. Claire Alexander-Johnston is hilarious. She’s a mother of three who lives a seemingly perfect and enviably stylish life raising her kids in Bali/Australia. She is however a dab hand at self deprecation and VERY forthright. Good for a chuckle and to feel better on one of ‘those’ days.

mere soeur

Mere Soeur: Carrie Anne has used a bit of creativity and her passion for mothering to make herself a successful little business to earn a living whilst raising her son. The ‘mamamerch’ products she comes up with appeal to the trendy mother/sisterhood around the world.

flower girl los angeles

Flower Girl Los Angeles: I’ve been following Kelsey Harper Parker ever since starting to use Instagram. She is a super cool LA florist with on point taste and a beautiful Californian life spent arranging flowers and raising her two boys. Aspirational inspiration taken to the extreme.

Fashion meets function

Meet Katie Barker, business woman, London resident and mum. After struggling to find teething jewellery that not only soothed her daughter but also looked fashionable – Katie decided to launch East London Baby Co. Born out of a genuine desire to create wearable, functional necklaces and bracelets she also discovered the benefits of working for herself in the process. The digital scene has helped launch her business and she is a great example of what we love at Social Butterflies – an entrepreneurial woman (who happens to be a mother).

East London Baby Co. founder Katie Barker, teething jewellery

Before Katie started her business she worked in digital media/advertising “working closely with clients and agencies to make sure their advertising campaigns reached their target audiences, helped to grow their brand presence and ultimately choose their brand over anyone else’s”. Although she loved her job the hours weren’t compatible with having a baby: “lots of client entertainment in the evenings!”. Working for herself has enabled Katie to achieve flexibility, creativity and autonomy “whilst being able to do something I really believe in. Win win!”.

The light bulb moment happened when her daughter Beatrix “gave me an especially mean pinch whilst breastfeeding”. Katie spent time researching breastfeeding/teething necklaces and couldn’t finding one that fulfilled the dual purpose of “distracting her/being great for teething and was something I really wanted to wear as a piece of jewellery”. Adding a bit of colour to an outfit is something we all desire when we are mostly wearing comfortable clothes. So after “much research, testing and designing” Katie launched the company.

East London Baby Co. teething jewellery
Geometric style bracelets come in a rainbow of colours

The business is going from strength to strength and social media is helping to propel the brand. “Having seen the power of digital and social media in my previous work life, there was no doubt one of the first things I’d be doing would be working on getting a strong social presence – it’s how I find most of the things I buy. I’m a huge advocate for buying from independent businesses and the thriving Instagram business community is testament to the fact that lots of other people do too.”

Katie runs a monthly Instagram hashtag competition to find her favourite photos (#eastlondonbabyco). It a great way to create an online community and get people talking about the brand. “I am a huge believer that word of mouth or influencer marketing are the most powerful ways to grow your brand – when you see someone you admire or trust wearing something it can really influence you”. Seeing the products being used by real people is the best endorsement there is from a retailer’s perspective as it not only provides great publicity but it does so authentically. “I love seeing our wonderful customer pictures and they are one of the most important parts of our Instagram feed – seeing real mothers using our necklaces can help other mothers see how they might wear and use theirs.”

East London Baby Co. teething jewellery
Wearing it with style – happy customers post their photos using the hashtag #eastlondonbabyco

Style that works from ‘playground to pub’

“The necklaces and bracelets are designed to go with just about anything – our mantra from the beginning was ‘Playgroup to Pub’ – so they look as great with a sweatshirt as they do with something dressier. Several of our customers have told me they bought them despite not having teething babies – testament to them being just nice pieces of jewellery too.

I tend to wear mine with a jumper, Topshop jeans and Boob Design breastfeeding vest that’s my mum uniform!”

East London Baby Co. teething jewellery
Style with sweatshirts for a casual look

Katie’s following…

Cult of Youth logo





“I first encountered Cult of Youth whilst perusing stalls at the Word To The Mother market (a incredible market in East London that runs around holidays – Christmas/Mothers Day etc. launched by two mums to support local businesses) and spotted her incredible jewellery from a mile off. I was with baby and said baby had the mother of all meltdowns so I had to shoot off and have put her jewellery on my birthday list! Strong, inspiring, interesting and did I mention drop-dead gorgeous she’s a must-follow for mumpreneur inspiration.”

Little Flea Kids logo


Little Flea Kids



“Launched by super-mama Anna, Little Flea Kids fills my feed with beautiful photos of the best independent kids’ brands. She has an amazing eye and produces a GORGEOUS magazine several times a year that is always full of inspiration. She does a free online copy too – perfect for when the inbox gets a little much and you need a cup of tea and a break.”

Mother of Daughters Clemmie Hooper


Mother of Daughters



“With a huge following and a penchant for small, independent brands, this mama does it all and is a massive inspiration for me. A midwife, author and mother-of-four – I don’t know how she does it! Her Instagram is super interesting, funny and very very real. I get loads of inspiration for clothes for me and things for baby and lots of laughs from her live feed.”

Katie’s work…

East London Baby Co logo

East London Baby Co. designs and creates beautiful teething/feeding jewellery in on-trend colour combinations. The necklaces are safe for babies to chew, fiddle with and they help mamas accessorise and look great too. Designed specifically to draw the eye, the double-strand and different-sized/shaped beads give lots of interest for baby – and all colour-ways are tried, tested and baby-approved! Created to look like gorgeous double-stranded jewellery, they’ll easily take you from playgroup to pub! They come in a beautiful range of colours to suit everybody – the perfect present for yourself or a friend.”

Interview with Amy White