Inspirational Woman: Elspeth Fawcett | Founder, Yummikeys

Elspeth Fawcett and children, Yummikeys

I’m 35, a mother of three children and a chartered accountant, originally.

I worked in financial services in a large life insurance company in Edinburgh for 10 years, before setting up Yummikeys and leaving following the birth of my third baby. I live in East Lothian, just outside Edinburgh, with my family and various pets.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, never! I’m not the kind of person who enjoys making very long-term career plans – a five-year horizon is more than long enough for me at the moment. I fell into accountancy with a degree in environmental science and wanting a graduate qualification. It’s certainly served me well, but I didn’t feel totally fulfilled working as an accountant and had always wanted to change career; at the time however, my other passions weren’t going to pay the mortgage realistically.

I was inspired by two close entrepreneur friends to set up a business and then the idea for Yummikeys came and I’ve not looked back.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Yes, absolutely. I’ve had to learn huge amounts about the intricacies of toy design, toy safety and stainless-steel manufacturing, just for starters. I’ve then needed to get to grips with a rapidly changing marketplace, thanks to online business and social media presence now trumping most other factors for small, new businesses.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

My biggest achievement to date is simply the large numbers of customers I get every single day who take the time to write positive reviews and to leave photos of their babies with my products, on my social media accounts. I know as a mum that time is limited and life is hectic so for parents to be happy enough to chose to take the time to leave a review is an honour and proof for me that I’m doing something right.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

I’d say it’s been hard work primarily and a constant willingness and drive to learn and improve my products and marketing. I do think that hard work is key and I think people underestimate the massive efforts that go into launching and establishing a business. I worked for 2 years for 70 hours plus a week, mostly around a baby, and two toddlers and so I barely slept and had zero free time, all for zero salary! I know this story isn’t uncommon but I do think the amount of work required to set up a successful business shouldn’t be underestimated.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I love the concept of mentoring and do try to take time to correspond with anyone who gets in touch with me asking for support with a business. The entrepreneur friends I mentioned earlier have been incredible supporters and mentors to me throughout this journey, so I’ve been very fortunate.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

I’d change the culture so that part-time and flexible working was fully embraced for women and for everyone. I ended up desperate to leave a FTSE 100 company because having had a second child they could offer me 4 days a week, with full time working for several weeks a year and nothing less than this. For me this didn’t allow me to parent in the way I wanted and instead it speeded up my resolve to build another career for myself where I could truly work around my young family. I know many, hugely talented, intelligent, and experienced women who have not returned to work after having a baby, because for many of us that flexibility is just not offered by our workplace. I believe this means businesses are losing a valuable resource and that women are losing the right to both work and parent as they personally chose to in many cases.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Follow your heart and aim for a career that you love, above all else.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My challenge now is to take my business global. Now that it’s become more establish in the UK, this is the natural next step for it and one that I’m hugely excited about.

WeAreTheCity has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Cherie Blair, Paula Radcliffe MBE, Caprice Bourret, Anna Williamson and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here

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