Jasmine Headley-Craik and Nina Green are the co-owners of Leeds-based PR agency, Content Soup, which they set up in 2014.
To find out more about what they do, visit www.contentsoup.co.uk
We set up our small boutique PR agency, Content Soup, in February 2014, after both working in the industry for over 10 years.
Things were going great, but in the summer of 2015, we were presented with the biggest challenge we’d faced when we both found out we were pregnant with just five weeks between us.
Both babies were our first, so we had no idea about what to expect and what was possible, but we knew we had to make running our business and motherhood work together and we did just that.
Juggling motherhood with running a business isn’t easy, but whilst it comes with its unique stresses and headaches, it also allows us to work much more flexibly than if we were employed, which works brilliantly for us.
Here’s our top five tips on how to make it work:
Accept you’ll have to take a short maternity leave
We both made the decision to each take a short three-month maternity leave and then go back to work part-time for another six months. There’s nothing easy about working right up until your due date, checking emails a couple of days after having a baby and going back to work when they’re just 12 weeks old, but it’s something we had to do for the long-term and our advice would be to always focus on the end goal.
It was really hard at first – we missed our babies like mad, felt like we were being bad mothers and had to watch all our other new mum friends enjoy another nine months off with their little bundles. Work doesn’t mix well with breastfeeding or birth recovery if you’ve had a difficult delivery either, so be prepared for these types of things and come up with the solutions that work best for you if unexpected things happen. However, saying all that, the flexibility we enjoy now makes all that initial pain worthwhile. There’s nothing more liberating than being in charge of your own destiny and working week.
Get the right team in place and do a thorough handover
To make sure our business ran smoothly whilst we were both off, we employed a brilliant team of trusted, senior freelancers who we’d both worked with previously.
Our handovers were meticulously planned too. We were really honest with clients, made sure they knew exactly what was happening and introduced them to the people taking over their accounts well ahead of us both going off on maternity.
Making sure our freelancers were fully up to speed before we headed off made sure they knew exactly what they were doing, which made us all feel comfortable. All the planning and prep worked – our freelancers did an amazing job and allowed us to relax and enjoy our babies in the two months that neither of us were in the office on a day-to-day basis.
Build a good support network and ask people for help
We’re both really lucky to have parents living nearby who have helped us out with childcare right from the start. So, if you have family or close friends nearby who are happy to help with childcare then utilise them! And if not, make sure you find yourself a brilliant childminder, nanny or nursery that you’re completely happy with. Being comfortable with your childcare arrangements means you can focus on work without being distracted and that’s really important.
Having babies at the same time turned out to be such a blessing for us, as we both know exactly what the other is going through and appreciate the different challenges you go through on a daily basis. It’s a bond that makes for an even stronger working relationship.
On the odd occasion where childcare has been an issue, one of us has looked after the babies while the other one goes to a meeting, etc. Our boys go to the same nursery and we live within a mile of each other, so we’ve designed a life that makes it as easy as possible to help each other out.
Be prepared to do unusual hours
Since we’ve had our babies, we work four days each and often start a little bit later and finish a little bit earlier than we used to, so we get to spend more time with them while they’re awake. However, this means we often have to work evenings and weekends to keep on top of things. It can be exhausting, especially when we’re really busy, but being able to enjoy so much more flexibly than we would if we were employed makes it all totally worthwhile.
Be selective about work you take on
Know your limits and trust your instincts. We’ve kept a select group of clients who’ve been with us since the beginning and who we’ve built amazing relationships with. We’ve also only taken on new projects if we’re passionate about them. We’ve been careful never to over promise or stretch ourselves too thinly, which has meant us having to decline work on some occasions to make sure that our clients always receive the same high standards of service they’ve become used to. Our time management and client servicing has never been better! That’s what keeps us motivated.