In honour of International Women’s Day (8th March) and Mother’s Day (11th March) it seemed apt to give some thought to the incredible women of Bath. As a businesswoman myself (Taste of Bath, founder) I occasionally come up against sexism and prejudice – it’s not frequent, but as a millennial it can come as a bit of a shock. Running a business in Bath, I operate in a world with fabulous business women, inspirational and entrepreneurial. I also personally surround myself with some formidable female chums! It seemed only right to highlight and champion the female cause!
So, the question is, can you have it all? Career, partner, children and sanity?
As a thirty-something, not yet a mother and owner of a demanding business it is hard to see how you fit it all in. So, I thought I would ask some businesswomen who have done just that!
All of the women I have spoken to have been really inspired by the example set by their own mothers. Confidence and sass have been instilled from a young age – Rachel Allen (co-owner of Bath Water) and her sister were bought up to be independent from the get-go, to work hard, study hard and stand on their own two feet. Rachel bought her first home at 26, studied French and German, and gave up a lucrative first career to retrain in journalism. Now effectively on her third career, she runs a successful water company based in the city. In their first year, Bath Water became hydration partners for Bath Rugby, and this June, they’re embarking on filming a movie with John Cleese all about Bath Water and Bath.
Annie Moss (co-owner of Moss of Bath) was also inspired by her formidable mum! Married at 21, Annie’s mum moved 24 times across the UK and internationally. In 1952, she travelled alone to Singapore in an army troop ship for 6 weeks, with 3 children under 8 in tow to be reunited with her husband who was posted there. Her message to her children: “better to regret the things you do than to regret the things you didn’t do”.
With such inspirational role models, it’s easy to see how entrepreneurial spirit has developed in these businesswomen. Personally, I was raised by mother to never doubt myself, and to believe that the world is my oyster! Anyone who has met me knows that this not something I struggle with, I genuinely believe I can achieve anything – and this confidence and self-belief is the best gift my mother ever gave me.
One of my closest friends is currently expecting a baby, hooray! We frequently discuss how daunting it is bringing up children, making them not just kind and considerate human beings, but also instilling them with confidence and self-belief.
Serra Kerrigan, Martini Mum gave me this great advice – “Do stuff for yourself, do things that make you happy and take time away from your children. Having my own interests away from the kids makes me a better mother. It gives me a chance to refresh and reconnect with the woman I was before anyone called me Mum, and when I am happy and refreshed I have more to give them. I also hope that if my children see me doing things for myself, they will become independent and want to do interesting things for themselves too.”
This seemed to be a real theme within my circle of business chums – giving yourself time and keeping a bit of independence for yourself makes you better both at motherhood and in business.
Rachel(Bath Water) found it important to retain a bit of herself, both in terms of time and career. When her daughter Sophie was young, Rachel decided to work part-time, to give herself a degree of normality and some ‘head-space’ away from the chaos, intensity and exhaustion of home life.
“Working gave me a sense of independence, freedom and consistency and I didn’t want – and still don’t want – to give work up for anything.” Rachel Allen, co-founder of Bath Water.
Obviously running a business requires a lot of commitment, but commitment changes when starting a family. Annie (Moss of Bath) made a conscious decision to retrain as a professional fitness instructor after having her first child so that she could more easily combine working with motherhood. For the past 10 years she has also worked for Moss of Bath from home. Over the years there has obviously been the usual plate-spinning, juggling act but as it’s all her children have ever known it’s never really been an issue.
It’s incredibly inspirational talking to these three business women! It makes you think that with hard work, considerable effort and patience you can do it all. I think it is worth remembering that not every woman can work part-time, or for themselves – sometimes other factors come into play. But the overwhelming feedback from these ladies is, it is all totally worth it!
I think that Annie sums it up beautifully!
“The best thing about being a mum has been the privilege of being able to watch our two children grow into confident, independent, ambitious adults. And in an ironic way…this is also the worst thing as in the blink of an eye they leave the nest to start their adult life without looking back. I suppose this means that I’ve successfully done my job though!”
Chatting to a best chum of mine, who doesn’t want kids, works for somebody else and didn’t grow up with her mum – we can all be inspired by different women’s stories despite our life choices and past.
Like my mum always taught me…
“It doesn’t matter where you come from, it is where you are going that matters. Never doubt yourself and whatever you do, do it with kindness! Own it.”
I think if we all lived by this rule in business, motherhood, friendship and relationships then womankind would contribute a lot more to society. Let’s stop putting men down and lift women up!