Jane interviews the lovely Helen, founder of Mummy’s Gin Fund

What is the name of your business?
Mummy’s Gin Fund – MGF

What does your business do?
Mummy’s Gin Fund is a Facebook and face-to-face community of local parents who buy/sell/give/lend clothes and toys to each other, provide recommendations and ultimately support each other. As a group we have fundraised; provided furniture, clothes and toys to survivors of domestic abuse; rescued strangers with screaming children in broken-down cars; accompanied each other to hospital appointments and stayed up all night holding virtual hands. We are a gang of cheerleaders for mums (and dads) in London and the South East.

We also have a very handy website – www.mummysginfund.co.uk – which is a one-stop shop for parenting. We have days out guides, recipes, parenting advice, a brilliant blog, recommended businesses and a brilliant MGF Card offering money off with over 100 local and national companies.

What inspired you to start your own business?
Firstly, I was up feeding my son – my third baby – in the middle of the night when I thought ‘there must be someone who lives nearby that wants to sell me their boy things and buy his two older sister’s clothes’. So, I set up a Facebook group and invited 10 of my friends with the rather selfish intention of gaining some boys stuff and clearing out my girls’ clothes. They invited their friends and we now have 30,000 followers!

The second reason is that my second daughter, now 7, was born at 32 weeks; she was in intensive care on a life support machine. I remember standing in the middle of the park whilst she was in the hospital and my eldest was with her grandparents. The world felt completely silent and the whole park seemed to be spinning around me. I felt so totally alone. Once we had come out the other side, I pledged that no one ‘on my patch’ would ever feel like that again; no mum would ever feel as alone as I did. Women start out believing in their abilities; they give birth and something weird happens

What is the most challenging thing about working for yourself?
Turning off the laptop and knowing when to stop.

What is the most rewarding thing about working for yourself?
I like being my own boss – working towards my own goals, not having to ask anyone else for permission to do something; if I have an idea I can implement it. I don’t cope well with being told what to do! I also enjoy creating opportunities to support the local community and making a difference. Working in partnership with others produces lots of ideas.

What does personal success mean to you?
No woman ever standing in the park, feeling alone. Mums continuing the legacy of MGF away from the group – that the spirit of our community is embedded in the way people behave.

Why do you think the work Successful Mums is doing is important?
I’ve never met a girl at university who didn’t believe that she was equal. Women start out believing in their abilities; they give birth and something weird happens. Look at couples where the man and the woman are equally qualified – she has a baby and then loses her confidence. Staying at home, caring for your children and managing crazy family life is an absolutely vital job and one which should be highly valued. If women want to work – whatever that looks like; self-employed, part-time, flexible, full time or from home, it’s important to remind them of the ambition they had before they had children and to remind them that they don’t have to settle for something else if they don’t want to. Successful Mums helps women tap back into their skills, ambition, their identity – it might have changed but it’s still there.

What top tips do you have for other mums thinking of starting a business?

  • Find trusted and reliable child-care;
  • Keep a note book by the side of the bed for ideas, worries and to-do lists – keep your phone outside the bedroom (I don’t do this!);
  • Set really clear work life balance boundaries – no business is worth your relationship with your children or your partner;
  • Persevere;
  • Trust your gut.

Jane and Helen will be running some joint back to work and business workshops in the future to reserve your place email jane@successfulmums.co.uk