Parenthood often triggers a desire to be much more in control of your career. To craft out a work-life balance you want or finally taking that leap to follow a new path. This month I bring to you the story of Write My Name founder Natasha Mockett , her journey across the globe and starting not one, but two businesses!
Originally growing up I wanted to be a journalist however I found as much as I loved writing I found myself to be a little quieter than others who were pursuing the same career. In fact my favourite careers meeting at school was when I was told I could either be a teacher or a nun. (I went to a Catholic school). Little or no guidance meant that I drifted in terms of what I actually enjoyed doing. I love business studies but didn’t want to be like everyone else with the same conversation at the dinner table. I began a degree in English and Cultural Studies and fell in love with the Theory of Photography. During my third year I began an accounts assistant role to help fund my studies. Within three weeks of being there I was tidying up the sales ledger area and getting all the processes straightened out. A year later I had worked myself out of a job with all debt collected and everything tidy.
I needed a new challenge, so got a new job in London, however it wasn’t as I expected. I loved the autonomy of my original role taking charge and being held accountable. My new position was within a team where I didn’t have as much opportunity to grow.
Within three-months my original company offered me a job in San Francisco. I was 22 years old, of course I jumped at the chance. This experience gave me taste for accounting and showed my talent for sales!
After 9/11, the whole country came to a complete standstill. Eventually the USA and UK office closed and I came home.
I dabbled a little in sales on my return and had moved to London. I missed the finance side of things. I took a finance manager role and began my CIMA qualification.
It was in my last role after I had had my first baby that my motivation to do something different began. Mainly triggered by a need to work however not at the cost of a loss of flexibility. I returned to work 3 months pregnant with my second child and in the five months I was there we really struggled with childcare. I decided then I had to begin my own business.
You have an interesting mix of skills, what is training and what is experience?
I’m professionally qualified as an Accountant, and since my second baby, I am now trained in silver jewellery making, keepsake creations such a 3d casting as well as casting to a high level (bronze, silver, glass). I was offered a job with the world leaders in casting, however I wanted to work my way, so I now work with one of their glass artists and a leading fine art foundry. I started my first business, Mclaren and Wall nearly three years ago.
The finance and strategy skills have been vital but also all the interactions with various areas of the businesses that I’ve worked for. It seems I’ve subconsciously picked up a lot of information.
I believe you saw a gap in the market and created your new business around that
Yes, Write My Name is a personalised handwriting workbook for children featuring their name as it is spelt in various exercises and their photo on every page. I was trying to help my daughter write her name and so I found there was nothing on the market that could cater exactly to my needs, so I made it. I’ve had superb feedback and reviews so far. I have the worldwide copyright on the design as well.
What has been your greatest challenge? How have you overcome it?
My biggest challenge has been myself. I either seem to believe the sky is the limit but then I’ll have a crisis of confidence. It’s been a huge rollercoaster. Running my own businesses has been less about having a job but more about having a lifestyle but if you had asked me at the start I would have said it would have been the other way around.
I have to really focus on the bigger picture and remember what my priorities are. In my first year I worked my fingers to the bone and the business that was supposed to enhance and compliment family life actually ended up hampering it. So I changed the business model and specialised. Then I came up with my new business an even more effective way of developing a better balance.
What has surprised you?
I thought I would be very finance focused and I am but what I didn’t take into account was how important running my own business is to me. The decision making, the strategy even how I manage my day is entirely mine. I can go to my daughter’s preschool and help them if they need me or change their days and take them to swimming lessons if I feel that’s what they need. I had no idea how valuable that flexibility would be.
What advice would you give someone in the same position?
Go for it. You’ll make mistakes, some big, some small, all necessary. Just remember and keep it clear in your mind what your priority is. The second that gets blurred, is when you lose control and end up working harder and less effectively and everyone suffers.
What an interesting career and business journey. If you would like to speak to other likeminded working parents, then join the Facebook Group The Balance Collective with Clara Wilcox for support and inspiration.