How many children do you have?

Mother of Leon (6) and Lorelei (just turned 2).

What town/County do you live in?

Cambourne, Cambridgeshire.

What’s your career background?

Predominantly administration, with some project management. Once I got on the property ladder myself I realised I had quite a creative flair within interior design, and from then on Suzanne Designs was born!

How did your career change after having children?

After Leon was born I decided to go back to corporate work while building up my business alongside it. I’m not a natural stay at home mum, as I’m career ambitious and so decided to go back doing what I’d done previously. However, a few years later once Leon started preschool I was able to let my interior design business take centre stage, and step back from admin a lot more. Since Lorelei was born it’s been another challenge trying to settle the needs of two very different children at two very different stages in childhood, so my design business took a step back a little more.

What are you doing career wise now?

Working with amazing interior design clients who I have a really honest and authentic relationship with, plus offering decluttering services and bespoke furniture services. I also have an admin job part-time that keeps my bills paid 🙂

What’s are some of the biggest professional hurdles you have faced?

Lack of childcare support as we don’t have family locally. Also rigidity of hubby’s working hours which has meant I’ve not been able to attend networking events, extra training days and such.

Professionally what is your proudest moment/biggest moment of success so far?

Being invited to be a guest expert for an up and coming design show in Cambridge early next year.

How has being a mum helped you deal with career highs and lows?

I’ve had to really knuckle down and focus on what’s going to be the best use of my time. If I’ve only had an hour to work, would wallowing in self-pity pay the bills, or is it time to chase up that new lead? Ultimately, my career, as much as I love it, has to come second to the kids’ needs. So, when I’ve had a bad day work wise but I come home to two amazing smiling children who can’t wait to tell me about their days, makes it all worth while. There’s also something magical about being able to take my kids out and know that the activity or meal or toy that I’m paying for is ME paying for it, as opposed to my husband. I like the feeling of being financially independent.

What, if anything, is holding you back professionally at the moment?

The lack of time. As I mentioned already, because we don’t have family locally I need to pay for childcare whenever I go out. And in order to do that, I need to make sure that whatever I’m going to attend is going to be profitable. In the grand scheme of things, I know I’ve only got another year or so until Lorelei is eligible for free preschool hours, and I intend to make the most of those to build the business further.

Why is work so important to you?

It helps me keep a sense of who I am. As much as I love being a mum, I was “just” Suzzy for 29 years before that. It’s all too easy to lose one’s way with motherhood, as we’re expected to fit into different “moulds” and “parenting styles” depending on what’s trending at the time. Work helps to remind me of who Suzzy is, and what she enjoys.

Who inspires you?

I love to follow genuine and authentic women who not only talk about how they outsource things like housework, cooking and cleaning, but also talk about their own ups and downs in business! Leonie Dawson is one, and Denise Duffield Thomas is another personal favourite. That being said, quite often friends and clients inspire me – learning what makes them tick, the challenges that they all have to go through and STILL put on a smiling face for the outside world while they’re battling, is amazing. People who dare to live genuinely, unapologetically and authentically!

How do you balance your career and family?

Never easily!! I am very much a believer in the “Wing it” style of juggling. What suits the career and family one minute will be the complete opposite of what’s needed the next! I try to make sure I voice what I need, and try not to feel guilty for needing “me-time” on occasion. If I’m working longer hours, I fully well expect for Lorelei to end up co-sleeping as she needs the reassurance, and for Leon to be really clingy during the mornings and evenings around school.

What are you aspirations for the future?

To develop my design business further so that it can become my only income stream, and for it not only help to create comfortable, sustainable homes for people and families to enjoy, but also for me and my family to live comfortably. 

What are your three top pieces of advice for mums thinking about making a career change after having children?

  1. Look at childcare options – will your new idea be economically viable, if your household depends on your salary? If not, is there a babysitting circle you can create, whereby you look after a friend’s kid(s) one day, and she looks after yours the next?
  2.  Don’t make hasty decisions. Do your research about what the market you’re looking to get in to actually pays. For example, if you’re hoping that a product would sell for £100 when most people only pay £10, it’s not going to be worth your time.
  3.  Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses, whether it’s job related, parenting related, or otherwise. It may surprise you what you are actually good at without realising it. Never question your own abilities for what you can do, and follow your heart.

Thank you for sharing your story x

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