This week marks the first birthday of my business. It’s also my second son’s first birthday. Yes, you read that correctly. I started a business at 37 weeks pregnant.
The idea was something I’d been working on for a few months prior to giving birth (in between morning sickness and mothering an energetic two year old).
And while I’d done the odd piece of client work that I’d inherited from my husband’s business, it was only 24 hours after going into labour that I was due to kick off with my first real retainer client.
Of course, the early arrival wasn’t expected. I’d thought I’d have at least a week to onboard the brand before disappearing to welcome a small person into the world.
Nonetheless I found myself en route to the hospital telling a client I barely knew that I couldn’t meet the following day — and I had no intention of rescheduling in the immediate future either.
As someone who is typically an A-type personality, it was almost more stressful than the pending arrival of my little dude. Of course, I knew I’d picked a wonderful business to partner with when the new client responded with overwhelming joy rather than disappointment for the cancelled kick-off.
I can almost hear you questioning why I would plan to launch a business on the cusp of having a baby, especially when I intended to take maternity leave and had no real support systems in place. We’d also just moved cities away from family and a pandemic was in full-swing.
I did it for my own wellbeing.
Stay with me.
In the decade leading up to motherhood I’d worked in agency-land. I’d given my all to learn from some of the best in my industry. When I had my first son, I was burnt out. It took a while to rebuild my desire to go back to work, and then even longer to rebuild my confidence once there — despite my incredibly supportive workplace.
I was rocked and reasonably so. Having a child is a life altering move. My industry also moves quickly and a lot can change in a short period. But that was my own insecurities, not my inability — I’ll admit that now.
Our move interstate forced me to step away and have some much needed downtime.
I took the client on because I had become accustomed to not believing in myself and that needed to change. I was scared to explore my own potential and was parking things in the ‘too hard basket’ without giving them a thought. There’s that confidence issue again.
My husband encouraged me to say yes as I was genuinely interested in the work, and I’m forever grateful for that push.
I laid my maternity intentions out and once it was clear that the client was still interested, I decided to explore how Loam Partners could support them without me actually being there.
I can only speak to my own experience and that of my circle, but I’ve come to realise that while many of us thrive in the post-baby world, many of us are also completely lost — not necessarily as parents but as professionals, even when we have long, successful careers behind us.
This was certainly the case after the birth of my first son. Looking back, I now realise I was suffering from anxiety for the first time, which stemmed from my pregnancy and prior pregnancy loss. While everyone’s walk is different, there’s often a bit to unpack in that first year of parenthood.
But when my second came along, something shifted.
Work became a place to thrive and find energy again. The excitement and anticipation of knowing Loam was waiting quite literally got me through some of my darkest days (our littlest had some significant health issues that required a lot of hospitalisation).
The promise of that client kept me going. It also put a fire underneath me to purposefully grow Loam once I was able to start working again. One year on, we have ten clients on the books who are doing genuinely interesting, industry changing work and we just made our first real hire.
So how did it come together? The stars aligned. A talented ex-colleague’s job had fallen through due to COVID. She needed a few months of freelance public relations work and I needed a few months of help.
It was risky and probably a bit naive to take the work on, but today that client is one of our strongest and most enjoyable working relationships. Their ability to look beyond timelines and to trust the connection we’d made not only cemented that we shared values (and would go on to do great work together!), but it helped me define my tone as someone who runs her own business and has kids.
I’m now upfront about that at every new business engagement. I know the brands I work with value me for me, even if that means accommodating the juggle that comes with the complexities of family life. I’m not trying to mask that I am both a mum and worker.
I am a mum who works, and that transparency makes me better at home and in the office.