Juggling work and family life is incredibly hard, especially when you’re a mama. One thing we love here at the Lifestyle is Calling, is that there’s so many of you out there smashing your high flying careers and building business empires, alongside being a mama and juggling life.
It’s not always easy, but with the right direction, encouragement, and support the world really can be your oyster!
This is our first in the series of Mama Entrepreneur & Career related interviews, with inspiring women, just like you. We’ll be exploring what it’s like to work in certain industries, how to get started going it alone, and how to strike a balance between work and family, amongst other things. We hope you enjoy! READ ON! 🙂
Mama of 2 and FASHION ENTREPRENEUR
“Work hard and be nice to people!”Lucy Knights, Founder Born at Dawn
Lucy, you’ve recently set up your own business, Born at Dawn, tell us more about it and what makes it unique.
BORN AT DAWN is a multi-brand e-commerce womenswear website launching in February next year.
The collection offers accessible luxury and is comprised of mostly Scandinavian brands. Our style focuses on beautiful but effortless, go-to pieces that women can wear again and again.
It’s for normal women who don’t want to buy designer all the time, but equally don’t want to buy too much cheap or throwaway fashion. It’s about beautiful, quality pieces, but at a price women can justify.
The products are currently already out there somewhere but so many women are saying they are currently frustrated with online shopping as who has time to scroll through so many options at such varying price and quality? The massive multi-brand websites are trying to cater for such a wide variety of customers of different ages and styles, I felt there was a need for a website with FOCUS.
Through my research and talking to other women about how they shop, I was also conscious that buying online is not for everyone. Some people prefer to see the product before they make their purchase but don’t have time to browse the shops.
That’s why our “Night In” service was devised, a chance for customers to book an evening to view the collection and host a trunk show in the luxury of their own home. This allows them to touch, feel and try on the pieces, receive expert styling advice and invite friends over to join them if they wish.
Did you always know you wanted to be your own boss?
Yes, always… I have a lifelong problem with being told what to do. Ha!
Seriously though, it was always in me. Throughout my career until now, I have always made sure I was in positions that were relevant to what I wanted to do eventually myself. That involved fashion and working with people.
And what about life before you started the business, what experience did you have before setting up?
I’ve spent my career in retail. I got my first job in a boutique aged 16 and loved it. When I finished my business degree, I found I naturally moved back to it. I completed a graduate scheme in retail management, then moved into fashion and eventually ended up at Harrods where I spent 8 years working with them driving their sales and strategy. E-commerce is new to me though so it’s a steep learning curve in that respect.
What was your biggest learning as you established the business?
It’s harder than I thought it would be to work remotely or from home at times. You have to really create some structure to your work patterns and have the right environment to focus and avoid distractions. I have also recently started using an app called Trello which helps me to plan my projects and to-do lists which is helping.
What has been your proudest moment so far?
I suppose having the courage to get going and do it in the first place. It’s still always a bit nerve-wracking getting to each new stage in the planning and being in unfamiliar territory but I’ve just had to throw myself in and learn as I go.
I think celebrating your successes is so important but it’s something I find hard at times. I’m always thinking about and planning the next step rather than looking at how far I’ve come. I recently went to a Mothers Meeting confidence conference held by Alice and Phanella from the Step Up Club. They recommend noting down your achievements on a regular basis to help you to see how far you have come. This is something I am now trying to do.
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We always see your super stylish pictures on Instagram, where do you get your fashion and creative inspiration from?
Real women mostly in real life and on Instagram. During the BORN AT DAWN Instagram street style series over summer, I loved chatting to stylish women, going about their everyday life looking fantastic, and learning more about what is important to them when dressing.
I also love Pinterest and read fashion websites and magazines when I can.
How do you juggle the focus you need to give to your business as well as being a mummy to your two beautiful girls?
I’m not sure I’ve managed to get the balance quite right yet but I’m working on it. I recently read “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k”. The idea of just really taking a step back and asking just who and what is important to you in your life and just focusing all your energy there really resonated with me and is what I am aiming for.
Steph from Don’t Buy Her Flowers is also a big inspiration to me and I always remember her saying when you start your own business, particularly when you have children, you cannot do all the things you did before and you have to accept that.
Your life simply has to change.
I also try to live in the moment. The time I have with my family, I try to switch off from work stuff as much as possible.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about going it alone with their own business venture?
Save as much money as you can while you are working so you can minimise lending. Depending on your type of business, it may be a while until you can pay yourself a salary too so be prepared for that.
Get out to networking events. They’re not all too corporate and stuffy- you can find ones that feel natural and with people similar to you. Connect with people on social media too. Getting to know people in similar situations launching their own business inspires you and helps you to build your own support network.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
I love a quote and I have 2 favourite ones that I seem to come back to and inspire me.
My work philosophy has always been “Work hard and be nice to people”.
When I’m stressed I always think of “It always seems impossible until it’s done” which is so true and always reassures me when I feel a little overwhelmed.
What’s your favourite piece in your wardrobe?
Currently my pink Ganni coat.
What will we always be on your work desk?
Coffee or tea. I normally need some caffeine to get through!
Tell us what to expect from Born at Dawn in 2017…
We launch end of February and start our “Night In” service in selected areas of London from March. Hopefully you will see a successful launch and love the collection. If you would like to follow our journey, follow us and subscribe for updates via the website.
Have any questions for Lucy?
interested in launching your own e-commerce or fashion business. What questions do you have? Comment below, we'll put it to Lucy and hit you back.Fire Away