4 Dorset mumpreneurs share their secrets

PUBLISHED: 12:38 27 February 2017 | UPDATED: 12:38 27 February 2017

Camilla with her son Max

Camilla with her son Max


Rebecca Perl meets four inspirational ‘mumpreneurs’ and finds out their secret for creating a flexible and successful business that works with family life

Collins English Dictionary defines a mumpreneur as ‘a woman who combines running a business enterprise with looking after her children’. As a woman who combines running a business writing agency with looking after her baby boy, the term makes me shudder. It just sounds a bit, well, patronising. Men with businesses and childcare responsibilities are not called ‘dadpreneurs’, are they?

Being a mother and a businessperson is not so unusual these days. There are 807,000 self-employed women working part-time in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics - the highest number since records began in 1992. Many women want to utilise their talents and interests to create their own flexible career. And, on a less positive note, many feel they have no choice but to go it alone due to unaccommodating employers.

I talked to four Dorset-based women about their businesses, and found out how they juggle family life with work, and what they’ve learnt along the way.

Tara Howard - Founder of the Venus Awards

Tara HowardTara Howard

Tara Howard, 49, lives in Bournemouth with her husband and their four children: Donny, 15, Dallas, 17, Ryan, 21 and Cherie, 23. Tara founded Venus Awards Ltd seven years ago to recognise, reward and celebrate local women in business.

What do you enjoy about running your own business?

The best thing is the flexibility. For example, when the children were younger if I had three sports days in a row, I could go to all of them and catch up on work in the evening and weekends. The worst thing is that the buck stops with you, which is a big responsibility.

What achievements are you most proud of?

Personally, making it to Everest Base Camp with my 15-year-old son and doing the London to Paris cycle ride with my 17-year-old son. Professionally it would have to be the first Venus Awards ceremony. I had people coming up to me afterwards saying “this has changed my life.” Wow, I’ve never done anything before that has changed somebody’s life. It’s so rewarding.

What are your future goals?

In the short term, I’m aiming to take the Venus Awards to London. We’re also launching Venus Voice (venusvoice.com) a forum for women in business. Looking further ahead, I’d like the Venus Awards to operate nationwide and even internationally.

Do you have any advice for other women?

Remember that it is three steps forward and two steps back, so persevere. Don’t take knock backs as anything other than part of starting up your own business.

Camilla Arnhold - Wedding Photographer

Camilla with her son MaxCamilla with her son Max

Camilla Arnhold, 30, lives in Christchurch with her husband, Justin and one-year-old son, Max. She studied photography at Bournemouth Arts University and started her wedding photography company, Camilla Arnhold Photography in 2011.

Did it take a while to get established?

Not really - the business went from strength to strength. In my first year, I photographed three weddings on my own and assisted other photographers to gain experience. In my second year, I photographed 26 weddings.

How do you balance work and family life?

I’m usually out shooting one or two days a week, then I’m in the office editing and catching up on admin two days a week when my little boy is at nursery. I also work some evenings when I’ve got a lot on. In peak wedding season it certainly feels full-time!

What are the pros and cons of running your own business?

The best thing is the flexibility. I can work my business around my family and spend lots of time with my little boy. His first year flew by and I know how precious every moment is. The worst is probably doing my accounts. I always leave them until the last minute!

What are your greatest achievements?

My greatest personal achievement is definitely my son. I still can’t quite believe I made him! Professionally, it’s the massive sense of pride I get when I receive wonderful feedback from my couples. My work regularly features on UK and international wedding blogs. It’s fantastic to see my photographs being used as inspiration for other brides planning their big day.

What advice do you have for other women wanting to start a business?

Do something you love, then you will never feel like you’re working. I have always loved photographing people and the romance of weddings so it really was the perfect job for me. And my advice when it comes to babies - it’s just a phase!

Anna-Lee Kewley - Founder & Designer of Baby Moo’s

Anna-lee with her children sporting some of her cool kids clothesAnna-lee with her children sporting some of her cool kids clothes

Single mum Anna-Lee Kewley, 32, lives in Bournemouth with her son Rhys, 6 and daughter Mia-Rose, 5. Unimpressed by the insipid range of baby clothes on offer for her new born son, she founded the babywear company Baby Moo’s six years ago and started designing affordable funky baby clothes with attitude. Baby Moo’s has subsequently won numerous business awards and her range has now expanded to toddlers.

How do you juggle family life with business?

With a great amount of planning! I keep a diary that goes everywhere with me, so I can plan my days and weeks. Each task is given a timeframe to make sure I can fit everything in.

What do you most enjoy about running your own business?

It never gets boring. There’s a constant need to acquire new knowledge and skills. The downside is the lack of spare time. I really miss having the time to just sit and have a cup of tea without multi-tasking. My goal is to hand over a little more of the workload to staff, meaning I might actually be able to take one afternoon a week for myself - bliss!

What achievements are you most proud of?

I started my business with £230. Six years on I have a bricks and mortar shop (on Southbourne Road), two part-time staff and stockists globally. I’m really proud of how far I’ve come on so little.

What advice do you have for other women starting their own business?

Never stop researching and understanding your customers. If you know exactly who your typical customer is you can exceed their expectations. By making them feel valued, they will (hopefully) be delighted and sing your praises to friends and family. 

Carly Painter - Founder of Sunrise Nanny Agency and Sunset Babysitting Agency

Carly with her children Sky and SoulCarly with her children Sky and Soul

Carly Painter, 34, lives in Bournemouth with her husband and two children - Sky, 6, and Soul, 4. She founded Sunrise Nanny Agency and Sunset Babysitting Agency 11 years ago and works full-time.

What is your greatest business achievement?

Setting up my business when I was just 23 years old, and growing it to a point where I can support my whole family financially. The fact that I enjoy my work and get to spend quality time with the children is a huge plus. I am also very proud that my business has supported hundreds of local families: from our babysitting service giving parents much needed couple time, sleep trainers helping parents with their children’s sleep issues, to our permanent nannies that change working households into harmonious places with happy children.

What do you most enjoy about running your own business?

I love being my own boss. I am able to provide a service to my own high standards. I can give families and nannies the time they need without worrying about enforced deadlines from a boss. I also have the flexibility to be able to attend my children’s medical appointments and school events. The downside is that you never really get a proper weekend or holiday without something cropping up. But I do, at last, feel I have a good work/life balance. Getting good quality support staff is the only way to achieve a balance, and this takes time for a business to achieve.

Have you any words of wisdom for other women?

First, a burnt out, tired and stressed person will never achieve their full potential. Second, allow yourself time to enjoy the things that matter to you. And lastly, keep moving forward and setting yourself new challenges.

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