After my daughter Claudia was born five years ago, I began coming across mums desperate to return to work, but still wanting flexibility to spend time with children. In fact, a considerable number of extremely smart, well educated women who didn’t want to return full-time to their pre-maternity day jobs, but whose employers weren’t prepared to offer the flexibility they needed. Women who were at home feeling intellectually under-challenged and / or emotionally torn about returning to work. I made a conscious decision to actively recruit more of them to Essential Care.
The first of these was Sarah (who looks after our retailers in the UK). Two children under the age of 8 with demanding school schedules for whom (and yes this is really true) she cooks organic school lunches every day. Sarah’s the ultimate ambassador for and (extremely knowledgeable about) the organic industry. Sarah has sadly left us for an opportunity to good to miss elsewhere, but she helped us find Emma who juggles a similarly demanding school schedule. We also are lucky to have Kirsty who looks after our website and social media and is a bit of a makeup guru. Two lively, boys under the age of 6. She works around them at all hours of the night and day. And then there’s Isabelle who looks after our French customers and is a mum of four school-age children. Yep four. That’s a logistical challenge. We don’t work all day every day. We work when we can.
I firmly believe employers are missing out by forcing women to work hours that aren’t practical when also raising children or make long commutes. I don’t see anything wrong with flexible hours or working from home. Working mums are highly productive and great at time-management because they have to work in concentrated bursts of ‘child-free’ slots during the day. They’re also incredibly tapped into mobile devices.
I will jump off my soapbox, but I am so glad to have our team of super mums – not only because of their immense experience and talents, but also because we understand each other’s flexibility needs. - My children aged 5 and almost 2 create logistical challenges like any other little ones and it’s nice to have a sympathetic ear to sleepless nights and school bugs.
The working parents who I haven’t mentioned yet, are my own. In my Dad was eased, already semi-retired and well-past retirement age, back into full employment as the Finance Director of Essential Care. Now aged 82, he still holds that role, continues to oversee our accounts, looks after the bank - and answers the phone from time to time. He was instrumental in developing our website in the early years.
My Mum, Margaret’s biography is covered in earlier chapters of this story, but needless to say without her brilliant natural skin care and makeup formulations, none of us would be doing what we do now. We have a fiery relationship at times, as we described in an article published in 2009 in Marie Claire magazine. Some of this is down to the creative process and her endless drive for perfection. But it is a productive partnership, and has led to some successes over the years, as the next blog describes…