Mumpreneur Profile: Claire of GenerationOne Magazine

Name of Business: Generation Publishing Ltd

Tell us about your family

I am married to Dominic, who’s 38 and an Assistant Head at a local secondary school. We have two children: Jonathan, who’s 11 and just started secondary school and Charlie who is 3. We have 3 cats – Bramble, TC and Jess, 6 chickens and approximately 80,000 bees! We relocated to the countryside from London two years ago, and becoming a mumtrepreneur was very much part of the “relaxed living” plan. I can’t honestly say it’s been that relaxed, but it’s certainly a blast!

Claire and her sonsWhat did you do before coming up with your business idea (previous career, stay at home mum etc) and how was it making the transition?

I’ve been lucky and had a varied career – I worked in television looking after celebrities for a while. That was really tough work, and some of the people I had to look after were very challenging – the worst being Fred West’s next door neighbour at the exact time of the police investigation. I decided to go back to university with the aim of being a secondary school teacher. I really enjoyed this career and specialised in working with under-achieving teenage boys. Just before I gave birth to Charlie I set up a centre for children in a deprived part of London that gave them access to state of the art IT and media projects, such as video and radio production, street dance and graffiti art projects. It was incredibly rewarding but very demanding, and I realised I wouldn’t be able to do this well with a small baby.

Charlie was a much longed for baby, so it was a rude shock when I developed severe post natal depression after his birth. To complicate matters, Charlie had colic and a lactose intolerance (that wasn’t diagnosed until he was 6 months old) that made him cry for 8 or 9 hours every day. We were miles from our family and my friends still worked full time. I felt incredibly lonely and isolated and felt increasingly resentful of being covered in baby sick, cooking and cleaning and giving up my own personal interests and space. This made me feel horribly guilty: I didn’t fit in with my working friends or my SAHM friends. It also put my marriage under strain. It was a deep, dark hole and I didn’t know how to get out of it.

We decided we’d relocate to East Yorkshire to be near my husband’s family for support. We were also excited about living a more rural life and wanted to bring the boys up with freedom, and greenery and fresh air. On the day we moved, I had a serious motorway accident. The boys and I were lucky to escape serious injury, but it was a very frightening experience. However, it was one incident that would change my life.

The love I felt for my children at that moment was utterly overwhelming, it was like someone had awoken a tigress in me that would do anything to protect her children. I was surprised by the sheer force and depth of this feeling. It made me realise that there was nothing wrong with me, I just didn’t have an adequate support network and Charlie had had medical problems. Maybe I wasn’t such a bad Mum after all…

In a new area with no car and no friends, I looked for information about the best places to take the kids and the most exciting groups. It wasn’t anywhere to be found. I wondered if it would be possible to combine this high quality local information with a support network of local likeminded parents, to replace the support network we appear to have lost with our increasingly diverse society. I also thought honesty would be a good place to start: lots of parents suffer from depression after the birth of a child, but they also laugh a lot and love with great force. Why not tell it like it is? Thankfully this instinct was spot on; I am often told how much other local families enjoy the honest, down to earth perspective we give on family life. No-one is perfect when it comes to parenting, and the fact is our most vociferous critic is often ourselves.

When did you launch?

April 2007

What has worked well about your business?

The tone of the information given, the concept of the support, and the good quality local information have all proven to be a great hit with our readers. Which is a good job because, in my moments of self doubt, I worried that people would just think I was a bit weird!

Generation One magazine has been a springboard for other areas of my life; we have since set up a popular local website, and we are specialising in educational magazine projects. We have a great team of really talented local Mums who all contribute to the magazine, and who all ‘get it.’ As well as being an achievement in itself, the magazine has opened so many other doors and I’m very excited about how we can develop it in the future.

What has been your biggest challenge so far? How have you dealt with it?

For me, motherhood and self esteem are incredibly interlinked. I am not the natural parent I expected myself to be. Sub consciously I gave myself two options: the earth mother stay at home Mum who loved every second with her children, or hard-nosed career woman. The reality is that I am neither of those things, and a mixture of both. For a long time I beat myself up because I didn’t feel as though I was any good at either. I am starting to realise that it’s a balancing act; that not being completely fulfilled by either your children or your career is perfectly OK, I am complicated and that’s allowed. This self awareness is gradually improving my self confidence which, in turn, is improving my business performance.

How do you fit in work with the family?

Charlie attends an excellent nursery which he loves, and my husband is a great help around the house. I buy in services whenever I can afford them – such as cleaning, getting the car washed etc. This means that we can spend quality time together as a family, which we all benefit from.

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