Jules: I live in West London with my husband and my two daughters, Scarlett who is nearly 4 and Maisie who is 2, as well as Otto our large black Labrador.
Lucy: I moved down to Dorset last year with my partner and our two kids – Oliver, who’s 7 and Harry who is 2. Since we moved we’ve begun to collect a small menagerie of animals including two dogs – the much loved Monty and Claude, four Rhode Island Red chickens and various small furry things.
What did you do before coming up with your business idea (previous career, stay at home mum etc) and how was it making the transition?
Lucy and I have worked in PR throughout our careers, for many years working together at various big name international consultancies. Our jobs often involved lots of travel and ‘flexibility’ from our side, working late nights in the office, overnights and weekends away. We, therefore, wanted to create a working environment that would enable us to continue to fulfill our career ambitions and also be a more involved mums for our children.
The transition was only possible when we came up with the idea for our company, Mothership PR, which is a network of mothers specialising in clients targeting women like ourselves. Working with other like-minded mums has created a genuinely supportive environment from both a practical and emotional point-of-view which ensures that flexibility works because it is benefits both the individuals and collective company network.
When did you launch?
We launched in January 2008
How did you get started?
We had been talking about starting up an agency together for a while but wanted to find a genuine point of difference that would give us stand-out in what’s a very crowded market. It’s our opinion that clients are increasingly attracted to agencies able to demonstrate particular areas of distinction – skill sets and personnel that match their communication challenges. Our experience is that many senior women in public relations either chose to leave the industry or opt for ad hoc freelance roles once they’ve had children. Bearing in mind that this is against the general social and economic trend of increasing numbers of mothers remaining in the workforce and often holding the purse strings for themselves and their families, it struck us that there is a genuine gap in the market for a public relations consultancy that specializes in targeting this area and actively recruits those women who reflect it.
We’ve also noticed an increasing trend of clients looking for agencies to provide more project based support – the type of work that particularly suits working mothers – that compliments their wider marketing strategies and agency briefs. Mothership’s ethos is collaborative and open. Whatever the brief, be it a stand-alone project or integrated campaign, we will happily work collectively with other marketing agencies and professionals to add our own particular expertise and perspective to a client’s communications.
How have you funded the business?
We have personally funded the set up of the business but our running costs and overheads are kept low due to working from home and carefully researching the most cost effective ways to run our telecoms and IT.
How do you promote your business? What has worked best?
Our business is totally promoted by word of mouth via journalist and client recommendation and also contacts drawn from women working in the network. This is undoubtedly the most successful route, particularly in our industry.
What has been your biggest challenge so far? How have you dealt with it?
We are both very driven, committed people and although people can often imagine that working from home is an easier option in managing your work-life balance, our challenge has actually been to discipline ourselves to learn when and how to switch off. If your office is only ever inches away it can become too accessible.
How do you fit in work with the family?
Mothership is a business that was inspired by our lives as mothers and the experience we’d gained in careers spanning 15 odd years. We believe clients want and are happy to pay for ‘outcome’ not ‘output’ – so there are no prizes for sitting at your desk un-necessarily. We set joint expectations with our clients and co-workers in advance of starting work on a project, so everyone knows what results are expected. How they are delivered in terms of what hours are worked is down to the individual to decide. Working this way allows us to be fully flexible with our hours – we know what we need to do to get the job done and are able to plan that around the things that are most important to us with our children. That can mean that we work in the evenings after our children have gone to bed and occasionally we work weekends when our other halves are around to take over with the kids. Ultimately when you run your own business you do make sacrifices, but the rewards in terms of being in charge of our own lives, in a way that wouldn’t be possible in our previous careers, makes it all worth it in the end.
If you have a flexible working business opportunity, please explain briefly what you offer and how people find out more.
We offer a working environment that has encouraged some of the industry’s most talented and passionate PR professionals to remain in consultancy whilst also offering clients a second-to-none, hands-on senior service. Most of our staff work from home, setting their own working hours. We give each member of staff their own email addresses, telephone discount codes, blackberries where necessary and 24 hour IT support via our hosted server.
For prospective clients, looking to target either mothers or those family and friends whose lives they influence, Mothership will provide a highly skilled and credible workforce. People who bring not only their commercial expertise and strategic know-how to the table, but also actual life experience, extensive relevant contacts and a genuine interest in promoting their products and services.
With word-of-mouth becoming increasingly important, part and parcel of the offer will be the ability of the network to reach out to its wider mother and social networks in order to test ideas, preview products, develop advocacy and disseminate positive messaging.
Anyone with a PR background who feels they can help us fulfil those criteria can contact us via our website at www.mothershippublicrelations.com with a copy of their CV and we would be delighted to talk to them
We would be happy to offer a discount of 15% off our standard rates to any businesses that would be interested in working with the Mothership team, via Family Friendly Working.