Our "March of Inspiring Mums" interview series celebrates women who are doing some amazing things, whether through business, a campaign or just being fabulous!
Today we are featuring the lovely Beth Elsdon, mum to two children, Jack, 7 and Polly who is 5 and they live in the beautiful city of York. Beth is the owner and curator of Walter & May, an online store supporting independent brands across the UK and she has just opened her first bricks and mortar shop in York.
Today she shares with us how her love for all things creative never left her despite a career in a very different industry. As many mums know the juggle of corporate life and children can be very tricky so she created her own business around her passions, which was also flexible around her young family.
1. Tell me a little about yourself and how you got into the job you’re now doing?
I worked for 11 years in the oil and gas industry but have a creative background. I actually wanted to be an art teacher when I was younger and studied art at Uni. I unfortunately didn’t complete my degree as I was suffering from an eating disorder during my studies. Fast forward, erm, quite a few years, I was looking to find my creative groove again but that part of me that wanted to teach and support people never went away. When I had Jack and Polly, the travel involved in my corporate job didn’t fit with the family life and flexibility I wanted, so I decided to set up Walter & May. An online platform to support independent brands and designers alongside which I offered coaching, mentoring and practical advice on photography, social media and business operations. And here we are! We are a small business but growing and expanding month on month.
Tell me one interesting fact about you?
I have travelled to Brazil, Singapore, Norway, Germany, France, Russia, Amsterdam with work, but my favourite place is still York!
I love to paint – this is what I used to do in my spare time and sold a few of my paintings when I lived in London. I hope to get back to painting one day!
Please can you share 3 tips for managing the juggle of motherhood, life and business?
Planning – No matter what it is, try and plan. Block off time for family and for work and don’t let either interfere with the other. Family time is precious and needs protecting. But so is work.
Be realistic – Manage your own expectations. Be realistic about the ‘productive’ time you have and use it wisely. Work out when you tend to be less productive and use that for things that don’t’ take too much brain power. Get to know your work flow both at work and at home and work with it, not against it.
Don’t compare – Everyone is at a different stage of family life, work life and business journey. Don’t compare your story to theirs, we all have different goals and it’s important to celebrate your own achievements rather than berating yourself for not achieving what others have, who are perhaps 2 years ahead in their business journey.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give a new mum?
Go easy on yourself and learn to accept and ask for help when you need it.
Colour can make a real difference to our mood - what’s your favourite colour? And how does it make you feel when you wear it?
Oooh a tricky one! I love pink but don’t wear much of it. I do love to wear yellow though and feel very fresh and happy when I wear it. My favourite dress is from Oliver Bonas ’17 and is a lovely pale yellow.
What’s your favourite activity to do with your children?
Jack and Polly are so creative, so I love to have a project with them. This months school topic is pirates so we have made pirate flags and a cardboard pirate ship is on the list for the weekend!
What do you like to do for some me-time?
Hmmm, I enjoy just being on my own. That time is so valuable so whatever I’m doing, having a coffee, walking the dog, doing the supermarket shop – its all valuable.
Me time doesn’t have to be spent at a spa or in a bubble bath – just being with yourself is important.
Beth your story is so inspirational - thanks so much for sharing it with us. Overcoming an eating disorder and going back to your passions to create something close to your heart and flexible around your young family is amazing - I love your beautiful Walter & May website and am delighted that Halia Rose is stocked on there alongside some gorgeous gifts. Good luck with the bricks and mortar shop too!
If you've enjoyed this interview, make sure you check out our other blogs and "March of Inspiring Mums" series here