Our "March of Inspiring Mums" interview series celebrates women who are doing some amazing things, whether through business, a campaign or just being fabulous!
We are back with our latest interviewee, Clare Murthy, who lives on the Surrey / London border with her husband and 3 year old daughter. Clare is now a newborn, baby and family photographer after spending years in a totally different industry. Like many women in business, the push for leaving and starting up on her own was when she became a Mum.
Clare shares with us her top tips for juggling business and family life and why childcare and planning are top of her list!
Tell me a little about yourself and how you got into the job you’re now doing?
Before starting my own business I spent 14 years working in the retail industry. I originally started out as a pharmacist, but my career evolved quite quickly and by the end my roles focussed on learning and talent development. I was really passionate about what I did, but for quite a long time before I changed career I had this niggling feeling that I wanted to work for myself. I probably read every book ever written about starting your own business in the years leading up to making my decision, but I was comfortable enough in what I was doing that the ‘push’ to take the plunge was never there.
When my daughter was born that ‘push’ was suddenly there. We started looking at nurseries when she was just a couple of months old, and the thought of being away from her for so much of the week made me realise that I didn’t want to go back to work full-time. My employer was very open to discussing part-time options, but I knew that I would constantly feel torn between wanting to give my all at work, and giving my all at home.
I’d talked about turning family photography into a career for a long time - I’d bought my first DSLR around 10 years ago, taken courses and loved it as a hobby. I followed lots of other family photographers on Pinterest and Instagram over the years and had always thought “what if…” Suddenly the what if became a reality, and I took the plunge and started my business.
Tell me one interesting fact about you?
Before we had our daughter, my husband and I lived in Hong Kong. It was such an amazing experience, and a great base to explore the rest of Asia from. We have lots of happy memories from that time.
Please can you share 3 tips for managing the juggle of motherhood, life and business?
1. The first one would be to get clear on what success means to you. It can be so easy to get swept up in other people’s ideas of what a successful business, or being a successful mother looks like, and trying to live up to those ideas can be exhausting. Working out what success looks like for your family and business is invaluable, as you can make all of your decisions from a place of what’s right for you, rather than what’s right for someone else.
2. Organise some kind of regular, reliable childcare. The first years of running a business with a young child are hard, and it can be really easy to fall into the trap of using every spare minute to work on it - every nap, every evening after the children have gone to bed... But if you don’t have some time for yourself it’s very easy to burn out.
Whether you invest in a few sessions at nursery, get some help from the grandparents, or take it in turns to babysit with a friend who’s also running a business I think that having that planned time to work each week is invaluable. And you can gradually increase it if you need to as your business grows.
3. Plan everything! I definitely wouldn’t get everything done without lots of lists and plans - planning each hour of each day that I work, meal planning for the week, doing an online shop. Knowing that all those bits are taken care of takes a lot of stress away.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give a new mum?
It would be don’t put any pressure on yourself to do anything or be anything in the first few months after your baby is born.
In the first few weeks after my daughter was born, I was trying so hard to get back to my former life, be out and about doing things. But becoming a mum is hard physically and emotionally and in hindsight I wish I’d given myself a bit of a break. If I could do it again I’d stay at home for a few weeks and not worry about going anywhere or doing anything else. I’ve heard exactly the same story from so many other mums since, and I think that not feeling that pressure would be the best gift for any new mum.
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?
It has to be blue. It makes up almost all of my wardrobe! I always think of blue as a very calming colour.
If you're also a blue lover, check out our range of blue accessories here
What’s your favourite activity to do with your child?
Anything where we’re outdoors. We’re lucky to have lots of lovely green spaces nearby, and so we try to get out and about as much as possible.
What do you like to do for some me-time?
I love to have a spa day, but that’s a very rare event! Day to day I love to read and also really enjoy cooking - I find it really relaxing when I’m not in a big hurry. I’m also really enjoying swimming at the moment.
Thanks so much Clare for sharing your story and tips with us. I think so many Mums will relate to feeling torn between working and spending time with their little ones. Having the opportunity to follow your passion is one thing but actually going out and doing it is truly inspiring.
I also love your advice about setting your own rules for success...we are all so different, have different family set-ups and situations and it's important to do what works for you as a family and individual.
And if you need some gorgeous new frames for your newborn photos check out these.
If you've enjoyed this interview, you can read our other blogs and "March of Inspiring Mums" series here