March is the month where we celebrate many things including Mother's Day and International Women's Day so I thought it appropriate to feature some inspiring mums and we'll be showcasing them throughout March - hope you enjoy the "March of Inspiring Mums" series!
Today's interview is with Megan John, a mum of two (aged 7 and 4 years old) from Gloucester. She is a part-time accountant and also runs a small business called La Di Da Canine making Harris Tweed Dog Accessories in her spare time. She shares her story and how she came about setting up her business whilst waiting for a diagnosis for her son's ASD and researching charities which train dogs to assist children with autism.
This week is World Autism Awareness Week - find out more on the National Autistic Society's website
1. Tell me a little about yourself and how you got into the job you’re now doing?
How I got into making dog accessories is a bit difficult to explain quickly. About 2 years ago we noticed our son wasn’t speaking as much as the other children at nursery and he didn’t like playing with other people. After 6 months of his nursery observing him we were told he had learning difficulties and our journey began. Now nearly two years later we have still not seen the Paediatric Team (but we do have an appointment for May!!). We had to see 9 different departments of the NHS attending observation sessions and getting reports written one by one before we could get a referral.
Whilst we are yet to get the official diagnosis the team working with my son (Teachers, SENCO, SALT, EP, ATS, Early Help, his one to one TA -and yes all of these come with their own language and no translation booklet so I have had a steep learning curve) agree that he has ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and we suspect PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance) - think having a terrible two year old who hates you asking them to do anything but for the rest of their life.
So, whilst researching (not just googling, I promise!) I found a brilliant charity called Dogs for Good that train dogs to assist children with autism. Unfortunately they had closed their waiting list as so many people wanted one for their child so I couldn’t apply. I read more and more research that suggested that dogs were a brilliant therapy for autistic children so whilst my husband was on a business trip I bought our cockapoo Sizzles (yes, he is called after the dog in Charlie and Lola, and yes, my husband is still my husband even after I bought a dog whilst he was away).
A couple of months after getting Sizzles I couldn’t find a nice bandana for him to wear so thought I would make one as I love to sew. One thing led to another and La Di Da Canine was born.
Tell me one interesting fact about you?
I can touch my nose with my tongue!
Please can you share 3 tips for managing the juggle of motherhood, life and business?
- Get online shopping booked to deliver weekly.
- Get Amazon Prime for those days you forget to buy a birthday present for the toddler party and the baby is teething
- Don’t believe the perfect lives of other mums on social media - 99% of it is BS!
What's the best piece of advice you could give a new mum?
Best tip to a new mum is to let go of the things you cannot control - other people's opinions are not within your control.
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?
I love green and it always makes me feel calm
What’s your favourite activity to do with your family?
My favourite thing to do with my children is walking in the woods. They can just run wild, climb, jump in mud and be kids.
What do you like to do for some me-time?
My me-time is reading in the bath. It doesn’t happen as often as I would like but I’m trying not to beat myself up when I don’t get to me time on my to-do list every day.
Thanks so much for sharing your inspiring story Megan. And what a lovely business (and tribute to your dog...and son) to set up especially during your tough time. Your collection of accessories are gorgeous too!
If you have family members or friends that have autism or special needs you may also want to check out the Halia Rose jewellery and accessories collection which is all BPA free and 100% non-toxic plus washable - they are ideal as sensory objects and can also be chewed on.
If you've enjoyed this interview, make sure you check out our other "March of Inspiring Mums" series here