Welcome to Meet the Working Mum Interview. Today we meet Helen Baker. Helen works for herself as a Fabric Designer and designs some lovely things which she sells over on her website Helen Baker Designs.
If you have missed any of the previous interviews, or if you are new to this series, check out all the other Meet the Working Mum’s.
An intro and a little bit about you, your family and where you live.
Hi, my name’s Helen Baker, I’m 38 live in Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire with my husband and two sons, aged seven and nine.
What do you do for a job? Is it what you have always wanted to do?
I’m a self-taught fabric designer and last month launched my debut collection of fabrics, cushions and lampshades which I sell through my website. I was a primary school foundation stage teacher for nearly ten years but left when my two children were preschool age as I was finding it difficult to juggle teaching and family commitments. In 2015 we moved from Cornwall where I grew up, to Wiltshire for my husband’s job. I wanted work to fit around family life, so I decided to set up my own business. In just over a year of teaching myself digital illustration from online courses, reading books and many of hours practising my designing skills, I had designed my first collection called ‘You can take the girl out of Cornwall”. It’s a contemporary, graphic design inspired range reflecting modern coastal life of today in gender neutral colours and family friendly designs.
What was your motivation to return to work?
I’ve always been a creative person and my husband encouraged my to set up my own business as he had run his own company for many years and knew what was involved. As I mentioned before I really wanted to be in charge of my working hours which means I can do the school runs as I work from home.
How many hours do you work a week?
As we don’t use any childcare I have to be focused with my time between school hours of 9am and 3pm and then evenings/weekends and early mornings as needed.
Do you have to travel far from where you live to where you work?
I work from home, so no commute!
What do you do for childcare? Does this work for you?
We don’t use any childcare and we don’t have family near by but we make it work for us. It can be a challenge during school holidays but I will often work early mornings and in the evenings to catch up.
What does your morning routine look like? What do you do to get you all out of the house on time?
My day usually starts around 6.30, getting myself and the boys ready for school, having breakfast together then I fit in any housework and life admin that needs to be done so I can focus on work once I’m home from the school run at around 8.50am.
What do you like about being a working mum?
What don’t you like about being a working mum?
Sometimes it feels a bit overwhelming to be the only one to do everything but I’m learning all the time which is exciting too as I never knew what I was capable of until I started this journey.
What would you change? Hours you work, commute you have to make etc.
It can be hard to switch off sometimes but I try to make weekends family and home time. I generally like working on my own but I do sometimes miss having other people to talk to.
What three tips would you pass onto a mum about to start back at work?
1. I honestly think that if you are a parent you can do anything so believe in yourself in whatever role that might be.
2. The children are always fine once you’ve left them at nursery/school so don’t worry. As soon as they’re distracted with toys and friends they’ll be fine. I know this from both teacher and parent’s experience!
3. Carve out some time for you. It’s so easy fill all your waking hours with work and parenting but try to make time for something that you love doing. It will benefit all the other areas of your life too.
For fun show us a picture of your work handbag.
As a design lover I have an Orla Kily folder tote bag that I love. It’s stylish, waterproof and can unfold to fit an A4 folder or laptop. The most unworkable thing I found in it are three “interesting stones” courtesy of my seven year old!
Thank you so much for taking part in the Meet the Mum interview series Helen. It sounds like you have found a good balance between your fab business and looking after your family. Identifying and then learning a new skill like digital illustration is a big task. I must say as well is that your designs are beautiful.
If you would like to be featured in my Meet the Working Mum series send an email to:- email@example.com