If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your seven-year-old self?
It’s not a bad thing to ask for what you want. I spend a lot of time trying to work out specifically and explicitly the things I want and need, rather than the ones I don’t. It’s super easy to complain about the stuff you don’t like, but I try hard to ask nicely and clearly for the things I do like.
We’re often rushing. Do you ever sit back and feel proud of yourself?
I have to say I am proudest when I sit at the dinner table with my children and they are nice to one another. The older they get, the better they get along, and I am so relieved and proud to see it. I also get a glorious inner glow when they make me laugh, the funnier and more perceptive they are, the prouder I am. Work is work. They, however, are by far my proudest life loves.
How do you approach self-love?
Every Sunday I spend the morning in bed. I watch TV, drink coffee, snuggle the dog, sew, snooze. Anyone is welcome to join me but I am not getting out of bed before 11am. I can’t remember the last Sunday morning not spent in bed.
You focused on motherhood for six years – did you enjoy being a full-time mother? How old were your children then?
Like most things in life, the hardest things are the most rewarding. The dynamics of staying at home with your children when you’ve been out working I found really quite tricky to navigate at first. There are so many new roles, mother, wife, homemaker, that are redefined when you decide to stay at home and it took me, and my husband, a while to adjust. All the energy you take to the workplace isn’t dissolved wiping benches and taking trips to the library, so I did struggle with where to ‘put it all’ for a bit. In the end, I just started making things at home, just little stuff, sewing and drawing things when the children were asleep, it meant my time with them was about them, and my little time to myself was for me.
What has been the most challenging stage of motherhood for you?
Certainly the early days. I am a big sleeper, no sleep nearly killed me, it really nearly did. I remember one day very early on crying to my husband saying ‘we haven’t held hands for months, all we ever do is carry all the ‘stuff’’ – sorry Cleo!
Do your children need you more or less now they’re a little older?
The children need to know you are accessible and that you’re going to be consistent and fair with their rules. Navigating bed times, study times, curfews for different nights and times of the year, phone time, what they eat, their pocket money, what extra curricular activities they do and don’t have time for, their schoolwork and how they apply themselves, or not, how they treat one another, and how they treat us, feeding the dog, doing chores, borrowing the car, where we go on holidays, the list of decisions you need to make for them, and make sure they adhere to, and agree to, is lengthy. So they need less of your time, but they do need more ‘emotional parenting’ for absolute sure. And when they actually become smarter than you, and more effective at arguing coherently, you’re screwed. You need a very good full night’s sleep to tackle what time your 16-year-old is allowed home and how and why on a Saturday night during exams.
What did working for other people teach you?
Best practice. How to write a good email, how to treat clients and suppliers and the people you work with well, how to housekeep, how to run things smoothly and fairly, when to fight and when to give a little.
You started your homewares brand CASTLE in your late thirties. What are the highs and lows of running your own business?
Working for myself means we do exactly what I want when I want to do it. That’s a high, and I spend a lot of time making sure that what I do workwise, works for me. Running your own business without a partner though can be lonely. Luckily I have a load of friends in the industry and this helps for sure, but always being the one to make all the final decisions can suck at times.
How did your approach to your career change after you had kids?
I worked for the first year after Cleo was born. It was awful. I felt like I was a bad mother, a bad wife, and a bad worker. It just didn’t work for me. So whatever work I did when the children were small had to happen when they were either at asleep or at school. It was a very simple equation, a tiring one, but an easy one.
Describe the mind of a creative?
My mother my whole life has always said ‘you are so heavenly minded you’re of no earthly use’. Thanks, I think she means it kindly though. I lose everything, all the time, everywhere. I forget everything, including the time, my keys, my phone, my glasses, my car, plane tickets, passports, everything. I try so hard to remember but today I am thinking what should I do for Easter? I might make I LOVE YOU HONEY BUNNY in felt, yeah that will work, that’s good, better get onto that, and then suddenly I’ve lost the dog and I’m in all sorts of trouble, again.