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By Fi or Becs, Dec 16 2016 10:00AM

Chatter from Becs:

Hands up if you love Christmas pudding, hands up if you hate broccoli… hands up if you’re EXCITED FOR CHRISTMAS! This is the endless game that my four year old likes playing at the moment. Needless to say I am required to put my hand up. Frequently.

Like many other households this month, the crazy Christmas excitement is reaching fever-pitch in our home. Sleeps are being counted, advent calendars are pounced upon first thing in the morning (we even have one for the dog!?) and letters have been scribbled to Father Christmas. While the kids are going doolally, the parents are wishing they had never bought that bloody Elf on a Shelf (otherwise known as “you do the sodding Elf tonight”) and planning their childcare plans over the holiday period. If you’re not lucky enough to have helpful grandparents within each reach, juggling work with childcare plus Christmas is the standard festive reality for many families during December.

Three years into running our business my sister and I have wised up to the horror of trying to work through Christmas with our excitable kids around. After going slightly mental in year one, we decided to do a Christmas shut-down in year two and we’re repeating the same plan for a fortnight in year three. It’s honestly the only way that we can all stay sane.

The other day MPs debated whether to force UK shops to close on Boxing Day. I watched the debate online with a starry-eyed glimmer of Christmas hope for all the parents working in retail who might get their own slice of shut-down sanity too. Alas, our Government decided that it wasn’t its place to ban shops from opening on the 26th of December. Shame.

Back to Ollie’s hands up game… hell yes I love Christmas pudding. I disagree about broccoli, (just wait until he spots the Brussels sprout…) and as for Christmas excitement – just imagine the millions of retail workers with their hands up if they didn’t have to work on Boxing Day. We all know what would have happened if this was Miracle on 34th Street.

By Fi or Becs, Dec 1 2016 04:28PM

Becs' old university (the lovely University of Nottingham) asked her to put together a 'Day in the Life' vlog for them... and here it is!

Becs did a degree in American and Canadian Studies at Nottingham University and she bloody loved it. She spent four years studying American history, US politics and reading fascinating novels. She even got to spend a year studying at Toronto University in Canada which was pretty amazing - although very very cold.

Becs firmly believes that all the researching, reading and writing she did during her degree led to her copywriting career... so sod all of those people who think arts degrees don't lead to jobs in business!

Enjoy watching the video!

By Fi or Becs, Dec 1 2016 08:00AM

Chatter from Becs:

Cumbria is an entrepreneurial county: discuss.

My opening sentence sounds like an essay question from a business studies GCSE. Well, I wouldn’t actually know because I didn’t do business studies at school (though I wish I had) but I do think it’s an interesting topic.

Ever since I started my business with my sister, people have asked me ‘why did you do that?’. I’m never entirely sure whether they think I’m crazy for working with a family member, or they don’t understand why I quit a steady nine-to-five job to enter the uncertainty of self-employment, but my answer is always the same – I just thought it was normal.

As a kid growing up in Lamplugh I thought it was standard for parents to run their own businesses. My dad was (and still is) a self-employed accountant who worked at home every evening and my friends’ parents were farmers, butchers, ran B&Bs and owned shops. Ten-year-old me assumed it was commonplace for people to run businesses.

Fast forward 21 years and in Greater Manchester my self-employment is the minority. Most of our neighbours and friends work for big businesses, in schools or for the NHS.

Last week, I was excited to be invited to my old school in Keswick to talk about my career, starting my business and (of course) The Apprentice. I decided to test my theory about Cumbria being particularly entrepreneurial. I asked 150 teenagers if they thought they would work for a big company in an office when they grew up. Fewer than 10 hands were raised.This surprised and impressed me. I had asked the same question a week before at a school in Manchester and over half the room had put their hands up.

The difference? Maybe the Keswick School pupils are lucky enough to grow up in Cumbria and see more family-run or independent businesses instead of big chains and corporations? I might be totally wrong, but I know that growing up in Cumbria hugely influenced my career path. Here’s to Cumbria – maybe all that rain grows good entrepreneurs.

By Fi or Becs, Jul 29 2016 08:00AM

Chatter from Becs:

You may have already noticed (more kids in the park, harassed parents posting on Facebook, less commuter traffic, news features showing queues for the Dover ferry) that the summer holidays are upon us. If you work and you have children of school age, then you’re probably filling the next six weeks with an ensemble of annual leave, hastily booked kids clubs, helpful childminders or the goodwill of grandparents (if you’re lucky enough to have them nearby). My little boy is only three, he hasn’t even started school yet I still experience the summer holiday upheaval because my childminder has her own children and (understandably!) takes her holidays in August too.

For the last two years my sister (aka my business partner @fifi_designlady) and I have dealt with the summer holidays in a slightly panicked manner. Around mid July we realise that we have a huge workload and THE HOLIDAYS ARE COMING. We will have our own children. All day. In our homes. Requiring attention, lunch and suntan lotion applied regularly. Bah!

In year one we drove ourselves crazy working until 2am most evenings whilst grinning manically at our clients and nodding our heads to all new projects. In year two we evolved (slightly), booked some child-cover, planned our workload and took two weeks off work. Now that we’re in year three we have been brave – we’ve stopped all new work until September and taken the whole of August off. We even announced it in advance on our social media like this:

**FI & BECS** REPORTED MISSING. During the month of August we are officially missing (well… not really, we are just hanging out with our small people). We won’t be checking emails very often until the beginning of September. Sorry for any inconvenience … but it’s the summer holidays!

Surprisingly we haven’t had one client (out of the 120 that we work with) even bat an eyelid at this decision, some of them have actually emailed me wishing us a well-earned break! I have a feeling that in year four we may repeat our summer holiday shut down – although lets wait and see how we cope after a month with our children...

By Fi or Becs, Jul 20 2016 08:00AM

Chatter from Becs:

Friday mornings are exciting in my house. Obviously it’s nearly the end of the week (resounding cheer from everyone) but they are also referred to as MUMMY AND OLLIE’S LAZY FRIDAY MORNING. On Friday mornings Ollie and I laze around. We watch a DVD, we read a few books, we take turns playing Angry Birds on the iPad, we partake in some light drawing and we take the dog for a leisurely walk. We laze, we dillydally and we loaf.

Our lazing started last September when I had a revelation over a cup of tea and my laptop. I was working away on my computer (as per normal) and staring out of my window (I often do this when I am thinking) when a mum walked past with a happy toddler. I had one of those mum-pangs-of-jealousy you often feel when you spot a cute child looking happy with their mum whilst you are working (please note: this doesn’t apply to sightings of snotty, screaming or whinging children). I felt a bit guilty, screwed up my forehead, looked away and I was about to go back to work when I stopped and realised – errr what is the fecking point of working for myself if I don’t do more stuff with Ollie while I can?

So I made a plan. I decided to shuffle Ollie’s childcare hours on a Friday from 9am-3pm to 1pm-6pm, thus freeing myself to hang out and walk happily down streets with Ollie. (I must point out that I’m lucky enough to have an amazing child-minder who accommodates my random changes to Ollie’s schedule. I drink wine with her on a regular basis and thank her).

From that week onwards, we’ve had MUMMY AND OLLIE’S LAZY FRIDAY MORNING (written in capitals because Ollie always SHOUTS IT LOUDLY AND HAPPILY). Ollie declared “being lazy with you is awesome mummy” so we don’t do much, but to supplement our lazing I found a kids class (Tumble Tots) so that we don’t stay in our pyjamas all morning (somewhat embarrassing when you answer the door to the Postman at 11.30am).

Sadly, MUMMY AND OLLIE’S LAZY FRIDAY MORNING is coming to an end today because Ollie starts pre-school in September. However, I’m bloody glad that I shuffled my life around to spend some quality lazing time with my kid while he's still little.

By Fi or Becs, Jun 19 2016 08:00AM

Chatter from Fi & Becs:

Working nine to three, what a way to make a living. Dolly Parton sang it: “nine to five, yeah, they got you where they want you. There's a better life, and you think about it, don't you?" You think about it don’t you. Do you?

As a mum running my own business from home, my working hours are often (surprisingly to me as I find them somewhat crap conversation fodder) an interesting topic of discussion with friends, clients and fellow parents. I often get questions like "so when do you actually work then?” or “do you only work when your husband's at home?” (?!), when I explain that I work 9am to 3pm plus two or three hours once Ollie's in bed it tends to raise a few eyebrows.

The usual reaction to my evening working routine is "god, that must be hard, working every night?" but the truth is – it isn’t. I find it strangely satisfying to settle on my sofa with a glass of wine (Ogio Pinot Grigiot) to design a website or write a client’s Mailchimp campaign whilst half listening to Goggle Box.

Admittedly, my first few weeks of evening working were a bit of a culture shock. As I was giving Ollie his bedtime bottle (back when he was ten months old and a little shit who never slept through the night) my mind would race ahead to my lurking to-do list and I would feel a doom laden tummy churning (aka Sunday afternoon dread). However, much to my surprise (and the comfort of wine) those feelings quickly disappeared.

I realised that I could juggle my workload by spending evenings on my laptop and I actually started looking forward to my evening work (weird yet true). Plus (OOO HERE'S A GOOD TIP FOR YOU!) I plan my day so that I keep my easiest (and most enjoyable) work for my late evening time slot - clever hey? Now that I’ve been working in evenings for nearly three years I can honestly say that I enjoy it. Most importantly... it allows me to pick up Ollie every day at 3pm. For me it's a no-brainer, I do a couple of hours of evening work in return for spending a couple of hours playing and generally pottering around with Ollie. Total deal - thanks for the nudge Dolly.

By Fi or Becs, Jan 5 2016 01:53PM

Back in early December 2015, Becs was very excited to be invited to speak at the first ever award ceremony held by the fantastic ParentPreneur Networking.

ParentPreneur Networking (which was started by a lovely and inspiring lady called Angela) is a monthly networking event, aimed at parents who either have their own business or are thinking of starting their own business.

The awards took place in the fabulous Le Vin La Table in Hale and was attended by ParentPreneurs from all over the North. Equipped with some gorgeous wine and an iPad (plus some video clips!), Becs gave a talk about how Fi & Becs began, how our business has grown so quickly and how we juggle running our business alongside looking after our three little people.

Being guest speaker at the ParentPreneur awards ceremony was such a great experience, it was a lovely evening meeting other parents who run their own businesses and fantastic to see who won!

Having been finalists for the National Mumpreneur Boost Award last year, we (especially Becs who enjoys talking...) LOVE speaking about being Mums who have designed our business to fit around our kids. As we said in a recent newspaper article:

“We both firmly believe that when starting your own business you can use your role as a working Mum as a real strength. We’ve actually found that being Mums has helped us win contracts with companies like Matalan and Mothercare who are looking to engage with busy parents running households all over the UK."

Excitingly, Angela from ParentPreneur has invited Becs to come along and talk again at their newly launched networking event in Knutsford on the 12th January.

For more information or to buy tickets to the event visit the ParentPreneur website.

By Fi or Becs, Oct 2 2015 01:03PM

Wow. There's a bit of excitement in the Fi & Becs world this Friday as we've just found out that we are Finalists for the National Mumpreneur Awards!

Being two working mums (Fi has two small people aged four and seven and Becs has a little boy aged two) we are totally delighted to have been chosen from over 3,000 nominations to be part of the final line-up for the 'Boost' Award!

Here is what the Mumpreneur website says about the Boost Award:

"The Boost Award is open to businesses who can demonstrate high growth. Our judges will be looking for businesses that bucked the trend during the recession and expanded their market, product range, business size or anything else that you think demonstrates extraordinary growth."

As well as being shortlisted for the Boost category, Becs is also in with a chance of winning the title of 'The Inspirational Business Mum 2015' (hah!) which is apparently awarded to the mum "who is an inspiration to all women in business"... How exciting is that!

More about the Mumpreneur Awards

The Mumpreneur Awards is an annual ceremony aimed at celebrating parents throughout the UK who manage the difficult task of juggling business with family life.

Judging our entry will be a panel of top entrepreneurs but we'll have to wait until 14th November, when the winners will be announced at The Mumpreneur Conference and Awards, being held at the Heart of England Center in Warwickshire.

Fingers crossed!...

By Fi or Becs, Aug 10 2015 10:49AM

As you may have already heard in the last few weeks (we are pretty excited about it!) we've reached the finals of the Enterprise Vision Awards, the North West’s premier women’s business awards in the New Business of the Year Category!

So after the excitement of being nominated, being chosen as a finalist from hundreds of entries across the region and having a Judges Interview a couple of weeks ago... the voting has now begun!

The number of votes gets added to our score from the Judges Interview to decide who wins... so please vote for us! Go to:

You need to place your vote for 'Rebecca Jeffery' (aka Becs) and it takes 10 seconds as you only need to provide your email address!

Thank you!

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