Welcome back to the Mama You Can series. This week I am thrilled to be handing over to a Mama who I have known for 10 years, Jess Haworth.
Jess and I both started working together at a London media agency back in 2007. We worked on some great clients together and found we had one of those connections that can go months without catching up but when we do it’s like we never spent a day apart. Our careers took us to different agencies, but very similar roles and we have both had our two children at similar times.
Interestingly we both decided to leave our media careers behind within a few months of each other and are pursuing our new ventures.
I will hand over to Jess to share her very inspiring and interesting story.
Mama You Can: Jess Haworth
My name is Jess Haworth and I help people to create the right kind of impact. I use acting and performance techniques combined with a decade of corporate media experience to give people the tools they need to build a stronger physical, vocal and mental resilience when presenting, networking, leading a team or in everyday life.
This wasn’t always the plan though. I joined a large global media agency straight out of university and worked my way through the ranks over the course of ten years in Client Servicing and Communications Planning. I had a fantastic time and whilst there were definitely ups and downs, I largely don’t regret any of it.
Things started to change just over five years ago when I launched an amateur theatre company at work. I had always been involved in theatre and had directed before and I felt it would be a good outlet for staff as something fun to do outside of work. It really took off and it started to become apparent that the people I was working with were benefitting from acting training in their work as well as ‘on stage’. This led me to start doing a lot of research and training into the use of theatre in business and who was already applying it. I managed to get a beta test up and running in my office to see if the course I had written would be compelling for people to attend and gathered some initial feedback before my first son Hugo was born in May 2014.
After nine months maternity leave I headed back into London (from Oxfordshire) and began the arduous task of a long-distance commute with a child in nursery and all that entails. Whilst I was enjoying being back at work it became apparent very quickly that a commute of that length with a young child at home was going to be very tough. Added to that I started to get the niggling feeling that I wanted a change. My training course was slowly rolling out and my time was increasingly stretched as I took on more training courses and began mentoring independently as well. It quickly became obvious that I wanted to do this full-time and that I’d had enough of Client Service work after almost ten years. What also became apparent was the fairly imminent arrival of our second son in February 2016. By the time George was born, I knew in my heart that I didn’t want to go back to London more than one day a week. That kind of limited arrangement wasn’t something my company could support and so I made the decision in December last year to take the plunge and hand in my notice. From the moment I decided I was going to do it I knew it was the right choice. Convincing my husband was a different matter as he was going to be the sole bread winner while I got my business up and running and it was our joint savings that were going to be eaten into as I got things moving. Luckily, after some long and fairly difficult conversations he was persuaded and we took the brave step as a family into the unknown.
I have been incredibly lucky to have the support of my husband both emotionally and financially whilst getting things started. In addition, the amazing faith and support from friends has been overwhelming. Both emotionally by being there and saying out loud that they believe I can do it but also by taking the plunge and recommending me to their employees. That has shown faith in my abilities, trust and strength in our friendships and has been invaluable. Business is going well and I’ve had fantastic feedback from the work I’ve delivered so far. It isn’t easy though and the inconsistency financially still worries me and is the hardest thing to deal with but I hope that with time, the regularity of income will grow and the worries will lessen.
Overall though, I have never been happier. I love the independence that working for myself gives me; to explore new ideas and meet new people. I enjoy only being accountable to myself and doing something I feel truly passionate about. My job now gives me the freedom to be the mother and wife that I not only need to be but want to be and it’s that that I find so rewarding. I can get the jobs done at home whilst planning my next training session and then meet a friend for lunch to discuss a new business idea I’ve had. I now have the time to do yoga every morning which has totally changed how I feel physically and I wouldn’t have the time to do if I had a regular job. I’m probably never going to be a millionaire doing this and I know that may mean we have to cut our cloth as a family in some areas but the collective happiness makes us much richer in so many other ways.
A few keys pieces of advice for other Mama’s thinking about making a change:
1. Plan. Planning will give you the opportunity to flush out your worries. It won’t necessarily solve all of them but that’s ok, it just means you’ll be able to see things more clearly and recognise where the hardest bits will be.
2. Accept that it will be scary, very scary. If like me you’re stepping off the payroll, you will have moments of pure panic, feeling that you’re letting people down and uncertainty, but hang on in there.
3. Just f**kin do it! Just before I handed in my notice I was at a wedding with a group of good friends. I was explaining that I was nervous about how it was all going to work out when I handed my notice in and friend turned to me and very candidly said “For f**ks sake Jess. You’ve grown and pushed out two children who are gorgeous. You manage to coordinate their lives, your household and your own. If anyone can do this, it’s you. Just stop talking about it and do it.” He was blunt, but he was right and I needed it.
I feel truly lucky to have the life I have now. It isn’t without it’s difficulties but then rollercoasters aren’t fun without the ups and downs. Who would want a flat rollercoaster?!
You can find more from Jess here.
Thanks so much to Jess for sharing her story. I love her tips and I totally agree with all of them. It is scary leaving the security of a payroll job, I also have moments of pure panic about earning but so far I am so glad I did what Jess’s friend advised and f**king did it!
Mama You Can will be back next week, but in the meantime if you want to read more in the series see below.
For the rest of the series see below: