Monday, 14 January 2019

And then I became a mum and my whole world changed...

Running my business, The Wardrobe Angel was my joy, not my job. I inspired, motivated and advised people on what to put in to their wardrobes and, more importantly, what to take out and why. I loved bringing clients back to their authenticity and awesomeness. I loved organising, cleaning and decluttering client’s wardrobes, helping them extend the life and style of their wardrobes and promoting sustainability.

I produced, researched and presented my own weekly radio show on Phoenix FM and I’ve filmed my first TV show called Fashion House. I wrote a monthly style column in the national magazine Sewing Made Simple showing readers how to get more wear out of what they sew. I appeared on ITV and was a regular contributor on BBC Radio Manchester, BBC Radio Leeds and BBC Radio Humberside on matters of style, our changing fashion industry and body image. 

And then I became a mum and a my whole world changed

No-one can prepare you for motherhood and even if you were sat down and told in great detail what to expect, you wouldn't believe what you heard. So what's changed? Everything. When Erin arrived in 2017 my world turned upside down and inside out - I felt I was wearing my heart, my feelings, the whole inside of me on the outside all the time. I felt vulnerable and excessively joyful all the time. Nearly 18 months on I am kinder, more open, quicker to laugh and quicker to cry. 

The contradictions of motherhood are writ large on the face: 
deep laughter lines around my mouth, crows feet and bags under my eyes. 

My head and heart are full or Erin, so full that the thought of returning to work gave me anxiety attacks. I felt so far removed from clothes, fashion and style that it would've been disingenuous to start styling again; when you run your own business your head and heart have to be in it 100%.  And so, with the birth of Erin, the styling side of my business has ceased. 

Deep breath 

On New Years Eve 2018 I let it go - a Facebook post and a blog on my website announced the changes, behind the scenes I wrote to all my best clients to let them know. I received support from friends, past clients and colleagues. It is my firmly held belief that the Universe has my back and that moving forward with blogging and writing, no matter how scary, will work out because the Universe wants it and so do I. My sidestep into a not so new career (I've been blogging and writing for years) will take me where it will, but all from my desk so I can work from home and be the mum I want to be for Erin.

Thank you for reading my blog over the years. I'll pop back with more news soon.

With much love and kindness

Stephanie x

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Getting my Business ready for Baby Brown

Head to Toe Topshop ! Now 33 weeks and maternity leave is nearly here!!

Behind the scenes at Wardrobe Angel I have been getting ready to go on maternity leave for a long time. Instead of working in my business I've been working on it for months, prepping for 1st June when I go on maternity leave. If you are self-employed, pregnant and going on maternity leave I hope this list helps you get your head around temporarily leaving your business whilst still growing a baby:

  1. Clear out your office. I used to keep all my back copies of Red magazine and HFM magazine for reference. They have all been recycled. I have been through all my styling folders and recycled all the articles I haven't used, I have cleared out books, unsold clothing, pens and stationary: it's been an incredibly cathartic and freeing experience.
  2. Clean your computer. I updated my anti-virus softwear last month to protect my laptop when I'm out of office. I've also cleaned all my files (hello 'to do' lists from 2014!) and deleted unnecessary emails. 
  3. Get your books up to date. Print out all your paid out invoices and client invoices. Have you paid all your invoices? Have clients paid you? Chasing invoices is never fun however being pregnant has made me really brave - I've been on the phone to clients chasing unpaid invoices and making sure each invoice sent out has the payment term "before 1st June" written on it. 
  4. Make sure you have enough money in your business bank account for the months ahead - tax, phone, wifi and any other bills you pay out of your business account. Check, cancel and/or alter any standing orders you need to pay whilst on maternity leave. 
  5. Talk to your accountant. My accountant, Claire Howarth from Novis and Co, has been a huge source of knowledge about my business transactions when I'm away. As I'm receiving Government Maternity Allowance I can't earn any money through my business whilst on mat leave - thanks to Claire I've been really savvy about saving money this year to see me through to my return to work in 2018.
  6. Decide what you are doing about online presence. I've written a hefty amount of blogs for my website and have been stockpiling articles on the Pocket App to tweet whilst I'm 'away'. I decided to keep my Wardrobe Angel brand alive online but my out-of-office will definitely be on.
  7. Word your out-of-office. As this is my first baby I'm not sure how long I'll be on maternity leave for. My out-of-office will tell people I'll be back at work sorting wardrobes in spring 2018 - a season not a specific date.
  8. Unsubscribe. Each time I have emptied my junk folder I have unsubscribed from all of those newsletters I thought I'd read but never did and from those odd marketing lists I seem to be on. I intend to check my emails once a month and this will really lighten the load. You can use Unroll Me if your email account is compatible. 
  9. Check your contracts - when do contracts expire? Need renewing?  I paused my Mailchimp account this year which takes care of one expense but my car insurance is due in August. I've saved for this and made a note in my diary for the week it needs dealing with.
  10. Manage people's expectations. In the run up to my maternity leave I only saw local clients for 3 hr appointments. I answered new client requests saying I'd keep their details and contact them again in 2018. A new work stream has emerged for me over the past month (working as a Creative Consultant on a business re-brand) so the preliminary work has been done and they are more than happy for me to finish off the work in 2018. 

Boundary setting has been a huge part of me getting ready to go on maternity leave - working more from home (hello Wedding Guest outfit shopping for clients online!) and pausing working further afield, saying 'yes' to some opportunities and unfortunately saying 'no' to others. The mantra that has been running through my mind for the past few months has been:

Image from Preppy Obsessions

What's been really heartening is the number of new clients, existing clients and businesses who are more than happy to wait for their appointments in 2018. 

From the bottom of my heart I thank you. 

I'll still be blogging on this here website during maternity leave so check back every now and again, won't you?

Til next time ...x

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Pregnancy Style 101 - Bodycon Bump

I've hit the 30 week mark and as the weather starts to hot up I finally cracked and bought myself a bodycon maternity dress. Pre-pregnancy I dabbled in a bodycon dress once or twice but both ended up on eBay: I felt too exposed in them. Now, however, rocking a bump to rival a beach ball,

I am totally at home in my own skin. 

I love that the fabric clings, I love that you can see my baby bump, I love that my legs are out and most of all I love the fact I'm not overheating. I wore this dress yesterday to meet a client in paired with my leopard print H&M jacket and a pair of sandals and felt awesome.

I like big bumps and I cannot lie....

I never advocate buying duplicates for your wardrobe but I'm going to break my own rule. Smash. There it goes. ASOS get ready for another order for the same dress! I can see it's all I'm going to be wearing in the next 9 weeks leading up to Baby Brown's arrival.

What else has been happening? Rich and I have our first NCT class next week which I am so excited about!! A chance to meet some people in the same pregnant boat. We've ordered the pram, the cotbed and had the nursery decorated, with the new carpet going down next week. I've put my stake in the sand and said my finishing date for work is the 1st June. Until then I'm getting back office bits organised, taking lots of afternoon naps (my saviour after all the night time trips to have a wee!) and embracing the nesting instinct that has given me a good ole kick: all I want to do is clean and tidy cupboards. I found myself wandering around the house with a duster the other day, dusting the fireplace and the shelves. All I need now is a tabard....

Til next time....x

The Wardrobe Angel