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

Monday, 24 April 2017

Top Tips for surviving your Pregnancy Wardrobe

Even though my pregnancy wardrobe can fit in a carry-on suitcase this doesn't bother me: I'm building a baby which ultimately is bigger miracle than a wardrobe full of clothes. Here are my top tips if you are struggling with a limited pregnancy wardrobe and what to do about it:

  1. Split your wardrobe into 2 halves - maternity wear and 'other'. I have an Ikea PAX wardrobe and one half is all the things that fit, the other half is full of things that don't fit right now but can be revisited after baby is born.
  2. Don't look back in anger - your body will grow out of stuff over your 9 month pregnancy journey. FACT. When you have gone through a cycle of growth and that top that did previously work now looks like a crop top with your baby bump hanging out the bottom of it just let it go. Move it into the other side of you wardrobe and thank it for what it did for you, thank it for fitting you when you needed it to. 
  3. Edit, Edit, Edit - Getting hot in a particular dress? Feeling itchy in a top? Felt crap whilst wearing it? Even though you are pregnant you still have the right to look and feel awesome (and comfortable) in your clothes and if they don't make you feel awesome, time to move it on.
  4. Raid your clothing stashes - that suitcase of summer clothes under the bed and your husband's shirts and jumpers are now all up for grabs. I have a couple of dresses from Whistles which are usually too corporate for Wardrobe Angel work but a few months ago they came up trumps for a number of speaking gigs I was booked to do. They gave me a polished look that I felt I'd been missing since my bump popped out and I felt amazing wearing them.
  5. Don't knock a gift horse in the mouth - my sister Penny gave me a suitcase full of maternity clothes before Christmas. Were all of them to my taste? Nope. Can I style the items I do like so they match my style and personal brand? Yes. 
  6. Save what you would have spent - I think any pregnancy wardrobe boils to down money. I have certainly been loathe to buy a shed load of maternity clothes because I am growing and changing over a 9month period but with no indication of how big my bump will get at what rate. Sustainability is one of the pillars of my Wardrobe Angel business and if I'm only go to wear an item of clothing for a few weeks that doesn't fit with my ethos. HOWEVER there is life after a limited pregnancy wardrobe and I have had my head turned by lots of shiny new season goodies. In these instances instead of buying the clothes with fingers crossed I'll be able to wear them once I've birthed this human I'm growing, I have saved the money instead. When the time comes after the breast feeding and my body has re calibrated I can happily head to the shops with a fistful of cash and shop until my wardrobe is content.
  7. Stick to a colour palette - if you are investing in a maternity wardrobe then stick to 3 colours max. This means everything goes together and you give yourself more outfit options. 
  8. Just COS - My new clothing best pregnancy-friendly friend. I LOVE YOU COS THANK YOU FOR MAKING AWESOME PREGNANCY FRIENDLY CLOTHES!! Stylish tops and trousers with elasticated bump friendly waists. Buying a couple of pieces from COS last week lifted my spirits no end: I felt chic, awesome and capable when I wore the outfit to a client appointment. Pics to follow!
  9. Don't do a hatchet job on your wardrobe - Pregnancy can be a frustrating time, style wise. None of the maternity clothes you see may float your boat. But don't take it out on your other clothes. You may be armed with bin liners, tempted to rip into the pre-pregnancy clothes and send them on their merry way to the charity shop. This may even be part of the nesting instinct but avoid it if you can. You'll welcome getting back into your own jeans, your favourite tops and shoes post-pregnancy. Put the bin liners down and step away from your wardrobe because
  10. This too shall pass - It's just a phase. Yes I have found some aspects of pregnancy hard: the tiredness, the sickness, the effect it has had on my business, generally feeling like a ball of mozzarella. It ain't all sweetness and light. But clothes are just clothes and right now your body, and my body, are performing a miracle - growing a baby. 

How are you managing your pregnancy wardrobe?

Til next time...x