Am I Really a Role Model?

Posted: 19th May 2015

A few weeks ago I was invited down to London by WiRE (Women In Rural Enterprise) to showcase my business as part of the ‘Celebrating Women in Business’ conference at The British Library which was held in the run up to International Women’s Day. I was to dress to impress, bring a selection of vintage ‘props’ to dress my stall & should be ready to talk about how fabulous my business was. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. I’ll bore anyone to tears with how much I love vintage AND running fairs!

It was a long & insanely busy day of speaking to other business owners, journalists & conference delegates. I listened to lots of amazing speakers & discussed the ‘Fashion on the Ration’ exhibition with MP Nicky Morgan. I shook hands with what seemed like a million people & had my photo taken countless times. I also gave a short interview to the Government Equalities Office who asked my for my top business tip. A few weeks later they tweeted this amazing picture to me using the hashtag #rolemodels.

Government Equalities Office Celebrating Women In Business Role Model Vintage Business

I joyfully retweeted & reposted this picture & showed the mums on the playground that the government was now calling me a role model, to which they mostly replied “The government clearly don’t know you!” But this genuinely got me thinking, am I really a role model?

I often find that a lot of people don’t take my job seriously. Maybe if I wore a suit & drove to my office 5 days a week, it would be classed as ‘actual work’. More often than not I’m just seen as that woman who’s glued to her laptop! My typical working day starts around 6.30am with me feeding, washing & dressing kids & sending them off to school & nursery in between checking emails & social media. I then sit & work most days until around 4pm & my evening then becomes a whirl of teatime, bathtimes & bedtimes. Tuesdays & Thursdays Little Baby Suitcase goes off to nursery or to her Nana’s for the day & I’m usually off out to meetings or using these days to make the important phone calls I can’t make with Peppa Pig blaring in the background. I then usually grab an hour with my laptop again before falling into bed exhausted around 9pm.

The question I get asked most often is “How do you do it all with 3 children to look after?” The simple answer is, some days I don’t. I’ll ignore the ironing pile at the end of a long day in favour of snuggling under a blanket with my girls to watch the bedtime hour on cbeebies. I’d rather sit & drink coffee & gossip with my friends after the school run on a Friday morning or fill up a flask with coffee & walk down in Dimmingsdale with my mate Louise & her dogs than check my emails. Sundays you’ll usually find us all in pyjamas still at lunchtime whilst the more proactive of you have been up trawling car boot sales since the crack of dawn.

Luckily, the only person who shouts at me for not responding as quickly as I should to emails is me. And although my life might be pretty hectic & I’m sure Mr Suitcase would love me to turn my computer off & join him watching the latest American tv show he’s absorbed in, he knows I’m working hard to build a better life for our kids. I’m around for my kids each day after school & at home during the holidays. I got up early this morning & wrote this blog post before anyone woke up so I know I’ve banked myself some time to spend out in the garden with them in the sunshine today.

Now I know I’m not the only mum out there working hard to build a business whilst running a home & looking after kids but if I wanted anyone to see me as a role model it’s those of you out there asking the question “Can I do this too?” Of course you can! The last 2 years have been such hard work but I’ve won awards, had some amazing press coverage & most of all, I’ve met the most incredible people. I’ve made time to travel more around the UK visiting cities where I’ve made a vintage connection & meeting up with people who I’ve met in my growing online network of fellow entrepreneurs.

My advice would always be to ask for help, attend free local courses & networking events & continue to grow an online community & support network. Sometimes my only other adult conversation during the day is via twitter with a friend at the other end of the country who knows just what it’s like to run your own business.

And when it boils down to it, if you don’t try you’ll just never know!

Are you juggling kids, family life & a business? Let me know how YOU deal with all this or perhaps you have some good role models!

Much Vintage Love,

Gemma xx

The Vintage Suitcase