Mums for Hire: Working Mums Live 2011

Every mum is a working mum. This is my core belief and my personal experience. But as they say, the hours are long and the pay sucks.

For those who want or need to earn an income, Working Mums is among a number of sites offering up a wealth of ideas and opportunities.

The first ever Working Mums Live fair held at the Business Design Centre here in Islington last week went off not exactly with a bang but certainly with plenty of snap.

Big names like Starbucks, Coca Cola, Santander and Orange had rolled out the smiles, stands and hand-outs to spread their message of goodwill to all mum-kind.

After finding out the creche was fully booked, I strode in with my 2-year-old hoping the buggy wouldn’t cause a scene.

I needn’t have worried as there were babes everywhere – from bumps on parade, to toddlers on the loose.

In the middle of a self-employment seminar, I spotted at least three suckers on the boob while their mamas took mental notes. The mother-loving ambience reminded me of being at Cybermummy (more on that comparison later).

I had a chat with Steph Robinson of Microsoft who was bubbling over with enthusiasm for her gig. She said what’s fun is that it’s so varied. ‘There are jobs at Microsoft that don’t exist anywhere else’.

All the cool kids – MSN, Bing etc. – are headquartered at Victoria but there are plenty of work from home opportunities across the board. If you fancy learning more, you can keep up with her on the Women at Microsoft Facebook page.

Among the retailers I met was Melissa Sincock, HR manager at Hobbs who as a mother herself has a lot of influence on recruiting parents. She pointed out the store’s core business hours, between 11am and 3pm are ‘perfect for mums’ and that company policy’s adaptable. ‘I haven’t turned down a flexible working request yet.’

Flexibility was the word of the day, and not just for mums. One visitor said she wasn’t actually a mother but had turned up to see what was on offer outside the 9 to 5.

Another lady, with two kids in tow, said she thought the fair was good but smaller than she’d expected and that there seemed to be a lot of focus on franchises and direct selling.

Actually I was impressed with the turnout but I had to agree with this mum’s last comment. There were loads of social retailing and franchise opportunities on ground. But not everyone has the personality to make a success of direct selling or the readiness to invest upwards of £6k in a franchise. Otherwise there didn’t seem to be many immediate options for aspiring mumpreneurs.

But I think many of us got real value from the seminars held throughout the day. I attended the Working for Yourself seminar led by Sian Sutherland (pic), chief of Mama Mio Skincare, Roberta Jerram, founder of Linen at Home and Iain McIlwee of freelancers association PCG.

They delivered thoughtful, inspirational and even emotional talks about juggling babies and business, the benefits of being your own boss and the building blocks of a successful mumpreneur.

Jerram’s set up a web site that sounds like a really handy resource for women either starting out or established in business.

Hearing Sutherland describing the essential ingredients of a good brand – integrity, warmth, clear positioning, relevance, unique voice and great product - made me think of blogging and how our blogs do become our brands. And how, as she said it is important to ‘create emotion (for bloggers that’s through our personalities/stories) around our brands that in return creates brand loyalty (our readers/following)‘.

The session was upbeat and affirmative and captured the overall spirit of the conference. It brought me back to how I felt at Cybermummy and I thought what was missing at Working Mums Live was the perspective from successful blogging mums.

After all, the social media mama phenomena has turned many stay-at-home mums into kitchen table entrepreneurs who are at the forefront of a movement that’s shaking up both personal and business life.

Maybe there could be a Cybermummy/Working Mums Live link-up for 2012?

Sadly I had to leave early for school pick-up but I came away from Working Mums Live with a clearer idea of what the working landscape looks like for mothers and a renewed sense of energy and push toward achieving my own goals.

I didn’t get a chance to catch up with founder Gillian Nissim, but I’ll take my hat off to her anyway.

Working Mums Live: the official site report
Mum and Working: part-time jobs for full-time mums
Jobs 4 Mothers: online jobs board for flexible working
PCG: the voice of freelancing
Giant Potential: connecting women in business

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  1. Uju says

    Hey Deborah, was nice to see you the other day. Well fingers crossed for your book project and anyway it looks like your media star is on the ascent!

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