An Interview with Lindsey Fish – CEO of Mums Enterprise Ltd
Tomorrow is International Women’s Day. A day not only to celebrate the inspirational and courageous women in our lives but also to celebrate ourselves and all that we achieve as individuals. Today I have an interview with Linsey Fish, the CEO and founder of ‘The Mums Enterprise’.
For any women out there currently on maternity leave, on a career break, starting up a new business or simply wondering how to back on track with their current career then this roadshow is for you.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I started my professional career rather early. Instead of going to university I did an apprenticeship when I left school at 16. I held out for an interesting placement, I could have easily ended up in a mobile phone shop but I wanted something better than that. Luckily for me a start up exhibition organiser was seeking some affordable help locally and I was just the ticket.
For two years I helped organised two large-scale garden exhibitions, sold stands and helped out on site and was involved in company meetings, so got to see what goes into organising such a big show. So when that ended, I worked for my local newspaper again organising exhibitions and event until I decided to spread my wings a little and move into marketing.
I completed my CIM Marketing Diploma, which took me three years working full time and doing the qualification in the evenings but I’m really pleased I did it. My last corporate role was as a Marketing Manager for a London Tech company and then I had my first baby in October 2013. I decided not to return to corporate life and instead set up an event management agency.
“I personally didn’t want to leave Molly 11 hours a day and cutting a day also meant a 20% cut in salary”
…so I thought to myself, if I have 15 years work experience and I can’t earn £600 a month on my own then what has it all been for.
So that was my target, the amount of money I would be left with after childcare, travel and other costs. Then after a year of organising events for other organisations the idea struck for the Mums Enterprise Roadshow.
You started your own business Little Fish event management after maternity leave prior to founding Mums Enterprise. What propelled you to start Mums Enterprise?
I was a mum who had set up my own business after facing the conundrum about what to do about work after maternity leave. I had made a lot of new mummy friends who all seemed to be facing the same challenge. This got me thinking that there was an event in this. So I set about researching and planning. Then I joined forces with a friend and now business partner Lucy Chaplin. We then organised two exhibitions in 2016 which attracted almost 200 visitors. In 2017 we hosted three events for almost 4,000 attendees. Now we anticipate over 10,500 visitors to two large-scale exhibitions in Manchester Event City on 20th June and a flagship two day exhibition in its new London home, Olympia on the 28th & 29th September.
We still work from home, and I had a second baby in June last year so we truly understand the challenges surrounding mums and work which is why I believe they have become so popular. Everything we do is for our attendees, we have created an amazing platform for all the amazing initiatives, individuals, charities and companies out there who can help mums, women, dad’s, grandma’s….anybody who is seeking a more balanced family and working or business life.
So now that’s what I do. I no longer organise events for other people, my focus is on building and growing Mums Enterprise Roadshow as well as our digital offering so people can find the opportunities, support and know-how they are looking for all year round.
When you first had the idea of the roadshow, how long did it take until you had a date for the first one?
I had the idea in March 2015. I set about researching and planning it and sought the help of Lucy Chaplin, who was a freelance graphic designer at the time and is now my business partner. Lucy created the brand in April 2015 and we then went on to pick dates for our 2017 events. We launched our first event in Hertfordshire in June 2016, found venues and set our website love in September 2016. Things have grown exponentially since then and we can hardly believe we have two large scale events in Event City and London Olympia this year.
Did anything temporarily prevent you from making Mums Enterprise a reality? If so how did you overcome it?
I had to still try and earn money so I carried on organising events for corporate clients. But it became apparent after a year that I just couldn’t do that so I decided to stop earning money from corporate clients so that I could focus solely on Mums Enterprise.
Also the brand, I tried to come up with my on presentations to sell to brands etc but it really was useless I am no designer. So I had to go to Lucy, who was amazing and we decided to become business partners as I couldn’t afford to pay for her freelance design services.
How did you and the Creative Director Lucy Chaplin meet?
We had been friends for a while before hand. Lucy was part of a group of friends that my then boyfriend was a part of so I met her through that. She had done some freelance design work with Little Fish so she was the first person I thought of when I needed a brand for Mums Enterprise.
How did you feel when your first Mums Enterprise event in Hertfordshire 2016 was booked and ready to roll?
Amazing, it felt like I had given birth to a baby. At the end of the second event I stood up to say thank you for those who attended. I started to cry and felt really overwhelmed with emotion, I had to actually go off after and have a little moment. It felt like I could breathe again, like we had been through this huge experience and literally given it everything we had. But we did it, we actually did it. After 15 months of planning, it was done. Exhilarating and it is almost bringing me to tears just thinking about it.
I actually have a tiny bit of footage which captured that moment –
That sounds amazing. It must be such a wonderful feeling. Why do you think flexible working seems to be such a contentious idea amongst some employers?
I would say trust has a lot to do with it. Some people still hear flexible work or work from home and think; daytime TV watching. It’s just totally ridiculous. I don’t mean to be ageist but I find the older male generation seem to have an issue with change. Many now are seeing, especially with the huge challenge of finding and keeping talent that they MUST change in order to adapt and retain talent.
I have recently re-trained and started my own business in digital marketing. Going back to my 11 years long career in midwifery after maternity leave just wasn’t a viable option. What can the roadshow offer a mum like me?
First off, I would like to say thank you. Midwives are amazing and I think everybody in the NHS deserves so much more. It’s a disgrace how little support we give to the NHS, thanks for being a midwife and it is a shame we have lost you.
BUT of course amazing you have started something on your own. When it comes to your business and the events, there is sooooo much on offer. From taking part in business networking, learning from the workshops how to do business planning, selling and building a business which makes money. We haven’t released the agenda yet but all these types of topics will be on offer. Plus this year we are adding masterclasses, hour long sessions for those who are in business already and have ambitions to grow. So these will cover topics like accounting and other real nitty gritty business topics which nobody really seems to tell you at the start.
Then of course we have our amazing exhibitors. So many amazing businesses which can help a company like you grow. Whether you need a logo designing, or website building, a system for your invoices or if you are just seeking support and want to find a networking group. Whatever you need, you will be able to find an exhibitor to help.
What is also valuable is that you will be surrounded by people in exactly the same position as you. Many attendees have told us they have had the best conversations simply in a queue for coffee or waiting for the next workshop to start. It’s amazing how empowering speaking to other people in the same scenario actually is. It’s uplifting and inspiring.
Thank you, I have loved my time as a midwife but yes, time for change. Being on maternity leave and realising my potential was a big turning point for me. If you could give one piece of advice to a mum who is considering a career change whilst on maternity leave what would it be?
That you really can do it. I think confidence is a massive issue when it comes to change. Fear kicks in and there is that little inner voice telling you that it’s not a good idea. So we often do what is easiest not what makes us happy.
So first of all if you do want to make a change, take it seriously. No matter if you have no clue what to do or have a very strong idea. Take is seriously, spend time working and researching and asking questions. Join Facebook groups which have the network of people who have already been there and done it and ask questions. Get stuck in and get involved. Nobody is going to make it easy for you and nobody can make the change for you. So pull your socks up and get on with it. Your destiny is in your own hands. There some tough love ha.
That’s some really good advice and we all need a bit of tough love sometimes. I agree. I think one of the biggest hurdles to overcome when considering a career change or starting your own business after having a family is self confidence. How can mums tackle this?
Yes, I mentioned that above instantly because it is a huge huge deal. The longer you are off work the more I find you lose yourself. Becoming a mum is a huge change. Even being off work on maternity leave puts you on the back foot. You spend your days being at the beck and call of another tiny human.
Being a mum can be lonely. So I guess that is a hurdle to tackle. When you no longer feel lonely then you can attack what else it is you’d like to do or find the courage to make a change. There is a new app called MUSH you can find other mums to go for coffee or to soft play with for example.
Once you feel happier you can start to tackle the other issue which is work and bringing in an income. Talk about this challenge to others and don’t let it fester inside. It’s very real and many others are in the same boat. I think realising you are not alone boosts confidence in a huge way. This is why for many attending the Mums Enterprise Roadshow is life changing.
This is a little video from Helen who visited our very first event, she has since become an exhibitor and been on our Q&A panel, just amazing. The event was life changing for her >>>> HELEN’S VIDEO
Weds 20th June Manchester and Friday 28th & Saturday 29th September, London, Olympia.