Women in Business

Women in Business

Fiona McLeman founded FM Family Law in 2011 (then known as Fiona McLeman Family Law). The name change came about in 2014/5 when the size of firm grew beyond expectation. On opening a second office in Norwich, Fiona and the team felt that it was no longer appropriate to define the firm so markedly with Fiona’s full name. Fiona’s vision in 2011 was towards long-term employee retention, allowing (what is currently) an all-female team to work flexibly, whilst fully engaging in both business and family responsibilities. It’s a balance Fiona wasn’t able to achieve as well in her previous firms, and indeed, business ownership can give women the autonomy they need to manage multiple responsibilities simultaneously

“My vision of owning my own law firm came to me in the wee hours while tending to my then 6mth old. What’s made it the success story it is,  was to have modest expectations and to grow exponentially and organically. This allowed me to be a hands on mother, and be at the school gate which is important to me, as much as to be a great lawyer and business owner. With the right support in place I think you can be both.”

Here are some other local success stories.

Jan Godfrey MBE and Susan Hollingsworth founded Wayland Women in Business in 2006. They were struck by the number of women who were finding it difficult to compete in the world of work.

‘Some worked in a male dominated field and could not get their voice heard; some were juggling home and family with work and missed out on opportunities for networking and learning; some were bumping their heads on glass ceilings, finding that however good they were at their job, they could not get promotion beyond a certain level; some simply recognised that they lacked the confidence to step onto the next rung.’

13 years on they have created a network of women who share ideas and good practice, develop client contacts and learn new skills. Meeting bi-monthly at Broom Hall Country Hotel in Norfolk, their numbers are steadily increasing – spurred on by a packed out seasonal events, like the Christmas lunch attended by Karen of FM Family Law this year.

Building networks of inspirational businesswomen is key to boosting the numbers of future female business leaders. Kelly Molson, founded digital agency Rubber Cheese in 2003.  In 2017 followed Mob Happy, an organization to support female agency owners and to help them inspire up-and-coming leaders. They invest in enterprise days and confidence building workshops in primary schools – aimed at ultimately increasing the percentage of female business owners. Kelly was shortlisted for the DevelopHER Awards for her commitment to raise the profile of women in technology, and, she says, ‘competition can be celebrated’.

‘I’m a huge supporter of other independent agencies, in fact anyone who’s got the balls to set up on their own. I can learn from them as much as they can learn from me’

Kelly is dedicated to helping women in their professional development, but she also shares her personal story to support people struggling with fertility issues. Celebrating 15 years as an agency, Rubber Cheese has channeled its energies into raising £15k for the Tamba, Twins and multiple Births association‘ because they helped Kelly get through 2017’. That year, after a difficult IVF journey, Kelly and her partner Lee lost their twin girls, Lily May and Ava Allison. Through fundraising and her determination to speak publicly about their profound grief, Kelly shows us that the personal and the private ‘are all part of us whether we like it or not, and the things we’ve been affected by will shape the course of our lives forever.’

Recognising the often unspoken difficulties that people face in their personal lives through her very public profile, Kelly hoped to relieve some of the isolation faced by women in similar circumstances. Kelly is constantly reaching out to build links, in recognition that support is a vital part of our personal – as well as professional – journeys.

Indeed, writes Jo Kruczynska, building a strong team to support you as a business-owner is key.

‘I would recommend getting a team structure in place to ensure that you are able to step away from the business when you need to … Being able to step back and see the bigger picture is so important, and not something you can do when you’re getting up at dawn and working 70 + hours a week.’

Jo organised sell-out supper clubs and baked Cambridge’s most sought-after cakes, before founding Afternoon Tease Cafe. The popularity of the café was unrivalled, with food made completely from scratch and queues out of the door on weekends. Jo devoted the 4 years of Afternoon Tease solely to her business, and put holidays, time-off and socialising on hold. ‘This was ok for a while’ she says, ‘but was not sustainable for me personally’. To city-wide dismay, Afternoon Tease closed its doors in 2017, but Jo has found a better way of structuring her business

‘I now have my life back and am enjoying a flexible way of working…I’m not afraid of working hard but being able to take a break every now and again is great!’

Jo now takes cake orders @AfternoonTease and supplies some of the cities most popular venues.

Running a business is characterized by this tension between flexibility and pressure. Particularly in hospitality, where recruitment is a challenge, the freedom of self-employment is often over-ridden by the all-consuming nature of day-to-day operations.

‘I find time management can be a challenge’ writes Faye Morray-Jones Knight of Novi ‘especially when I go in the building and notice lots of things that need doing, so tend to get caught up, rather than doing my own work.’

Faye and husband Matt have worked hard since the business rebranded in 2014, developing the Novi brand into a ‘unique inspirational venue with two identities’: daytime café and kitchen, and nighttime cocktail bar – open from 9am to 3am.

The creative opportunities afforded by such a versatile venue are enormous, and today as the Bookings and Events Manager, Faye’s job varies from wedding parties to corporate bookings. For 14 years, her husband Matt ran the venue:

‘It was particularly difficult when the children were younger and Matt was often working long, unsociable hours.  At the time I worked elsewhere, so we would often work opposite shifts in order to share childcare but the business gave us the flexibility to do this. ‘

Just like the multiple identities of Novi, women in business have several selves to juggle. It’s important to recognise that we are many things, and that our experience goes far beyond the day job. These women show that the limitations sometimes placed on us by inflexible roles can be overcome by finding our niche. That means not being afraid to step away when things aren’t right, to etch out a new role based on our strengths, and to form strong partnerships with those around us for support.

Self Care – The Oxygen Mask Approach

Self Care – The Oxygen Mask Approach

‘Put on your own mask first, BEFORE you help others’

Facing your first Christmas and New Year after separation can be a challenging time. In December we shared information about some local outdoor spaces – places to take long, reflective, healing walks with family and friends over the holiday period. But now that the holidays are at an end, it’s a difficult time with many of us re-entering the workplace and adjusting to the start of the kids’ school term.

Many of us have news we aren’t quite ready to share, or feelings that we that we want to keep hidden. Time for you is key and at this busy time, at the start of a new year, we want to remind you to make time for you. Scheduling time to look after yourself, to pursue your own interests and to care for your own health is not selfish. Those who depend on you will experience the benefits too. So with that in mind, here are some Self Care recommendations.

 

Retreat

Imagine a ‘breathing / bathing space’ with wooden hot tubs, a hilltop sauna and a terrace café close to the city yet out in the countryside. It’s a dream right? Wrong. PAUS Cambridge is our new ‘go to’ retreat. It’s open on weekends throughout the year.

It might be a bleak midwinter but Czech owner Alexandra recommends the winter months as the best time to maximize the restorative effects of the 40degree water. Book in with a group of friends for an afternoon, or take a look at their workshops and retreats. From ‘Coffee and Canvas’ painting classes to Santosha Yoga, the events are great opportunities to socialise and to try something different.

 

Yoga

Satyam Yoga offer beginner and restorative yoga classes, as well as ‘women’s circles’ – a group experience with the opportunity to ’step out of your busy life for an evening of gentle reconnection’. Their website even explains,

‘Don’t feel you have to bring your best self or stay away because you are not feeling great. You are most welcome to bring your authentic self, just as you are right now in your own particular cycle of ups and downs’

 

Exercise

Hitting the gym is a New Year’s cliché, but we all know that breaking a sweat is a fantastic way to offload negative feelings, and feel better about yourself. Try losing yourself for a moment in an intensive activity, like Puregym’s ‘Sweat 30’ or ‘Burn It’ classes. Their new Grafton Centre branch has opened a stone’s throw from FM Family Law’s offices and we recommend their affordable no-obligation monthly memberships (£12.99), multitude of classes and spacious layout. If you have a hectic lifestyle and find it hard to schedule gym trips into your commuting or childcare schedule, the Leisure Park PureGym is open 24 hours. It has a handy app to check out busy times and quiet times and to keep tab on your attendance. The app allows you to prebook into classes to incentivize you to go. Just ask Fiona!

David Lloyd Gym is another excellent choice, especially if you have children. It has a  crèche available for children from 3 months old, kids play area and an afternoon kids club. These options give single or working parents the flexibility to visit the gym, to have a swim and sauna, or just a quiet coffee break. Their new Blaze classes create the ultimate immersive environment in a specially built studio. It is suitable for fitness beginners and the people (instructors and participants) are particularly friendly and encouraging.

 

Family Walks

Taking walks with family and friends can be a great healer. In the winter months, when we wake before sunrise and don’t feel the sun on our skin, our mood can become suppressed and the emotional toll of relationship breakdown can be confounded. We recommend the National Trust properties surrounding Cambridge – suitable for young and old – such as Anglesey Abbey. If the kids are distracted and happy, we all feel calmer: They have children’s maps with wildlife searching tasks, binoculars & magnifying glasses, an adventure playground and a cozy café.

Also try Ickworth House and Hotel, equi-distant between our Cambridge and Norwich offices. The grounds and gardens are wonderful for a visit, but if you’re in need of some R&R, the hotel has a spa, pool and kids facilities: a fully staffed crèche, kids high tea and baby monitors so you can eat dinner after bedtime.

Beauty & Alternative Therapies

We’re not talking about a ‘new you.’ But beauty treatments can give you the self-esteem boost you might need in challenging times, as well as the chance to really ‘do nothing’ for a change. For hair we like Bamboo on Mill Road, and Ella Cain’s-Sola at Maluku hairdressing – both with great conversation and excellent coffee, too. Lucy, originally from Glassworks, does Christina’s beauty treatments at her home salon, called Lucy’s Beauty. 

For massages and facials we recommend Jennie Hart Aromatherapy for her holistic approach to wellbeing. ‘Imagine that your only job for an hour is to listen to your heart (rather than your busy mind)’ she writes, ‘chances are that feeling more connected to your body, feeling cared for, and taking even an hour to yourself would do you the world of good.’ We hear you, Jenny.

Rosalind Bubb is an EFT (Emotional Freedom Therapist) and TAT (Tapas Acupressure Technique) practitioner. Personally recommended by Christina, she uses energy meridian therapies, as well as acupressure and modern psychology to help people feel happy, calm and well. Rosalind is a skilful and caring therapist, who will quickly put you at your ease. She is easy to talk to and has a light touch. There is often some laughter when you work with her – even when the topic is serious.

Seek Professional Help

Finally, it’s important to emphasise that self-care can take many forms. If you’re feeling low, isolated, or very stressed, seek help from a qualified counsellor or health professional.  Fiona is a trustee of Relate Cambridge, an organization with over 30 counsellors who have experience with individuals, couples, young people and families.

We also recommend Jane McCann of McCann Consultancy. She’s a counsellor and mediator on Burleigh St near our offices, and extremely well regarded in our community. What’s more, she’s a lovely lady and a good sport, too. Marie Edgar offers counselling and psychotherapy, with experience in addiction therapy. Her calm Scottish tones are very reassuring! Meeting good, kind people on this journey – sharing your story with them and asking for their support – is the type of self-care that will get you through the darker days.

Finally, if you need assistance in legal advice or mediation, FM Family Law can help. Getting information about your rights is empowering and liberating. We are experts with decades of experience in family law and we can help you help yourself. Our mediation process enables you to discuss all issues arising from your separation, but away from court and lawyers www.fmfamilylaw.co.uk/what-we-do/mediation/