Chapter 3: Women's Day

Audrey Williams


February 2018

The sun is shining and I may sound optimistic here but I feel like spring is in the air.  While gazing out and letting my mind wonder for a minute I began to think about all those women who have influenced me over the past couple of years and helped me get to this point.

This is not written for those women from politics or tinsel town who we all admire at some point in our lives, but for those women who I can actually call and have a chat with. Surely these women impact our lives far more?

The first to mention is a wonderful woman with years of retail experience. Diane Lee is a former Director at BRU UK and I was fortunate enough to work with her in a former life. Diane was one of the first people I spoke to when I was thinking about going out on my own and she did not have one negative thing to say and was full of encouragement and I was spurred on to plan further. Although I have not spoken to Diane since October, I think of her every week and at times find myself asking: ‘What would Diane say?’

The second is a local lady who I do not want to mention by name at this point. Those who know me will never say that I am a shy person, but we all have our flaws and why I am currently admiring from afar.  I have not known this person for very long, nor have I spoken to her more than two or three times, but she is always smiling, always positive and never has anything negative to say.

I can not sit here and not write about my friends: Janine, Karen, Georgina, Charlotte, Gunilla and dear dear Pam. It is amazing how your friends give you the support when you least expect it. It has taken me a few years to get to this point in my life and each of these wonderful women have been there when I needed a shoulder to cry on or a giggle to cheer me up. I am only now starting to see in me what they see in me.

The only way I can describe my grandmother, or Ouma, was as a spirited woman. Full of life and never staying in the same place for very long. Without getting too tearful here, Ouma would be the first to call me after I had come back from a business trip to some far away country. I believe I caught her adventurous outlook on life. I trekked in the Moroccan desert a couple of years ago and at one point I found myself mentally struggling. It was hot and as the path seemed never ending, I began to cry and suddenly missed her very much. Now Ouma always had a beautiful garden and it is one thing that I always remember about her. It is by some miracle that at that very point in my life, with tears mixing with dust on my cheeks and wishing I was anywhere but there, I climbed over the very next dune to come across a field of desert bushes with small white flowers. It was like she was talking to me, reminding me that I could do whatever I wanted to do and to never give up. Tears brewing so moving on…

The next woman to influence me is my mother. Even though Mom and I live opposite ends of the world our relationship is as though we live next door to each other. Mom always knew the plans for The English Beagle, but when I told her that I had resigned from my job and was jumping in with two feet, Mom was the first to jump in with me. Mom has also been my rock over the past couple of years and always knew that no matter how I felt, Mom was there to listen.

So to all woman who read this, have a wonderful Mother’s Day and know that International Women’s Day on the 8th March is dedicated to all of you.

Chapter 2: What have I got myself into?

Audrey Williams

December 2017

No matter how many times I have thought to myself that I need to sit down and write the next chapter of ‘Becoming a Mumtrepeneur’, I always find an excuse not to. It is not that I don’t want to write, it is because I am too scared to sit back and analyse what I have done over the past couple of months.

The English Beagle has been my baby for a very long time now and since launching 2 months ago certain aspects have gone from strength to strength. Others have made me sit back and wonder what I am doing wrong and is this actually for me.

Let’s start with some of the good things… Social media is growing and I am amazed at how quickly it has taken off. I just love the interaction with people; whether it is on a competition or a picture of Suzy, there is always a friendly face or comment. I am even beginning to notice the regulars. Although I have taken part in far too many Christmas Fairs this year, the feedback has been great as people recognise the name and tell me how much they like the social media platforms and the website. It is at times like this that I know that I must be doing something right.

When working in retail, you have to plan well in advance to ensure that you stay both on trend and ready for anything. Thankfully my gut instinct and passion for product development has led me to partner up with several brands, including Molly & Monty, Selfie Clothing and Port & Lemon, for exclusive lines in 2018. Watch this space as I am so excited about them.

Now onto a negative aspect. I work from my home office and although I do have some wonderful chats with Sophia on the phone about work and life, I miss the background ‘jibber jabber’ of an office environment. I have come to learn that working for yourself in a start-up business can be very lonely. This is compounded by the fact that I am a single parent so there is no one to talk to in the evenings. My poor parents just listen and give me all the support I need and I am sure my mother has developed selective hearing.

I am also tired. There is no other words to describe this feeling. I try to maintain a good work life balance even when the office is just off the lounge and I can hear every time the phone goes ‘bing’. It is very hard to stop thinking about it: what is happening? What order has just been placed? If I pack it now will I make the last post today? I catch myself lying awake at night reaching for my phone to see the latest on Instagram and Facebook, only to put it down and tell myself that this is the reason why I am tired.

And now, I sit here and read back and think to myself that this is what I wanted to do. This is what I dreamed to do and I will succeed. Rome was not built in a day, so why should The English Beagle be any different. Even for all the tiredness and loneliness I feel, I dream one day The English Beagle will have its name up in lights and everyone will know about it. So next time I feel tired I am going to sneak in a nap before rushing off on the school run or pick up the phone and call someone for a chat when feeling lonely. Maybe I will call someone for a chat while lying in bed! Now that is a dream.

Chapter 1: Mumtrepeneur

Audrey Williams

I began this blog not knowing what to write as I have never written one before. When I started this journey a few months ago social media never crossed my mind, let alone blogging.

Let me start at the beginning, at the young age of thirty something I decided to become a Mumtrepeneur. A change of role and a change of pace is what I needed and wanted. I quit my job at a successful Children’s Brand and after years of traveling the world, visiting manufacturers of every description I wanted to do something that I was becoming quite passionate about, championing the local producers and craftsmen.

Why British you ask – well, I grew up around crafts women and it influenced my career choice. But as the years sped past traveling I began to consider the local producers. In an industry where price is key I soon realised that price is not everything. Quality, heritage and provenance can offer far more value to life.

So I set out to find Brands who I could relate to. Mumtrepenures, environmentalists and companies who champion special causes. I have found wonderful brands that some may never have come across and hope to become the place where the two sides meet. The gift creator and the gift giver. 

I have learnt so much about myself and who I can count on when the road seems never ending. I would say to people ‘I am trying to set up a company’ until a wise lady replied ‘Why do you say trying? You are already doing it.’ This changed my way of thinking. I am doing this and so far it is proving to be successful, even social media does not seem to scare me anymore.

I sat working one recent afternoon and realised that although I am working late into the night, I do not feel guilty anymore at being a ‘working mum’; whereas I always felt guilty when I worked 9 to 5. My daughter is my guiding light. Her occasional cuddles in the office and her curious questions on what I am doing always make me smile and I am so proud that she shows interest.

When I started this adventure I did not know where the road would take me and I can see only wonderful things ahead. I have learnt so much so I will end off with a key piece of advice for those wanting to do something for themselves and by themselves: Do not be scared to ask for help or seek a professional opinion.  I have met fabulous women along the way all who have contributed in one way or another to The English Beagle. Without them I would not be sitting here writing this and I am forever grateful to them.