As I am so excited about Spontiphoria putting on Small Business Month in April for women who run and own a small business in Dubai. I have decided to do put some of these women in the Hot Seat! I don’t know about my readers, but I love finding out how an idea came to light. Maybe it is the nosiness in me? What ever the reason I feel blessed to be apart of this initiative! There really is nothing better then women lifting women up!
My first ‘Mum in the hot seat’ is the beautiful Laura Linden…
How did you come up with the concept- White Cotton Cards?
When we first moved to Dubai I kept doing the classic ‘new expat’ thing of converting everything back to my home currency and I couldn’t get over the cost and lack of choice when it came to greeting cards. A good friend of mine in the UK has run a hugely successful greetings card business since 2000 and I kept thinking of her cards every time I paid 50dhs for a dreadful card! The idea of bringing them to Dubai nagged away at me until my husband got bored of me talking about it and told me to do it!
Did you ever think you would be a “Mumpreneur”?
I’m not sure I fit into that category! I’m just a mum with an idea that I wanted to explore! I never imagined I would start my own business though as I was more than happy pottering away with my other work and enjoying life in the sun.
How did you go from the idea to actually making it for the marketplace? Was that a difficult process?
It was simple in the respect that I knew which brand of cards I wanted to bring to the market and already had the relationship with the owner. They’re also a complete, packaged product by the time they get to me so I have an easy job there! The process of choosing the range, obtaining a trade licence, photographing products, finding stores to stock the cards, getting displays made and listing them online has been pretty labour intensive but fun at the same time!
What do you tell other women when they have a burning idea?
Try it! I would far rather regret doing something than regret not doing it so if it’s a feasible idea and you’ve done your research, give it a go!
What does a typical day look like for you? Do you have any rituals?
I’m a total routine junkie! Life works better for me that way! Weekends are much more relaxed but during the week I get up, walk the dogs, empty the dishwasher and get showered and dressed before the kids wake up. Then we have breakfast together and head off to school and nursery. I then have a precious 3 hours to do whatever work I need to do before my daughter finishes nursery. She and I then run errands before collecting my son from school. Afternoons are spent doing activities with the kids before making and eating dinner together, then it’s bath and bed for the kids. My evenings are then spent preparing lunches for the next day, catching up on other work and, if he’s lucky, a bit of downtime with my husband!
How do you manage to balance your work and family life?
Very badly, or so it feels sometimes! I try to separate the two and only work when the kids are at school/nursery or in bed but obviously that’s not always possible. If I need to do computer based work I try to sit them down with puzzles or colouring while I do it or take them to softplay where I know they’re contained! I try to be very mindful during my time with them and make sure I’m 100% focussed on them when we’re doing activities together. That way they’re less likely to resist when I do need them to do something independently. There’s always the element of guilt that you’re just doing lots of things badly though!
You have two Littleloves under four. What does childcare look like for you?
My son is in FS1 so he’s at school and my daughter goes to nursery 4 mornings a week. The rest of the time they’re with me as I don’t have a helper at home.
What are you most proud of in your professional life?
I think probably my Accountancy qualification because it was a long, hard slog to achieve it alongside full time work! I reached a fairly senior level with my career before doing part time work from home once the children were born and it’s a career I’m proud of and was reluctant to let go. Being in Dubai means there is much less availability of such work but I’m lucky that 2 of my UK clients allowed me to continue working for them from here when we moved. The money I make from that work has paid for the stock for White Cotton Cards so i’ll keep that up as well.
What are you most proud of in your personal life?
My children and my marriage. Every day I look at my children and can’t believe I produced them! My son has some issues that mean he has to be on a very strict diet and have next to no ‘screen time’. I’m proud of how much we’ve achieved with his health, development and wellbeing through diet, exercise and creative activities. It’s time-consuming and difficult at times but I’m proud of how hard we’ve all worked and the improvements we’ve seen. My husband and I work really hard to support each other and do the best we can for our children. We’re both quite feisty but we’re still like a pair of love sick teenagers and will always choose to spend time together rather than apart. It’s so easy to end up just living under the same roof so we make sure we have time together every week with no distractions.
Do you have any mentors/people that have inspired you along your journey? Who are they?
No mentors as such but I’ve met some incredible women since starting a small business in Dubai. It’s been amazing to me how encouraging and helpful women can be to each other. My experience in the past has been that others only want to compete and hope for your failure. The women I’ve met here have been nothing but supportive and they celebrate my successes with me which is wonderful!
If you could give one piece of advice to Mums who are trying to live their dream of having it all, what would it be?
I don’t believe there is such a thing as ‘having it all’ because I believe human nature is to always want more and never be satisfied. I believe life is about choices and priorities and being happy in what you do, what you have and who you are. If there is something you want to do or change and doing so doesn’t make you lose sight of everything you already have then go out and make it happen. You won’t regret it!
Thank you Laura for sitting in the Mumpreneur’s hot seat! I look forward to continue following you and you’re families adventures.
Come and meet Laura on Tuesday the 12th of April from 9-11 for #cakeonthesquare @spontiphoria