Laura's Story
13 January

Laura's Story

Laura Tan worked for one of the world’s leading brand agencies but in early 2017 she joined her co-founder, Clare, to set-up her own agency, Notable, working with luxury and premium brands and also those that target female customers. She did this when her new baby, Iris, was less than a year old. Here’s how the multi-tasking mama juggles work and family life. 

What motivated you to start your own business?

There are so many reasons, both personal and professional. Professionally, Clare and I wanted to focus more on the premium and luxury sector and those types of clients tend to prefer working with smaller, specialist companies. Personally, after having my daughter, I wanted to be more in control of my life – in terms of how I managed my day-to-day time and also being my own boss and making my own decisions about where I invest that time and energy.

What does a day in your life look like?

It varies depending on if I’m working from home or working in the office or with clients. It also depends on what childcare I have available. When I rely on grandparent childcare I tend to do a shorter working day and try to work from home so I don’t waste time commuting and I can have lunch with Iris too. When it’s a nursery day, I drop Iris off at 8am, run back home (to fit in some exercise), quickly shower (I’ve got this down to max 20 mins including hair wash!) and then usually I’m out in meetings until nursery pick-up time around 5.30 or 6pm. 

Do you work in the evenings too? 

Inevitably, when you run your own business, work does not finish at 6pm so once Iris is in bed, I’m usually whatsapping with Clare late into the evening about various work things. It’s sometimes annoying for both of our husbands - Clare’s has been known to ‘mute’ messages from me! – but it’s just part of running your own business. 

What are some other challenges you’ve encountered?

Running a business has so far been really enjoyable. There are of course challenges such as having to wear multiple hats – finance admin being the one I like the least! – but the benefits far outweigh any cons. 

How do you overcome the challenges?

Having a business partner makes everything so much easier both practically in terms of workload but also emotionally in terms of having the support and a second opinion. Clare and I have different skills and also quite different personalities but we care about the same things and have the same values and high standards so that helps a lot. 

How do you find working for yourself and being a new(ish) mum?  

A business such as ours is all about ideas and you don’t tend to have those staring at a computer so I actually get quite a lot of thinking done (and sometimes conference calls) when out walking with Iris in the buggy. On the other hand, work never ends when you’ve got your own business so I do a lot more in and around looking after Iris, including evenings and weekends. 

Has it got easier with time?

It was much, much harder when Iris was younger and I was so sleep-deprived and still breastfeeding. Trying to run a business while feeling permanently jet-lagged due to lack of sleep and worrying about getting back in time from a meeting to breastfeed is not ideal! I found it stressful whenever meetings started to run over and I knew I had to cross London at breakneck speed to be back in time for a bedtime feed. 

Do you ever feel ‘mum’ guilt?

A friend once told me that you will inevitably resent anything or anyone that takes time away from being with your baby. However, you can’t really resent yourself so if it’s your own business and your own choice it’s easier. 

Do you get any support from family?

I am very lucky to have amazing support from my husband, grandparents and willing uncles and aunties who live nearby on both sides of the family. I couldn’t have done any of this without their help. We deliberately moved house just before Iris was born so we could be closer to family for that support. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving Iris with anyone other than family until she was about nine months old so being able to rely on them for childcare was absolutely vital. 

"My other superficial but essential tip is that if you have an important meeting get dressed and then leave your dressing gown on over your clothes until the very last minute. That way, messy paws can’t ruin your outfit! It looks ridiculous but it’s worth it."

Any tips for new mums thinking to start their own business?

First of all, don’t put any pressure on yourself to do anything at all other than look after you and your baby if that’s what you want. Although I don’t regret starting a business there were definitely times when I looked longingly at other mums spending their time having coffee mornings or going to baby classes and thought I was missing out on something. On reflection, I’m not sure I was. 
But if you do decide to go for it, it’s really important to figure out what your support network will be as you can’t do it alone. I know some women do it but I would say it’s virtually impossible to work at home and mind a baby at the same time. When they’re really tiny you can do bits and pieces while they’re sleeping but as soon as they’re on the move and a bit older, it’s far too distracting. So find a willing family member/friend/baby sitter who can help you. 

Anything else?

My other superficial but essential tip is that if you have an important meeting get dressed and then leave your dressing gown on over your clothes until the very last minute. That way, messy paws can’t ruin your outfit! It looks ridiculous but it’s worth it. Also, pack your handbag the night before. I find switching out mum stuff and work stuff takes more time than you’d think. However, always, always carry baby wipes wherever you go (even without your baby in tow). Somehow, now I’m a mum, I seem to attract mess even when I’m out and about without Iris! 

What about future plans? 

We want to grow the business and keep winning interesting, notable work. However, we always want to stay close to the work and not get so big that we’re just managing it. We both also want to have a good work/life balance and to be able to choose the projects we do and don’t take on. We would love for Notable to become a brand of note in itself, whatever form that takes. Watch this space! 

Last Updated

Share This Post

Saving vs Investing?
Use our tool to find the right balance for you.

Are You Ready to Invest?

Sign-up for even more money tips and the top trending finance news delivered straight to your inbox

I agree to Moxi Privacy Policy