In light of August being Women’s Month, I thought it would be the perfect time to promote some hard working mums. You could find the service provider you were looking for or be inspired to take that leap you’ve been dreaming of.
Q&A WITH MANDY-LEE
1. Tell me a little about yourself without including details of your family and work (it’s tough I know 😂)
I’m a connector. I see potential and beauty and unique magic in everybody and I can always find a way to connect people to their own potential and to others who I believe should share in their magic.
2. How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
One four-year-old daughter, Charlotte (Charly) Rose 🌹
3. What is your side hustle? And when did you start?
Which one IS my side hustle… I started freelancing as a PR and brand consultant, specialising in corporate writing in July 2013. I started my blog, Pregnant in Cape Town, in 2013, very early in my pregnancy. I took over my online pregnancy and parenting magazine, Tums 2 Tots Online, in late 2015. We also launched a women’s only Facebook group, South African Sisterhood, in 2015 wanting to create a supportive space for SA women.
#CarseatFullstop is probably my “side hustle” for right now, because I make no money from it. It is a national car seat awareness initiative, where I am continuously learning everything I can on car seats and child road safety, and trying to share that information with as many families as I can. I do all the PR and Marketing, I am the spokesperson and appear a lot in the media. I consult with local government and businesses to help them ensure the information they share is as accurate as it can be. I try to get local bloggers and personalities involved by sharing things that they might not have known about their own use of car seats, because I believe that genuine learning is the best way to get people to share passionately and authentically. I also run multiple social media platforms for the initiative and will be going into nursery schools teaching little kids key car seat safety tips they can use to become their own advocates.
4. What did you do before starting your own business AND what made you leave?
I was a B2B PR and Marketing professional, specializing in writing and media management for technology and telecommunications companies in SA.
I had been head hunted 3 months before my wedding and was loving the chaos and long hours of agency life as a senior PR Account Manager with an epic talented team surrounding me. I was the lead writer for the agency and edited for all the junior staff members.
Part of my contract was that I didn’t work for the month of May (my three month probation ended end April and I came back full time on the third of June). We were married on 3 May and traveled the ISA for 22 days on honeymoon. I came back into a lot of work that should have been managed while I was away and I had been drastically overcommitted to a new project. Within a couple of weeks I was completely out of patience with everybody, and a few days after that I discovered I was pregnant with our honeymoon Baby. I resigned within a few days of finding out.
I adored working with and supporting and growing my team and had no trouble putting in insane hours to blow clients away on delivery; but the second I knew I was pregnant, Charly became the priority. The lifestyle I had in the agency wasn’t a safe one for a pregnant mama. So I left, signed up my first writing client (an old client who had wanted me to work for him for years) and started the blog (an online diary with zero plan of becoming anything more). And that was that.
5. How do you allocate your time between work and family?
I struggle with this always. Because I have so many things happening at any given time, I have stretches where I work literally every waking hour (way more waking hours when the rest of the world sleeps). I think in the last 18 months I’ve gotten better at making sure that when I am with my family in family time, I leave my phone and laptop in a different room. I try to work in work hours and then after my family sleeps. Sometimes I find the balance, other times I can’t. The blog and magazine can mean work is sometimes playing with and taking photos of Charly, which I love to do. It helps that I genuinely love what I do, so my down time often includes research or reading on “work” stuff. It also helps that my family and Charly truly understand the heart and importance of #CarseatFullstop.
6. What have been the hardships of running your own business?
Investment is the biggest hardship of any business I think, more so in a project like #CarseatFullstop. I make some money from all my businesses when I have the time to give them love… But I then pour that money into #CarseatFullstop. The problem with a project like this is that people treat you as if you are only doing it for the right reasons if you are broke doing it. Businesses want to be seen as supporting you, without having to give you any money to keep you running. It can be very demotivating pouring your soul into trying to save babies’ lives and the lack of investment making you feel as if it isn’t seen as important.
When you work for yourself, a lack of feedback and guidance can be a real struggle. Working in a vacuum can be extremely challenging if you are the kind of person who needs input and acknowledgment.
Working from home adds another level of guilt on all fronts. You feel like you are never giving your full attention to your work or your family.
7. What have been the highlights?
The greatest highlight by far was the day I got handed the keys to my Ford Everest. I only have it for a year, but it was the first time in a long time that I felt like #CarseatFullstop was being seen as making a difference.
I am being recognised at a women in motoring event being hosted by Gumtree this month. Again, I think having someone say they see what I am trying to do and it has value is massive.
I secured an international funding grant for my Joburg counterpart, car seat NPO, Wheel Well. That hasn’t been publicly announced as yet, but I am beyond thrilled that I could make it happen.
Speaking about car seat safety in the media is always a highlight. The number of people I can reach increases massively when I’m on TV or radio in particular. I love speaking at Mama Magic, as I get to really engage with the parents and answer their questions before they make purchasing decisions for their babies.
8. What advice do you have for other women who are on the cusp of taking the leap into entrepreneurship?
Do it for the right reasons. I genuinely believe that if you are doing something that you are passionate about, that you have a unique skill for and that the world needs, you will succeed.
I would strongly suggest finding someone who has been where you are and where you want to be and creating some kind of mentor relationship with them. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely way of life, depending on your field. Finding someone to relate to the unique challenges you face can change the whole experience.
9. How can we get in touch with you?
So many ways!!! Click on the links below:
Car Seat Full Stop:
Pregnant in Cape Town
And lastly my Email addi: firstname.lastname@example.org
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