In the last of the entrepreneur series, I talk to LISA REDGRAVE from Hitched In Italy – a mum who set up her own wedding planning company for couples who want to get married in Italy. Lisa took a huge leap of faith working around her daughter and starting a business from scratch. Here is her success story…
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, name, where you’re from, kids you have etc.
My name is Lisa Redgrave, I live in Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham and I have an 8 year old daughter, Amelia.
2. What was your profession before you became a mother?
For 15 years I was a sign language interpreter working with Deaf children in mainstream education, mostly based in secondary schools. I loved my job for a long time, but I knew that there was absolutely no flexibility in terms of taking any time off. I returned to work when Amelia was 4 months old, as I needed the money. I don’t regret this. It was just necessary at the time.
3. Is it possible to have a kid without it effecting your career?
I really want to say that anything is possible, but realistically having a kid affects everything in your life, your work, your home, your relationships. I’ve carved a more exciting career for myself since having Amelia, but there’s a lot of juggling that goes on behind the scenes.
4. What made you start up your own company as a wedding planner?
Andy and I had a very small, simple wedding in Italy nearly 10 years ago, I managed to plan it all myself, even tackling the legal side of things. My mom suggested I should become a Wedding Planner, it seems like a nice idea, so I did it.
I don’t have any event planning experience, I never dreamed of a white wedding myself, there’s even a part of me that thinks the wedding industry is a load of nonsense. But I love it, really love it. I can’t believe I actually get to do this for a living. I feel very fortunate to have such supportive friends and family who step in and help out with Amelia when I’m in Italy
5. What advice would you give to any mother wanting to start their own company?
It’s very difficult to make the plunge, particularly when you’ve got bills to pay. I didn’t leap straight in. I started wedding planning part time, making the most of the school holidays. I went from working full time, to working 3 days to then working 2 days and finally one day a week. I only left my job a couple of years ago, I enjoyed the safety blanket of my monthly pay check.
When Amelia napped as a baby, I worked. When she went to bed, I got my laptop out and worked. I’m quite driven so knew I could make it work with a bit of time and patience. I was definitely in it for the long haul and I’m happy that my business took years to build.
6. What have been the highs and lows of starting your company?
I was ripped off by a photographer many years ago, he was an utter pig and it really affected me. He threatened to take me to court and I had many sleepless nights over this.
But thankfully I have had many more highs than lows. A wedding day is a really emotional experience and I pretty much cry at every single one! Being responsible for someone’s day, one of the most important days of their lives, is an honour and I love every moment of it.
7. What would you say to your younger self, before you had kids?
You’re not fat!
8. If companies had better flexible working hours for mothers, would you have started your own company?
Yes, I probably would have still started ‘Hitched in Italy’. I come from a family of entrepreneurs. I’ve actually started a couple of businesses, some wonderful, some not as wonderful, but all so much fun.
9. What have you leant about yourself being a mother?
We all ‘mother’ differently. Amelia has always known her mummy to work, she has always known me to work away and she’s pretty resilient about it, I give her a list of who is picking her up from school that week, and she’s totally cool with it. I still get a regular bout of the ‘mum guilts’ but I know that this is working for us at the moment and I will continue to do it for as long as I can.
I didn’t really over think the ‘being a mother’ thing, but I knew that I could still be Lisa and not just Amelia’s mom.
10. What would you say to women who are about to become mothers?
Try and resist the pressure, the pressure of breastfeeding, the pressure to go to every bloody baby group, the pressure to be this perfect mother who whizzes up organic, wholesome dinners. The perfect Mother doesn’t exist. We’re all in the same boat, we all eat fish finger sandwiches, we’re all just doing our best, stumbling through and trying to get it right and (I hope) we’re all slugging merlot out of paperwork cups disguised as vimto at children’s parties.
Thank you so much Lisa for your honest and inspiring words – reading this actually made me well up!
If you want to be part of MAMA OF THE MONTH, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks, Louise x