Welcome to The Motherhood Takeaway, a place to shine a spotlight on inspirational women leading the way in the fashion, beauty and lifestyle sector… Women who just so happen to be mamas. This new regular The Lucy Edit slot is designed to empower mums, with each Motherhood Takeaway drilling down on exactly how one woman makes family life and her career work in the real world. If there’s just one thing you read in this regular Motherhood Takeaway that leaves a positive mark on your own journey juggling parenting and work, then my mission here is complete.
There’s a conversation around not putting pressure on mums to do anything other than be mum, which is great, but for anyone who does want to be mum and have a career, then that’s great too and this is for you. Let’s face it, work isn’t a choice for most of us, it’s absolutely essential to keep our children’s tummies full and new shoes on their feet every five minutes!
The Motherhood Takeaway isn’t here to make anyone feel like they should be doing less mum and more work, or more mum and less work. It’s about inspiring that little vote of confidence for anyone with a business idea, side-hustle project, mums on maternity leave and mums returning to the workplace. It’s about never feeling guilty for saying “I’m the best mum I can be and it’s ok to want my career to flourish as well as my kids.” Zero guilt attached.
Crammed with practical advice to inject into your everyday, we’re kicking off The Motherhood Takeaway with mum-of-two Laura Barry, who’s shiny new swimwear line, Lilliana Luxury Liftwear is everything we need to feel our best poolside, on the beach and beyond.
The Motherhood Takeaway with Lilliana Luxury Liftwear’s Laura Barry
Laura Barry left a career in finance behind her when she set up swimwear label Lillana Luxury Liftwear. On a quest to find the perfect fitting bikinis and cossies for her family holiday, Laura soon came to realise there was a gap for a swim collection that lifts and sculpts in all the right places. So off she went and designed her own figure-flattering cuts in an assortment of beautiful hues. The best bit? Each piece comes complete with hidden technology in the lining (think specialist adhesive fabric grips) that when combined with cleverly placed lacing, totally transforms the way swimwear looks when you put it on. Of course it goes without saying you’re going to fall hard for the pretty ruffle trims, cool crop top cuts and finely-tuned colour palette that makes up the debut collection. One to check out before you jet off on your next adventure.
Laura, you worked in finance before launching Lilliana. Are there any disciplines from city life that you’ve carried through to motherhood and running your own business?
I think most importantly, as women we can be so tough on ourselves. Expectation management is so important, no one is perfect and we cannot be everything to everyone, being true to yourself and not overcommitting will really serve you in business and in life in general. In my early finance career, I can remember overcommitting and not wanting to say no, as I became more experienced and more confident I was able to better manage expectations and prioritise effectively and be honest about what I could deliver and when. I am keen on personal development and Stephen Covey’s ‘’The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’’ was an influential one for me in terms of prioritising, taking a step back and thinking about what is most urgent and most important. One task might be really important but it is not due until next week, another task might be equally as important but it is urgent. Another lesson from this book was about Interdependence and to seek first to understand, then to be understood. I use this principle with my children, I will consciously ask the children ‘’why do you feel this way?’’, ‘’why did you do that’?’’ rather than react to behaviour, I have taught myself to be more patient and to use this approach. Being able to listen properly may seem simple but is a skill and it gives you leverage in business if you can understand what it is that the other person wants, you can usually get to a solution or agreement that works for both parties, collaboration rather than manipulation.
How do you structure your working week with two small children? Are you quite strict about the routine or do you try to be flexible?
I am very structured in my working week but flexibility is also important. So, I will work three long days each week (and I am lucky to have help with children to allow me to do this). I will then take two days where I will commit my time to the children during the day, but I will usually need to work in the evenings after their bedtime. I will stay flexible and if I need to attend a work meeting and I am able to have help with the children then I will do this if it is urgent, or I will take time out of a working day to attend a school assembly for example. It is about balance and doing what is right for your own family situation. For me, I need to be disciplined to achieve what I want to achieve, and this does mean working hard but it also means not sacrificing family time.
What’s your ultimate time-saving parenting tip?
This is where the Stephen Covey ‘7 Habits’ comes into play. There are always school forms to fill in, dates to put in the calendar, birthday parties to attend, presents to buy, school inset days to remember (and yes I have been guilty of forgetting one once but luckily bumped into a school Mum the day before!) but we are human and cannot remember everything. So my number one tip is to constantly prioritise and decide what is most urgent and important right now and just park everything else in that moment.
And a piece of advice you could tell your pre-mum self about motherhood?
It will be hard, especially in the early days of being sleep deprived and getting used to being a new mum! But, talk, talk, talk – share how you are feeling with your friends and any other mums you know – be honest about your fears and concerns and I expect you will find that you are completely normal. This was my experience – I was always honest about not being perfect and asked for advice from other mums. I would also say to accept help whenever you can and try to take some time for yourself when you have the opportunity. Most importantly I would say enjoy every second of your baby when they are tiny as they grow so quickly and you will miss those early (sleep deprived!) months one day. Motherhood is challenging and you will learn how to be patient but it will be amazing and the love you will have for your children is indescribable, incomparable.
How do you try to split your time/strike the balance between mum and CEO?
The main reason why I wanted to make the move from corporate life to running my own business was for the freedom and flexibility. I wanted to be able to attend school assemblies, sports days, help out at school events for example while also being able to run a successful business. I have had to work extremely hard to get to the point of launching Lilliana and I have been managing my working hours into three long days a week plus evenings and weekends to deliver what I wanted and needed to deliver to get to this stage. But I have been able to take time off with my children every week – whether it is a weekly swimming class or picking up and dropping off from school a few days a week – this means a lot to my children and I love being there for them. Of course it is so hard, as there is always sacrifice involved, whether it is needing to go to a work meeting on a day which I would usually take off with the children, or rescheduling a work meeting for that celebration assembly. You have to do what works for you and your own family. There is no right or wrong way and my version of work/life balance will be different to others. The main thing is to make a decision and not feel guilty – you are only human and doing your best! Be kind to yourself.
How do you stay motivated when mum-life takes over and it feel impossible to get anything done?
It is so important to know what drives you and understand why you are doing what you are doing. If you are following your passion and feel like you are doing something that is your purpose, of course it is easier to motivate yourself, but for me I am doing this for my family and ultimately to allow me that freedom and flexibility to be there for my family. I have learned to accept that I may need to shut my laptop and respond to that email a few hours later after the children are in bed because they need me or just want some of my time and actually I can focus more and be less distracted if I just pause and come back to that piece of work.
What’s been your biggest lesson so far when launching a fashion brand whilst having two babies? And what’s your advice for any other mamas thinking of launching their own venture?
Stay true to your values, no matter what. Know what is important to you and work to engineer your life around it. Flexibility and freedom are everything to me which is why I have structured my week in the way I have but I have still been able to build a business from scratch without sacrificing family time. Someone once used the term ‘TOLO’ meaning “They’re Only Little Once’. We all know ‘YOLO’ but I remind myself of ‘TOLO’ regularly too!
I would say to be brave to all those other women who want to start their own businesses. It takes careful planning and of course you have to do what is right for you and your family situation I have been lucky to have my husband’s support and I was able to make the move from corporate life. If you follow your dreams, use your instinct, work hard and believe in what you are doing you can achieve. Be confident in your own abilities and good luck. You will find a whole network of supportive women who want you to succeed. There is also support out there in terms of start-up business advice, funding, etc, so do your research and get the help you need.
Stop back for the next slice of The Motherhood Takeaway, released soon. Don’t forget to leave your own advice for navigating motherhood and career below in the comments.
For heaps more parenting advice, head over to my Alex and Alexa column where you will find my take on life with Two Babies Under Two a Mum’s Guide To Nesting and a check list of What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag.