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Monday 9 May 2016

Children Changing Careers p1: From Menswear Buyer to CEO of Little Hotdog Watson childrenswear

Welcome to week 1 of the blog series  'Children Changing Careers'! A feature for parents who have pulled off a career change after having children!

Perhaps you are thinking of doing the same and would like some inspiration, some insight or even just some good old advice from someone who has taken the plunge? Remember: It's never too late to be what you could have been...

This week we are joined by Emma from new childrenswear fashion line - Little Hotdog Watson 

I first came into contact with Emma via Instagram last year when she was looking for product testers for some of her amazing children's hats. Arthur still loves to 'test' his hat out now and I am so excited that these products are now available to buy and I can finally post a photo of Arthur looking cool in the hat that Emma sent us to try out! Here is her career changing story:

Emma and H

Tell me about your  career before children? 

Previously I was a menswear buyer in the centre of London

Did you return to your job/position after your maternity?

I planned to take a year off for maternity. Part way through the year I realised that going back wasn’t the right thing for me.  I took the decision to not go back and leave a little sooner than planned.

What were your reasons for leaving your previous career? Why did you decide not to stay?

I loved my previous job as a menswear buyer I got to travel a lot and worked in the centre of London, surrounded by all the fun the big smoke can offer. However, as a mum the long hours and time away from home didn’t seem as much fun compared to having more time to spend with H.

Here is H at the supplier's 'helping' 

Tell me about your new career now:  

Now I’m the CEO of my new business Little Hotdog Watson, a childrenswear fashion line that uses innovation to solve everyday problems. 
I’ve always loved working in fashion and while I couldn’t imagine continuing in a big office I wanted to find a way to use my skills. Initially, I contemplated carrying on making menswear products but it didn’t quite feel right. Having H really opened my eyes to the childrenswear market and how the all the clothes/accessories where just a bit boring. I kept looking for things I wanted for her and when I couldn’t find them thinking ‘ I could do that’. So I decided to give it a go. I spent a lot of time researching my ideas and talking to other parents and then when I felt confident I was ready, I took out a loan and went for it.  Financially, it is challenging, we have moved out of London to Norfolk which has saved a LOT of money and we are just very careful. The move has been the best thing about the whole experience. We have a much better quality of life now :)

(Here are a some of the amazing new products that Emma has created)

Talk me through an average day for you now? How much has your life changed?

During the week I try to get up around 6.30am if I’m lucky I can get a few emails done before H wakes up (not always). As a family we then have breakfast, get some chores done and play for a bit. Nanna and Grandad have moved to Norfolk to be closer and help with childcare (this couldn’t have happened in London!) They collect H at 8.30am and then I am straight at my desk. Days can be really different. From samples arriving and checking, to speaking to suppliers, to attending photoshoot or networking. I always stop and have a walk at lunch to clear my head for the afternoon. I share an office with my husband who is also an entrepreneur. It makes a big difference to chat about our day and support each other. Three days a week my assistant Caitlin joins us. On these days we try to use this time for creative thinking and getting our big ideas together. Plans for videos, new products, we like to be different. Our office is very laid back and often friends or family pop by. I want an office environment that is about creativity and focus on the big picture not the political stuffy things you get in big business. At 4.30pm I go and pick H up. My husband stays at the office has a little longer working and then gets dinner on. H and I often go to the park on the way back if the weather is nice. Then it’s all about eating, bathing, playing and getting H to sleep. Once she’s in bed we might have a glass of wine an episode of Community or Parks and Recreation then I come back to my desk to work for a few hours. Compared to my other job the hours are better, its more relaxed, the negative is I miss my friends and I did love a quick shopping trip to New York!

Emma and her 'Motley Crew' meeting in Manchester to see the hats for the first time!

What is the best and worst thing about your new career?

The best is definitely the freedom to make the products I want to make and create the brand I want to and I believe in. The negative is not having job security and worrying about money. 

Emma and H in the home office working

Is there anything you miss about your previous career/life before children?

In my previous career I had a large team full of world class experts in their field all of whom where fun smart and driven. I miss that large scale support network but I am starting to find it through networks on IG and Mothers Meetings. There are only two real thing I miss from my life before H 1. SLEEP!! 2. The food. Living in London and travelling all over the world I was spoilt for choice.

 H working hard!

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to do what you have done?

There is nothing to lose by giving something a go but make sure you do your research and write a business plan and most importantly believe in yourself. You got through labour nothing will ever be as tough again :)

I also think it is important to say I have only gone full time and got help with an assistant since January this year. My parents moved here at the end of last summer and I started actually doing more regular hours (a couple of days) but I was still breastfeeding so we worked around this. I wanted to start the business but it also had to work around H. The business is important for our future but the reason why setting up a business as a parent is good is because you can flex your schedule to make it work. I am also really lucky to have a supportive husband and family including grandparents and great aunts helping out.


(H testing out some of the hats)


NB: Arthur and I tested out one of Emma's hats a few months ago and it really is a top quality product. The materials used help to keep your little one at the right temperature and combines UPF50+ with a special 'buzz off' technology (helps to keep the buzzies away!). Here are some photos of Arthur at the zoo a few weeks ago, wearing his hat:



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