Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Children Changing Careers p2: From Marketing Manager to Business Owner of French Children's Boutique/Outlet Tendre Deal

Welcome to week 2 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 Alexandra from Tendre Deal! 

An extract from the film available on Alexandra's website: www.tendredeal.co.uk/pages/about-us

Tell me about your life, background and career before children?

Graduated from a French Business School specialised in Marketing, completed with a Master Degree in the Food Industry. I have an extensive experience in Sales, Communication and Marketing. Just before I had my 2 girls, I was a Marketing Manager in a big FMCG. I was living in London, working near Oxford and traveling 3 hours a day to my work, leaving few time for my personal life. I was working 8 hours, sometime also going regularly to the North of England to visit the factory, supporting new product launches or rebranding. That was an interesting role but quite demanding.

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

For my first daughter, I took 10 months Maternity leave and had the time to discover and enjoy the great variety of activities and products for Children available in London. Impressed by the Children market and because that could bring me closer to my children, I realised my business will have to be in the Children's Industry. However I decided to return to work as I wanted to get a second child quickly and a bit of time to work on my Business Idea. My company didn't accept my request for flexibility so I couldn't see my daughter a lot during the week. She was nearly half asleep when I was bringing her to nursery and sometimes already sleeping when I was coming back from work. I tried a Nursery close to my work but traveling so much wasn't good for my baby. I put her back to a Nursery in London even if I was spending less time with her. It was heart breaking. Fortunately I got pregnant soon after I came back to work and I worked 8 months more before I went on Maternity leave again. I knew that I won't come back and my company had started a redundancy plan and I was on the list.

Alexandra with her two girls

Tell me about your new career now:  

Even if I was working in Marketing/Communication before, my new journey was completely different. I decided to start with a blog as I wanted to tell the story of the French brands I will bring in the UK. I was really scared of this 1st step. I am French and wanted to write in English as I wasn't only targeting the French community in the UK. I wasn't so confident on my writing skills and knew that I would always make some mistakes. I met a famous French blogger "french yummy mummy" who also write in English and gave me the confidence to try. I also thought I didn't have to hid that I was French and my mistakes were like a written French accent.
I started my blog on Wordpress and learned to customise and manage it with some tutorials on YouTube. Then I wanted to build a Private Sale website similar to Achica. That's a bit more complex than a traditional shop as I had to create sort ofonline "pop-up" shops that would disappear after a week. It was a bit technical and not so well known in the UK so I had to find some people able to build a website that allows that feature. I found a company in the US who could sell me a theme. I put that in place with a Web developer in the UK and learned how to manage the content myself. I also had to communicate and didn't get an advertising budget so I started to learn about Social Media with some books and information found on Internet. I started with Twitter and managed there to get a better understanding of my market and get really valuable connection with some bloggers. I then developed the other Social Media Platform such as Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram and Google +.
I had to learn everything from scratch and I wasn't able to pay me a salary with my Business but I have gained the flexibility, freedom that I needed and I love learning something new everyday.
Alexandra: " Welcome to the world - The photo of my 1st blog post written the day when I turned 40 but also a photo of my baby - That represents the beginning of my New venture"

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

I am a one-woman band and I feel that every day is different but the main tasks I managed during the week are the following:
Dealing with my French suppliers, adding New Products on my website, responding to customers queries, preparing the orders, going to networking events, creating content, managing my social media platforms, writing my blog….
I work really hard and I can't really disconnect in the evening or during the week-end but I can manage my diary as I want and be there for my daughters when they need me, if they are sick, if there is a show at School...and I am really grateful for that.

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

The best is the flexibility and freedom I have gained, the beautiful brands I am distributing, the great connection I have made through Social Media...The worst is that there is no limit to work, a very long to do list and problems that you need to sort out even if you don't have the skills. You need to learn to do everything. You need to work very hard and to be very patient before seeing a result.

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

I miss the fact that I can't really switch off and the social interaction with my colleagues.
I feel it's also more comfortable to know that you will have a salary every month in the corporate world.

Alexandra: "different categories of my Boutique - clothing - toys - small decoration
Illustrate the different categories of products I offer"

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

That's better to start a business with a part-time job alongside as you don't feel the financial pressure so much. Ideally if that could be in the same industry as your business you could learn things that you will be able to use in your business.
To get the business running, you really need to be consistent, never give up and be able to be patient to make it work. You also need to develop your network a lot and try to find people to work with that will bring to your business skills that you don't have. 

Read more from  the series:

Children Changing Careers - p1: From menswear buyer to CEO of Little Hotdog Watson

Children Changing Careers - p3: Dani from Deluxe Blooms

How can you support my blog?

If you have enjoyed reading my blog and would like to support me further, any of the following would be hugely appreciated: