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Sunday, 29 May 2016

Changing Careers | Bonnie Doman | from Art Director to BON LDN

BON LDN, Bonnie Doman

Welcome to part 4 of the blog series 'Children Changing Careers' - A feature for parents who have pulled off a career change after having children!

This week's post features Bonnie Doman from BON LDN.

Here is her career changing story...

BON LDN, Bonnie Doman

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

I was an Art Director in advertising for 12 years before I had kids. I used to work with my twin sister who was my writer (most creatives in advertising work in teams) I worked on a huge selection of top brands like Sainsbury's, The Economist, Volvo, Mars and Twinings to name a few as well as being on the board of the company. The hours were long and I used to travel all over the world shooting commercials. Highlights include a trip to New Zealand to make a 20 second ad and 3 weeks in LA for a chewing gum brand.

BON LDN, Bonnie Doman

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

I wanted to go back to my old job but on 4 days a week after my first child was born. However at that time my sister had started working with someone else (who was covering my maternity leave) and wasn't keen to have a partner on 4 days a week. I reluctantly went back on my own and within 2 weeks I knew it just wasn't going to work for me. I had no office, the first week I was working until 10pm and the childminder I'd found to watch my daughter wasn't reliable. It was a horrible, anxious time. So I left and became a full time mum for the next 3 years and had another child. 

BON LDN, Bonnie Doman

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

Advertising is a very full on industry, you work hard and you play hard. For some reason, there aren't many women in the creative departments and I know a lot don't come back after having kids as the hours are long and unpredictable. I think things are starting to change though as more flexible working is being introduced. Why is it the mums have to go on maternity leave? what if they split it with the dads for example? Also it shouldn't be frowned upon if you have to get home to relieve the childcare - there is always that time after the kids go to bed when more work can be done. I know my sister has to do this now she has a child of her own and is still in the industry. 

BON LDN, Bonnie DomanBON LDN, Bonnie Doman

BON LDN, Bonnie Doman

Tell me about your new career now: eg, job title/what you do, how did it come about? 

When my youngest was 2 I felt ready to start thinking about a new career. I've always been creative but wasn't sure how to earn money doing what I loved ie drawing, photography and problem solving. I found a few great courses run by an Adobe affiliated company called Certitec and I learnt In-Design and Photoshop to a professional level within 2 weeks.

 I'm now a freelance commercial treatment creator and visual researcher. This means that I put together the documents for TV Commercial Directors to help them visualise the ad that they are going to shoot and hopefully win the job from the advertising agency. Because I used to be the one briefing the directors in the first place it's been the perfect leap going to the other side as I'm able to draw on my knowledge of the industry as I know what clients and agencies are looking for. I try and do 3 or 4 jobs a month with each job lasting a day to 3 days depending on what is needed. My day rate is good and basically pays for my au pair who lives with us. I need an au pair as the days I work are very long and I'm often at my busiest around kids tea time through to bed time, so she really is a life saver.
If I'm not working,  I'm very hands on with the kids so it's an ideal situation.

 I also run an Etsy shop called BON LDN where I sell hand illustrated ceramics, prints and homewares made by myself. So any free time I have,  I'm working on that or thinking of new products to add to my range. 

BON LDN, Bonnie Doman

BON LDN, Bonnie Doman

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

When I'm on a job I usually get up early and help the kids get ready for school or nursery,  then I try and start at 8.30am. My au pair takes the kids to school and I work in my home office (AKA The Laundry room). I work right through lunch, often only having toast and lots of coffee. The kids come home and I'll say hi and ask about their day then go back into my office until late. This continues for 3 days until the job is done and I can re-surface for air. My youngest is fine with me working from home and knows not to come knocking but my eldest who is 6 is more used to having my undivided attention so she can be tricky when I'm in the thick of it.
On days when I'm not working I take the kids to school and then I like to cook and make healthy food for the freezer as well as working on things for my Etsy store. I have also been fortunate to work on a few illustrations commissioned through brands on instagram like Mere Soeur and The Fourth Trimester magazine. When the kids are home it's spelling practise, tea and bath time as usual. My eldest isn't so great at going to bed so I leave that job up to my husband. He's a Creative Director in Advertising and works long, unpredictable hours so that is also another reason why I felt it was better for the kids to have a least one parent around more if possible. 

BON LDN, Bonnie Doman

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

The best thing is being paid to do what I love! It's so nice to earn my own money again and by doing creative things it means every job is different. The worst thing is the uncertainty of when the next job will come in. I can have a month with only one job and thats tough but I get to spend more time with my kids and I've learnt to be more frugal with money. Also you don't get paid until the following month so its a long wait to see the fruit of your labours.

BON LDN, Bonnie Doman, the fourth trimester
Is there anything you miss about your previous career/life before children?

I miss the people the most! I used to work in an office of over 300 people, it was a very sociable business. the first 3 years as a mum I had no friends at all. Luckily the school run and social media have fixed that. I'm instagram obsessed! and don't know what I'd do without those little squares filled with other mum's lives making me feel less isolated. I miss the advertising trips to Cannes for the festival, the boozy awards do's and the adrenaline of getting an idea bought by the client. I miss working in a team and weirdly I even miss the commute into work. I'm thinking I'd like to rent an office space somewhere soon just to have that feeling of 'going out' to work.

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

I think if your child is still very young don't put too much pressure on yourself to find the perfect career. I think social media sometimes makes us believe that some mums are doing it all but you don't see the nanny in the background or the grandparents helping out. It's impossible to do much if you don't have childcare as kids are wise to a laptop coming out and choose that time to empty the spice cupboard or poo in the hallway. Nap time is your greatest gift, I used to use it to do bespoke nursery prints to make pocket money and keep me from going mad. Start slowly building your confidence up, I worked for 6 months at a children's clothing webshop styling and art directing as well as doing day to day packing and admin. It got me out of the house part time and the skills and contacts led on to a whole new world of opportunity. One good thing often leads to another. Plus other mums will always have your back.

BON LDN, Bonnie Doman

Have you had a career change since having children? 

Read previous posts in the series:

Children Changing Careers - p1: Emma from Little Hotdog Watson

Children Changing Careers - p2: Alexandra from Tendre Deal

Children Changing Careers - p3: Dani from Deluxe Blooms

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