Following on from the success of our post last Friday about homeselling as an opportunity to work for yourself as a stay at home mum, we have an interview today with Erin Thomas-Wong who started running a Small Print franchise having given up work after the birth of her son. Whereas working for Pampered Chef, Emma is an employee, Erin chose to buy a franchise and is therefore her own boss, but with the support of a parent company.
Franchising may well be a way in which people who have never run their own business before can start out. You get to be your own boss and run your own business, but you have support training and an already tried and tested business model within which to work. For Erin running a franchise has been a springboard into starting her own business as well. In fact, I think that we could definitely call her a Mumpreneur.
1) What is your career background originally?
I was a Production Manager in TV Production, organising shoots, managing budgets etc. I worked on programmes like Celebrity Wife Swap, Scrapheap Challenge, Ian Wright’s Unfit Kids.
2) When did you decide to start running your own small print franchise?
After the birth of my son, Ollie. I had been thinking for a while that I didn’t know how I would carry on a all consuming 24/7 job while having a family, and when I heard about the Smallprint franchise I realised that I did have other options.
3) What promted you to work for a home selling business?
The flexibility of being my own boss, and not having to commute!
4) What promted you to work for this business in particular?
I heard about Smallprint Fingerprint Jewellery through a friend who had a necklace with her son’s fingerprint on. I googled them as I wanted to host a party for my NCT group. It came up saying that there was no one in my area, and that there was a franchise opportunity available. I had never considered owning a franchise before this, but I just loved the idea of the product and it all fell in to place. The franchisors are fantastic and there is a strong network of franchisees who support each other (130 worldwide). So you are pretty much buying in to the idea of a ‘Smallprint family’.
5) What are the greatest advantages of your work?
Working to my own schedules, making my own decisions, only answering to myself (though I can be my own worst enemy!). When Ollie was younger he was ill pretty much every month, and it was easy for me to take time off to look after him.
6) Are there any disadvantages?
It’s near impossible to ‘switch off’ from work, especially with the age of iphones. Up until last year I was making the jewellery in the dining room so couldn’t even ‘leave’ work at the end of the day. Now we have a loft conversion for my office and it’s much nicer to be able to close the door and seperate it from family life.
7) How has your life/outlook changed since doing this kind of work?
There is a whole world of opportunities out there that I never knew existed when I worked 9-6 in a corporate world, walking up to the tube in Northfields every morning and wondering what all these people were doing having coffee in cafes and looking carefree. Now sometimes I get to be that person ;o)
8) Is this a temporary job for you until your children are older or a lifelong career?
I’ve been running Smallprint for 3 years now, and through all my contacts I have now set up a second business to run along side it – Pitter Patter, The Hub for Bubs . The possibilites for both businesses are endless so right now I can’t imagine ever wanting to do anything else.
I have also been working closely with another mum, Shelley Henderson, who set up Roobub & Custard and we have set up Ealing Mums In Business to create a network for all the mums who are running their own businesses in Ealing, as there are a lot of them! It’s great to feel part of a bigger picture.
I finally feel that I have found ‘me’ again after becoming a mum, and so far i’m managing the balance between career and family just about right, which is an amazing position to be in.
Other posts in the series