As part of my mission to help as many mothers as I can, I have come up with the idea of interviewing mothers just like you and me that decided to take the plunge and go after what they want in life! The courage and determination it takes to do this is incredible. I hope by having them tell their stories it will inspire you to stretch your wings and fly! Enjoy!
Inspirational Interview #1: Gayle Jones, owner of Bella G Vintage
Bella G Vintage. I met Gayle in her beautiful home surrounded by her work.
How are you leading a life "doing what you love"?
I am doing what I love. For 9 years I have painted for family and friends. About 6 months ago I picked up 2 antique dressers. I fixed them up and had them in my home. Someone spotted one and offered me money for it. Then soon after, the other was sold. Now people are coming to me to do their own furniture. We work on a variety of pieces, liaising with our clients to create the look they want in their home. It's enriched my life. It's also had a domino effect. I'm happy, the children are happy, Stephen, my supportive partner, is really happy and the house is working really nicely. The work/family balance is good because I'm working for myself and setting my own pace. A happy mum makes everything else come together and flow nicely.
What did you do before this?
I worked in HR for 11 years. When I went on maternity leave with Bella, I realized that HR was too demanding whilst raising a family and decided to do something different. When Mason started school I knew that was the time for me to make a change.
In my spare time, I have always had a creative outlet. I think for me creativity is a big part of who I am. I need it. Before I did this on a full time basis, I was painting bits for friends and family and in between I was doing scrapbooking and photography. I've got loads of scrapbooks full of things I've made. I've always been quite creative. For me to do this now, full time, is just like heaven.
What was your a-ha moment that pushed you to change things and realize your passion?
When I sold the dressers. That was my wow moment. When somebody went "Wow, that's really good. Do you do this?" and I said, "Yes I do". They said, "How much do you want for it? It would look lovely in my kitchen" and I thought "People are buying my work!" That was a point where I went "gosh"! I love doing it but for someone to actually think that you are good at doing it... that places a value on it and makes you believe in yourself.
How did you make it happen?
Hard work and a level of commitment. It is getting the balance right between the administration side of the business and the actual work side of the business, such as the sanding, painting and the product. I got put into a situation whereby I had to get the balance quite quickly because of the amount of work I was doing. I needed to keep records, develop an admin process, invoice process and estimate process. I had to change. Instead of telling someone that it costs this much for paint, etc. and it all being lovely, suddenly it grew into a business. I needed to get smart on that side of things. If someone is thinking of starting their own business, they usually take more time to sort out both sides but for me it all happened quite quickly!
I think it is really important that your friends and family around you believe in you because then it makes you feel more confident in what you are doing. It can be quite scary, especially when you give up your day job and fully commit to it. That is what I did at the start of this summer. You need a network around you. It is quite hard work but if it's something you love, I can't express how much I think it's worth it. I love it.
How do you see your new life affecting your children?
Now I believe in myself and making my dreams come true, I want to pass that onto my children so that they can believe in themselves. I want Bella and Mason to have confidence in themselves to go after something if they want to. As parents we want to be good role models. I think for me that is really important. I value that.
What has been your biggest challenge during this time and how did you overcome it?
Keeping up with the flurry of work and the administration side (what I call the boring stuff). When I hit the point where those two had to marry up that’s when I felt kind of a little "wooo". How I coped with that was to think about it logically and work through it methodically really. Just think to myself, right I've done this amount; I need to sit down and do this and do that. I’m a great list writer, I am very organized. I realized that if I wanted to do this as a career it was going to be a bit like that sometimes. It was going to get busy!
What is the best advice you have received?
Believe in yourself and keep going with it.
How do you juggle your business with family life?
So far it has been relatively easy. I don’t have any childcare help. I look after the children myself. In the summer holidays it has been a mixed bag of doing work in the evenings and the weekends when I’m not with them full time during the day. And then when they are back at school I shall work when they are at school. When they come home until they go to bed that is our time.
Tell me more about the business.
So far every piece I've worked on I've loved for different reasons. I've looked at it and thought oh wow! It has so much potential. At the moment I am working on someone’s grandfather’s bureau. It has been in their family for a long time. The stool has got patchwork on it that her grandmother did. So, it’s like a family heirloom and I’m taking care and paying attention to that because it is precious to someone.
People come to me with all sorts of things…. Pine wardrobes, bureaus that have been in the family for a very long time, huge retailer dark wood sideboards with silver handles. By listening to them, we are able to transform their piece into something that they love. You can make things look beautiful, but not everyone can see it. In fact one of the things on the front of the website is: There’s beauty in everything, not everybody sees it. That’s my slogan, because to me there is. That birdcage I found at a car boot sale. It was covered with lots of stuff. It is an old fashioned, used birdcage. I cleaned it up, spray painted and distressed it. And I think it is gorgeous!
Be sure you want to make the change because change is a big thing. It does involve commitment and sometimes a whole lifestyle change. Have the courage of your convictions. At the end of the day, what is the worst that can happen? If it doesn't work, life still goes on. You can make it happen. I am living proof of that. I’m just a normal person who takes her kids to school every day.