Today our exhibitor-, wedding-, inspiration- and mamma-extraordinare - and, crucially, our next Jugglist Massive member! - is Megan, from Blossom & Crumb. If you’ve been with us for a while now, you’ll recognise Blossom & Crumb as our bridalNEXT! winner last year, chosen by the wonderful Kat from Rock ’n’ Roll Bride. The eagle-eyed amongst you will also have spotted a sumptuous Blossom & Crumb design in our campaign shoot for 2017’s Most Curious Wedding Fair! We adore Megan and all she does - and that includes motherhood, as she has two gorgeous sons - Bertie, 5, and Arthur, 3. We talk to Megan about blossoming, crumbs, and everything in between...
When did you set up the Business? 2015
When did you have your babies? 2012 and 2014
What do you feel the challenges are of running your own wedding business alongside motherhood? The biggest challenge for me is mental. I find that everything seems to come with a side order of guilt! Guilt that I am not spending enough quality time with my children, that I am spending too much time on my business' social media, that my other half is doing the lion’s share of wake-ups and bedtimes because I am working or exhausted from working, guilt when my husband and boys all sit outside in the car while I set up a wedding cake, that family weekends without cakes are very rare. Also, on the flip side, guilt for not replying to clients because I am trying to spend quality time with family!
But also what are the positives? There are huge positives. I get to do a creative job that I enjoy doing and still be at home for the children while they are so young. I get to see all their development milestones and be there at the school gates in the morning and the evening whilst still having a career that I find rewarding. Also, financially, I would have basically broken even in my old job if I had stayed and paid for two lots of childcare. I may not make as much from business (yet!) as I did from my previous job but with the bare minimum of childcare costs I can keep what I make.
How on earth do you make it work? It’s really how do we make it work rather than how I make it work. My husband comes home, I hand over the baton and it’s on with the baking. He helps with the business in so many ways and he is an amazing co-parent. I also have a wonderful local network of local mums who have jumped in and looked after one or both boys when when I have been asked to take cakes to photo shoots mid-week or when I need my husband’s muscles for a wedding cake delivery. I may run the business solo but it is only possible because of the support of family and friends.
|Blossom & Crumb's amazing cake for our #JugglistMassive photoshoot|
I am also starting to use a journal for goal setting and time management which so far is a great tool. It also forces me to think about what I am grateful for at the start and end of the day which is good way to lift your spirits when everything seems a bit too hard. Time management is definitely an area I need to work on. My youngest is now at preschool for one and a half days a week so that is my dedicated, uninterrupted work time but it is so rare I get time alone it is very easy to luxuriate in it a bit. I need to start putting my phone in a box!
The other important thing is developing the ability to say no! I could so easily book out every evening and weekend with the business but you can’t live like that. I tried last year and nearly made myself very ill through sheer exhaustion! This year I have got better at carving out time for myself and for the family but again this is a work in progress.
Describe a day in the life of you and your business: Mon-Weds I start work when my husband comes home. As well as my special occasion work, I bake cakes for two fantastic local cafes and that takes up all of Monday evening and Tuesday morning before school drop off. The rest of the week varies so much depending on what cakes I have booked. Fondant cakes take a lot more time than buttercream so if I have a fondant wedding cake I’ll be busy with that Tues and Weds evenings. Thursdays I have the luxury of a whole day of work (well, a whole school day which is actually more like half a day!) and I also have Friday morning. My husband works from home on a Friday so we sometimes do a bit of juggling but officially I am back on Arthur duty in the afternoon. The weekends are usually taken up with deliveries and/or consultations. Couples come to see me in my home to taste cake and chat about design which is a lovely part of the job but also means we need to remove all the lego and Thunderbirds from the living room to transform it into a pleasant consultation space! Emails and admin have to fit in amongst all of the above which is a challenge. I also have so many dreams and plans for the business which I just don’t have the time for at the moment but hopefully I will be able to work on those things as the boys get older.
What have you learnt the hard way since having your children and running a business simultaneously? I gave myself horrible and constant heart palpitations at the end of last year which I now realise I get when completely exhausted. At that point I had no childcare at all, my eldest was only at nursery in the afternoons and I was making cakes for cafes three nights a week and delivering them in the days with the boys as well as working on wedding and special occasion cakes. It was all completely crazy and unsustainable. So I cut right back on cafe work as it is not the main focus of my business and learned to manage my diary better. Sometimes It means saying no to weddings that I would absolutely love to work on in order to have a little bit of down time now and then. I find it so hard to disappoint couples who have done me the honour of choosing my cakes but I remind myself that you really can’t pour from an empty cup and it’s to no one’s advantage if I work myself into the ground. I am also keeping August clear this year which is so tough as it is peak wedding season but I really struggled with keeping all the plates spinning during the summer holidays so this year we will be mostly taking our newly acquired tent on a tour of the UK!
Let us know your most stressed out/most jugglist/most frustrating/most challenging moment so far? When I managed to book a wedding cake a long way out of London on Bertie’s third day of settling in at school. I learnt to drive relatively recently so I usually rely on my husband's superior motoring skills for long distance deliveries but the only way I wasn’t going to be riddled with guilt about not being at the school gates myself was if my husband could be there. I didn’t fancy the thought of doing not only my first motorway drive but also my longest drive with a wedding cake solo so it ended up as an 8 hour round road trip with my Mum! I had many a sleepless night worrying about it beforehand but the cake got there, Mum, the car and I all got home safely and Bertie had a great first week at school.
Do you think there is enough support for mothers running their own business? I definitely think there could be more flexible childcare options. I am lucky to have wonderful friends who step into the breech but there have been so many occasions when I would have given my right arm for just a couple of hours of childcare somewhere I trusted.
Do you find the industry supportive? I do on the whole. There are a lot of us in the same boat because I think that motherhood can actually be the the very thing that prompts you to finally turn a hobby or passion into a creative business so the overwhelming majority of wedding industry people I have worked with have been very supportive and understanding. I am also extremely lucky to have lovely fellow exhibitor and cake-maker Claire Owen just down the road who understands the specific challenges of what we are both doing and has proved a wonderful sounding board in moments of stress! The cake making community is lovely and very supportive rather than competitive which is fab - I totally believe in small businesses supporting each other rather than competing. We are all happiest and strongest that way!
You are all inspirational and we salute and celebrate you all! What do you want to say to all the jugglist massive out there? I feel privileged to be amongst so many amazing parents turning their talents into amazing and unique businesses. When times feel tough I think we should remember the fabulous example we are setting our kids. They see us working hard, they see us doing what we love and they see the joy we can bring to other people on their big days. This isn’t always an easy gig but it is endlessly rewarding.
Images by Most Curious Wedding Fair Sponsor Matilda Delves Wedding Photography | Balloons and Paper decos by Pop Pop Papier | Calligraphy by The Golden Letter | Flowers by Rebel Rebel | Jugglist Massive Cake Claire Owen Cakes | Geometric pink cake Blossom & Crumb | Peach and red cake Frenchmade London