Read how mum Carole Ann Geddes balances her family and business with her job working as a manager for French brand Captain Tortue.
We believe that there are a million and one ways to do something you love, get paid well for it and be the mum you want to be. And we’re always curious about how YOU find your perfect balance – and keen to share stories to help inspire other mums.
That’s one reason why we love our regular real life stories. This week, 49-year-old Carole Ann Geddes, a manager for French lifestyle and fashion brand Captain Tortue, gives us a glimpse into her life.
An independent consultant, Carole covers Surrey and part of Sussex. She’s been working with Captain Tortue for three years and integrates this role into her own business as an image, style and colour consultant Truly Carole Ann. This is her story.
I’ve always loved fashion
It seems like fashion has always been a part of my life. I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years now and have a BA (Hons) in Retail Marketing. With experience of working for some of the fashion greats over the years, you could say I know a bit about fashion! Selfridges and Asprey in New York feature on my CV and I worked as a fashion buyer, fashion press officer and account director for in store marketing, with Marks and Spencer for 15 years.
In support of my image consultancy I also trained as a Colour Me Beautiful consultant in 1997. I work from a purpose-built studio at home, which was a big investment, but is the perfect space for me and my clients.
Retail runs in my family too, as my husband Ian was Head of Retail and is now Head of Consumer Business for Deloitte. We have four boys (Ben 14, Dan 11, Adam 9 and Alex 6) – the three older boys play cricket for Surrey and also play football for local teams. I feel fortunate in life and like to give back whenever I can, by raising money for local charities like Rianna’s Fund and I’m always open to approaches from other charities.
Plus I am a Retailer of the Year finalist in the Leatherhead & District Business Awards 2015. So you could say life is busy!
My job works perfectly with my family and business
I was attracted to Captain Tortue because I have a passion for fashion, I LOVE the clothes and it offers a really flexible way to balance work with a family. It also works perfectly alongside my image consultancy, Truly Carole Ann.
It’s also a really sociable way to work in fashion, both in the way the clothes are sold and the camaraderie with my team and all of the other Captain Tortue consultants. With my background, I feel I can bring a lot to my clients; knowledge, confidence and positivity about themselves. There’s far more to fashion, than just the way it looks! I would recommend it to as a career option to anyone who loves fashion.
I work three days a week as a manager
At the moment, I spend around three days per week, on average, in my role as a manager. This can vary with the season and quite often the quiet times tend to fall during the school holidays, which is really useful if you have a young family. Here’s a run down of my typical work day.
My morning routine
I usually wake up at 7am. Breakfast is tea and yoghurt and then the madly-organised scramble to get my four boys to school on time with everything they need for that day. It’s quite full on as you can imagine!
First thing on my list is to check sales and call my team. Then I review enquiries from my website, check Facebook and do a few tweets. Facebook is a really useful tool for marketing my business, keeping in touch with clients and generally what’s going on in the world of fashion. I also place orders from my previous shows. I’m constantly multitasking, so it helps to be organised.
I host shows on weekday mornings
I tend to host my shows during weekday mornings with a few evenings now and again, as my boys need me when they come home from school. I do around two to three per week.
If I have a show on in the morning, I will have prepared the night before, so that I’m ready to just up and go. It’s all about the packing up and not forgetting anything, so I’ll run though a mental list and make sure I have everything ready (leaflets/order pad/stock report) and most importantly make sure all the clothes look their best on the rail.
When it comes to delivering the clothes, I usually arrange for the hostess to do this, but as I live centrally, that can be useful and clients just pick up from a designated safe place at home.
I’m always looking for new party hosts
I have a list of regular clients, but I’m always looking for new ones to host a party – after all, that’s the way this business grows.
So I talk to everyone at a party, to find out if they would like to host one, plus I’m constantly networking from the sidelines of the football and cricket pitches to lunches, dinners and to anyone that’s interested. I’m never without the Look Books – in fact, it’s a great way to get to know people!
I regularly attend managers’ meetings
I attend managers’ meetings and seminars with head office and my team on a regular basis, and twice a year, in July and December, we all attend the seasonal fashion shows for spring/summer and autumn/winter.
These are fabulous affairs, held in a London hotel, with lovely food, wine and lots of girlie gossip. It’s a really fantastic opportunity to get together with the whole company and share news, views and all things fashion and Captain Tortue.
I also enjoy my downtime
When I’m not working I love to exercise and play squash, spend time with my friends and of course my family, dogs and cat!
I also have a passion for London history and a great respect for The Queen. I’m inspired by strong, powerful women with a great sense of style, that work hard at what they do and for what they believe in, like Davina McCall, Cate Blanchett and Helen Mirren. And when I need to switch off, it’s got to be an engrossing drama and a nice glass of wine!
My top fashion tip
My top fashion tip, is to consider your colouring and body shape – and don’t buy anything if it doesn’t look good!
You can read more about Captain Tortue on their website.