Life after redundancy – how two working mums turned bad news into success

Lucy, 44, and Trisha, 52, thought they had found the perfect work-life balance with a job-share position as Business Analyst at The Body Shop. However, in 2009 they were both made redundant, forcing them to change direction and work for themselves. Today, Lucy and Trisha are successfully growing their businesses as artist and personal trainer, despite the recession, proving that there is life after redundancy for the UK’s working mums.

Lucy Ames and Trisha Sharps were neither surprised nor unprepared when they were told that they were to be made redundant from high street retailer The Body Shop. Rumours had been circulating the company for many months and no-one felt safe in their position – a scenario that lots of women can relate to in the current economic climate.

However, unlike many of their colleagues, Lucy and Trisha had already developed other strings to their bow. Thanks to the jobshare nature of their role at The Body Shop, Lucy had developed a following (and a growing number of buyers) for her paintings and Trisha had been able to work part-time building up a loyal base of customers for her personal training sessions. Today, Lucy and Trisha have been self-employed for almost three years and have no desire to return to office employment.

Turning passions into businesses

As Lucy explains, “If I hadn’t been made redundant then painting would have always been a hobby. While sales may have trickled in from friends, I would never have experienced the satisfaction of knowing that there is sufficient demand for my paintings to make it a business. I now see my work up in offices, restaurants, hotels and beautiful homes and each time I do, it is still a thrill. I have found out things about myself that I didn’t know, for example that I have a natural flair for working out a painting design that not only meets the brief but is really personal and special to my client. Where I don’t have the right talents I am happy to seek help and often that has been achieved via a skills swap whereby I have supplied a painting in exchange for sales training or business coaching.”

Trisha has found that she can profit from her natural love of exercise and fitness and be out in the gorgeous Sussex countryside on an almost daily basis. She runs Nordic Walking sessions most days and around them offers personal training in her home gym. Her life has changed beyond recognition. “Where I would have rushed to the office for 9am, home at 5.30 and fitted in exercise wherever and whenever I could, I can now do it as part of the service I offer to others. So I may be walking along seafront at 9am, up on the South Downs at midday, and running a cardiac rehabilitation class at 3pm. My days are so full and earning money from doing something I love is an incredible bonus.”

Sharing support and ideas

Lucy and Trisha remain firm friends and have found that, despite working in completely different fields, there are many shared challenges in setting up a small business. They have provided support for each other, whether it is just sharing a bad day or working on ideas on how to build a local customer base.

Membership of the Mumpreneurs networking group has also been a great source of support, business knowledge and general camaraderie. A key element in success for both Lucy and Trisha is that they are doing something that they love. There can be no easier way to ensure you are good at selling a product or service than to be naturally passionate about it. A love of what you do helps you continue through the bad times and makes you enjoy success even more.

Make money doing what you love

While that may sound like inspiring advice, we can’t all be lucky enough to make money from things we love to do, such as eating chocolate and laying on the sofa watching TV. Or can we? Someone has to make chocolate. A friend of Lucy’s turned her love for baking brownies into a successful gourmet chocolate business that now sell nationally, despite starting in the kitchen of her cottage.

Why not start to think about what you enjoy and more pertinently, what you do that other people enjoy? Do you make a chili jam that neighbours beg you for? Do you paint old wooden furniture and turn it into desirable shabby chic items that visitors are forever complimenting? It may be that you didn’t realise what talents you have.

So next time redundancy rumours start circulating around your office, don’t panic. Instead, take a leaf out of Lucy and Trishas’ books and start working on a business plan that can turn your interests into profit – and take control of your own future and finances.

You can find out more about Lucy’s art on her website, and learn more about Trisha’s services on her website.