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Who’s Your Mama?
This is the post I’ve known I needed to write for the longest time, but I’ve finally plucked up the courage to write. I’d like to introduce myself, the ‘Mummy’ in Mummy’s Muse.
My name is Yewande, I’m 32 and I live in London. I’m married and I have two incredible daughters. Watching them – often in sheer disbelief at what they think is acceptable behaviour – gives me the drive to build Mummy’s Muse. You can read more about how becoming someone’s Mama brought me back into the world of children and gave me the idea to build this brand.
I hope you enjoy this interview with myself, by myself! 🙂
Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Growing up, I didn’t know what I wanted to be. Actually, that’s not true, there was one point when I was in my mid teens that I thought I wanted to work with computers. My mum wanted me to be a doctor (like 90% of Nigerian mums) and while I was very good at science, I (wrongly) imagined medicine to be a very linear path and I didn’t like the idea of that. There was something else though, I didn’t gravitate towards things that I was simply good at, I gravitated (and still gravitate) towards things that make me feel ‘at home.’ I’ll expand…
I think everyone has gifts, everyone is good at something and everyone has things that make us feel really alive when we do or experience them. This is what I mean by feeling ‘at home.’ I believe that’s the way that God ‘coded’ everyone. I think everyone’s coding is a bit different. However, I think in life we get in our own way, when we try and make ourselves take a path that doesn’t align with the way we were intrinsically coded. I also think we trivialise our gifts. It’s easier to accept an incredible voice or a mind for numbers as a special gift. However, what if you’re really good at organising your belongings? Or you feel really comfortable spending time with older people? To me, these gifts are just as valuable and hold just as much opportunity. I’m not saying if you follow a path that aligns with your gift everything will be easy. However, I do believe things will be easier and more enjoyable. Most importantly I believe it will be less difficult to find the motivation to continue and push to excel when you decide (to borrow words from Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene) to ‘Slay in your Own Lane.’
So what happened after school?
After high school, I went on to uni to study Economics. I chose to take a BSc in Econ by accident (I mean, who reads course details at 18 anyway? ) and this meant there was a lot of maths. I can do maths, but I don’t feel ‘at home’ doing maths. I had lots of people on my course that were operating in their element and I was climbing up hill, panting and sweating just to keep up! This was a key life lesson. My degree experience taught me to avoid playing against myself at all costs.
So while my classmates went off to be Bankers, Management Consultants, Lawyers etc. I said NO to all of these types of jobs. I needed to not repeat the BSc. experience and work against myself. None of those careers really interested me, none of them excited me. The money was (very) good, but that’s never been enough for me. I started – with the help of a good friend – to work out what really made me tick. I found out about an industry I never knew about, one that combined a little art with a little science. One where I could wear red shoes to work and a hint of blue eyeliner (this sounds like a joke but these things are really important to me). One where the space I would work in everyday would be aesthetically interesting. I went to work in Advertising and Communications.
So what changed? Why a career and a business?
I am not a budding entrepreneur who is beat down by her 9-5, desperate to break away and be free. I really like my job and I enjoy the industry I work in. I’ve done it for about 11 years now (including two maternity leaves!). I’ve learned and continue to learn so much. I work with smart people, who embrace a fast changing world. I get to be analytical but get to think creatively too. However I’ve always wanted to build something and be responsible for whether it succeeds or fails…oh and I want to do it on my own terms. I also long to be much more creative in my day to day work, but I don’t think I have what it takes – nor want – to be a Creative Director.
A turning point for me was when I went on a female leadership development course. I can still remember the stand out exercise for me. We had to sit on our own and think about the things that give us energy; we had to think of our values. I also had to create a mood board to visually represent how I wanted to see myself and feel about the work I could do one day. Now sometimes these activities can be a bit, nauseating – but I threw myself into it. I looked at what I had written down and I strongly felt that I needed to build something that allowed me to play to my strengths and be around the things I love and that energise me.
Over the following years, I had a few business ideas. None of them left the ground because I had a strong set of values and criteria that I needed my work to align with. If it didn’t fit, I let it go. As anyone who’s embarked on a business journey knows, you have to really want to do it. You have to be tenacious. I’m not even ‘there’ yet, but I wouldn’t have survived periods like this if I didn’t really want to build Mummy’s Muse. I have a good job, that I like. I’m also busy enough (!), if this vision wasn’t something that I really believed aligned with my strengths and values, I would have put it down a while ago.
Introducing Mummy’s Muse
When I was pregnant with my first daughter, a friend of mine had a baby and I wanted to send her a gift. I wanted baby clothes that incorporated the bold colours and beautiful prints I’d grown up with. However, I struggled. I struggled to find something I liked and I felt like my only option were small independent stores that made clothes out of traditional wax fabric. This fabric looks great, but wouldn’t be my choice of fabric to put on a baby. I didn’t have the design options that I felt lived up to my standard and I definitely didn’t have time to do the alternative…drop off fabric with a tailor, give them measurements, draw out/design a style, drive back to pick up the outfit…oh and pray it’s wearable. No thanks. I just felt like it shouldn’t be that hard to buy the gift I wanted.
Then I had a child and re-entered the world of children. I am inspired every day by their confidence and their lack of inhibition. Their spirited nature makes them the ideal ambassadors for these patterns and prints that I love so much. In a moment in my head and in my heart, Mummy’s Muse was born. The offering solves a head problem – an online destination to buy beautiful and bold prints for children; and a heart problem – designing clothing for children that celebrates their fearless nature.
It’s really important to me that Mummy’s Muse is Considered. Bold doesn’t have to equal bright; the loudest in the room isn’t always the most confident. This goes beyond design, it touches all decisions down to seemingly small ones. It’s also important for me that this brand is Rooted. Our design inspiration comes from African prints, however they exist within a Western context. This very much reflects my own heritage, I was born in Nigeria but have grown up in the UK. I want to make beautiful clothing that children of any background could wear to a nursery, say in Central London, however our design being Rooted in African prints is what really makes us special.
My daughters are my Muses. As adults we shrink ourselves all the time. We often try so hard to be palatable. We prioritise making others comfortable over living free. Children don’t do this. Every day my girls show me what it’s like to live a life on their own terms. I want them to have clothing that reflects this attitude – clothing that brings joy. I want them to find their own style, dance to their own beat and determine their own attitude.
Hmmm but a ‘Mummy’ business?
I struggled (and sometimes still do), that my business is a ‘Mummy’ business. Like so many women I had a baby and during the process I was inspired to build something that might cater to parents and the world of children. When I start to feel this way, I talk myself out of thinking like this. I think it’s society that makes me feel this way. The honest truth is that it’s a category that holds so much potential and many people – especially women – are waking up to this and trying to build businesses that serve us.
So I won’t just take the title, I’ll embrace it. I’m proudly joining a league of women who went through a transformative life experience and it birthed something in them above and beyond a human being.
I’m so happy this is finally written!
I feel like a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders. This is probably my longest post to date, but I hope it was worth the read. If you have any questions about anything I’ve written, please feel free to contact me here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Huge thank you to Alla Photo Art for these wonderful photos that gave me the confidence to show my face! And to my dear friend, exceptional Make Up Artist @alesha_l_williams for making me look and feel gorgeous like it was my wedding day all over again. My dress and earrings are from two brands we love at Mummy’s Muse: Grass Fields and Chalk Jewellery respectively.
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