Creative Business-Mamas: Vicki Jackson of Love Helm

We're delighted to share this Creative Business-Mamas interview with the runaway winner of Mum Plus Business's recent competition to find their members' favourite creative mama product: Vicki Jackson of Love Helm.

Vicki Jackson Love Helm

Describe how you are feeling RIGHT NOW in three words? 

Excited, Tired and a little anxious!!

What's the story of your creative business?

I have always enjoyed making things. I have been a full time Design and Technology teacher for the past 13 years, and I like to make as many gifts as possible for friends and family.

When babies started arriving in my friendship circle, I made baby blankets with their names on or baby surname ones as baby shower gifts and I think LoveHelm really began then. 

I love a new challenge and once some projects became regular I set myself new challenges. My friends and family have also come to rely on me to make some of their ideas a reality such as my Santa Sacks, which were an idea of one of my best friends.

I love the textiles aspect of LoveHelm but I really love my laser cutting pieces such as my artwork with butterflies and dragonflies, my family frames and baby or wedding frames.

LoveHelm became official in October 2012 after much pestering and persuading from my husband and those close to me to open up my work to everyone else. I set up my facebook page and started the craft fair circuit.

The success within these aspects have led me to put together a website (work in progress, will launch early 2014) and enter Mum Plus Business's competition for the opportunity to have some mentoring to take LoveHelm forward.

Vicki Jackson of Love Helm

What are the best things about being a mother running a creative business?

The best thing about being a mother with a creative business is watching my girls get really excited about what I am making and wanting to be involved.

It was lovely when I made my last lot of orders for my butterfly frames, Amalie my eldest daughter who is 4 sat with me and using my spare pieces made her own picture, she was so pleased with it.

And the worst?

The worst thing is time, there just isn't enough. Although I am pleased that people want to order my products it can sometimes take me away from my girls when things are busy.

I am juggling being a full time mum, full time teacher, full time wife and launching LoveHelm - life gets rather hectic at times

Tell us about the most difficult day you faced and overcame as a creative working mama

There wasn't one specific day, I had three days straight of craft fairs in the evening after full days at school. I felt like I hadn't and wasn't going to see my girls for days as I was having to go straight from school to get set up. My husband surprised me at the second fair to help me set up so I could spend some time with the girls before it all kicked off. They thought it was a great adventure.

Vicky Jackson Love HelmWhat advice would you give a mama starting a creative business?

Follow your heart, you need to be really passionate about it to take it forward. It can be all consuming, but if that's what you want then it's worth it. And remember great things come from little places with hard work.

What are you working on right now that you're most excited about?

I designed a personalised week planner board for my family that combined our calendar and my family frame idea.

On a Sunday my husband and I would sit and try and map out our week, but we would always forget stuff. I didn't want a whiteboard in my home, so I spent my days trying to come up with a design that would be really subtle but also functional. I made a large number of planner boards, all personalised for friends for Christmas gifts this year and the response has been amazing. Hopefully if the idea is viable then I can include it in my range of personalised products 

If there was a Creative Working Mama Fairy, what would you wish for?

Best Food Forward - Vicki of Love Helm

More time!!!!! with my girls, with my husband and more time to make my ideas a reality and just enjoy being creative.

Find out more about Vicki over on facebook.

To get in the spirit of this month's activity, the lovely Vicki has also shared a fabulous Best Foot Forward photo for us!

She says "I have my black cowboy boots for work, I love them, just a little bit different but perfect for working in a workshop.

As a mum, its got to be my uggs, I have 5 pairs!!! Comfy for chasing the girls around the park and the zoo."

If you have a dream of becoming a creative business-mama yourself, you might also like to find out more about our partner in this series this month: Mum Plus Business - a network supporting local mums to form business partnerships.

What does being a creative business-mama mean to you?

If you'd like to share your story with us, we'd love to hear from you.

You can read other guest interviews in the Creative Business-Mamas series here.

Team Honk Penzance - join us Lands End to Truro!

On Sunday 12 January, we’ll be putting our first and second best feet forward as the VERY FIRST LEG of a bonkers bloggers relay to raise funds for Comic Relief/Sports Relief/Red Nose Day...

Team Honk 2014 relay bloggers badge

Find the facebook event page here, say hello and come and join us. All are welcome! 

We really need YOU to come and join in. Firstly, so that I am not limping alone along the prom waving a baton with two grumpy children in tow (my husband is off on holiday that day...!), but more importantly, so that we can raise lots of money to help children that really need it. 

Just slip on a pair of mismatched shoes and waddle, hop or shuffle over to find us at Lands End, Newlyn, Penzance, or on the train to Truro...

So here's the blurb:

Powered by friendship, far-fetched footwear and First Great Western (thank you!), Story of Mum (that's my blogging alias!) and friends will travel the 37.7 mile journey from Lands End to Truro wearing their first and second best shoes (how about a well-loved welly alongside a hoofing great high heel, or a fabulous flip-flop teamed with a sparkling sneaker? Your two feet, your two favourites, the less matched the better…)

first and second best shoesFirst up, fabulous friends are jumping in to save the day, whisking car-less Story of Mum and the baton from Lands End at 9am arriving in Newlyn at 9.45am...

At 9.45 in Newlyn, they’ll all be joined by lots of mums, dads, kids, and random footwear fans (that's YOU), all wearing mismatched shoes, for a wonky walk (stormy Cornish weather permitting!) along the coast from Newlyn Green to Penzance train station. 

At Penzance train station a gang of us wlll jump on an 11am train to Truro to pass the baton to last minute hero Jackie Murray  at 11.45. So if anyone fancies an outing on the train, you would be very very welcome too, quick coffee in Truro??

Jackie will whisk the baton on to fabulous Fiona Cambouropoulos of Coombe Mill ( ) and her fancy dress family, passing on to lovely Lara Trewin and her jogging/cycling helmet-light wearing gang beyond that, and many many more... 

So... where can you join in?

1. Put on mismatched shoes
2. 9am: Meet us at Lands End for a high-speed photo opportunity with bad shoes and baton
3. 9.45am: Meet us by the Fishermans' Statue by Newlyn Green to walk from there to Penzance station
4. 11am: Jump on a train to Truro if you fancy it!

Any of the above would be brilliant. Just number 1 on its own doesn't help much, unless you send us a photo and donate some money to Sport Relief instead... HERE'S HOW TO DONATE

And absolutely anyone is welcome. Especially dogs, I'd like to see a dog in mismatched shoes. Anyone? So please tell your friends and invite whoever you like to join us.

Thank you all, and hope to see you and your random shoes there!!

Lovely mums can also share pictures of their shoes here...


PS if you are coming to Lands End, make sure you have your Locals' Pass with you for free parking and 50% off the attractions (not that we'll have time to go on anything, the relay calls us on...!). If you haven't got a pass, you can email with your address (it has to be in Cornwall...)

Step out at our #somum Make Date on Weds 8 January

Come join us and this month's lovely co-host @mumplusbusiness on twitter for a chat and a footwear photography challenge from 8.30 - 10pm UK time (find out what time that is in other parts of the world here).

Yes, this month's Mate Date is all about your footwear (sort of...!)

Feet are a bit like an under-appreciated mother... we don't often thank them for all they do, but we'd fall flat on our face without them... So, let's give them some love on Wednesday!

What do your shoes say about who you are?

Where can a good pair take you? And where do you actually want to go...? 

"The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art." Leonardo da Vinci. 

As always the plan is to get together on twitter to chat. And our play-along activity this month is taking and sharing photos like this. Two shoes that capture different aspects of YOU.

So get thinking about which pair to share...

It's all about the shoes this month

Team Honk Bloggers Relay

Very excitingly - we are the VERY FIRST official leg of the Team Honk Bloggers' Relay from Lands End to John O'Groats this Sunday, where we'll also be getting everyone to walk a good distance in mismatched shoes - you can find out more here...

Starting next Monday, we're also linking up with some of the lovely mums at Mum Plus Business to share more inspiring Creative-Mama stories in our new interview strand (and hoping they will bravely show us their mismatched shoes in their posts too of course...)

If you enjoy playing along with us today, spare the price of a pair of socks and donate over here?

Come and play!

We would love to see you and your tired old feet on Wednesday!

Just jump on twitter at 8.30pm, add #somum to your tweets so we can see you, and search for #somum to find us.

And if you're wondering what on earth a #somum Make Date is, you can find out more here.

Creative Business-Mamas: Teika Bellamy

Teika Bellamy is the latest creative business-mama to feature in our interview series: birther of books, weaver of words, and inspirational publisher mama with a vision...

Teika Bellamy of Mothers Milk Books

Describe how you are feeling RIGHT NOW in three words? 

Tired, reflective, peaceful.

What's the story of your creative business: when, how and WHY did you start it?

I was given some great support by the charity La Leche League when I was feeling unsupported in my breastfeeding and mothering choices.  I wanted to give something back to them, so I decided to do some fundraising.

As I’ve always loved stories, poetry and art, it kind of made sense to publish a charity anthology that included all of these things!

So Musings on Mothering was born (in September 2012) and a tiny press arose out of that when I realized that many mums appreciated having breastfeeding represented and written about in an honest and realistic way.

What are the worst things about being a mother running a creative business?

The worst problem is a common problem – time, or rather, lack of!

There never seems to be enough time to do everything I want to do for the business and never enough time to do everything I want to do with my children.

And the best?

The best thing though is that I can work from home and (generally) work when I want to.

Tell us about the most difficult day you faced and overcame as a creative working mama

I’ve only really experienced a few difficult days. Proofing and doing the final ‘signing-off’ of a book before the print run is, I think, an inherently stressful task, but when you have a toddler around who wants to be involved when you’re proofreading and the clock is ticking further increases the stress!

I got there in the end though – with my toddler sat next to me at ‘his’ computer (an ancient laptop) watching videos on YouTube!

What's the greatest thing you have learnt from running a business?

That you’re never too old to change careers.

If you have the will you can learn a whole host of new skills.

What's the greatest thing you have learnt from your child/children?

Well, the greatest thing my children have given me is the experience of motherhood, which really is quite unlike any other experience.

What advice would you give a mama starting a creative business?

My suggestion would be to take it at a pace that’s right for the mama and her family.

Looking ahead to say, five years, rather than one year, allows more time for the business to develop and can take some of the ‘must-do-it-all-now’ pressure off.

Mother Milk BooksWhat are you working on right now that you're most excited about?

I’m excited whenever I receive an entry for the Mother’s Milk Books Writing Prize (which closes 17th January) and fingers-crossed we’ll be accepting submissions soon, which means I’ll get to read more interesting stuff.

I love finding poetry and prose that is beautifully written and opens my eyes to another facet of parenthood.

I’m also looking forward to future books and getting excited about them although they’re just ideas in my head at the moment!

If there was a Creative Working Mama Fairy, what would you wish for?

Either a time travel machine to enable me to get done everything I need to get done, or a few very rich investors!

Find out more about Teika over at her website.

What does being a creative business-mama mean to you?

If you'd like to share your story with us, we'd love to hear from you.

You can read other guest interviews in the Creative Business-Mamas series here.

An English Mum in New York...

Story of Mum: Mums making an exhibition of ourselves logo2013 has been an amazing year, and the final highlight was a wonderful trip to New York with my mum. Our mission was to take YOUR exhibition "Story of Mum: Mums Making an Exhibition of Ourselves" to the wonderful Museum of Motherhood. What a trip!

We met some truly inspiring women in person that we'd been in touch with for a while via the wonderful world of the web.

First of all, the powerhouse that is Joy Rose, the force behind the Museum of Motherhood itself, and a passionate advocate for the study of motherhood.

introductory wall at Museum of MotherhoodJoy has created a unique and inspiring space - a thought-provoking and playful museum celebrating motherhood. The museum hosts a collection of permanent exhibits, touring art, history, inspiration and research resources.

So we're particularly thrilled to announce that Story of Mum: Making an Exhibition of Ourselves will stay up in the museum until March, featured as an interactive backdrop for their MOM Conference, as they liked it so much! Thank you all so much for your stories, your photos and your mash-up creations.

If you're in New York, do head over for a visit - the kids can play happily in the play area, while you're powerfully reminded of just how amazing us mums are. Next year, we'll be looking at ways that we can help to support their amazing work - in the meantime, you can donate here.

We launched the New York exhibition with a fabulous early evening event co-hosted by another very inspiring mama, Suzi Banks Baum of FeMail and Laundry Line Divine.

First up, Suzi shared some of her collage techniques with us all and we had a go at making Mama Mash-Ups in the style of the woman who first inspired us to make them! What a magical treat that was. You'll be able to see lots of new Mama Mash-Ups from this event online in the new year. In the meantime, here are some pictures from the event...

Femail Story of Mum Mash-Up at the Museum of Motherhood

Suzi is a warm vital creative spirit and it was wonderful to finally spend real face to face time with her and to meet some of the community she inspires.

Lori Landau compiling the communal mums' poem at the Museum of Motherhood

This included several of the wonderful writers featured in her book "An Anthology of Babes": Cheryl Paley, Joanne Tombrakos and Lori Landau.

It was incredibly affirming to sit in this precious space celebrating motherhood and hear all four women share their stories, as they read some of their writing from the anthology. And hilarious to hear Suzi's impressive chicken mimicry skills.

The lovely Lori then pulled the whole wonderful evening together to create a shared interpretation of our communal Mums' Poem, adding more words collected from visitors on the night.

You'll be able to watch a video of the poem-making here, as well as read the final version of the poem very soon...I'm a mum and a... photos at the Museum of Motherhood

We collected more I'm a Mum and a... photos and made some more beautiful Mama Mash-Ups at our Family Make Date later in the week. Here, we got to meet more wonderful virtual connections in real life like the very lovely Amy and her brilliant kids (we even made cootie-catchers!).

Story of Mum Family Make Date at the Museum of Motherhood

In between all this exhibition excitement, my mum and I got to explore New York together!

What a precious gift - child-free time to travel around a stunning city with no plans or deadlines, just each other. Limitless exploration, mischief and thrift-shop discovery...

My mum and I visited Tiffanys, saw the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, walked the High Line in the rain, ordered eggs over easy in a diner, ate pizza, burgers and bagels, rode the Staten Island Ferry, marvelled at Grand Central Station, felt overwhelmed by advertising in Times Square, and thrilled at snow landing on the Christmas trees lining the street.

We laughed, and talked, and delighted in every moment. We even met a very nice NYPD policeman.

It was a perfect and fitting end to this incredible exhibition tour.

Hosting this exhibition with you all has been such a privilege - a rare chance to connect with like-minded souls all over the world, to share and learn from each others' stories - and together, to capture what motherhood feels like right now.

We're so grateful to all of you involved in making the project happen.

Our next big adventure is hosting a real life Mamas' Retreat in Cornwall! We'd love you to join us, and so we have some very special offers and limited places (up until 5 January, so sign up quick!). You can find out more here.

The ultimate Christmas/New Year gift for a mama.

A very special offer! We're hosting a unique Mamas' Retreat in Cornwall in early 2014. Early bird prices available right now! SO give a very special place to a mama you love. Or even better, give one to yourself.

Join Story of Mum's very special Mamas' Retreat in Cornwall

You can find all the info here - we would so so so love you to come. Please take a peek and see if you can make your dreams, and ours, a reality in 2014!

There will be yoga, and creative workshops (no skills required), and good food and laughter,  There will be afternoon tea, cosy views of the sea,  time in nature, and time with new friends. Most of all, there will be time for you. Yes, YOU. Imagine that.

Sending much love out to you in this crazy holiday period, whether you celebrate Christmas or something else.

(PS if you do celebrate Christmas, make sure you print out your Bad Mummy Bingo card for the big day so we can all play along...)

See you in February we hope!

Creative Business-Mamas: Tara Florence

Our next Creative Business-Mamas interview is with a new business-mama friend, Tara Florence of Tara Florence Photography. Mother of two littles, Tara shares her leap of faith, and her dream of a stop-the-clock button...

Tara Florence photography

Describe how you are feeling RIGHT NOW in three words?

Productive, focussed and festive! 

What's the story of your creative business: when, how and WHY did you start it?

For years I’d been the go-to girl if any friends wanted photos taking. It was just a hobby but I truly relished any opportunity given to me to experiment and hone my skills.

When on maternity leave, I got some advice from a friend:

"Photograph everything Tara. They grow up so quickly, you’ll appreciate even the smallest things in years to come."

So I did. I also enrolled into a fantastic local photography class to improve my technique.

When the time came to decide whether I wanted to return to my full time job, I decided to take a leap of faith and pursue my photography.

Since then things have just snowballed. Most of my work is booked through referrals and the next couple of years are looking really busy. 

What are the best things about being a mother running a creative business?

If I’m in a particularly artistic mood, it’s so much fun to get the girls dressed up, set up a fab scene and get snapping away.  

Thankfully, they both seem to love having their photos taken and it’s a great way for me to get my creative juices flowing whilst capturing some beautiful memories of my little ones.

And the worst?

The worst thing is definitely not having enough hours in the day.

I like to dedicate my days to my girls, but when you know you having a wedding deadline looming and fifteen emails to respond to it can be difficult to prioritise. 

What was the most difficult day as a creative working mama?

Molly, my eldest, had been asking for a trip to the beach for weeks. When the day finally came, I’d received a last minute booking for a fantastic shoot - the original photographer was ill. It was such a dilemma. In the end the girls went alone with daddy but I managed to join them for the final hour after the shoot. 

Tara Florence photography

What advice would you give a mama starting a creative business?  

Follow your heart and go for it.

Work your business around your family and you can have the best of both worlds.

What are you working on right now that you're most excited about?

I’m starting a project in 2014 entitled ‘Beautiful Women’. I’m photographing a spectrum of women, all shapes and sizes and all beautiful and amazing in their own way.

My end goal is to create a coffee table book and showcase these fantastic women and their stories.

If there was a Creative Working Mama Fairy, what would you wish for?

A ‘stop the clock’ button, for those evenings when the girls have decided bedtime is over-rated and I have 500 photos to edit. Pretty please? 

Find out more about Tara over at her website.

What does being a creative business-mama mean to you?

If you'd like to share your story with us, we'd love to hear from you.

You can read other guest interviews in the Creative Business-Mamas series here.

Bad Mummy Bingo - Live Play!

Have you had one of those weekends? Well kick back and indulge in some Bad Mummy Bingo.

A gang of bad mummies (i.e. entirely normal mummies who feel like sometimes we get it wrong) got together on twitter last week to make our own bingo cards and play together at our monthly #somum Make Date.

It was hilarious. And very very reassuring.

When you bravely admit to some of the things you do that make you feel like a Bad Mummy, and in turn realise that many other mothers struggle just like you do... It feels good.

That's what happened to me this week on twitter. 

What is Bad Mummy Bingo?

Play Christmas Bad Mummy Bingo with! #badmummybingo

I came up with Bad Mummy Bingo to amuse myself when I was having a particularly bad day. And it worked.

I made myself a bingo card with all the things that made me feel like I was a rubbish mum, and ticked them off. Instead of feeling like a failure, I started to giggle. And I saw that they weren't actually all that bad. They were normal.

Why play now?

The lead up to Christmas seemed the perfect time to celebrate our flaws together... so live twitter Bad Mummy Bingo was born!

Here's the Christmas Bad Mummy Bingo card I made especially for you... (download it for free to hide in the kitchen and giggle over on Christmas Day right here.)

So how did live Bad Mummy Bingo work on twitter?

Well, we first made our cards (you can join in any time and download your own free printable Bad Mummy Bingo Cards here,) and then shouted out things we had on our list. 

If someone else had that some Bad Mummy failing, they could cross it off. And we all got very close to a full house!

In the end, there could only be one winner, and that was the very lucky Rachel Annand.

She won this very classy hand-made trophy, accepting it on behalf of all of us...

Thank you Rachel ;)

You can still play!

If you missed the party, and you'd still like to play along, here's how.

1. Make your own bingo card, following the instructions here (or downloading and printing the free bingo card template)

2. Fill it in with things that you do (or have done...) that make you feel like a bad mummy.

3. Read through the storify below. If someone mentions something in a tweet that you have on your bingo card, cross it off... and let us know if you reach a full house!!

(you can keep us up to date on twitter too using #badmummybingo)

4. Upload your completed bingo card here (click on 'join in') so we can see how you did.

Messy Messy Housy Housy!

I'm also pinning this post to Monday's Parenting Pin-It Party to spread the love for bad mummies everywhere :) 

Mum Of One



Creative Business-Mamas: Poppy Treffry

The second in our series of interviews with creative businesswomen-mamas is with the hugely creative and inspiring Poppy Treffry. 

Poppy Treffry

Poppy's first baby was her popular business mixing freehand embroidery and quirky design to create everything from tea-cosies to stationary. She's also mother to a little girl so delicious you grin when you look at her...

Describe how you are feeling RIGHT NOW in three words?

Chilly, bit demented, busy.

What's your creative business?

I run a small company designing and making textile accessories for fashion and the home. I started it 10 years ago on a shoestring after being bossed about by a business advisor.

I was looking at my Christmas Party list this year and I have 16 people who have worked for me this year to invite!

best things about being a mum with a creative business?

The best things are being flexible, loving my work, and it keeping me sane. And my daughter loving spending time in my workshop.

And the worst? 

The worst things are doing complicated payroll and accounts things when you haven't slept properly for weeks...

What is the biggest challenge that you've faced and overcome as a creative working mama?

The biggest challenge has been finding time to actually be creative.

Having a littlun means I have worked less and all the other adminny things always come first. The time to design and just play slips very far down the priority list.

I am clawing that time back now she's at school though!

Poppy Treffry - sewing gift setWhat advice would you give a mama starting a creative business?

If you're just starting a creative business then you really need to focus on the creative bit for as long as you can. It's that period of freedom and playing that will fuel you through all the rest of the 'running a business' jobs.

What are you working on right now that you're most excited about?

I'm working on some new tea towel designs inspired by St Ives where my new shop is. I've just done one really detailed design that combines loads of different sketches I've done over the years. And I'm about to start on one with lots of buxom swimmers on it and maybe one with pasties on! 

If there was a Creative Working Mama Fairy, what would you wish for?

A couple of big customers who place big, uncomplicated orders, pay on time and love what we do!

Poppy Treffry team

Find out more about Poppy over at Poppy Treffry.

What does being a creative business-mama mean to you?

If you'd like to share your story with us, we'd love to hear from you.

You can read other guest interviews in the Creative Business-Mamas series here.

Come play Bad Mummy Bingo

Join us on twitter on Weds 11 December from 8.30 - 10pm UK time / 3.30 - 5pm EST (find your timezone here). We'll be making our own Bad Mummy Bingo Cards and attempting to play along...!

Use #somum to find us on twitter, and add it to your tweets so that we can find you.

Be warned: I am very jet-lagged having just returned from our fabulous trip to New York (see some pictures over on our Facebook page), so this may be a completely delightful disaster...

But here's the plan - we'll get together on twitter to do the following:

1. Either print off your own blank template to fill in from the Bad Mummy Bingo page here (if you click on 'read more' and scroll to the bottom of that page, you'll find it as a downloadable PDF - or you can just print the photo here really big) or simply doodle your own. Remember, it doesn't have to look professional - draw it, paint it, crayon it, just use whatever you have to hand.

2. Fill in the 12 circles on your bingo card with things you do (or have done, once, never to be repeated, cough cough....) that make you feel like a Bad Mummy. That's a lot, so if you get stuck thinking of things (I could personally fill several bingo cards, but I'm sure you are much less of a Bad Mummy than I am...), try giving your bingo card a theme - such as Bad Mummy things to do at Christmas, or linked to school, or when you have a teenager...

3. At the Make Date, we'll attempt to take turns sharing one Bad Mummy thing from our bingo card... If someone else shares a Bad Mummy thing that you have on your bingo card, you can cross it off.

I Am Normal - even when I win at Bad Mummy Bingo - badge from www.storyofmum.comAnd we'll see who gets to a full house and call out "Bad Mummy Bingo Full House" first!

At the moment, there's no actual prize other than the glory of being the Baddest Bad-Ass Mummy in the world and your printable Bad Mummy "I am Normal" badge, but...

...I have a plan, and if I have time to do it, there may yet be a superbly unique and rubbish prize. Hold your breath...!

Hope to see you to play later. And if you're wondering what on earth a #somum Make Date is, you can find out more here.

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