What is like to run your own business while raising your first child

What is like to run your own business while raising your first child

To celebrate Mother’s Day, we spoke to two of our tenants, Lucy Ferguson and Noemi Caruso, about what is like to run your own business while raising your first child.

Noemi in her office

Noemi is the mother of 10-month-old Anita and the co-founder of Binomi Design studio, with her business partner Bianca. They met in university, and after working for several years in big agencies, they decided to take their fate in their own hands and come together to find their own clients. That’s how Binomi Design was born about three years ago.

I had always wanted to be my own boss and be able to decide which direction to take with my work. When you work for a big agency, you only do a small part of a big project and you don’t see the entire picture. Working for yourself gives you more creative freedom”, says Noemi.

Lucy and her son, Alexander

Lucy is the mother of two-year-old Alexander and the founder of Mediorite. Around 9 years ago, she was working for a large publishing company in sales and became increasingly aware of the lack of ethnic diversity in the shiny-glass building she worked at. At the time, there were a lot of negative articles in the press related to young people and knife crime, and she felt like she could do something to tackle youth unemployment by trying to find some of these young people and help them get a job in media. That’s how Mediorite was born.

After a few years of self-employment, Noemi and her husband felt it was the right time to start a family. Thanks to her business partner Bianca, her maternity leave worked out really well and she managed to take seven months off work after the baby was born.

“When you are in two in a business, you don’t have to go through many hierarchies, so it was easy to organise my time off. We discussed and decided on what was best for us and the business. She hired an intern for three months and during the rest of the time she managed it herself due to a smaller workload.”

With Lucy, it worked out a bit differently. After a few years running her business, she realised the clock was ticking fast.

“My first baby was the business and my second baby was my dog. Then I was about 40 and I figured that I didn’t have much time if I wanted to have kids”. 

Lucy says, in the beginning, she had to fight hard to keep the business going. She only had Leanne, who at the time was 25, working for her full-time, and a part-time person on sales.

“I had three or four months completely off. Then I realised the person I had working part-time wasn’t selling much and I had to manage her a little more closely. I came back to work after six months with the help of my mum and I started producing films on set and being around whenever I could get free childcare.”

Now they both try to divide the time between work and kids the best way they can. Noemi works four days a week, and the baby stays three days at the nursery, one with her husband and one with herself. Lucy has a similar schedule, working between three and four days a week in the office.

“I end up working in the evenings quite a bit. I take calls and emails on the days I’m not in the office. The baby sleeps two hours in the afternoon so I tend to do quite a bit of work then”, she says.

Despite mentioning that having a baby and a business at the time is stressfull, Lucy says it wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be.

“It is like juggling. You are trying to stop a baby from crying whilst talking to a client on the phone. There is a whiff of desperation in people with kids that run their own business, like if you don’t manage to get the baby to sleep at this point in time you are not going to be able to finish that email and you might lose that business. But if you just accept it, and when things are quiet, you take some time off, you can really make it work”.

They both believe it is much better to be self-employed in this situation, as you have a lot more flexibility.

“ You can make it work the way you want. We are now in a really good position and I’ve started paying back my expenses. I have a flexible job that really suits me and that I really like, while a lot of my friends are complaining that they are being ignored in their corporate jobs because they dared to be part-time,” says Lucy.

Noemi agrees:

“ Sometimes I have to work in the evenings or weekends if we have a deadline or big project, but being my own boss allows me the flexibility to do that, and to arrive later in the mornings when I need to. Financially, it would be nice to have a stable income, but I think you must do what makes you happy. At the end of the day, when you spend most of it at work, you need to feel like you’re doing something rewarding.”

Bootstrap Charity is a workspace and business-led charity that promotes responsible business as a way to address inequality in Hackney.


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