Founder Ann Nkune reveals how the parent workspace and on-site crèche first came to be
Challenges: My little girl was just three when a very good friend – a talented, young mother – took her own life. At that time I was, like so many women with children, torn between returning to my previous career or working for myself.
The tragic event forced me to face up to some stark truths about parenthood and the pressures we’re under – often without even having acknowledged them. The mum I’d met in the park had been devoted to her two small children and had plenty of friends. She was also full of entrepreneurial spark but facing challenges none of us could imagine. Our friendship network had not been enough to stop her doing the unthinkable when the pressures of juggling the demands of parenthood got too much to bear.
How Bloomsbury Beginnings started: All this was the impetus I needed to take the risk and go it alone. I accepted an offer to take over my friend’s ‘mummy blog’, which sealed my fate as an aspiring social entrepreneur. The blog had been initiated as a forum to provide a support network for parents dealing with the tricky balancing act of work, children and, at times, imploding relationships at home. We hoped to grow a place which offered more than just small talk in the park and where we could work together on our new identities as parents.
It soon became clear that many of the parents I was surrounded by were frustrated entrepreneurs too, nurturing creative business ideas, but not sure whether or how to pursue them. They often lacked the time, focus, confidence and business skills to take the next step.
Together we dreamt of an office space we could visit which had flexible childcare on site – an alternative to the cripplingly expensive childcare on offer at regular nurseries, which so often prevent women from taking the necessary risks to embark on new business ventures.
This was how my new venture Bloomsbury Beginnings was born. We provide baby-friendly offices where parents can come and work during the day, knowing their children are cared for by capable staff in another room close by. We also offer courses providing expert advice in all sorts of areas for business startups and encourage the swapping of expertise and skills so that everyone’s business benefits from the experience of others. Networking opportunities are vital too – both to provide support and feedback on a business idea but also creating a community outside of the home.
At the heart of both services is the idea that we need to collaborate to break free from the pressures of guilt, reduced confidence and the lack of focus, time and money that often come with being a mum. We also actively encourage dads to come along.
I’m delighted to say that we’ve already helped at least 30 new businesses get off the ground and supported over 150 parents to work flexibly. I only wish there were more places like this so that more mothers could break free and realise their potential.