As we grow older, our priorities change. Our lives move in chapters and each new stage presents challenges and opportunities. At one of these turning points, I decided to strike out on my own.
I grew up in the Cotswolds. I went to Oxford and read Classics and Modern Languages. I then followed a well-trodden path into the City and spent 10 years with Barings, the investment bank.
The City was a challenging place to start as a young woman, some 20 years ago. Male-dominated, it was tough but it came with many bright, interesting people and a great buzz. I really enjoyed the cut and thrust and intellectual demands.
However, I left the City in 2003 when I had my first child and, like many women, took an extended career break to focus on my family. I now have two children, aged 10 and 14, and have been very lucky to be able to devote myself to them full time.
I had the idea for the Really Helpful Club sometime ago but wanted to wait until the right stage in my, and my family’s, life to launch it.
I understood that everything we are looking for in life is best found through a personal recommendation – it’s just more reliable and trustworthy. But by doing it online, you can leverage the reach and speed of the internet. Sure, you can ask questions on Facebook etc. but that’s a blunt tool; you can never be sure who’s reading your messages and who is giving you answers. The RHC has members just like you. The information you get through the RHC could be from your best friend or next-door neighbour; the people you might ask in your everyday life.
Actually launching the RHC was pretty daunting. There was lots of self-doubt and moments where I lacked the courage and confidence to take the first step. I now know that these are the same feelings that many women have. I agonised about whether I was doing the right thing, would people think the same as me, how could I fund the whole thing, would it actually work.
I launched the RHC nearly 4 years ago. We now have 12,000 members, grown entirely by word-of-mouth, and the community is buzzing.
Our community is asking each other questions every day. These can be for recommended plumbers or electricians, holiday destinations with young children or teenagers, help with childcare or elderly parents who need increasing help and support. The list is endless and very varied and you’ll get an answer from someone just like you.
What the RHC offers to the community has grown over the years. Our members have told us what they want and, most interestingly, have asked us to host events for them to meet and learn from other members of this growing community.
We now host regular events that cover a wide range of topics and interests. These range from our highly successful menopause and Women’s Health series, helping women get Back to Business, as well as positive parenting and family nutrition workshops, exclusive theatre trips and much more.
As the RHC grew, I realised that I couldn’t do it all by myself. I needed help. I was delighted to ask Caroline Edwards to join me as Events Director. She read Law at Cambridge and left a successful career as a Barrister to have her three children. As they grew up, Caroline was looking for a way to reengage with the workplace, whilst doing something stimulating and rewarding. She wanted to be part of a small and dynamic team, which was making a positive difference to people’s lives and to help grow an exciting business.
The journey growing the RHC into a vibrant and increasingly influential community would not have happened without making mistakes and taking risks. I need to be prepared to ask for help, advice and guidance, and am lucky to have a whole network of men and women who believe in what we are doing.
I have learnt so much since launching RHC. For anyone thinking of taking their first step, here are three lessons I have learnt from starting my own business:
• If you have your ‘good idea’ you have to passionately believe it will succeed. If you don’t believe it, then no one else will either.
• You just can’t do everything yourself. Get a good team around you; don’t be afraid to ask for help. You don’t have to pay for a top team, we all have networks and we must not be afraid to use them.
• It is very easy to let the work/life balance slip. It is very important to remember that you can’t work all the hours – no matter how tempted you might be. Give yourself permission to take some time to yourself.”
Cucumber Clothing will be exhibiting at the next RHC event “The Hot Flush!” to help anyone prepare for and manage the menopause.
When: Thursday, 10th May 2018
Where: A beautiful private studio in Belgravia SW1
Time: Morning (10am-1pm) or Evening (6.30pm-9.30pm) sessions
It will be a brilliant workshop, great fun but highly informative as well with leading experts in their respective fields.
To book please follow the links or email: Caroline@reallyhelpfulclub.com.
Morning session Click here
Evening session Click here