Work Life Balance
Meet Zoe Hiles, pictured, founder of online card company Squashed Tomato to see how she creates her own work-life balance.
Zoe launched Squashed Tomato in September 2006 for several reasons. As a single mum, she needed to find some flexibility in order to help her fit round her two children, Noah and Joely, and having been a greeting card buyer for a large department store for 16 years, felt she had the knowledge and experience to start up on her own.
“I hit 40 and longed for a new challenge that would fit in with my life as a single mum to 2 children. I could see the greeting card market changing and felt sure there was a gap for taking premium branded products into busy working women’s homes. Hence why we home deliver our UK greeting cards in quick to choose, £10 themed collections. We also add the bonus of supporting charity through every sale. There is a great tradition of supporting charity through Christmas card sales so why not everyday too?”
However, while Zoe has found that she is more in control of her working life, she is still working long hours. While she finds it ‘wonderful’ to pick the children up from school she regularly finds herself doing an extra couple of hours work a night once they are in bed. But, as with many self employed business owners who also relish time with her children, it is a compromise she is happy to make and is largely made possible by having an online business.
Zoe is still running the business on her own and has made a commitment to do so for as long as possible. “I made a big upfront financial commitment in automating my website in order to do that. Fulfilling the orders feels like the reward for all the hard work that goes on in the background.”
As with all working and family lives, it is hard sometimes to keep the two separate. Work and family are both demanding and can sometimes overlap and one of the key things is to try and ensure that the edges don’t become to blurred, that you are able to set some boundaries. As a sigle mum running her own business, Zoe is particularly aware of this.
“I try to keep my family life and the business quite separate but don’t succeed very well. I’ve found launching Squashed Tomato to be all consuming; I find it easier to cut off from the business if Noah, Joely and I go out together at weekends. Our favourite thing to do is to pack a picnic, take sketch books and head into the beautiful Northumberland countryside for a day of drawing and painting.”
For the future, Zoe has plans to stock gifts and wrappings, possibly extending the company name to ‘.. and Stew’ to mimic the children’s birthday rhyme. “ There is also great potential in seasonal products and we have just launched our first Christmas card range. But easy to buy, fantastic greeting cards will always be our main focus.”
You can visit Squashed Tomato at www.squashed-tomato.co.uk
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Diana Wolfin, author of 'Back to Work - A Guide for Women Returners' on staying energised in the wintertime..
As the days grow shorter and we start to think about the winter months ahead, keeping a successful work-life balance can be more of a challenge. Many people feel less energetic when the days are shorter; leaving home in the dark, working in an artificially-lit office and coming home in the dark, can leave you feeling less than your normal productive self.
If you recognise this feeling, trying to get as much daylight as possible will help. If you can, think about getting out of the train/bus/car a little earlier than your usual stop and walk in the light.
This will have the double effect of giving you more of those essential light vitamins which lift your mood and also encourage the production of healthy endorphins due to the exercise. Ensure that you leave your office at lunchtimes to get some fresh air (even if you work in the heart of the City) as a change of environment can help you to be more productive in the afternoons.
Try to avoid a sandwich lunch as wheat does make us all tired. A crunchy salad with meat or fish (or other veggie protein) will make a huge difference to your energy levels in the afternoon.
Let’s hope that the winter months will not find us slumped at our desks in the afternoons but productive and energised the whole day!
Diana Wolfin – Changing Direction – 020 8868 7818