I am a late-thirties lady with a background in stubbornness and a desire to do things my way. This is probably why I have worked for myself for most of my adult life. As a kid my mother would avoid telling me what to do because she was a touch frightened of the wilful child she bore. This attribute didn’t bode well for me at school, with teachers aplenty telling me I ‘precocious’ and needed to ‘get in line’. Fortunately I didn’t listen because what doesn’t work well in big organisations like school seems to be a good trait when you want to do things like start a business.
I am a mother of two…which I love and am slightly surprised by. My domestic (lack of) skills seemed to indicate the opposite. But it seems that my fondness for cooking, a propensity towards silliness and an ability to ignore mess are actually not bad attributes for a mother. I am now a partially stay-at-home mum, looking after our charming, chatty 9 year old (the boy) who we are homeschooling and a fierce, adorable three-year-old (the girl).
I want my passion to be my work – and to get paid for it….My latest venture is partly a reaction to the fact that I really want to have my cake and eat it too – I want a hugely enjoyable and exciting work life but I don’t want to be away from my kids very much. I have spent years fantasying that one day I would work with my husband and instead of us working separately on two different businesses we would build one together. My husbands talent as a photographer is one of the reasons I shacked up with him in the first place. His work has made me change the way I look at the world. Instead of just gliding through I notice things more – the light, the sky, beautiful and strange things that inhabit this world along with little ole me. It’s made me feel calmer and more connected to what’s around me – and its that strange, amazing feeling that I want to share with the world.
So given that I am fast approaching middle age I thought – well it’s now or never! So we have thrown our lot in together and started a business, Cities at Dawn.
In past lives I’ve created…. I co-founded Wedge Card – the reward card for local shops, with my father John Bird. I have also had a catering business, developed a popular creative writing website in the webs infancy and helped my father develop international versions of his company The Big Issue. I think success in business comes from an ability to continually learn from your failures as well as your successes. My work has been a consistent mix of both and from each project I’ve learnt different things.
I am also…a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and an Ambassador for the Courvoisier Future 500. I have been profiled in The Daily Mail, The Ecologist, Marie Claire, The Guardian, Red Magazine, Hippy Shopper. My businesses have been featured on BBC, The Independent, More 4 News, ITN, UKTV Food, Observer, Daily Express, Radio France, Evening Standard, Financial Times, English Peoples Daily – amongst others. I am passionate about sharing my experiences of positive business practises and social entreprise and have been asked to do amazing things such as – I’ve been on the Observer Ethical Awards judging panel, spoken at a round table at No 11 advising the then chancellor Mr Darling on entreprise in the UK (on the morning Northern Rock crashed!), become part of the RSA social Enterprise Spotlight Group, spoken about the thrill of business at an enterprise conference in Abu Dhabi to students, been an Ambassador for Enterprise UK and spoken ad infinitum at events & conferences about the importance of thriving local communities to our wellbeing. I recently set up a creative networking group that meets at our bunker in Waterloo for bi-monthly conflabs – where people connect and inspire each other, hopefully leading to collaboration.