Michelle Mitton and one day from her life
Running your own business is not a piece of cake especially if you are a young mother. The woman I decided to write about this week built a successful company, while managing the business of motherhood; a mix of intelligence, creativity and sheer determination.
For some mothers starting a business is a means of creating a better life for their kids. For others, the kids themselves inspired the business idea. In my case when my daughter was one and half years old I decided to take a huge step and went to back school. I’ll admit it was tough because I had to multitask and carefully organise every minute of my time. I was working full-time, studying and being a housewife at the same time! But that decision I made three years ago changed my life completely. I do what I love! I’m a happy mother and I have a happy family. Don’t be afraid to make decisions because these decisions can change the quality of your life, they make you a happier mother and a happier woman. Michelle’s story is one of the most inspiring ones I’ve heard so enjoy reading and I hope I can convince you to change even one point of view when it comes to this topic; that will be my little success.
Michelle Mitton, owner of Michelle Mitton Design Gallery and member of the board of directors of Clonakilty Chamber of Commerce, Co. Cork
How did it happen that you as a young mother opened “Michelle Mitton’s Gallery?
I came to Ireland for the very first time in the summer of 1998 on holiday. I was pregnant for the first time and I suppose it was on my mind as to what kind of life I’d like to give my child. I began to fall in love with the people and the beauty of West Cork. At the time I was living in Liverpool and had been working non-stop since I graduated from university. I saw something magical here, the pace of life was slower, and it had the same qualities that I remembered from my own childhood. So I decided to leave Liverpool and by the Autumn of that year I had moved here! My eldest daughter was born in March and by pure chance I ended up working in a gift shop owned by a friend. With my background in television & theatre design I found that I loved curating the environment of the shop. My friend decided to move on from the shop so I took over it…I kind of just fell into it. The shop has changed over the years as I’ve grown in confidence. It’s also changed due to the challenges we’ve all faced, the economy, the flood throughout the town in 2012 and the subsequent works and new streetscape. But despite all this the simple ethos is still the same, it’s a design led gift shop.
How do you manage being a mother of three and having time to run a business at the same time?
Throughout each year I attend various trade shows where I meet the designers and manufacturers of all types of gift wear. Whatever your business, it will be influenced by changes in design and you have to be aware of these to apply them in a way that your customers will relate to. The price of an item is a big factor in what I do and I like to think that my customer can get value for money.
When you have a free day what do you do? How do you enjoy life?
Being a good mother is the thing that drives me to run the business well. I’m not always a good mum, sometimes I can be lousy, but being a mother is the thing I enjoy most. I try to plan my weeks ahead so I make list’s all the time, and not fancy ones on my phone! I’ve always got an odd bit of paper in my pocket with things scribbled down on it, and I love marking off each thing as I achieve it!
When I have a free day we tend to make time to just chill out at home as a family. We like to cook a big family breakfast and then hang out in our pyjamas, watch a movie and then I’d make our family favourite, Roast Chicken dinner with all the trimmings.
Tell me something about your style, has it changed since you had kids?
Having studied fashion I like to think that I can see the beauty in a well put together ensemble whatever the style. For me an old pair of jeans and a big woolly jumper can be just as stylish as stepping out in a fabulously tailored suit. But my absolute favourite items of clothing are my pyjamas and a nicely knitted cardigan…it means I’m home and I’m done for the day, I can chill out!
How did you manage with the pregnancy imperfections i.e. stretch marks, wrinkly skin etc?
Every woman has imperfections but I’ve learnt to embrace most of mine. I wish I didn’t have rosy red cheeks all the time and I wish I could get back my lovely flat tummy but after three children all by C-section that’s just the way it is. I’ve invested in lots of big knickers, good underwear can always make you feel sexy!
If you had the chance, what would you say to all young mothers?
When I had my eldest daughter I’d just moved to Ireland, I didn’t know too many people and so when it came to caring for my daughter I just did what I thought was best. I always think that helped because I just trusted my instincts. I sometimes think young mothers are under too much pressure to be the perfect mother with the perfect baby. Enjoy every moment, and don’t hate yourself for all the times you think you’ve shouted too much at the kids or you haven’t achieved what you set out to do. I caught myself out the other week and I had to laugh out loud for it. I was trying to make dinner whilst on the phone with my eldest daughter whilst trying to clear away work folders from the kitchen table and trying to help my son with his homework! I had to laugh about it, total madness, but in a good way!
I dedicate this article to my daughter. I know she loves me and one day she will appreciate how much work is involved to keep her happy in life. Someday I’ll show her my work and she will be proud of her mother. Just like all the other mothers I want to give her the best example possible. I want to show her that she is my star, she is beautiful and smart.