The Business: Then & Now
As something that is so integral to our family life, I'm surprised I haven't written more posts on our business. Maybe it's because I've been somewhat out-the-loop for a while. For those who don't know, David and I run our own PR business: one that specialises in contemporary furniture, lighting and home accessories as well as design exhibitions. It all kind of happened by accident. We didn't both sit down one day and decide our dream was to set up our own PR agency. No, not at all. We grew it from scratch seven years ago and today we're still working hard at it. It's not an easy ride having your own business; the pressures can be huge, particularly when it has to support your family. But this far down the line, I don't think either of us could see ourselves working for 'a company' again.
For the last two-and-a-half years, I've taken a back seat: a rather over-extended maternity leave. Of course, in some ways I've not left; David brings work home and we've sat up into the early hours on many an occasion working through a press release or on a proposal for a potential new client. When Lily was born and before she went to school, we would effectively job-share. We split the business and the childcare 50:50. But by the time Arthur came along the business had changed some what and our 'flexible' set up wasn't an option. The work we carry out these days is much more involved; it wouldn't be time productive to constantly be 'handing over' to one another. So we decided on David handling the business full-time while I focused on running the home, looking after the kids and everything else that makes up family life.
Since then our client portfolio has changed quite dramatically. Go back two-and-a-half years and many of our clients then had been with us long-term. Despite David and I running the business 50:50 from the very early days, a few clients had the false preconception that I was slightly higher up than David. Maybe it was the fact I had a PR background (Conran and Urban Outfitters) some years back; maybe it's because I started out on my own for a very short time on a freelance basis under the name PR-Girl. When we became a limited company we kept the name as it was gaining a good reputation and we didn' want to jeopardise that. It used to really grate on me when a client would request that I attend a meeting rather than David or that I took the phone call. People, friend's even, would joke that David worked for me and that at the end of the day it was 'my business'. David never seemed that troubled by it: he knew that we both played an equal part in the business and that we were both integral to it.
So it was interesting when we announced that I would be stepping back for 'a while'. Clients excepted it. Has me not being around made any difference? No, not a bit. In fact, under his own steam, David has taken on several new clients: real mover's and shaker's in the industry. I doubt I would have had the confidence to take them on. Despite a recession, he has grown our business and achieved astonishing results for many of our clients, enforcing our worth in the industry ten-fold. I'm so proud of him. I think he's actually a better 'business' person than I am. He takes gambles and works like a dog to make sure they pay off. He has the right personality for the job. He is genuine and hard working and people see that and respect him for it.
We now have some handsome clients in our portfolio; Tent London, Origin, Design Event, Home, Pulse, Mini Moderns, Surface View, The Lollipop Shoppe and Michelle Mason to name but a few. He has essentially been doing the job of 2 - 3 people for the last couple of years. Apart from our week holiday and a few days at Christmas he has had no time off. He gets home late most nights these days, usually after I've put the kids to bed. After dinner, it's not unusual for him to turn on the laptop and catch up on some work to make 'tomorrow easier'. From what I see it rarely does. Being on the receiving end I can find it tough at times. His line between work and home is often blurred. I can feel like a single parent Monday to Friday, but it's hard to voice your complaints to someone who is working hard for you and your kids. After all, it's the kind of life one subscribes to when running your own business. I need to get the 9 - 5 thing out of my head: much like company pensions, sick pay and an annual holiday allowance, they are not part of our employment package. Our business is what we make it and it's what we have to do now that we have our family to support.
With Arthur now settling into playschool, I will be returning to the business for three mornings a week. Due to the limited time I can commit to the business for the moment, I will take the desk at the back of the office (so to speak). I will work on any press releases I'm needed for and will look after other projects that will hopefully enable us to grow the business further. I'll be doing all the stuff David just hasn't had time to do; setting up our company blog, keeping the accounts up-to-date and I'll be working on our new company name and re-brand. Yes, seven years on we do still have the official company name of PR-Girl. It isn't really fitting anymore don't you agree?