Whoops! We missed our flight...

This weekend Stef and I were supposed to be in Porto for three days of sunshine, inspiration, photography, sleep and some away from the screen Makelight planning. It was all set to be our Makelight Spring away weekend. We make time for weekends like this a few times a year. It's super important for building our company, staying beautifully happy together and taking some time off from our busy family life. 

Pretty late on Thursday evening we set off for Gatwick to stay at the ever so handy Bloc hotel, so that we didn't get caught up with any little people on Friday morning who might have made it a bit tricky to get to the airport on time. Over the years we've been ridiculously late for lots of holidays but we have never been late to an airport. 

On Friday we got up nice and early, showered and headed off to get our flight. We got through security, Stef checked the board for details of our Gate and it wasn't showing yet, so went to get some breakfast. During breakfast Stef was keeping an eye on the board, while we were excitedly talking away about the Makelight Membership. After a year of planning, experimenting, launching, building, experimenting some more, we have finally got to the point where we are just weeks away from being able to turn Makelight into a Membership only adventure. To say we are happy about this is an understatement! We will be sharing lots more about what this means with you soon.

So, we're chatting away. I am getting slightly distracted by the way that Jamie Oliver's restaurant at the airpot had managed to hire such on brand people. And Stef is checking the board again. He tells me that the flight is now boarding and that the gate number is 157. "Do we need to just leave now then?" I say. "Oh no, it's fine, we can eat our breakfast and then head over."

Breakfast eaten, bill paid, we head off. Stef checks the board again and says "oh hang on, the gate has changed. Now it's saying 564." By this point I'm getting pretty stressed about whether we will actually make the flight and start walking very fast. I turn this into a run and then I get to the gate and all I can see is "Lisbon, 9.45am." Where is the Porto flight at 9.45am?  I turn round and run back to Stef, ask him about Lisbon/Porto. "Oh no, I was looking at the wrong city. Ruuuunnn....!!" 

So, I hand him the bags and I run. All I can think of is Marie Forleo in her Oprah Winfrey Super Soul Session. But I have this feeling in my stomach that this isn't going to turn out so well. I'm at gate 564 and I need to get to gate 157. And the sign says "gate closed", which I'm guessing is 99% likely to be true. But I keep on running and when I feel like stopping, I tell myself that this is why I train...to rescue situations like this! I feel like I'm in film. I also feel so ridiculous. Stef is absolutely amazing at so many things but having a sense of time or where he needs to be when are not on his list of awesome. Why on earth did I leave it to him to check the gates and know when we needed to leave?! 

Marie made her flight. We didn't. But in what happened next it didn't really matter that we didn't make it. Yes, I've missed the sunshine that was promised this weekend in Porto and I've definitely missed taking a million photos of pretty colours and patterns in beautiful light. But we've come down to Brighton instead and we are doing all the other things that were important this weekend. 

And the very best thing of all is that we were fed up for about 20 minutes, if that. We didn't get cross with each other. There was no shouting or mopping. There was no blame. We laughed at the ridiculousness of startup life, we admitted how absolutely exhausted we were both feeling and we had a hug and then we just put it to one side and made a new plan for our weekend.

Running a startup together is seriously intense. When you add four children into the mix, it's all kinds of crazy. To miss a flight to Portugal and to be able to just shrug it off and do something else instead is pretty amazing, especially when you're both a little burnt out. 

Perhaps the missed flight was a little test of us and our resilience. And do you know what? In all of this I'm not cross with Stef for confusing his Portuguese cities or with myself for not double checking the gates, I'm just even more in love with my best friend and even more excited about the future for us, for new adventures and for the Makelight Membership. xo

Heels or deals?

A few weeks ago I attended an event run by Facebook and Enterprise Nation all about getting more women to run their own businesses. As a woman who has been running her own business for years and now has a company that supports other women to do the same, I was so happy to see this event happening and to go along to hear more about what they had to say. 

I thought that I might come back and want to write all about the content of the event but no, what struck me more than anything was that I was probably the only woman there wearing a pair of trainers and the first thing I had spotted in my wardrobe that morning. I didn't look scruffy, I had brushed my hair and popped on my regular 30 seconds of make-up but my thoughts that morning had been all about getting my four children to school, hopping in an Uber, answering emails, reading about the speakers and getting there on time. 

When I got there I had a minor panic that I'd missed the memo about getting seriously dressed up for this event and that perhaps I wouldn't be let in with trainers. Everyone was so dressed up to sit in a room and listen to other people talk and then network with each other over coffee and pastries. None of them were getting on stage and no-one was getting married! If this had been a few years ago I would have probably turned right round and gone straight back home. Fortunately I now have enough confidence in who I am, what I am doing and what I wear for the work that I do that I stayed. 

What happened next intrigued me even more. All of the speakers except for one were women. All the women were very dressed up and they'd all had their hair done for the occasion. Fair enough you might think and so did I. Even if I did spend a little bit too much time distracted by what they were wearing and wondering how their hair was quite so big and glossy. It was stunning! 

But that wasn't what really interested me. It was this. When the only male speaker at the event got on stage he was dressed in jeans, a t-shirt and trainers. It must have taken him about two minutes to get ready that morning. Amazing. And in this outfit he gave the most brilliant talk. His outfit just didn’t matter, but his words really did.

I did have issues with the fact that he was there on stage at all and why Facebook couldn't have sent a female member of their design team to give the talk at this Women in Business event but this was forgiven because he was great, inspiring and he was there in a t-shirt and jeans. 

Now, I totally know all about feeling good and confident to get up on stage. I've given a lot of talks at events and shot a whole heap of videos. And I absolutely know that it's important to think about what I'm wearing and to feel comfortable. But that word comfortable is very important here. Not squashed into a dress that looks oh so pretty but makes moving around or eating lunch far too difficult. Or shoes that make me worry about climbing up the steps to give my talk. 

At the moment I feel like this. If I go to a tech startup event I usually find myself in a room of 80% men and 20% women. Men talk to Stef like I'm not even there. Some of them panic if I even say hello. I really hate it. Sometimes I am lucky enough to talk to the guys who, like Stef, treat me as an equal.  And they don't care about what I'm wearing, it's what I'm saying or how I'm listening that is important. 

If I go to an event especially for women it's all about the outfit, the shoes and the hair first. And the atmosphere feels like I'm back at my all girls secondary school. Yes, I meet some great, inspiring women but that sense of "what does she looks like?" is most certainly in the air. I also don't really like there even needing to be women only events. And so attending them in the first place always makes me feel rather uncomfortable and cross with the world.

As a women in business I have enough obstacles to battle with. Now that I run a startup with my husband I see this more clearly than ever before. I see how completely focussed he can be. I see how he doesn't have to think about the home, the food shopping, the washing, the logistics of play dates, parties and after school activities. He also doesn’t have to get up with our children in the night or look after them when they are poorly. This is totally not a dig at him. This is just how it is in our household and our company right now. We're working on it and learning about what's going to make our company and our family work best. We will report back about all this in good time.

But it’s not just the family and home stuff. It’s so much more than that. Being a woman in business is simply not the same as being a man in business. I am not sure if that’s going to change in my lifetime but I do hope that it will in my two daughters’ life times. 

Nothing is going to change unless we do though and I really, really think we could all support each other as women by agreeing that it’s so much more about what we’re saying and doing than what we’re wearing and how glossy our hair is. 

The entry price to the event I went to was £0 but if you add it all up there is a big price difference between what a man might have to pay to be in a room and what a woman might have to pay to be in the same room. The man arrives in his regular jeans and t-shirt, taking very little time out of his schedule to get ready, while the woman arrives in a new dress, with her hair and make-up all done. This will have definitely taken her more time and probably cost her a lot more money. 

This is just to get to an event. What a huge obstacle we are creating for ourselves when there are so many others already put up that we need to break down to have a fair and equal space in the tech and business world. 

Next time you go to an event try focussing on what you want to get out of the event and who you might like to try and talk to while you’re there, way before you even think about what you’re going to wear. 

PS Stef and I will be starting an event series some day soon(ish). It’s been on our list for a long time now. It will be an event for both men and women. We will all talk to each other and we will be able to just come along in whatever we happen to be wearing that day. It will be beautiful. It will make our hearts sing and inspire us all to do brilliant work and make wonderful things happen. Watch this space. 

Regular small things

Goodness me this year's news has been intense! I have started to carefully choose the time of day that I access it, otherwise I find my stress levels and/or distraction levels go through the roof and things that are happening in this country, in the US ( a country so close to my heart) and in so many other places take up all of my attention. 

It is super important not to completely ignore the news, even more so when there are so many things happening that you feel strongly about but managing the news is equally important! 

I wrote last year about tricky times and the importance of doing small things. This year I am trying to do one small thing each week to put some love and care back into the world. Some of the things I have done so far are.... I have rejoined Amnesty International, written to my MP and taken some care packages to local homeless people. 

I am keeping an eye out for things I can do and share with others, and it totally warms my heart to see some brilliant things popping into my inbox and my social media streams. I have some brilliant friends who definitely working hard to do good in the world. 

Here are three great things to inspire you this week: 

Mollie Makes Crafternoon magazine

I had the total honour of styling and photographing an image for this special magazine. £5 of every copy sold goes straight to Comic Relief. It's packed full of creative projects, ideas for hosting your own Crafternoon and you could even make some of the lovely ideas and sell them to raise more money for Comic Relief. 

You can pick up a copy in Sainsbury's in the UK or download it from Apple Newsstand or Google Play


Anno's Africa Charity Art Raffle 

Anno's Afraica charity raises money for and runs a programme to offer an alternative arts education to children in Sub-Saharan Africa who are growing up in some of the most overpopulated and poorest slums in the world. 

My dear friend and talented artist and designer Sarah Hamilton is a trustee of this amazing charity and has been working so hard to promote their latest fundraising campaign,  a Charity Art Raffle that features art created by some famous and inspiring names including Benedict Cumberbatch and Joanna Lumley. How cool is that?! It ends on Wednesday (22nd February 2017), so don't delay in buying some raffle tickets. 

Makers for Refugees 

Makers for Refugees is the most beautiful and inspiring project that is running right now over on Instagram. It was started by Pip Wilcox and each week a different talented Maker is auctioning their work each day on their Instagram account to raise money for Help Refugees.  

I actually cried when I read about this project. Both tears of joy that people I love and admire are doing a wonderful thing through their own creativity and tears of sadness for the refugees that so desperately need our help. Stef recently visited our local refugee centre in his role as chair of school governors and I don't think the stories he told me will ever leave me. 

Life is unfair. So let's stand together and collectively our small things can be part of something bigger and they most certainly can make a difference. 

I would love you to share other ways that we can help, so that I can share these things too. xo