So next up in our series of interviews with members of the Cheltenham MumBoss Club today we meet Cate Hamilton. Now Cate has written a couple of fantastic blogs for the site before (see links below) but today we get to know her story and how she came to wave goodbye to traditional employment in favour of achieving her own dreams.
CMHQ: We start all interviews here at CheltenhamMaman HQ with a question about the small people in your life. Who have you got?
CH: I have three bambinos: Dylan age 7, Arwen age 5, and Quinn age 2. They are like a Venn diagram of each other as they are all completely different in their own unique ways, but also so similar it’s hard to tell them apart in others! Dylan has really grown in confidence this year and I’m finally starting to see that the years of refusing to eat, anxiety about dogs, and occasional downright stubbornness are actually part of his really sensitive and caring personality. Boy it was a long few years though! And the other two are flipping awesome as well. I am very lucky to be their mummy.
CMHQ: Tell us about your journey to becoming a MumBoss. Was it something you had always planned or did you fall into it?
CH: I’ve always felt drawn to being an entrepreneur: I used to make my own magazines as a teenager, and sold copies of my Suede fanzine to people all round the world. I liked the feeling that I’d created a product and people with similar interests bought it. I was the Assistante de Direction of a language school in Paris on my year abroad and the woman who set that up was an inspirational person, even if she did seem a bit obsessive at the time about how to fold letters so that the logo came out of the envelope first (makes perfect sense now, of course!)
After uni I worked for a company that organised events for entrepreneurs and so I met lots of really successful entrepreneurs and I loved their drive and focus. Then I worked for a Google SEO expert in the early days of website optimisation and I wrote travel and wine websites for him, whilst learning tons about running a company too. He was a legend! I trained as a teacher then and worked in secondary schools for seven years, but when I had children it just didn’t make sense to me as a job anymore – I didn’t want to put my children in childcare so I could educate other people’s children, I wanted to educate my own. And Babel Babies grew out of a need I felt as a parent to have an excuse to introduce my children to languages and the world around them. After two back-to-back maternity leaves, I just didn’t go back to school because Babel Babies had finally got me hooked!
CMHQ: And why did you choose this particular industry?
CH: I’m an English and French graduate and dual-qualified secondary teacher, and I’m mad about learning languages. I’ve learned Portuguese whilst travelling, Italian since my parents moved to Italy when they retired, and my best friend is half German, so I chat to her mum in my basic German. For me it’s all about connections with other people, and admittedly I do love to talk! As a secondary French teacher I found it so depressing how little interest there was in the subject, as if languages are totally irrelevant to teenagers looking to better themselves and get ready for the world of work. I’ve always found that languages opened so many doors for me, but most of all I love chatting to people and getting into the culture of the places I am travelling to. Languages are a key that opens all the doors to the best experiences in food, wine, art, literature, and having a good time with friends.
CMHQ: We talk a lot in the MumBoss club about how vulnerable and lonely you can be as freelancer. Do you ever fall into the dreaded competition/comparison trap?
CH: It’s sometimes hard not to look at your online stats and think you need to be posting more on Facebook, or wonder why your engagement isn’t as good as someone else’s that week. The best thing I’ve discovered over the last six years is just to ignore what everyone else is doing, since their ‘performance’ measures aren’t the same as mine. I look at whether my classes are busy, am I getting new enquiries from nurseries, are my clients giving me good feedback, and is my team of wonderful teachers having a good experience? Listen to what is important, not just to everything you can hear.
CMHQ: How do you juggle your time? Do you struggle to keep all of your plates spinning?
CH: Busyness is a constant factor in the life of a MumBoss. With three young children there is never a dull or Lego-free moment at home, and with business being so exciting I have always got something I want to be cracking on with. I’ve learned that I can’t do it all, and outsourced some of my roles – my cleaning doesn’t need me to do it personally so I’ve handed that over to another local mumboss to organise for me, and as the children are in school for longer now, I have a bit more time in the day. If my parents didn’t help out with extra childcare on difficult weeks though, I’d definitely be burning even more midnight oil than I do already.
I’ve really got into yoga in the last twelve months and recommend it to anyone who feels their head is too full. No matter how ‘stressed’ I feel going into class, I come out feeling clear headed and ready for the next step. And bullet journalling has been a lifesaver since I started doing that earlier this year: it really helps to keep track of multiple projects, ideas, and to-do lists.
CMHQ: If you could reverse time to when you set up what would you have done differently?
CH: I’d have more confidence in myself. I am ideally suited to this role, well trained, well read, experienced in all sorts of aspects of business and design that bring creativity and organisational experience to the job, and I would tell my earlier self not to make excuses for who I am. I think early motherhood knocked me for six, and I’m only just recovering from the shock! Self belief is the key ingredient to trying new things – there’s no such thing as failing, only learning. I wouldn’t change anything about the business journey though, even the hard bits – every experience has added to my learning and made me so much more resilient and ready for the next level. Bring it on.
CMHQ: Do you have any nuggets of advice you could share with MumBosses?
More practically, I’d invest more in the initial legal documents such as employment contracts and terms and conditions. These are unseen, and not as exciting as products and logos which we get caught up in when thinking of new business ventures, but it’s good to know they are well drafted and that everyone knows what to expect of each other. A bit like getting the roof of your house watertight before decorating and discovering damp patches in the new paint after a while. I did that too, and though it’s annoying to spend chunks of money on things you can’t see initially, it really does stop everything crumbling and ruining all your hard work after years of slogging.
CMHQ: So what’s next for your business?
CH: Well, this is really just the beginning for Babel Babies because the whole concept of multilingual education is so novel. It’s been like six years of planning and research and now we are ready to write the next chapter. The language revolution is coming…watch this space!
CMHQ: How can our readers find out more about you and the services you offer?
CH: Our website is www.babelbabies.com and you can see a video on the homepage that explains more about learning languages together as a family. We are also on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter come and join in the conversation, or better still, book onto the January term of our multilingual music sessions for parents and children from newborn to preschooler to sing, learn and love languages together. We also have music available to download on all good online stores if you’re too far from Bristol or Cheltenham to join us in person.
CMHQ: Thanks Cate – it’s always lovely to talk to you – I find your outlook inspiring!
If any readers are interested in hearing more about Cate’s philosophy on teaching languages and her parenting experiences check out these links to past blogs.