CMHQ: Morning Jems. Such a pleasure to have you on the site as part of our series of interviews with members of the Cheltenham MumBoss Club. We’ve had the pleasure of working with you on several occasions at Maman Goes Pop! but for Mamans who have not come across you and your business, Caterpillar Music, let’s tell them so more about you!
First up tell us about your small people?
Jems: I’m a mum to two little boys, Jakey 5 and Roo 2. They certainly keep me on my toes! They are extremely active and are almost always jumping around, dancing and generally crashing into each other. It’s really amazing how different they are, Jakey is sweet, creative and very tall whereas Roo is determined, logical and not very tall. Although the volume is up at 11 most of the time in our house, and I often have to tell them to use their “inside voices”, every day they make me laugh and make me proud.
CMHQ: So tell us about your journey to becoming a MumBoss. Was it something you had always planned or did you fall into it? And why did you choose this particular industry?
Jems: I have always loved music and as a very young child I remember my home being filled with it. There was a radio playing different things in every room of the house in order to cater for everyone’s tastes, including the dog’s – who howled along to dramatic classical music! My passion for music continued and as a teenager I took every opportunity to join as many music groups as possible playing lead clarinet and singing in choirs in and outside of school. When our first little boy came along I found myself always singing to him. I think singing might have even helped get us through those tricky night time feeds and nappy changes sometimes.
My dream to become a MumBoss became a reality quite a few years after the first seed was planted. Half- jokingly, a good friend said I would be good at running my own music and movement group. The more I thought about it the more excited (and nervous!) I got! It took a good few years for us to take the plunge but my goodness what an exciting journey we have been on in our first year.
So, I love singing and dancing with small children and feel passionate about making an exciting environment for them to thrive. Our Montessori inspired classes really encourage little ones to take part in their own little ways, which is gorgeous to see.
CMHQ: We talk a lot in the MumBoss club about how vulnerable and lonely you can be as freelancer. How do you keep yourself motivated?
I am really lucky as I am naturally a very self-motivated person however at times it has been quite an adjustment for me working alone rather than in an office with colleagues. Instead of chatting to colleagues at the tea point I’ve learned to love the company of Radio 4.
I do find it hard to avoid burning the candle at both ends. Working from home can sometimes be a bit tiring so I was pleased to discover the MumBoss Club where members give each other a huge amount of support. I have learnt so much in such a short amount of time from other mums trying to fit in developing their businesses around their families . It’s a great forum if you have an idea and you just need to run it past someone for a bit of reassurance and encouragement.
CMHQ: How do you juggle your time? Do you struggle to keep all of your plates spinning?
Jess: Life can be hectic with two little boys, a husband, doing up a house and running a business but I love the busy life. When trying to get out the door it can be difficult to remember PE kits, morning snacks, wellies, plus my puppets and instruments. I am a big list maker which really seems to help with the juggle and those moments in the middle of the night when you remember tomorrow is dressing up day at School. None of the lists make sense to my husband but they do for me! I do sometimes think I need more ‘me’ time so one of my many News Year’s Resolutions is to integrate some into my schedule.
I am very lucky though as Caterpillar Music Cheltenham & Tewkesbury is very much a family run business. Mr Caterpillar (my husband!) helps out behind the scenes and is a huge support, our eldest little boy loves to help out at classes during his school holidays, our youngest loves to learn new dances and songs with me at home, Mrs Caterpillar-In-Law makes some of our wonderful props and not forgetting Mrs Caterpillar Senior (my Mum!) who types ups lessons plans. I am lucky in that I am an extremely well supported MumBoss.
CMHQ: This far in to your business journey what might you have done differently if you had the chance of a do-over?
Having taken a while to decide to become a MumBoss I was perhaps a bit disappointed that we weren’t immediately making a fortune! Of course we needed to set targets to ensure that it was all sustainable but I think I should have been easier on myself in those early days. The most important things was that we were continuing to grow and that feedback from customers was really positive.
CMHQ: What advice would you give anyone just starting out?
I think my advice from my first year would be to believe in yourself and your product whole heartedly. I really think this helps when you are talking to prospective customers and I feel so lucky to have found a business I feel passionate about which allows me to still be at the school gates. Keep hold of that passion, it will shine through to your customer.
CMHQ: And now that we are on the cusp of an exciting new year – what can we expect from you for 2018?
As a relatively new business we are keen to continue to learn and grow. We feel so lucky to have got to where we are now, having met so many lovely mummies, daddies, carers, grandparents and of course the little ones themselves along the way. We are excited to now be at four different venues across the week which includes a brand new exciting venue for January. It is incredible to see both at home and in my classes how music affects us. This is an area, amongst many I intend explore along with our business.
CMHQ : Thanks Jems – it’s been lovely chatting to you and finding out more about your venture. How can our readers find out more about you and the services you offer?