At Between Mums, we’re excited to share the inspiring stories of working mums who have successfully navigated career changes, started their own businesses, and reinvented themselves after motherhood, serving as shining examples of resilience and determination for both their children and other mums. Meet Charlene, a mother who, like many women, faced the challenge of juggling a career with raising a family. However, instead of continuing down her previous career path, she decided to take a leap of faith and start her own business. In this interview, Charlene shares her journey of transitioning from her old career to becoming an entrepreneur, the struggles and fears she faced along the way, and how motherhood influenced her approach to running her own business. Her story is an inspiration for anyone looking to make a career change or pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, especially for mothers who are looking to balance work and family.
As part of her expansion plans, Charlene is looking for mums interested in joining her team in different parts of London. Find out more about it below!
Can you tell us a bit about your career before motherhood and what led you to start your own business?
At the age of 8 years I went to my first ever dance class and from that moment on I knew I wanted to be a dancer! Over the next few years I did everything I could to prepare myself for what I knew would be a very tough but rewarding career and I was glad I did because that is exactly what it was. I had to fight for every job I got, sometimes auditioning against 200+ girls but it was so worth it though as I travelled the world meeting all different kinds of people and experiencing different cultures. Aside from that I loved the feeling I had dancing on stage, transporting the audience from their current reality, helping them forget the day to day issues and problems and giving them a dose of happiness instead. At that time I couldn’t imagine anything more fulfilling, it really was my everything. In my mid-twenties I met my now husband and at thirty five I fell pregnant with my son, from there my life changed, I instantly fell in love with my baby boy and where as before I thought I would “just have one child”, now it was clear that this was not at all the case and two years later my daughter was born and I had a two year old and a new born. I enjoyed lots of special moments watching my children grow, they became my whole world and the years flew by very quickly. Before I knew it they were both in school and as going back to being a professional dancer was no longer possible I was reconsidering my career options. I missed the feeling I got from dancing and I missed my children and that’s really how Cheeky Chops Playtime was born as it gives me a chance to keep dancing and also be around the infectious energy that preschoolers have to offer.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a working mother and how do you manage them?
Time is probably one of the biggest challenges, sometimes you just want to hunker down and work away for hours on end but you can’t if you have kids so I had become more organised, creating my work schedule for when the kids are at school or once they go to bed. This ensures that both the kids and the business gets the best out of me!
How did you make the decision to start your own business? What was the process like for you?
It was really decided for me, all my family are in Manchester so the only support we have when it comes to childcare is myself and my husband. And there was no way I wanted to be running back and forth to auditions and travelling away from my children for weeks or months on end whilst on jobs so I had to find something different. I looked for something that would allow me to do the school run and be at home with the children on evenings and weekends to spend family time together and get all the homework done! After a while I had to face up to the fact that for me it didn’t seem to exist. I knew then if I wanted something to fit in with mine and my family’s schedule that I would have to create it.
How has motherhood influenced your approach to running your own business, if at all?
I would say everything I do is influenced by the fact that I am a mother, from the hours I work to working smart, I can’t afford to be wasting time so I work more efficiently so that when my children come home I have the time and headspace to be fully present and enjoy my time with them.
What advice would you give to other mothers who are considering a career change or starting their own business?
I would say decide what you want and go for it. Creating the life that you want for yourself and your children is not easy but it’s so worth it, so prepare yourself for the hard work and challenges because at times you will want to give up but those are often the times when you are just around the corner from huge success!
Looking back on your journey, what are you most proud of achieving and what are your future goals for your business?
I would say there are two sides, it’s so rewarding working with the children and teaching them new things. Seeing their faces light up and their excitement when I walk in the room and they know it’s time for another Cheeky Chops Playtime session and all love and cuddle’s from the children too! But I’m also extremely proud of my entrepreneurial spirit and the fact that I have created a business from absolutely nothing, that is a wonderful feeling to have. My goals for the next few years are to scale and grow and have lots more Cheeky Chops Playtime sessions across the UK and also move into other sectors, watch this space!
Thank you to Charlene for sharing her experience and powerful story with Between Mums, we are sure it will inspire lots of mums to start their own business. We can’t wait to see her wonderful business growing.
✔️School hours only
✔️Previous experience working with children favourable but not essential
✔️Looking for people in Northolt, Stockwell, East London, and Essex
If you are looking for a flexible opportunity that fits your schedule instead of controlling it, get in contact with Charlene!