Being a parent isn't easy at the best of times, so how does Julia Rockett manage to look after four young children and run successful online business Boho Mama Boutique, selling maternity wear and boho fashions, at the same time?
The Upsides to Being Your Own Boss
"Once you've had a few children, you forget what it's like to just have one, or even none," says Julia Rockett, mum to Sam, 8, Scarlett, 6, Betsy, 4, and Gabriel, 3. "Sometimes I wonder how am I managing running my own business and looking after the kids at the same time, but then I just get on with it.
"To be honest, I'm really lucky. Being my own boss means I can work everything around the kids and make the most of my time with them. I can be there when they finish school, stay with them if they're ill… working from home just makes sense." It wasn't until after the birth of her youngest child that Julia, 39, started Boho Mama Boutique though, before then she was an audio typist in a solicitor's office.
"It was really hard juggling childcare with my job, and leaving at five meant I had very little time to spend with the children before putting them to bed. I went back to work after each child, but after Gabriel I only lasted a month. It was just too much of a compromise.”
Saying Goodbye to the 9-5
Leaving her job in 2013, Julia, who lives in a small village near Pontefract, decided to take a chance on the eBay business she'd been thinking about for a while. "I've always sold unwanted items on eBay and after each pregnancy I'd sell my maternity clothes and was amazed how much interest there was.
"I thought there could be something in this, I could start selling maternity clothes. Funnily enough I didn't think to keep the clothes for myself, I was determined each baby would be the last," she laughs.
Julia started the business completely from scratch. "I had no money but my partner was working full time so I could afford to take a chance. I started buying second hand bundles of maternity clothes from sellers on eBay and then listing each piece individually and gradually the business grew."
Since starting out with maternity clothes, Julia has diversified and now sells women's clothing and women's and children's accessories too, all with a signature bohemian twist. "When I started Boho Mamma's it was hard to get nice, reasonably priced maternity clothing so lots of people would look online. The high street options have improved so much in the past five years though, so I decided to start offering more items and hats and scarves are now some of my biggest sellers."
No Going Back?
While Julia wouldn't rule out returning to an office job if circumstances dictated, she says that running her own business is something she'd like to expand when the children get older. "I love the freedom and the flexibility it gives me. I don't have to answer to anybody, I can set my own hours, and work however long I want. It's brilliant.
"On a typical day I'll get up around seven, get the children washed and dressed and sort breakfast, then my partner will drop them off at school and I'm completely free till 3 o'clock! I usually pack the previous day's orders and take them to the post box – which luckily is only about 10 yards from my front door – and sort out listings and stock. By three, the kids are home and I'm there to get the tea and help with homework. I never work evenings or weekends as I want to spend that time with my children."
While Julia's partner, Jay, is very supportive of the business, she thinks he may be a teensy bit envious of her lifestyle. "He thinks Boho Mama Boutique is fantastic, but he gets jealous when he has to head off to work in the mornings. He'd like to work for himself too," she says. "Although I'm sure he thinks I just sit around all day drinking coffee."
As for the children, while daughter Betsy loves helping with packing, there is one area of Boho Mama Boutique where the kids aren't involved. "We rent a big house with a huge converted attic," says Julia. "That's where I keep all my stock, and It's the only room the children are NOT allowed in, I can only imagine the mess if they started playing dress up, there'd be hats everywhere!"