Can We Have It All? With Gemma Wade

Hopefully you have taken some time to sit back, relax with a glass of vino and have a listen to my podcast “Can We Have It All?” If not, I’m trying to not be offended! The podcasts are all about navigating that tricky part of your life, when you’re mid-way through your career, have started a family and just might want to do something different before it feels like it’s too late?! Yup, your thirties and forties. Can you relate?

With guests, I tackle various topics to do with small business, entrepreneurship, juggling families and work and everything in between. Every other episode, I have a good ol’ natter with an inspiring woman about the realities of their success, job and juggle. In between, I discuss all sorts of topics that you’ll be able to relate to, including: imposter syndrome and business plans.

The aim is to be approachable, relatable and inspiring for other women and mums out there who are looking to leave the 9 to 5 for whatever reason.

Alongside the podcasts featuring amazing guests, there will be these posts, a Q&A with my interviewee. If you missed the first one with Carly Rowena, go check it out and come back.

Can We Have It All Gemma Wade?

can we have it all gemma wade portrait landscape

Gemma Wade…a bit about you… Can you, in a nutshell, explain who you are, what your biz is and where we can find you?

Through my business You Say Tomato, I help busy families to cook, creating recipes that work and meal plans that take the thinking out of what to make for dinner. I teach cooking classes, run supper clubs and food events and run a subscription meal plan and recipe service.

How many children do you have? / What’s your family set-up?

2 boys age 7 and 9. I’ve been married to their dad for 10 years.

How long have you run your business and/or been out of the 9 to 5?

I went on maternity lave in January 2011 and was made redundant at the end of that year.
can we have it all gemma wade with boys

What did you do before all this?

I spent 10 years in advertising – most of which was as an account director at big agency in London managing a team to create campaigns all the way through from research to brief and concept to producing TV, radio, press and direct mail. My role was to work with the clients (Cancer Research UK, L’Oreal and Toyota among others) and also with the teams at the agency (account management, creative, planning, production). I always had to have a foot in two camps – representing the client at the agency and the agency to the client. I had to understand the business of, and build the relationship with the client whilst coordinating and managing the various teams in the agency to deliver the work. It was an intense way of working – very work hard, play hard – but I loved it and worked with some amazing people.

What is your best advice for someone who wants to quit their job and pursue a passion or creative idea?

Set your goals and work out if your idea will make them achievable or if it would be best kept as a hobby. Don’t expect to make much money for a couple of years so have a side line or savings and be prepared to manage your costs and really think about what is worth investing in. Do your research and make a business plan so you have a road map to where you want to get. Identify what you need help with and get all the help you can – surround yourself with other people who are also going it alone so you have a support network and can help each other. Try not to do everything yourself – easier said than done! Work out what you bring – if you are rubbish at finances/tech but amazing at delivering something else, consider finding someone to do that bit for you so you don’t waste all your time staring at spreadsheets/building websites and not having time to do the bit you’re uniquely qualified to do. Remember that ‘done is better than perfect’ – again really hard but waiting for perfection can slow things down and make you miss opportunities to learn.

What has been your biggest struggle along this journey? And how did you overcome it?

My struggles come from my self doubt, ambition, overthinking and being a pleaser and a perfectionist! My years of working in big agencies with loads of resources meant I have really high standards and hate the idea of putting things out that don’t look how I want them to. I also have so much I want to do but limited time and funding. Trying to juggle the work I want to do with being the mum I want to be is a perfect recipe for burn out. My husband is a great balance to help me take a step back and re-prioritise. I’m also getting much better at saying no to things – when you first start you are so scared to say no as you don’t know where something will lead or if next month you wont get asked anything! Now whenever I’m asked to do something that isn’t a core part of my business I weigh up the time it will take away from my business and if that is worth it for what the opportunity will result in.

What does an average day look like for you? Feel free to break it down into hours/times – whatever works best. Do you have help/childcare/colleagues etc? Do you work from an office/studio/home? etc etc

I work from home most of the time but sometimes go and do events elsewhere. I do half an hour on my phone when I first wake up – checking social and emails and working out what I need to do that day. Then after I’ve taken my boys to school, I work during school hours – either writing, admin, creating social content, teaching or prepping for an event. I try not to work when the boys get home unless I’m teaching or running an event. If so I try and only do that once a week and do it after they are in bed and my husband is home, or my mum will watch them. I do another half hour or so on my phone after they are in bed. I have a virtual PA who helps me a day a week – she keeps on top of my emails so I only have to deal with the ones that only I can answer. She also helps manage my event bookings and subscription sign ups and payments.

can we have it all gemma wade serving stew

What is your top life-hacks/productivity hacks that help you on a daily basis? (Perhaps an app, or a time-saving discovery of yours)

I love using Slack to keep in touch with my virtual PA and to keep all the various actions that come in via social, in person, text and email in one place. I’m a massive list maker and use my monthly planner to make a list of everything that is in my head then break it down each week into what I can do each day. There is never enough time to do everything but doing that means I at least feel happy with what I achieve in a day as I’m much more realistic with my daily lists.

Who are your inspirations and why?

I’m inspired by my clients and followers and every time I write or create something it is with their needs and comments in mind. I’m also inspired by my boys – I want them to see me create a business that helps other people while still being around to be with them. The network of other working mums I’ve met through events and social media are an ongoing source of inspiration and also a great group to talk to when things feel too much – I feel like we’re creating a new way of working and parenting and as there is no path for us to follow it is important we do it honestly.

What book should we all read to help us on our journey?

I really liked a book called Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson*. It is full of simple rules of working and has got me out of overthinking and given me better ways to run a business.
**Note from Holly: Affiliate link: This means I get a teeny tiny percentage of the purchase if you decide to buy, ie the commission comes to me rather than Amazon or Google so you’d be helping a mama out!

Is there anything else you’d like to share, that might help to inspire other women looking to pursue a career/job/flexible working environment they love?

Be realistic before you start – about what you want to achieve and why and what your skills/restrictions are. If you have a hobby that you love, you may love it less and find it stops being a pressure-release if it becomes a business. Plan how you can afford to pay not only for the mortgage and bills but how you’ll be covered when you or your children are poorly/on holiday and you can’t work. Have a fallback way of making ends meet when you’re having a slow month – sharing skills with other small businesses or freelancing. Make sure to celebrate every success, keep a list of them somewhere you can see them when you’re having a bad day.

If you’d like to hear the full conversation with Gemma Wade, you can listen to my the podcast episode here.

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can we have it all podcast gemma wade