The story of me, self-employed, a wife, a mother & learning how to Juggle it all. By Sarah Brennan
So with Mother’s day fast approaching & I haven’t wrote a blog in a while I thought being a working Mammy Id share my struggles and how I juggle it all,
A common question I get asked a lot is, How do I do it all? Answer , I don’t do it alone .
Not only is working hard when having kids but being self-employed is an extra challenge as there is never a switch off button I can press.
I Absolutely Love it but Don’t get me wrong there have been A LOT of days I wanted to throw in the towel! I’d always work and working for someone else at times sounds so appealing but then I always start over and the next day something rewarding might happen or a staff member/ client might say something nice to me that puts me back on track again and make it all worthwhile .
I’ve always been a hard worker which stemmed from my parents who both worked super hard raising 4 kids and also been self-employed. To this day they both inspire me and amaze me how they still never stop and are always on the go. If you pop into The Mace Maxol shop in Newbridge that my sister runs you will be sure to see at some stage my Dad working the car wash & my Mam stacking shelves if she isn’t in the office doing paper work & she then might go home after a long day and do paper work for me for the salon (both my parents are at retirement age but I can never see them retire) so I definitely didn’t pick up my hard work ethic off the floor. In our house you worked hard for anything you got and as soon as I could walk we helped out at my parents garage be it painting walls, pumping petrol or cleaning toilets and I loved it! No job is ever beneath us so even now I could spend the day scrubbing salon and toilets which is I feel is an important aspect of being a boss because I would never ask a staff member to do a job I wouldn’t do myself and do it well!
I left school after 3rd Year to the disappointment of my parents but they said if Hairdressing is what I wanted to do then just try be the best at it . So at the time Dublin was the place to train and to try become one of the best, I always knew I’d have my own salon someday & every salon I worked in I treated like it was my own and always got on and still do with past employers. When I started at Hair college I also had a part time job in Quinnsworth working evenings & weekends , I wasn’t made do this or my parents didn’t find jobs for me , I went out and got them myself .
I opened Eternal Flair 11 years ago this June at the age of 25. So many could not get over how young I was to take on such a challenge but to me this is the perfect age to start up a brand new business. It was before I had kids so I worked 7 days a week with double shifts, I never left the salon unless the salon was closed for the first few years, I’ll never forget the first evening trying to walk out at 6 even though salon was opened till 9, like a baby it was hard to leave and I had to learn my staff can take good care of it for me. The second I opened the door we were busy , It’s a lovely salon in a great Location with free Parking . A must have on my list when I was looking for my own salon.
I went on to get married
and then have 2 gorgeous little boys which on both, the second I got pregnant I was very sick and would have to go to hospital a lot to get hooked up to an IV , the doctors constantly kept saying that I should be signed off work which is just impossible when you have your own business , it was very hard but I just had to get on with it.. Smells set me off which could be anything from smoking to perfume so a real struggle when working with the public.
I had a lot of staff problems around that time which really added to my stress levels. Staff problems can be very hard and At Times like that it Really make you wonder is it all worth it? But also really make you appreciate the good staff you had . I’ve a few staff members that left for their own personal reasons over the years that I’ll always miss in the salon so it’s not always on bad terms that staff leave.
Sometimes I hired staff even though I had a bad gut feeling about them as I was so stuck at the time which is a major lesson I’ve learnt over the 11 years to never do again as it always ends bad, and to just keep struggling on until you find the right staff member to add to the team .
Over heads that you never think about pop up when you have your own business which are more reasons to favour for working for someone else as ultimately you could make more money and less stress.
To listen to music in the salon costs me over €600 a year!!! A lot of blow dries need to happen to cover that bill !
Rates for council are completely ridiculous , My salon got priced in the height of the boom which makes me suffer even more and compared to most salons/shops in Newbridge. I’m expected to pay triple what they pay just because I was priced at the wrong time. It’s been a real struggle for me to try get help and fairness off the council with this matter which I’ve been battling with for 11 years . A battle I’m still fighting and have so many sleepless nights over.
Anyways I’ll get in trouble for sharing some honesty but I continued to keep my head above water and struggle through the bad times . I pride myself on good quality and top products used on our clients in the salon , I was never willing to sacarfise this even durning hard times when I could of saved a lot of money but I think that’s one of the reasons our clients stayed with us . Im so lucky to have great clients .
Things were Really starting to improve tough and I knew it was time to re brand ourselves. January 2016 we closed the salon , with the help of a great Interior designer Aoife Power , My husband , The team of workers my husband got in, the best painters, electricians ,plumbers & carpenters , we worked around the clock for 2 weeks and re-opened a brand new looking salon which I am so proud of . I re branded with a new Logo & new website , The work I invested into the salon was absolutely mental for months prior to renovations but Thank God it all worked out and was worth it .
In 2006 I had 5 staff members and now I employ 13 . It’s been very hard to get here but right now I’ve such an amazing team behind me. My staff members wanted the salon to succeed just as much as me which it shows. One of of awards we have received was we were finalists in the hair & Beauty awards for best Team in 2016. We added Great Lengths to our services in February 2016 and by December went from a Bronze salon to be awarded A Gold salon award with less than a year with the company and are the only salon in Kildare to hold this title that we are very proud of. These awards and achievements cannot be done alone, a business needs great staff to help to achieve the high standards and help the ambitions I had for the salon come to life.
My last mother’s day was spent in hospital where my son Louie was struggling and fighting for his life after getting cellulitis from chicken pox,
where he is now doing super, I’ll never forget how well my staff did and I’ll be forever grateful how they just got on with everything, sorted all my clients out and kept the salon running amazingly well while I went through one of the worse months of my life. To not to have to worry about the salon was a great weight off my shoulder and to come back seeing it was run just as well without me living in the place ,They couldn’t do enough to help me out even sending in presents for Louie and p.js and beauty products for me , so thoughtful .
I had a client ask me recently do I take more than the average 20 days holidays because I’m self-employed. In 11 years I’ve actually never even taking 20 days in total in 1 year! This year with everything in place and knowing my staff run the salon just as good without me ill really be able to enjoy a holiday so that is going to change and with Kids being at school I don’t see them as much so I will be making it a point to have 20 days off, It starts in April where we are going all out and taking the Kids to Dubai for 9 days but I’m off for all there Easter holidays so there is definitely bonuses to being Self-employed.
There is nothing worse than having to leave your kids when they are crying for you to stay with them and that guilt, now my kids might ask who is collecting me from school? And if answer isn’t me they will cry… more guilt ….
I hate Mothers who put down working mothers! Or worse women without kids putting down working mothers who I’m sorry but you cannot relate. Women should always support women no matter what. In my opinion in most cases I have to say being a working mammy is much harder than being a working Daddy ( no offence ) but the amount of work I have done before I even get to work is crazy , I’m always on top of my kids schedules, after school activities , have they healthy dinners every day etc.. Which my husband even though he’s an amazing father he has no clue about all the extra stuff. If he had to suddenly stay on late in work its fine he just works away but if that happens to me I have to ring childminder if she can’t stay I arrange for my mam or dad to go out to the house or a neighbour to help etc..
The struggle is hard we do not need others putting us down .
Also we, like a lot of other working families need 2 wages coming into the house.
I like having my own money and having time out from the kids. I get on with all my staff and love our chats. It helps That I Love my job. A lot of my clients are more like friends and we can really open up to each other. I would really struggle being a full time mother , I think its super hard being at home all the time and I like the break of going to work .
Hats off to all the stay at home Mammies as I think it’s such a hard job and sometime thankless . I think you’re all amazing. But it’s whatever works for you! And we should never judge or put another person down. As a working mammy we do put guilt on ourselves but ultimately personally I think I’m a better mam for working as I get time to be me at work & Mammy then at home .
I’m also lucky being self-employed 11 years now I can work on a scheldule that suits myself & kids . It means some nights I’m working till past 12 at night in the office after they go to bed but it means my kids have more of my time when they are awake .
I had a client say rudely one time to ME that she would never leave someone else to rare her kids just so she could work!! I quickly explained I am a working mammy & Like who would then do your hair if that was the case for us all? Who would serve you at the bank? Take for your weekly shop?? We are all great and do what we have to do, Life is hard enough without putting each other down for our own choices.
The majority of my staff are working Mothers and are super at both jobs.
Since we nearly lost Louie I have put things into perspective and having been trying balance things out more. Since the Re launch I haven’t really been able to add exercise back into my life properly which shows physically but mentally too , I do miss it as it’s a great way to clear your mind so I’m working on that to add it back into my week but after a day’s work being away from kids it’s very hard to leave them again to go workout and by the time you’ve got them to bed I’m way too tired to try do anything so I haven’t quite got the balance yet for that .
Salon owner, hairdresser, Manager , Mammy I was trying to do them all full time but was getting none right so things had to change , Certain weeks things can happen & change my scheldule but in general I try do 2 days office work, 2 salon Hairdresser & 3 days being mammy.
I get such a good buzz from achieving things with the salon and really could never change being self-employed. I wake up in the middle of the night with new ideas, when they succeed its such a great achievement . I really do love it and the good days out weigh the bad .
I always feel sorry for parents who have no family or anyone to help.
Ive Great Friends & neighbours around me that Im lucky to havein my life .
I simply could not leave my kids if it wasn’t for an amazing child minder who I know loves them and takes super good care of them & me at times for a shoulder to cry on and now Louise has also been working on reception in the salon every Saturday doing amazing work there too so she’s super in every way, I keep saying Ill train her to do hair next, lol .
Also my parents are great and we are so lucky to have them so close. They always help out whenever they can.
I’ve a great husband who like today is occupying the kids while I work in the office. I’m very lucky he’s a builder and helps keep on top of the maintenance in the salon, only this morning he was there hanging up mirrors and lights for me . He is also self-employed to so know the struggles.
I want to show my kids as I was showed to work hard and play Hard.
Roll on April …..
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there, keep up the hard work! Being a mammy is the hardest but most rewarding job in the world xxx
Successful Mothers are not the ones that have never struggled, They are the ones that never give up , Despite the struggles.