Mum of four Maria Law, 48, runs Sweetling (www.sweetling.co.uk) with her business partner and sister-in-law Sophie, and between them they have eight children.
Find out how they juggle motherhood with an innovative business that aims to make underwear for young girls as innocent and fun as possible.
What work did you do before you set up your company?
I have been a jam maker at Chivers, a turkey plucker at Tubby Turkeys, an ice-lolly maker at Country boy ice cream, a seasonal potato, apple and strawberry picker, a press officer at the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food; and a receptionist at Cambridge Evening Newspapers.
I set up my first company Huxley/Hedgecoe catering and event promotion, then became a restaurant co-ordinator for fine dining in New York (Epicurean Rendezvous). I was a food journalist for the Daily Express, You magazine, Health and Fitness magazine. I have also been a promotions editorial writer for Heinz, Marks and Spencer, Batchelors and many others.
How did you fund the business?
Personal bank loans and some savings.
Profit in first year
What was the motivating factor for staring your own business?
I couldn’t find any age-appropriate, celebratory first bras for my
What do you enjoy most about running your own business?
I like making creative decisions and seeing them through.
How did you meet your business partner?
We are sister-in-laws
Any tips on what to look for when thinking of running a business with someone?
At the very first meeting make an agreement on the most acceptable
way to approach each other when you disagree about something, i.e. Sophie I don’t agree with you on this, lets have a meeting to discuss why/where your thought patterns are going so that I can understand where you are coming from.
How have you managed to stay on top of your career with the demands of motherhood while running a business?
We live quite close to each other and share the school runs and various
clubs and activities. We understand that if a child needs to be at home it is more important for the mother to be with the child.
How has running your business impacted on your relationship with your partner and children?
Partners are kept in the loop, sometimes there is professional jealousy but it soon passes.
You have eight children between you – how do you juggle your families and work commitments?
We work in the studio everyday until 3.00 p.m. Sophie and I then take
a break until 7.00 pm and then usually do another two hours working from our own homes with Sophie designing and I picking up on sales and marketing. We split all of the school holidays equally.
What is the one technology you can’t run your business without?
Any tips for expectant mums, or mothers who feel that you can’t have a happy family life and work?
Don’t feel guilty – children pick up on this and will use it to their
Children accept most situations very well. They like to feel secure and if you taken the time to explain why you enjoy running your own business and involve them they really like it. The trick is to make them understand that sometimes even mums can get a bit grumpy!! But they also realise that happy working mums are much nicer to have around.