Antonia writes; I met Katie via Instagram and fell in love with her T shirts – especially my red print ‘Fierce Femme’ and matching ‘Fierce Mini’ T that I got for my daughter. I was in awe of Katie starting up her own business and dealing with everything she had on her plate as Mum to one, a survivor of sepsis and dealing with depression.
I almost get dizzy from all the head nodding I do in approval of her empowering mottos and giggled quite hard when I saw her new pin badges (check them out to approve her fantastic play on words). I think a positive mental attitude means you’re already winning half the battle with life, and this brand has it in bucket-loads. Here’s Katie telling us all about her business. Enjoy.
Antonia; Katie, can you tell me a bit about you and your business?
Katie (Surviving Society founder); Hello MumVoice readers! I’m Katie, a thirty-something Mother to one and qualified teaching assistant and retail worker with a startup business called Surviving Society. I sell adult and kids positive slogan apparel, enamel pin badges and soon-to-be accessories through my online shop: survivingsociety.bigcartel.com
I am also a sepsis survivor and I have depression, which has lasted more than a decade. At one point in my life, I attempted suicide and at this stage I had no confidence, self-worth or self-esteem, and had come out of a bad relationship. It took me several years to get help and CBT gave me a new outlook on life, and brought back my self-confidence.
Antonia; So, why you started your business?
Katie; I started my business to do something for me and regain my identity, which was lost once I became a parent. I wanted to better myself and have my daughter be proud of me. Additionally, I want to break the stigma surrounding mental health and hope that by openly talking about it myself, this will help others. The last few years have been extremely challenging, not only because I became a first time Mum, but I had also developed a sepsis infection after giving birth. It took me six months to fully recover from my operation and even longer to come to terms with the mental scars.
Sepsis and mental health awareness are my main goals for the business, and since launching, it has given me more confidence to reach out to other people who I know would appreciate and benefit hearing my story.
Antonia; What your biggest obstacles have been and how and if you overcame them?
Katie; My biggest obstacle with the business has been myself. I say this because it is difficult to be a Mother, have a job and run the business all at the same time whilst juggling depression. I overcome this by discussing on my social media my experiences with depression and the techniques I use such as, positive affirmations to get me through the day or week.
Furthermore, regarding the business itself, I have found that keeping on top of admin, marketing, accounting and finding time to engage with my customers and “followers” has been taxing. There is very little help for women in business and even less for women who have families and are in business. I think this is beginning to change though as I’ve noticed a huge rise in Mumpreneurs. Approaching other businesswomen and leaning on them for support and advice has been invaluable to me. I am very lucky to know some friends who have their own businesses who have helped me with queries or offered me opportunities to grow the brand. Joining networks and social media communities has also given me a better insight and resource for the business.
Antonia; Spill the beans, biggest high and, if you bare to relive it, biggest low:
Katie; My biggest high is when I got featured in a toy retailer’s children’s Christmas gift guide and a parent blogger’s Christmas gift guide for women last year. These were amazing opportunities and boosted my self-esteem when I was having doubts about setting up the business. My biggest low point was the self-doubt and allowing my depression to slowly influence negative thoughts. It was so bad that I expressed my feelings about motherhood, the business and me in general on one of my social media accounts. However, I received so many lovely messages from customers and “followers”, it really perked me up and gave me something good to focus on again, and sort of snap out of it.
Antonia; So what has all this made you learn?
Katie; You need to set aside more time than you think you need to do admin and advertising, especially blog posts. It can take me twenty minutes to update my social media accounts and it is really time-consuming to update the website. Always keep a backup of your records for inventory, sales and accounting as if your computer crashes, it may not be easily recovered. Drinking lots whilst working is essential too and taking breaks including ‘self-care’ time that doesn’t involve work.
Antonia; Katie, what’s your biggest strength and biggest weakness?
Katie; My biggest strength is how I am able to bounce back from setbacks to the business such as, issues with missing stock, which can affect my whole business, or not being able to find a particular supplier that meets my requirements for the ethical side of the business. My biggest weakness is overthinking and being too absorbed in what I am doing. I tend to have a habit of letting work consume me where I sometimes forget to eat.
Antonia; Has Motherhood affected your business, and how you balance family and work?
Katie; I struggle with finding the time to fulfil orders and pack them, as well as complete paperwork because my toddler requires my attention all the time, and isn’t a good sleeper. Most nights I get 3 hours sleep and this usually leads to insomnia and then more tiredness in the day. It’s a cycle of constant sleep deprivation.
In order to do work, I normally have to make sure someone can take over from me to look after my daughter. This is normally in the evenings. In the mornings when she is asleep, I try to do some marketing on my social media as well as at meal times when she is distracted by eating. I must admit Peppa Pig has helped a lot when I’ve needed to pack orders and get them shipped the next day.
The benefit of working from home is that it can fit around family time and as I am my own boss, the working hours are flexible. I am still in an employed position with my current employer and my working days there are long, but I am able to have those evenings off which makes me take a break otherwise I would be working non-stop into exhaustion. Sometimes I do have to work every day of the week, but I try to ensure I have some me time squeezed in as well even if it’s just being able to watch a film or catch up on a series on TV.
Facebook and Instagram: @survivingsocietyclothing