Co-founder Anneke on balancing business and baby

March 25, 2019

Co-founder Anneke on balancing business and baby

 

To celebrate Mother's Day, we sat down with Anneke - Camden Watch co-founder and mum of Oscar, aged 6 months. Balancing a business with motherhood is a challenge shared by women all over the world. From emotions to observations, Annie shares her own experience by outlining lessons or pieces of advice she has discovered so far.

 

"The Camden Watch Company has never been about fast fashion or fads, and I think having Oscar has really confirmed that we want to create a great, honest company that's here for the long haul."

 

Happy first Mother's day Annie. Firstly, talk to us about Oscar? How is he?

Thank you! At the risk of sounding biased, Oscar is amazing, haha. That's not to say he isn't hard work, believe me having a young baby is exhausting, but he's such a happy little guy, we feel very lucky. 

 

What did you learn whilst juggling the business and being pregnant for the first time? 

I was very fortunate in that I had a very easy pregnancy, I worked right up until the last minute. In fact, we got married when I was five months pregnant and went on honeymoon when I was six months pregnant, we even went camping when I was eight months pregnant so we really didn't slow down much at all. And thinking about it - the day before Oscar arrived I was in the office working, in fact, I'm pretty sure I walked there and back, which is around a 40-minute commute one way.

 

How did you prepare yourself and the business for the first few weeks post birth?

I tried my best to tie up any loose ends and made sure that most of the heavy lifting for upcoming projects was done, or at least as much as possible.

We also briefed the team as best we could and I have to say they were great, they took a lot of extra responsibility on their shoulders over those first few weeks and months which was a huge help.

 

Is there anything you would have done differently during those first few months?

Yes, I wouldn't have planned a new store opening less than three months after Oscar was born and I definitely would not have launched a new watch four days after his birth! To be fair, I was expecting Oscar to arrive late but being the half-Swiss son of watch designers, he was bang on his due date! I was getting live updates from the launch party whilst trying to get a newborn to sleep - it was pretty intense! 

 

During the transition back to work, what did you learn you weren't expecting to?

How much I missed it, but equally, how much good it did me to take a break. Ok, so having a newborn is hardly relaxing, but those first few weeks are all-consuming and there was no space to think about work. I don't think I've disconnected so much since we launched almost five years ago and that really allowed me to reboot and come back with fresh eyes, new ideas and more energy than ever before.

 

You and Jerome (Anneke's husband and co-founder of Camden Watch) live, work and bring a baby up together. How have you balanced that?

It sounds cliche, but when you love what you do it doesn't feel like work, so I've never felt the need to chase some kind of perfect work/life balance. We spend the majority of our time together along with Oscar, and I understand how that might not suit everyone, but for us it really works. For example, we love what we do, so talking about work outside of the office is a common occurrence but it's because it genuinely interests us to go through ideas and inspirations. It also means that we have an unparalleled flexibility, we get to choose when we work and more importantly where we work; our office, our home, a cafe, a playpark! I sometimes feel like we're never working and never not working at the same time.

 

What do you currently find the biggest challenge of balancing business and baby?

At the moment, we don't have childcare for Oscar, so having any kind of meeting is proving very tricky. Either, it's only Jerome, or it's only me, and then we have to relate everything back to each other and make sure we fill each other in. If we really both need to be there (like recently when we were interviewing candidates to join the team), Oscar comes along for the ride, but that comes with its own challenges!

 

What areas of the business have been positively affected by Oscar being in the world?

I think it's been a chance to reassess and reaffirm exactly where it is we want to go. The Camden Watch Company has never been about fast fashion or fads, and I think having Oscar has really confirmed that we want to create a great, honest company that's here for the long haul. We want him to be proud of what his parents do for a living!

 

For women about to start the journey of this balance, what do you wish someone had told you? 

Ha! One thing about being pregnant and having kids is that you have to get used to everyone giving you advice. I don't think there's anything I didn't hear, but what I would choose to pass on is - don't be too hard on yourself and don't judge yourself by anyone else's standards. If you can't wait to get back to work, great, if you want to give up your job and stay at home with your kids, that's great too. There is no one way of doing things.

We have this thing in our society about women who '˜have it all'. Ignore that and focus on whatever makes you happy. And trust me - you're probably going to cry a lot and that's fine too.

 

What does the future of family and business life look like to you? 


For me personally, more of the same. We want Oscar to grow up in a stimulating household where we work hard and play hard too. I want him to be creative, curious and confident and I plan on leading by example.

For society in general, there's still so much work to be done in terms of equality between men and women and helping with childcare, but that's a whole other story.

---

We bow down to this brilliant business mum who continues to be a creative and parental inspiration, and we wish a very happy Mother's day to the rest of the supermums out there.

You can follow Anneke on Instagram here.


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