Co-Founder and CEO of Flowerbx, Whitney Bromberg Hawkings, juggles a successful start-up business with her three young children, and looks uber-glamorous in the process. As part of her ‘Week with SheerLuxe’, we found out how Whitney makes it work…
How do you divide your time between work and family?
Like every working mother, it’s a constant juggle, and there’s always one ball up in the air. I'm lucky to have a wonderful and supportive husband and an excellent nanny, and also understanding children. I try to involve my older children in everything we’re doing at Flowerbx, so they feel a genuine sense of pride watching the growth and are more forgiving of the time I need to dedicate to helping it grow.
Describe your average morning…
We wake up at 6am and have two hours of lively, loving chaos before the two older kids are off to school and our little girl, Wallis, has been handed over to our nanny.
And what about when you get home?
One of the beauties of running my own business is that I can be home for bath time and dinner every night. That said, being home for dinner means that I will invariably work until 11pm or so to catch up on emails make up for the time I missed in the office.
What compromises have you made along the way?
Without trying to sound like a martyr, the biggest compromise is time for myself, which is non-existent. By the time I’ve divided myself between my children, my husband and Flowerbx, with friends figuring in the mix too, there isn’t much time for myself – but I wouldn’t change a thing. I feel like the luckiest woman alive to have so many people and things around me to love.
How have you adapted your role to fit around your family?
As I now work on an industrial estate in Park Royal, it’s much trickier for me to pop out in the middle of a day for a child’s football game in Chelsea. I’m lucky that I tag team with my husband, and one of us tries to be present for everything important, always.
How can businesses best support working mothers?
Breastfeeding rooms, to make it easier for new mums to come back to work. I pumped in a toilet three times a day for months when I returned to work after my first two children were born and it was dismal. I also think fair maternity leave and flexible work hours are so important, and studies prove they actually increase productivity and happiness in working mothers.
Is it easier having your own business rather than working for someone else?
I had a fantasy that, after starting Flowerbx, I would work from home every Friday and enjoy things with my baby that I had never been able to enjoy with my older children because of work – like going to ‘Monkey Music’. I think I’ve been to Monkey twice in the past year, as something inevitably calls me to the warehouse every Friday. I’ve surprised myself by loving going into the office to see my incredible team and feel the palpable energy and tangible evidence of our incredible growth.
How did you juggle a new baby with building your business?
Baby number three was a breeze as I was an experienced mum, and was so relaxed with her – not stressing about getting her on a schedule or timing her feeds. Consequently, I fed on demand and let her do what she wanted, and she was the easiest and most regimented baby we had. That said, I was interviewing new drivers for Flowerbx at the Pret on my corner (with Wallis wrapped in a blanket) when she was four days old and had her at the warehouse packing buckets at a few weeks.
Do you split childcare with your husband?
Yes. He is truly my partner in raising our children.
Do you work weekends or are they strictly family time?
I work all the time, but we have a cottage in Wiltshire where we go every weekend and hole up as a family and regroup and reconnect with each other. It’s such a luxury and the key to staying sane and connected as a couple and as a family.
Are you strict with the times you leave the office?
Yes. My kids are my number one priority and getting home to hear about their day is paramount. Given those parameters, the rest falls into place.
Do you ever work from home?
All. The. Time. I wait until the kids are asleep and work most nights – if I’m not out.
Are you constantly on your email?
Regretfully, yes. However, I don’t check emails when I get home from work until the kids go to bed.
What about holidays, do you work through them?
I think it’s the nature of a start-up to never switch off. So, yes, I work on every holiday, I work on every weekend, I work all the time. That said, I do try to work when the kids are asleep or doing their homework and not have my nose in my phone when we could be spending meaningful time together.
How do you deal with guilt of not always being at home?
With my older kids, I really try to explain to them what we’re building with Flowerbox and engage them in this exciting and amazing growth. The more they understand about the business, the more forgiving they are of sharing me. And my youngest is lucky to have her two brothers with her most of the time, so she doesn’t miss me at all.
What advice would you give to other mothers wanting to start their own business?
Do it! But be prepared to work in the most insane (and insanely fulfilling way) that you’ve ever worked in your life!