Updated: Jan 21
From the age of about 16, I always had it in my mind that I would be a stay at home mum, which was the environment in which I grew up; Dad travelling worldwide constantly, and my sister and I always knowing that mum was there. Fast forward 16 years and I was pregnant at 32, still with this in mind, that I was going to be like my sister, a totally natural mum, loving getting dirty with the kids, not caring about sticky fingers, crafting the most amazing things out of toilet roll tubes, string and glitter and just generally loving being a full time mum.
I absolutely adored being at home with Max, my newborn, but it soon became apparent that I was NOT that mum that goes to every single baby club, baby yoga, baby cooking, baby learn to speak French etc get together, and I started to worry that I wasn’t being a good mum. I also had absolutely debilitating Post-natal depression, but luckily my other half James, recognised straight away that perhaps PND was lurking so we got seen straight away and started to manage it. I think a big part of it was losing my identity, I was feeling bored, totally unstimulated, and needed to be Abby again rather than just mummy.
I have always been in sales, where it is high pressure and fast moving where no day is the same, and I think therefore I struggled with the change in pace and daily routine.
When Max was 9 months I started to freelance, where I worked for a lot of great small brands, working on their brand identity, working with chemists to formulate products and get them to market and selling the product and LOVED IT. (Apart from the fact that sometimes, they just wouldn’t listen to my recommendations, and I would always wonder why they were paying me quite a lot of money per day, to then not even try my suggestions…frustrating).
Fast forward 4 years to 2016 and I was working with my first ever boss that I worked for aged 20 and loving it, I worked 3 days a week, and then worked a day a week freelancing for very cool bridal brand www.houseofollichon.co.uk (still do) when I found out I was pregnant with Seb. This time I was determined to soak up every single moment, I was nervous about PND, but luckily it was totally different, I loved every minute of it. I was busy because I had a school age child so we were up and out early in the mornings, but that meant I could spend time with Seb, just like he was an only child during those school hours, and really focus on him. Yet, the 9 month itch happened again, (it seems to be my cut off point!) so I went back to work for 3 days a week to begin with, for the same boss but one of her other companies, which then turned into 4 days a week as Global Sales Director for her wonderful company that produces gorgeous products for Hotels, where I still am now (www.scentered.me / @iamscentered). It was so good to be back, and I love my employed job so much, but there was still something niggling in the back of my mind, that I wanted to do more. Having consulted for lots of brands in my freelance days, I had really learnt what to do and what not to do, watching mistakes the owners were making, spending money in the wrong places and I kept moaning about how the brand still hadn’t grown, (I always keep an eye on the brands I have worked for) because they weren’t putting my suggestions into place and James just said ‘put your money where your mouth is, stop moaning about it, if you think you can do better, then start your own brand’.
Problem was, I couldn’t think what to do, I’ve always loved beauty, even had a blog at one point, back in the days when Really Ree and Caroline Hirons were new to the scene too, but I didn’t want to sell beauty products, I’ve done that in my career already, I wanted a totally new challenge. Friends thought I was mad, asking where on earth I was going to find time to run my own business when I already work 5 days a week and have 2 kids, but I now realised that for this itch to go, I needed to give it a big old scratch. I spent about 5 months thinking about it, and finally decided to launch an earring brand.
The curated ear trend was actually press worthy, the likes of Scarlett Johansson and Blake Lively were making it a huge thing, and Maria Tash of course led the way with her beautiful diamond earrings. I’d started to get the bug when I hit my 40th birthday and got 3 piercings in the space of about 6 weeks, but I then thought, how many other people are obsessed with the curated ear trend but can’t afford to adorn 8, 10, 15 piercings with real diamonds….you are talking about a £3,000 spend! I wanted to launch something that meant I, and others like me could change the adornments up as much as we want.
Helix & Conch launched in March 2019, and slowly but surely orders started coming in, my website is with shopify, and if I can use it, ANYBODY can use it, so easy to use and nearly 2 years in I still get that squeeeeal moment whenever the phone app plays the ‘kerching’ noise to let me know an order is in. James and I took the pictures of the products in the evenings, and I found a guy on peopleperhour.com to edit them to a white background for the website, and that is how we started. £400 is what I started my tiny brand with, thanks to a loan from my mum and now 19months later it is a serious business where I could finally justify paying serious money for a proper photoshoot. Models, lifestyle shots and packshots and it was actually the proudest moment in my career.
I’ve paid my mum back the £400 she loaned me, have never taken any other loan and finally something that I can say is totally mine, grown by me and the support of some amazing women, friends and influencers and the very patient and helpful James. I’m happier because I found out what the itch was that needed scratching. My 9 year old regularly asks me if I am famous yet, and gets as excited as me if I tell him who was seen wearing Helix & Conch (he is a big strictly fan so his excited moment was Rachel Stevens wearing them!), it’s so lovely that he is proud of me too.
What I realised was that not everybody is the same; seeing friends posting on Instagram and Facebook about fun they are having with their toddlers in their outdoors mud kitchen (Hell no, that is literally my WORST nightmare), shouldn’t make me feel bad, my mumming is just different.
Maybe I am just teaching my boys different things; that women should have dreams that they can follow as well as being mums, that not all mums are earth mothers that bake (I am awful at baking but they both have time with grandma to do it beautifully), and maybe when they grow up, their partner might want to start their own business up and they can encourage them and say ‘my mum did it when she had another job and was raising us, if you want it badly enough, you can do it’.
In other news…..I really could do with a 6th working day in the week, but instead I pack orders in the evening…. You can sleep when you’re dead right?
You can shop Abby's beautiful collection here use discount 'LIZ15' for a whopping 15% off *(*excludes solid gold collection)
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Thank you to Abby for sharing her story.
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