Our first guest blog is with Sophie Tyrrell, Co-Founder of Squirrel Sisters. We chat to her about motherhood, starting her own business with sister; Gracie and how she has adjusted financially to being a parent.
Tell us more about Squirrel Sisters, what inspired you to start up your own business?
Squirrel Sisters is a health & wellness brand which was founded by me & my sister Gracie in 2015. We started writing a blog together about food & lifestyle where we gained a really healthy following so decided to turn it into a business with the help of my husband Ian, who designed the brand and packaging for our products.
We now sell our range of multi-award winning snack bars in over 2000 stores in the UK and are very proud to say that we are the only snacking brand which doesn’t add any sugars, syrups or artificial sweeteners. The recipes are all our own as we started the business at our kitchen table; Gracie used to make the bars for me at home because I have a gluten-intolerance and when all of our friends and family started eating them too, we knew we were onto something!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your role in the business.
My role is to look after sales & operations. We both have a big input across all areas but broadly speaking, I am responsible for managing our customers (the retailers), forecast & production schedules, finance and logistics.
How have you found motherhood?
I have loved it – I was quite nervous about how it would be as I know how unpredictable little ones are and I’m quite impatient too, but it has been incredible and I am so in love with Lola that all the hard stuff is so worth it….and the things I miss doing are even more enjoyable when I actually do them, e.g. seeing my friends and going out for dinner / drinks. My husband is also a really amazing Dad, and his help and support has made everything so much easier.
What is your favourite thing about being a mother?
The way that having a baby makes you live in the moment and makes you feel so fulfilled (there are a lot of moments where this doesn’t feel true, but for the most of the time I feel like this!)
What is your least favourite thing?
Cleaning up and constant washing!
How have you found running a business and being a mother?
The juggling has been harder than I imagined, the guilt you feel (about everything, either not being with Lola and working, or being with Lola and not working, being a crap friend / wife / daughter etc) and the amount of headspace that you commit to a child is something you can’t prepare for. I’m writing this having just dropped Lola off for her first day at nursery which is so necessary for me, but was way harder than I imagined. I know in the long run having this time will make me a better Mum as I’ll have more headspace and be more fulfilled.
One of the best things about having my own business & child though is that very rewarding and motivating though – everything I’m doing now matters more because of Lola…I want her to grow up and see her Mum & Auntie running a successful brand! And Gracie is so supportive in general, she knows I try really hard to get everything done and will always make sure that I do even if I get up really early or stay up late and work over weekends, but she is also really sympathetic and tells me when to take a break or is understanding on the days where Lola demands a bit more of me and won’t happily play while I work alongside her.
How have you adapted financially to having a child and do you have any advice to other new or expecting mothers?
My husband actually took shared parental leave for 6 months when Lola was first born, so our situation was that Ian had a reduced salary and my income was/is quite unstable. Ian is back at work now, so we’ve just put Lola into nursery for 2 days a week. Things for ‘me’ have definitely gone out of the window (which is why I am thrilled to have a Sprout membership!) and decisions about things we want to buy Lola to make her more comfortable (and our life easier) are more carefully planned. My advice would be to save in advance, try and prioritise what you really like doing that will make you feel good and with your partner/family’s support work out when you can take a break and take some time for yourself. Also, find ways that you can do the things you love without spending too much, e.g. go for an early dinner with other friends on maternity leave (and bring the babies) as they often have good deals on, do a home workout while the baby plays nearby (or naps hopefully), get Secret Spa round (and use your Sprout discount) to give you a facial or massage. There are lots of things you can do without even relying on other people to come and help!
What advice would you give to any expecting mother out there to help them prepare for motherhood?
I’m not going to tell people to ‘make the most of it’ before the baby arrives because I found that really annoying! But do make sure you do things for yourself that feels good. You are doing an amazing thing by growing a child and deserve lots of treats. I found meditation and getting to grips with that ahead of having a baby a really useful tool for trying to manage my emotions and stress levels once the baby was here – especially in the early months were hormones are so unpredictable.
What has motherhood taught you?
Patience is definitely the number one thing! I’m such an idealist and because you can’t plan things as much and you can’t control how your baby is going to be in certain scenarios, it’s really helped me just let things be and have to chill out when things go wrong. I think it’s really helped me appreciate things for what they are, and when things are good and the stars align I really appreciate that I’m lucky.
What’s next for you and Squirrel Sisters?
We have started working with a very exciting new director (which we’ll be announcing soon); he is incredibly inspiring and has had such an interesting life having worked so hard to get to where he is now. He is going to help us grow the business and take it to the next level, but in a way that means we can stay true to how we started and our mission to make healthy eating delicious and convenient. We’ll be developing new product ranges and launching with new retailers which is really exciting for us, and we can’t wait to tell everyone more about it!