A mother of five children aged two to six (yes, really), Celia Munoz is the founder of London-based Spanish clothing design company La Coqueta. She talks daring career changes, having no time for yourself, and taking control of your life

How did you get into children’s fashion?
I’ve been living in London since 2001. After studying Psychology, I worked in my early career as a headhunter. When I had my first child I noticed there was a gap in the market for reasonably-priced beautifully-crafted children’s clothes. I’ve always loved the way the Spanish dress their children and got into making my own pieces because I could not find these kinds of clothes easily in London. In terms of inspiration, other than my children, I love looking at pictures from 50 years ago, when children were dressed so beautifully. Every season I tend to revisit pictures from Robert Doisneau and my grandmother’s photo album so that I don’t get over distracted with what is going on in the fashion for children arena.

You have five children (!) – how have you balanced that with having a successful and interesting career?
I haven’t! I still wonder what is the best way to manage that and any tips on this matter are most welcome…  During the past five years I have learnt many ways to prioritise and multitask. I have become very organised and find that it helps me to manage it all. I have an extremely supportive husband who helps a lot at home (he does all the cooking) and I learnt from him that being extremely productive at work while your children are at school is a formula that works most of the time. The downside is that I have very little time for myself or my friends during the week. But as my mother told me: “When your children are all grown up and leave home, you will have all the time in the world to do whatever you wish to do.” And by looking at her life, I think she is probably right.

How did you find changing careers while having a family?
I found the idea to be very stressful – I was embarking on a business adventure that was completely unknown to me. I think it was more the idea of changing careers than the reality of it, though. Looking back I find making that step while having a family was the perfect timing. Having children gave me the excuse to make the change I needed, as I felt my old job was totally incompatible with family life. Having children also empowered me greatly as I found multitasking and getting things done in a short period of time to be an extremely useful business skill. Now that I have been in the trading business for more than two years I struggle to remember what my professional life was like before La Coqueta…

Having my own business has allowed me to be more in control of my time. I find my work a lot harder than before but the purpose of it is so much more meaningful. I sometimes struggle to manage it all but it is a consolation to think that I am not alone and that having a great balance between family and work is the challenge of many women nowadays. Being a great mum whilst having an interesting career… it’s a challenge and in a way, it is the beauty of it all. Through having my own business I am more in control but that comes with a lot more responsibility, which can sometimes affect that balance sought for.

What has been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge has been to learn to disconnect from work 100 per cent when I am with my family. My children went from having a mum full time stay-at-home mum to a busy mum who works a lot during the day. It was a big change for all of us but a challenge we have embraced and made the most of. I am very much aware of the importance of making things really special at home and a big part of it is leaving your phone on your desk so that you can dedicate all the attention to your family. To me it is about spending quality time with your loved ones and I find that very difficult to achieve when you bring work into your home.

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