I live in Paddington with my boyfriend Adam and 16-month-old daughter Minnie. It’s a crazy place to live but everything is really central. Including the brothel across the road! I’m a casting director for film, commercials and music-videos. Before we had Minnie I was a bit of a wild child… I founded my company four years before having a baby, aged 28, and so daytime would be entirely working, either in the office or in casting sessions. Evenings were lots of parties, lots of dinners and LOTS OF SLEEP. Things that I don’t get as much time for now.

I think my work life has seen the most significant change… I now only take on jobs that I really want to do and am not so money-driven. When I’m taking on new projects, I have to think carefully about how it is going to affect my life, my time: is it worth it? Before I had Minnie I would take on any old shit and do everything, really burying myself in work. Now, I take on projects that are going to challenge me or make a difference to my life. Otherwise it’s not worth it. I can’t do everything and some times I would rather not do a job if it means I can take Minnie to the park or to the Science museum.

I had the most awesome antenatal group and we still speak constantly, despite me inititally being resolute that we would NEVER be friends in real life

My social life has really changed. When you’re no longer out every night, friends seem to fall by the wayside. Luckily, I had the most awesome antenatal group and we still speak constantly on WhatsApp and meet up when we can. This, despite me totally bitching about them after our first session and being resolute that I would NEVER be friends with them in real life. Ha-ha. I’ve also made some amazing mama friends and feel like I have this new-found confidence to launch into conversation with any random in the park or playgroup if they too have a baby. I’m naturally quite shy and pre-baby would never have done this – nor would I have ever imagined singing ‘incy wincy spider’ in front of more than two people… And mentally things have changed. I don’t think I ever thought I would be able to think about another person as much as I do!

Work-wise, the greatest challenges would have to be the responsibility. I have a great team but inevitably the decision-making and the planning is up to me. I have to be my own motivation which at times is tough. I also find it hard to distinguish between ‘boss’ and ‘friend’ and often blur lines making it really difficult when things go wrong.

It’s really special being in a creative industry. I would love for Minnie to look back on things that I’ve been a part of and be proud

The rewards however are daily and amazing. A short film I cast recently has been nominated for a BAFTA and to wake up to that news was great. It’s also really nice being able to watch the business grow. Five years ago it was just me, my mobile and my laptop and now we have an office with three permanent staff and over 10 freelancers. I liken us to the Spice Girls with the odd Spice Boy thrown in for good measure.

It’s also really special being in a creative industry. I hope to be able to share with Minnie all the wild tales when she’s older, and would love for her to look back on things that I’ve been a part of and be proud. (Apart from perhaps my McDonald’s adverts – I might not be so forthcoming about those…)

Minnie was two weeks old when I went back to work. I remember having the most amazing producer Juliette Larthe call me about a job which I was adamant I couldn’t do. She was, and still is, one of the women who inspired me to go back to work after having my daughter. I didn’t have the choice to not go back as it wouldn’t have been a financial option for us and I had saved what I thought was enough to last me a year (in reality, probably about two months with all the tea and cake and internet shopping I did.)

I’m always really honest about the fact that I have a baby and will only work around what is best for her and my family

We are also really lucky in that my boyfriend has been able to work part-time since Minnie was born so he works three days a week and we just juggle juggle and occasionally (very often) struggle. Both sets of our parents live out of London so that’s tough and we haven’t got a nanny or any childcare. This was definitely a conscious decision for the first year, and last week I had two settling-in sessions at a local nursery and although Minnie was fine, for me, it didn’t feel quite right. So we are back to thinking about perhaps a childminder or a different nursery… I’m burying my head in the sand for the time being though.

Career-wise, I thought I would have a baby and then work would quieten down for a couple of years until I was ready to pop back up and go for it. I was fired from a film for being pregnant (!) and thought that would be it for a few years. However since having Minnie work has sky-rocketed and I’m always really honest about the fact that I have a baby and will only work around what is best for her and my family. I’ve lost jobs because of this but do lots of yoga to offset the anger… I honestly think that I work 100 times harder and better as I have to be so much more economical with my time.

Adam does the bath with Minnie and I do bed-time. From about 8pm I’m back to watching casting sessions from that day

Minnie was a terrible sleeper (until last night, fingers crossssssseeeeddd!) so she wakes quite late, at about 8am. We have breakfast with some kind of loud obscene music (my neighbours love us) and then Adam heads off to work. I do a class or playgroup with Minnie every morning (I’m not a martyr – it’s mainly to get us both dressed and out of the house) and then head to the office (she comes with me). I spend the rest of the morning replying to emails, prepping jobs etc and then head home for 11.30 to give Minnie her lunch and get her ready for her nap. And this is when I like to think the magic happens!

Whilst she’s sleeping I’ll be back to emailing, prepping, skyping, responding to voice messages. Minnie has allergies which makes a quick cheesy pasta dinner pretty impossible and so I usually put dinner on, something that I can chuck in a slow cooker or one pan. Adam is usually home by 2.30pm and he will take Minnie to the park and I’ll head back to the office, back to emails etc. I then head home for 5pm and we all sit down and have dinner together. Adam does the bath with Minnie and I do bed-time. And then from about 8pm I’m back to watching casting sessions from that day, making notes, etc. On Thursdays and Fridays when Adam is off I’ll have meetings, run casting sessions myself or if it is ever quiet, sneak in a bit of yoga. Adam and I try to have a couple of hours to ourselves.

This is all when it goes to plan. On a bad day, Minnie gets beans on toast and Teletubbies whilst I have two legs in our living room with my upper body leaning over the stair-gate trying to Skype without a crying baby in the background. Good days and bad days!

Some of my best friends do the same job as me. It’s great having people who you can have a moan to at the end of a long day

I wouldn’t change much, though I would also like to get my money back from Amazon on all the Gina Ford-style ‘How to get your baby to sleep through the night’ blah blah-esque baby books I bought which I found totally soul destroying and spent A LOT of my time reading.

My advice to other women wanting to launch their own business would be: do it. When I started my business I decided that I needed to earn a certain amount of money each month. If I could cover that, then anything else was a bonus. Had I not been able to make that amount I was OK with going to work in a shop or whatever I would have needed to do to make ends meet. Obviously it’s not as easy as that for everyone, but I didn’t want to spend my life working in an office from 8 in the morning to 10 at night unless it was my business, I just wasn’t going to commit that energy into something for someone else.

When I started my business I was up to my overdraft, behind in mortgage payments with a handful of maxed-out credit cards so I needed it to work

I would also suggest getting some good friends. A lot of my friends thought I was crazy and told me not to do it. The only person who really had any faith in me was my boyfriend! Some of my best friends do the same job as me and it’s cool. I’d like to think we support each other and it’s great having people who you can have a moan to at the end of a long day! And think about whether you really need financial investors. When I started my business I was up to my overdraft, behind in my mortgage payments with a handful of maxed-out credit cards (but lots of nice shoes and bags) so I had real drive and needed it to work. I  had lots of people keen to invest, offering my lots of really ropey investment packages and luckily was able to get by without them. It was a real struggle and I spent many an evening eating noodles and hot-dogs. But, I don’t have to give over any of my hard earned cash to those other than my staff, and the bastards at HMRC.

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