We are Rachel and Pippa, founders of The Conscious Party Box. We met about 11 years ago through our partners. Between us we have 5 children, one husband, one fiancé, a dog, cat & a hamster. The combination of a web designer with a fashion & lifestyle designer means we are a pretty well covered skills-wise to set up a small creative biz! The thing that convinced us down the party route however is the fact that 5 children means 5 birthday parties a year. Having attended quite a few we also know that they come with a mountain of waste from straws and plates to party bag contents (which often don’t even make it home or are chucked within a day). The Conscious Party Box was created from our desire to encourage stylish themed events for children which don’t cost the Earth any creating a lot of landfill waste – our kits are all fully compostable, recyclable or reusable.
Find out more about the biz here and more about us below!
How did you balance being a mother and professional?
R: It is all about planning. In order to keep on top of everything and make sure all areas of life get the attention they require and deserve life has to be planned. This is not to say there is no spontaneity or fun in life but you just need to make sure the essential tasks are covered to free up time for other things. No one is going to get the best of you if you are constantly worrying about all the other things you haven’t done. I believe lists are key to this. If you can see what you need to do it makes it quicker to tis the jobs off and also frees up some of your brown space for other things.
P: I agree! Planning and scheduling are key. I plan on 2021 being the year I actually get on top of it too!
What have you sacrificed (both personally and professionally) at each stage of your career?
R: I often sacrifice time for myself and have done this throughout my various careers. When I worked in the corporate world I would often work late and give up weekends and evenings due to travel commitments. Now I work for myself I often work early mornings and evenings to ensure that I have time for the children when they are around. This has been even more prevalent this year with lock downs and home schooling when at one time I was starting work at 6am and finishing at 10pm with a large ‘break’ in the middle to home school. When you are working this kinds of hours there is no time left for yourself. Having said that my happy time is when I am working and spending time with my family so I guess that is why I generally don’t make much time for myself. In terms of professional sacrifices when I was employed I definitely sacrificed promotions due to the ‘risk’ I may decide to have a family. I was actually told by one boss that I would not be promoted to a director because I was of an age that I may decided to start a family!
P: I also sacrifice time for myself but then find if I do get 5 minutes I find something to do work wise! My youngest is 18 months old so I still have that dream nap time in the middle of the day when my other 2 are at school/nursery so squeeze work into that and then find myself doing it again after bedtime!
Who inspired you and why?
R: It may sound like a cliche but my Mum. She was an amazing person full of energy and fun and achieved a lot in her life. She had so many friends, did so much for other people and was incredibly popular and loved which was illustrated at her funeral when many people had to stand because there was not enough room for everyone. She was always incredibly supportive of me as I was growing up.
P: My friends and family did and continue to inspire me by showing me it is possible. Throughout my jobs, freelancing, starting a family, renovating and now starting up our own business they have kept me going with positivity, encouragement , help and endless shoulders to cry on (and tea) when the going gets tough.
What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
R: Believe in yourself, focus on what you want and make sure it happens. Women are often so full of self doubt and suffer so much from imposter syndrome that it can often hold them back. I would also advise being your self. If you have to pretend to be someone you are not then you are not being true to yourself and you will find life exhausting and will be left feeling unfulfilled. You have the skills to achieve what you want so make sure you believe it and other people realise it.
P: I agree, I suffer incredibly with imposter syndrome but as I get older I have realised that I am not an imposter and my feelings, beliefs and ideas are valid too. Have self-confidence and believe in yourself, you can’t please everyone and never will so you may as well do what makes you happy.
Do you think women feel intimidated in business?
In many cases yes. I think this is partly down to historical reasons but also down to women’s sen out and lack of belief. While I don’t believe you should lie about what you can do think you should believe that your an achieve anything and not be afraid to give it a go. We are not always experienced in what we need to do until we start to do it.
Where will we find you on a Saturday morning at 10 a.m.?
R: Usually at home and probably still in my pyjamas. Although I usually get up around 6am on a Saturday I tend to start on various tasks I need to do and before I know it it is late morning and I am still not dressed!
P: Either at home surrounded by washing up and children covered in cereal or out on a mini adventure to the park or woods – my kids get extreme cabin fever so we need to get moving!
What do you love about your job?
R: I really enjoy the creativity of the job. Coming up with new ideas and creating new products. We are in our infancy at The Conscious Party Box but have lots of new plans for 2021! In my other life as an interior designer I love taking bland spaces and creating stylish homes for people. I often forget how a room has started so it is always great to look back on original photos once all the work has been completed and see how much the space has changed.
P: I love being creative and seeing our ideas become real life products, we have a chat and then there it is, all packaged up! We have so many ideas and exciting projects coming up! I’m excited for 2021!
What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made?
R: When I worked in the corporate world I would say the best decision I ever made was changing my job several times. To be honest I am not sure it was even a conscious decisions but by making several moves I was able to progress quite quickly and increase my income level quite quickly.
P: I would say going for it with my own business, I was a web designer in a past life (pre-kids) and I just did I was told to do… The Conscious Party Box is brand new but I feel like I’ve been given a new lease of life so whatever happens going forward it has really given me a boost in confidence with what I can achieve.
What’s the worst career decision you’ve ever made?
R: Moving to a very well know brand because I thought I wanted to get into the retail side of things but actually having no affinity with the product. You need to be passionate about the work you are doing in order to enjoy it.
P: Waiting to be made redundant from my first job, the reason I stayed is because I loved the people I worked with but I should have gone earlier really.
How do you organise your time?
R: I schedule my days during the week even down to the time it takes to get the children ready for school and dropped off. I tend to start the day early and get my emails/admin sorted before everyone else is awake. I then focus on getting ready and organising the children. Once they are at school I will work though my job list for the day. I usually work out my weekly schedule on a Sunday so I know what I have in for the week. Once children are home it is all about dinner and a bit fo family time before relaxing or catching up on bits in the evening. I used to try and exercise first thing but this seems to have fallen by the wayside. This is something I plan to get back on track in the new year.
Work is very busy at the moment so this takes up most of my time but I do also schedule in time to meet up with friends (depending on the lockdown rules at the time!). The beauty of working for yourself is that there is more flexibility within how you use your time.
P: I currently just have a large list of things I need to work through and use nap times and bedtimes as best as I can to get through it all! A lot of my time over the last few months has been taken up with house renovations but I’m excited for it all to be done so I can get going next year afresh!
What do you think is your greatest strength?
R: My ability to work hard and manage on limited sleep.
P: I can cook dinner, wash up, colour in and post on instagram all at the same time – sometimes I think I have 8 pairs of hands… although imagine what I’d get done if I did! ha!
What do you think is your greatest weakness?
R: My inability to say no. I often take on too much because I hate to let people down and say no to them.
P: I also find it hard to say no, I’m also a terrible people pleaser! I want everyone to be happy with everything I’m doing which as we all know is IMPOSSIBLE! I’m working on that though.
How do you make decisions?
R: I often like to discuss ideas with other people and gauge opinion before deciding on big things. A lot of the time I just seem to have little debate with myself! I try to see the pros and cons of any outcome from decisions made but sometimes you just have a gut feeling about something and have to go with that.
P: Endless discussions with friends and family and research! I’ve started now to try and trust my gut a bit more!
What do you read?
R: I tend to mainly read on holiday and then to be honest I like something light and entertaining! I am a huge fan of Marian Keyes and have just finished her latest book. I enjoy books which explore relationships and family connections and I am a sucker for a happy ending! I have started to listen to more audio books because these are great when I am designing or in the car. I tend to listen to self development books.
P: I would love to read, I used to read constantly – love a thriller! I have 3 children under 5 now though so if I ever have a book in my hand one either takes it off me or I fall asleep!
What do you think are the secrets behind getting to where you’ve got to?
R: Ooh that is a tough one. I definitely suffer from imposter syndrome and spent most of my career thinking I was lucky to have achieved what I had. Now that I look back on that part of my life I realise I was actually good at what I did which is why people employed me and tried to retain when I decided to make a move somewhere else. I would say in my case it is probably hard work and good people skills. I am not overly confident but I am very friendly and like to have fun which can take you along way in situations where you are little unsure of yourself. A lot of what I do is about relationships and I think being able to listen to people and work with them has helped me in my various careers. You can be the absolute best at something but if people can’t get on with you or work alongside you there are going to have problems.
P: I think its having those periods of time where I do believe in what I’m doing, that’s when I jump ahead in my projects – then I have a bit of an imposter break before realising I am worthy and going again! It’s a never ending loop! I think I am also quite good at contacting people, I like to chat , I’m friendly and think that comes across so have connected and have made many contacts and friends that way through social media.
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