From my office window I have just witnessed a crime. The culprits made a very quick getaway and now I can hear them under my house getting up to no good. It has been a daily occurrence this spring… slightly disturbing as they are relentless and appear to be a new gang who moved in a few months ago, rampaging our vegetable patch!
This litter of bunnies, who I have named Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail (you get the idea), fill me with joy. I hear them burrowing beneath my garden office, where I work each day, situated in a pine forest on the coast of Southern Sweden. This became our family home five years ago after relocating from leafy Highgate. I feel as though Miss Beatrix Potter herself is cheering me on from beneath the floor boards as I tread down this treacherous path of self-publishing. I am currently launching a very unique children’s poetic picture book in what is the most competitive sector of the book market. The very market which is being devastated by online saboteurs who provide books at prices which are impossible to compete with as a niche publisher or independent bookshop.
As well as Miss Potter’s presence, those bunnies, and their spirit of entrepreneurship and willingness to take risks, also fills me with an other great sense of inspiration. On a daily basis despite the large Schnauzer cavorting around the garden, two hoologan-esque preadolescent boys and a very busy toddler, they still attempt their daily pillage of greens and bootie from the garden. In moments of doubt, and I have had many since setting up Vind & VÃ¥g (Wind & Wave) Publishing House in January 2013, watching those bunnies has added gusto to my mumpreneurial spirit. I venture out to my garden office, take risks and make things happen in the five hours I have committed daily to establishing my new start-up. The bunnies are a reminder to focus on my passion despite the challenges.
Those five hours spent each day as a mumpreneur are heaven. The anticipation of indulging in my work and being completely lost in an undisturbed creative state is close to divine for me. Buster, our dog and one of “The Hounds” featured in the book series, lies between the open door of the office and garden on “bunny watch”. The hours pass far too rapidly as at 3.30 pm three smiling faces appear at my open door. That is my signal to shut down the Mac, silence the iPhone and become fully present and engaged in my most important role as a Mamma. That is the moment where I am torn and it can sometimes feel torturous. My children are of course not what creates this sense of anguish. I have established a career, relocated and simplified life so that I could be the mother I have always dreamt of being. However, as a mumpreneur, there is always that part of the creative process in business which is limited by one simple factor… there are not enough hours in the day and invariably the hours are cut short at exactly the wrong moment.
Writing and illustrating The Hounds of Falsterbo and launching this first book into the unknown felt ridiculously similar to the journey of Mamma-hood. The newborn (the advanced copy) of The Hounds of Falsterbo arrived in November 2013. Was it safe and well? Would it live up to my vision? Would the book find an audience? From the first moment I held it in my hands, a love affair was born. The publication became my fourth child which would continue to give me nights of broken sleep, enormous joy, devour huge amounts of energy but which I could not put down or leave alone.
To have returned to my former life as a Mayfair art dealer would never have fulfilled me. Wearing shiny skyscraper shoes and being tied to a gallery would have meant huge sacrifices. By setting out a flexible 25-30 hour week, planning work around family, being available and acceptive of the inevitable schedule changes I have the created the optimal and most simplified solution. An au pair enables more work time rather than being a laundry service or taxi driver on the school run. It also secures unique time with each child everyday which was my ambition when finding a fulfilling self-crafted career. The only downside I have discovered to my new found mumpreneurial status is the variable income level, which is hard to accept given the hours of dedication. My self-care and social life have also been dramatically de-prioritised. In truth, this needs adjusting, but when your passion for your work and family is so great why rush to compromise that!
Jules Nilsson, is a British born Art Historian (MA), author and illustrator who lives in Southern Sweden with her husband, three children and dog.
The Hounds of Falsterbo audiobook can also be downloaded from iTunes and Spotify.