This week we interviewed Caroline Kendal, founder of Box Upon a Time. Caroline is mother to Rachel (14), Juliette (12) and Noah (5). She was previously a lawyer at Clifford Chance and management consultant at McKinsey before launching and running childrenswear e-tailer, MiniWardrobe.com, through which she met Nicolas Rosen and Guy-Louis de la Vingne, co-founders of Box Upon a Time. Caroline holds an MA in Law from Cambridge University. What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to a mama starting a new business?
Although in theory you can work around your family when you have your own business, in practice, I’ve ended up working a whole lot harder than I ever did when I was employed. So, I would advise all mums to go into business with your eyes wide open. However long you think it’s going to take, treble it!
Where’s your favourite place to let your hair down?
Apart from three children, we have a wonderful little dog called Ziggy, a miniature labradoodle. This is a great breed for families who have asthmatic children as he doesn’t shed a hair. To wind down, the perfect remedy at the end of a tiring working week is a long weekend walk with Ziggy on the beautiful open spaces and woods near my home
Do you have a favourite family recipe you can share?
Two of my three children are quite fussy eaters, whereas the rest of us are really adventurous so it is always a bit of a challenge to find a recipe that makes everyone in the family equally happy. We do all love Jamie Oliver’s Fantastic Fish pie and we do all have an exceptionally sweet tooth. At the moment, we’re huge fans of Mary Berry’s recipes and also Nigella, who has a wonderful chocolate fudge cake recipe, which is really easy to follow and completely delicious.
What’s on top of your to-do list this week? It seems that everything is top of the to-do list each week. Whatever I start the week thinking will be the priority might not be the priority by lunchtime on Monday. Box Upon a Time is a start up and we all support each other and constantly brainstorm as a team on our short-term goals. This week I am focusing on setting up an exciting new marketing initiative we are organising for the business.
What lessons have you learned from running your own business?
Lessons are normally learnt the hard way – and I usually first learn what doesn’t work in business rather than what does. I don’t think quick wins really exist anymore. I also strongly believe in helping others as much as you can. I’ve found that what goes around comes around and that being helpful has brought wonderful opportunities along the way and introduced me to really interesting contacts. I’ve also learnt not to be afraid to revisit my strategies. You may believe your initial business idea is brilliant as it is, but the market and your advisors may believe differently. I’ve learnt not to be stubborn but to be open to developing my business even into something quite different to make the potential for success even greater.
What’s the one baby product you couldn’t live without?
Weleda Calendula Baby Cream was a brilliant baby product that was introduced to me when my son was born. It is completely natural and organic and has amazing healing and protective properties. My son’s skin was always soft and he never experienced even a hint of nappy rash. I recommend this fantastic cream to every new mother.
Where’s your favourite family holiday destination?
My children and I absolutely love skiing. It’s our family passion. We also love Italy. We ski every year in an Italian resort called Sestriere. We have our greatest laughs when we’re out skiing together. And the wonderful fresh air and beautiful views are a wonderful contrast to London living.
What’s in your make-up bag?
I don’t use much make-up, not because I don’t need to but because I am so useless at applying it. My two essentials are Bobbi Brown tinted eye brightener combined with Chanel’s VitalumiÃ¨re Fluid make up. I convince myself each morning that they are working together to hide my bags and smooth out my wrinkles!
How do you strike a balance between your work and home life?
Striking that balance is a huge challenge for working mothers. As a mother, I find that there are three pulls on my time – children, career and my own personal social time. In my view you can only have two out of the three successfully, so as I choose to work, I have sacrificed the great social life for now. This means that I can focus on my three children when I’m not working, which is lovely. Fortunately for me my closest friends are also working mums so we’re understanding of each other’s priorities in striking that balance.
How would you sum yourself up in one sentence?
Probably too hard working but also motivated to do the best I can whilst feeling blessed every minute of every day to have my wonderful children and family around me.