Hustle and Juggle With Brenda Gabriel
How long have you been doing the Hustle and Juggle?
It’ll be three years in November since I left my Project and Comms Manager job and 11-year stint at the Crown Prosecution Service. I was eight months pregnant with my second child was offered voluntary redundancy in my department. I thought ‘Why not?’ I wasn’t sure what I was going to do when I left, all I knew was that I needed to do something that gave me a sense of purpose. I left with a payout and half an idea about selling hair extensions.
My eldest son was studying for his GCSE’s at the time and I welcomed the opportunity to be more present for him. Since then, we’ve added a little princess to the brood. Having had two children in short space of time means that I didn’t really get started with my marketing business until November 2015.
What is the Juggle to your Hustle?
I’m juggling 3 three children, 18, 3 and 1 years old, my partner who works in TV as sports researcher. It’s a demanding job and he often works away, which can be tough. I run a fortnightly mother and baby mastermind in my local area: Balancing Business and Babies, especially for mums in business. I also run The Biz Gamechanger Mastermind, an online support group for innovative entrepreneurs. I’m constantly reading to keep ahead of marketing developments.
Tell me more about your business?
I’m a marketing consultant and mentor for entrepreneurs who’ve been in biz for some time and are ready to up-level and become an authority in their field. My clients tend to be passionate women who challenge the status quo in their industry and are on a mission to change the world. I help them get clear on their messaging, raise their profile and connect with the people who need their services. One of my earliest freelance jobs was with a top PR agency. I learnt to write press releases and pitch to journalists so it’s natural for me to consider this angle when working with clients.Having a background in comms, strategy, project management and PR I use these skills to provide a holistic service. I have always been a big picture kinda person so, even though I started out as a social media strategist, I seemed to spend as much time advising on business strategy as tweeting! As time went on I decided to incorporate all of my skills into my offering.
What is your Hustle and Juggle story?
Since I left the CPS in 2013 I’ve joined a network marketing company, dabbled in selling hair extensions, taken a property investment course, learnt about trading, trained in eyelash and hair extension application and worked in PR and marketing. Phew!
It took me a while to discover my true passion. At times my partner would despair at yet another business idea or way to make my fortune. I wasn’t one of those people who always knew what I wanted to do. Well, I did but it didn’t have a job title so I struggled to find my calling. All I knew is that I wanted to make a difference in the world and leave it a better place than I entered it.
The best thing about ‘justling’ is that I get to spend quality time with my family every day. If I want to take the day off to go to Brighton, I can. It’s great to be in a position where my children will know they have options and that they can be anything they want to be and if the title doesn’t exist, they can make one up! Also, I never imagined the amazing people I would get to meet and the opportunities that would come my way just by stepping out of my comfort zone.
It hasn’t been an easy journey. I fell pregnant with Amelia-Sophia when Joshua was 18 months old. Up until that point, we were comfortable financially but things changed quickly. My contract had just come to an end and I found myself having to apply for jobs while on JSA, all the while praying the interviewer wouldn’t know I was pregnant and fearful about how I would tell my boss if I got the job! I worked for a short while in a call centre, which wasn’t fun, though I did learn a lot about getting people to stay on the phone! I suffered pelvic girdle and back pain from being run off my bicycle two years before, which meant I spent most of my time in agony and miserable. I failed to secure a full-time job despite being in the final two for what I felt at the time was my dream job with the FCA. I eventually gave up the call centre work much to my disappointment. Not. Things became easier when I became eligible for Maternity Allowance and it allowed me to focus on the pregnancy and my family for the last couple of months. I wrote a blog post about the experience which was accepted for the Huffington Post, which you can read here.
My princess was born in July 2015. I gave myself four months maternity leave and attended business training in November. In December I met my business coach Nicola. I knew if I was going to get things off the ground quickly I would need help. I had no idea how I was going to pay for coaching as I wasn’t earning, I just knew I needed to make it happen. I had to sell some of my prized possessions in the early months to get the money but it was an investment I needed to make in my future and that of my family and things are just things. By some miracle, I was able to pay that first invoice and every one since then. With that support, I started getting prospects through the door who became clients, set up my mother and baby mastermind, held my first paid business event, had my first stab at public speaking and my first radio interview!
I’m always asked how I do it. I work from home with my 3-year-old and 1-year-old in tow most days. To say getting work done can be challenging is an understatement! Randi Zuckerberg hit the nail on the head when she said ‘Work, sleep, family, fitness or friends – Pick 3’. I have found this is especially true for mums in business. For me, under family would come housework and cooking, which definitely suffers when work gets busy! It has taken some time for my partner to get used to an occasionally messy home and thrown together meals but now he see the results of the hard work, he understands that sometimes the sacrifice is necessary. I really couldn’t have done it without his support both emotional and financial.
For a long while, I wasn’t looking after myself. I got fed up of being unhappy with the way I looked and felt. I decided to make another investment in myself and hired a health coach, Maja, who has helped me transform my eating and exercise habits. It has only been two months so far but I’ve dropped a dress size and am feeling much happier now I’m taking the time to put me first.
What’s your message to anyone reading this to inspire them to keep going and remain visible?
My message to anyone reading this would be, always have faith in yourself. If you’re lacking that, surround yourself with people that do. Employing a business coach was the best thing I could have done. I was full of self-doubt at the start. When everything around you doesn’t match up to the vision you have it can be disheartening. In the early days, my business coach was my biggest cheerleader and I always felt inspired after every conversation to keep going.
My 5 top tips for other Justlers are:
1. Know yourself – get clear on personal and biz values. Let them inform who you choose to work with. You don’t need ‘that’ client or ‘that’ job. You need to work with people who are aligned with your values, appreciate your worth and you can be your authentic self with.
2. Know your value – You’ve worked hard to get where you are and deserve to get paid for it. Don’t be afraid to say no to a prospect. lf someone says you are too expensive, it may be that they aren’t ready to make that investment in themselves or their business.
3. Be prepared to invest in yourself – You are the most important investment you will ever make, don’t scrimp. When you pay for courses, books, training be sure to implement what you learn.
4. Consistency beats talent every time – You don’t need to be the best at anything you just need to be consistent. Consistency means people know what to expect and it helps build trust.
5. Be kind to yourself – You are just where you need to be at this time. Trust the process and enjoy the journey!
If like Brenda you are Hustling & Juggling and would like to share your story with others please find out how you can do so here. I would love to hear from you, these interviews really are inspiring others.