As I wrote in a recent post, and as I’m often lamenting to anyone who will listen, finding the right balance is one of the trickiest things about creating the lifestyle that you want. Balance between different work projects and clients, between being in an office and being at home, between earning money and spending it, between travelling the world and feeling settled; and, of course, the classic dilemma between your professional life and your family. New mums and dads are making different choices about how long they want to stay home after the kids are born, when they want to get back to work, and what form that work will take when they do return. Those choices will be down to all sorts of considerations, like the amount of parental leave offered by your company, your financial situation, career prospects (yours and your partner’s), luck and coincidence as to which opportunities arise and, ultimately, personal preference.
The good news is that these choices are never forever and you can continue to shape your life as you learn about yourself and try to find the right balance for you as an individual and for your family! This month’s career transition interview is with Charlotte Bruun-Christensen who has been on this journey of evolving what her life looks like, leaving an office job behind to spend time with her family and recently launching her own children’s clothing business. Read on to discover Charlotte’s story…
How to launch your business
Five years ago when Charlotte Bruun-Christensen’s husband accepted a new role in Switzerland, they decided as a family to grab the opportunity and fulfil their dream of one day living abroad. Since their son and daughter were still little, making it easier to move, the timing was perfect. Leaving behind her corporate life as an Executive Assistant at Nokia in Denmark wasn’t easy; for ten years, Charlotte had been planning corporate events, parties and events worldwide, while supporting her boss in his daily life. She looked forward to this new adventure, however, and to be a housewife with lots of time for the family – but soon found herself launching her own business. Today, she runs DanishDesignKids, which sells Danish children’s clothes.
1) At what moment did you decide it was time for a change?
After spending the first year settling down in Hünenberg, it was time for the children to experience day care, and with this my life changed again. I suddenly had some free time and I also discovered that I needed more adult interaction, some intellectual challenge and some fun.
As I was looking for my next adventure, I found myself struggling to find unique, stylish but affordable clothing for my children to wear. In Denmark, there were adorable and comfy clothes for kids everywhere but in Switzerland, I found nothing like that at a reasonable price. I began to import clothes for my children to meet my own fashion sense and immediately other mums asked me where I got my kids’ clothes and how they could get them too. A lightbulb soon flickered in my head and DanishDesignKids was born!
2) What was the biggest challenge you faced in making the change?
Like other entrepreneurs with an office at home while still being a mum of two small kids, the biggest challenge for me is how to split my time between work and personal life.
As I am a very social person, another big challenge for me is not being in an office with lots of people around me. I try to compensate for this when I do ‘home parties’ at people’s houses or in shops. I love being out in the field and meeting my customers, both the kids themselves and their parents.
3) Where did you get the support you needed to make it happen?
I could not have started my company without the love and support of my husband. Not only has he got a good business sense, he is also very positive and makes me smile if things are not going the way I want them to.
As a new entrepreneur of course you can never know everything, so some things you have to learn the hard way: you’re bound to make mistakes while you think you’re following the right path or overlooking something that later develops into a bigger problem. But I’ve been very lucky not to face any insurmountable challenges yet. What helped me a lot was that I took the time to ask around for expertise on different issues. Very often you have someone in your network who has been in a similar situation before, or at least who knows somebody who has. So my advice is to not be afraid of asking around, as most people are very happy to help.
That said, I would not have succeeded if all my ‘new’ friends here in Switzerland hadn’t believed in me and been so kind as to host the first home parties for me.
4) What’s the best part of your lifestyle today?
I am totally independent and have my personal freedom.
I get the intellectual challenge every day, but I still have time to be with my kids and follow them in their daily lives, with all their little ups and downs.
I meet a lot of new and interesting people at the home parties and my local network is growing all the time.
Furthermore, seeing both my own kids and others in the neighbourhood running around in ‘my’ clothes is an everyday pleasure.
5) What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is considering making a big career or lifestyle change?
Go for it! Just try it out and keep asking yourself: what’s the worst thing that could happen?
In the beginning I told myself and my family over and over again that if I couldn’t sell the clothes I purchased for my first season, the kids would simply have to wear the same pair of pants in different sizes until they turned 12 – if that was really the worst thing that could happen, then it wasn’t so bad!
Find out more about Charlotte’s business on the DanishDesignKids website and its Facebook page.