MEET THE MOTHER: Shona Chambers
Introducing Shona Chambers, a self-employed marketing consultant, and mother of two. We chat about relaxing into motherhood, coping through the pandemic, and her love of vintage items.
“When redundancy gave me the opportunity to explore other avenues, I took it gladly”
Trading in a corporate career for the highs and lows of self-employed work, Shona Chambers’ story is similar to many mothers. Previously employed as the head of insights for an online media company, Shona found returning to work after her first baby was born difficult. With her son at nursery four days a week, the all-too familiar lack of sleep was challenging. It was when made redundant that Shona saw this as an opportunity to reinvent her working life. For the past nine years, Shona has been a self-employed marketing consultant, offering support primarily to small businesses.
“My goals are really to help people”
With a focus on marketing strategy and planning, Shona prefers to work with people with “interesting marketing problems”, rather than focusing on a specific niche. “I honestly think I’d get bored if I tried to serve just one part of the market. My goals are really to help people to understand that marketing encompasses quite a range of activities, and it isn’t just about social media”. What stands out about Shona is how genuine she is when it comes to serving others and fostering deep connections. Having built up a business that centred around workshops, networking events and in-person meetings, the pandemic caused a lot of problems for Shona and caused her to refocus her energy. While admitting difficulties to adjusting to these changes, and being a late comer to Zoom, Shona organised her time around childcare during the first lockdown and wrote a book about marketing for small businesses.
Living with her husband and two children (aged 5 and 12) and “one rather ancient cat who was horrified to have to deal with not one but two children coming into his home”, Shona took three months to finish writing her book, before turning her attention to how she could reignite her business. Shona and her husband have always had a ‘divide and conquer’ approach to nursery and school runs, with her husband working from home for several years. It’s a strategy that has no doubt served their family well, yet Shona strongly advocates for asking for help when needed, especially for new mums.
“Whatever it is you are feeling there is someone who knows what it's like and can point you in the right direction”. It is at this point, Shona offers one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever encountered: “There are such a lot of things that might affect you as a new mum, don't expect that you will find this the best time of your life. Babies turn into children turn into teenagers and onwards. You may find that even if you struggle as a new mum you absolutely love being the mum of a toddler”.
Like many families, Shona’s youngest was due to start school in September 2020. “The months we’ve all just experienced have been far from the sunnier stress-free times I’d been hoping for. So, at times, yes, it has felt a bit too much”. In spite of the uncertainty felt over the past twelve months, Shona has leaned into the challenges, fully aware that the impact of the pandemic is yet to be realised. Not only does Shona bring a peaceful calm to her approach to work, but her parenting also. Reflecting on her own experience, Shona encourages mothers to resist the pressure to be perfect, “try to treat yourself as a friend would instead”.
“We all just need to sleep at night”
Every mum will have a favourite aspect of motherhood. For Shona, it is wholly her children. Enjoying their time together, Shona credits the seven year gap between them for giving her enough time to spend with each “which has been a wonderful experience”, and no doubt made it easier to manage challenges that arise. Neither of Shona’s children have loved sleeping, “I’m sure all the parents out there reading are rolling their eyes right now, because they know what it’s like”. But over the years, Shona has relaxed into how she parents and appreciates the importance of the whole family needing sleep, even “if it’s in the family bed”. Shona values the children’s bedtime as a time for connection before sleep. Reading stories until her eldest was nine years old, she’s never seen reading to her kids as a chore. “Even now (he will probably kill me for saying this) my twelve year old quite often stays in the room for the little ones story. Whether that is because he wants to, or is delaying bedtime himself, we’ll never know”.
Shona’s love of reading finds its way into her design aesthetic, with no preference for how books are stored or displayed, just that there’s enough room. She also loves mixing vintage pieces with new items. Living in an area with an array of antique and ‘junk’ shops, Shona has collected various pieces over the years, including an original old school desk with a built-in seat. She also loves the brand Lush (not the soap makers!) for their beautiful light shades, which feature in her children’s bedrooms; “one is a fox and the other has blue horses”.
But for Shona, it always comes back to books. So much so, that when asked on social media channels for suggestions, Shona will happily offer recommendations. Her generosity and genuine desire to help others has led to a new online friendship over lockdown with a woman searching for business books; “it just goes to show that strangers are really friends we haven’t met yet!” To connect with Shona please follow her on Instagram and also visit her website for access to a wealth of useful information, including her book. You can also find her on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.