This week on my Parents in Business series I’m excited to be featuring Geri who created The Nuture Circle, a consultancy to support parents and early years professionals. Geri has gained so much knowledge from working in nursery settings and managing nurseries, and her business is a credit to her success.
Whilst times are tricky at the moment with nurseries closed other than to keyworker children Geri is helping parents with their own well-being, which is hugely importantly, alongside supporting their children and offering a friendly voice that is so very much needed for some parents.
Do have a read of Geri’s business story which is bursting with positivity. I’ve had my children in a nursery setting for four years, and it’s something that personally I’m very tied to as a parent and also for my children too. (For some reason I actually felt slightly emotional reading this interview).
Tell me a little bit about you, your background, and your business?
I am mum to one rather lively, happy and funny daughter who is about to turn five and has such an energy and excitement for life it’s contagious. I really love being her mummy but my whole adult life has been about children. I have worked in the early years for nearly twenty years and have loved every minute of it, even with the challenges it can bring. I originally trained as a Montessori teacher with the plan to travel round the world looking for adventure. But once I started working with children and families that became the adventure instead and my new passion, which has lasted across the years. I find it so exciting to see how a child bursts into the world and how our nurturing, whether parent or professional, can have such a positive impact on the early experiences and development of that child. It’s a very rewarding and enriching privilege my career has offered me.
I’ve continued to build my professional knowledge with qualifications, courses, reading and other academic avenues. The most important learning for me though comes through real life experience – working to find, create and implement the best possible early experiences for children, working really closely with parents supporting them and learning from them too. My company, The Nurture Circle, is a culmination of all the aspects I love about early years and the opportunity to share my passion, knowledge and experience with parents and early years professionals through consultancy, training courses and events.
What were your motivations for setting up your business?
To be honest, I had been thinking about setting up my own consultancy for about five years before deciding to take the leap. The nurseries were like a huge family to me and so it was a big wrench to take the next step. But I knew I wanted to be able to offer more to a wider audience across settings and parents in the community, and with my daughter going to school it was the push I needed to try and find a better balance for our family life. I’m lucky enough to still go back into my old nurseries to continue to support staff and nursery life and collect all my cuddles from the children – I miss that the most!
The element I loved so much about the nurseries was how closely I worked with parents building lasting bonds with families, and also training and supporting the staff to be the best they could be for the children and families in our communities. It was about seeing that growth and sharing a vision for a community that really understood, nurtured and loved the children at the centre of it all. I was offered lots of opportunities to talk to wider audiences and share practise with other professionals and wanted to grow this aspect of my own professional development, to feel like I was having a positive and lasting impact on children’s lives.
How do you balance the business around your family and childcare?
I’ve had such a rich and exciting career in the early years and have had lots of opportunities to start wonderful projects but have had to ground myself and consider my daughter’s needs first. I love being her mum and she is still so young. I juggled my career around her the best I could, with her attending nursery and grandparents helping out along the way, but I held a lot of responsibility managing two Ofsted-rated ‘outstanding’ nurseries, and worked very long hours to make it possible.
With starting my own business it has released some of the pressures around time management because I am the master of my own life – it does mean working funny hours, sometimes late into the night, or in the evenings and at weekends but it also means I can pick my daughter up from school and take her for a cheeky ice cream or a play in the park. We go on play dates after school so I’m involved in what matters in her life and we have a balance that works for our family around her needs and my husband’s work/home balance. They are my biggest fans and have been such a huge support to me.
Don’t get me wrong – it is still a juggle, and sometimes when a big nursery project comes in I may not be around for a week, with family and friends stepping into the breach. But I know the next week I’ll clear my diary to have the time at home. This does mean I’ve had to have firm boundaries for myself and sometimes learn to say ‘No thanks’. But that is the plus of working for myself – still doing what I love, getting to offer my experience to a wider audience AND having time to prioritise my family.
Since setting up your business what’s been your biggest success to date?
My biggest success isn’t my own but the success of the families and settings I have spent time with. Seeing that moment when an adult’s understanding changes or deepens, hearing what settings and parents have to say about how my advice has changed their practise or their family relationships and behaviours for the better, or witnessing a moment between an adult and child and seeing the changes they’ve made. I couldn’t ask for a more wonderful experience and feel very privileged that parents and practitioners trust me to be a part of their journey. The parents and settings I have worked with are my biggest advocates with new clients looking for support, which is very reassuring.
What are your top tip for anyone who is thinking about setting up their own business?
Dream BIG. I think it’s really important to push your boundaries and comfort zones and be confident to try all avenues. You have to have total faith in yourself and your abilities, otherwise you can’t expect anyone else to. If you have taken the leap and invested in yourself don’t sell yourself short – go for it! But also, be kind to yourself – not every opportunity is going to come to fruition and all businesses take time to develop and grow. Trust yourself and be authentic – keep your values steady because you are the face of your business, you are your own best asset.
You also have to take calculated risks – be willing to invest in ideas, concepts and business plans to stimulate growth, know how to run your business behind the scenes and continue to invest in yourself, particularly in my industry where there is such rapid growth in ideas and thinking. I am constantly looking for new avenues and updating my knowledge through courses, lectures, reading and networking. I don’t think you can ever become complacent working for yourself. There are never enough hours in the day to achieve everything you would like to – when you run your own business you are the head of every department.
Thank you so much Geri for taking part in my series it has been a pleasure to feature you.
If you like what you’re reading and would love to be part of my Parents in Business series just drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or have a nose at some of the other businesses I have featured in the series: Love Ladies Business Group, This Is Silk, and Broadway Kitchens