This week I’m delighted to introduce Shazia who created Third Door to my Parents in Business series. Third Door is a family friendly coworking space with an Ofsted registered nursery attached. This space sounds amazing, and something as a work-at-home-mum I definitely need to help manage the days when I need the childcare.
I have absolutely loved featuring Shazia on the blog, I love her approach to the business and why she set it up, plus I love reading about her passion to keep fighting for flexibility for working parents. So if you’ve stumbled across this blog post, please do have a read of my interview with Shazia, I promise you it’s a good one….
Tell me a little bit about you, your background, and your business?
A few months after I had my first child back in 2007, I knew one thing for certain; I wanted to return to work and further my career. However, like most new mums, I was reluctant to be far from my baby and wanted somewhere I could work in peace whilst my little one was cared for nearby. My husband was also studying for a self-funded MBA at the time and therefore his working hours weren’t what you might call ‘traditional’ hours either. Yet as hard as we looked, nowhere seemed to offer us a workable solution to our childcare conundrum. So, we decided to take matters into our own hands. As such, a year later, me and my husband, Yusuf, decided to set up Third Door, the UK’s first coworking space with an onsite flexible nursery.
In fact, my husband even decided to base his dissertation on the concept of a coworking space with onsite nursery – he was that invested in it. Ultimately, he understood the concept from the start, not least because he was living and breathing it, after all, what had been his office was now the baby’s bedroom and he was pacing up and down the living room trying to make work calls over the sounds of a vocal baby!
As Third Door has grown over the past 11 years, I have watched with interest as the concept has become more widely understood. And of course, I have been very interested to see how others have tried to replicate the concept (which I have welcomed). Demand for flexible childcare has grown as careers become less tied to traditional nine to five office hours, and remote or flexible working becomes more widespread. In addition, the rise of freelancing and self-employment has also increased, with 1 in 7 of all self-employed people being working mums* (594,000). Parents love the fact that at Third Door you can simply subscribe to a bundle of childcare hours per month and use them as they need, depending on their work schedule or holiday plans. For example, parents can sign up for as little as 30 hours a month, or in contrast can sign up full time which especially works for employed parents. And most importantly all parents can flex up or down depending on their needs, swap days or even buy adhoc days if on a fixed day package. It’s been amazing to see our vision really take off and parents even travelling across London for our offering.
What were your motivations for setting up your business?
Most of all Third Door has been about removing the parenthood penalty and creating a better work/ life balance for mums and dads. Our vision has always been to create a community of like minded individuals and join them all together as a force for good. And this is exactly what I want to continue to do with Third Door. I’m committed to creating a movement to bring about a change in the culture of working families, where it is normal to work near your children and also focus on your own career. As such, I want to encourage many more to join our movement of creating places where family and work can grow together and hopefully in the process remove the parenthood penalty altogether.
How do you balance the business around your family and childcare?
Since setting up your business what has been your biggest success to date?
What’s your top tip for anyone who is thinking about setting up their own business?
I would say, just don’t go into setting up a business without doing your research. Speak to people in your field, ask those who have set up businesses what it is really like to run a business around a family. And if you go ahead with it, then invest! Invest in your personal development, marketing and childcare so you can give your business the attention it needs.
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: Hartbeeps North Kent, Mosaico and Mockingbird Makes.