Doing business differently can seem challenging when so many “experts” want to show you that it can only be done one way. Today, I am delighted to share an interview with Kerry Flanagan a fascinating woman who can also teach us a lot about working to our own individual strengths and living our lives our way.
Please describe your childhood and teenage years
I am the second eldest in a family with four children. My parents were both teachers and were dedicated to supporting us through any extra curricular activity we wanted to pursue. Most weekends were spent travelling half the country for cross country running events or track and field in the summer. They always encouraged us to follow our passions.
I was a very shy child in my younger years, lacking in confidence much of the time. It was often easier for me to hide quietly behind the commotions in a large family, rather than to take the main stage. Anything creative such as drawing and painting was where I felt at ease. I also had a great affection for animals and had dreams of one day being a vet but with not being in the slightest bit academic at school this wasn’t to be. Like so many children I struggled at exams and was disengaged with anything scientific or mathematical. I did manage to persuade my parents to get us some kittens though!
I had a very happy childhood with holidays camping in France and Wales and trips to stay with family in Cornwall – still a place I love to visit with my own children now. My grandparents lived in London and we would take it in turns to go and visit for the occasional weekend. It was a real treat being taken to see all of the sites but I do remember being homesick quite often!
What was your first job/career
I graduated from university with a degree in graphic design and was fortunate enough to get a job straight away at a large branding consultancy in London. Here I worked for some big clients with big budgets and tight deadlines. It was a fast pace of life and I gained a huge amount of experience in the corporate world. This set me in good stead when setting up my own agency which I did 6 years later.
What gave you the confidence to do things differently in life and business?
My husband has always had his own business and I’ve learnt such a lot from his approach of not being afraid to take risks. Sure we’ve had lots of challenges along the way but if things don’t go to plan, I watched him quickly accepting situations and learning from the experience. This gave me great confidence to follow in his footsteps and join him in the business, which I did in 2011.
We are part of the Entrepreneurs Institute http://entrepreneursinstitute.com/home/ which has taught us to work to our own individual strengths and personalities. We are not meant to be good at every aspect of business and as soon as I understood this, I stopped giving myself a hard time that I couldn’t do numbers, or working on processes wears me out! We now get the right people in for the job and it’s transformed the way we work.
Tell us more about what your business does
My husband and I provide print to order merchandise for influencers who want to play a bigger game in the world with our company https://www.tshirtify.com. Our clients tend to be creative types such as successful artists and musicians who have built a business based on their passion or talent. They have often got stuck running that business and are not able to spend their time doing what they love anymore.
With tried and tested services from our own online Tshirt store, we’re able to take the hassle out of running e-commerce businesses for our clients. We give them back time, revenue and help them grow their businesses and identities. For example, one of our clients is an artist who was so busy answering customer phone calls and emails that he only had one day a week to create his illustrations. Since working with us he now has four days back of his week to be creative and engage more with his fans. This has resulted in doubled sales over the recent festive period compared to that of the previous year. He’s also now able to have a bigger impact in the world by using much more sustainable products and supporting the Global Giving Initiative Buy1 Give1 (B1G1) with every sale https://www.b1g1.com.
Who has supported you as you developed your business?
My husband has been a tremendous support in everything I do. We run our businesses together and I’m so grateful to him for sharing the big decisions and creating a business we are truly proud of together.
Our families have also been fantastic – they help out with child care, especially when we’ve needed to travel for business. Our parents are such an inspiration for my son and daughter, they are so lucky to have four wonderful grandparents that are such positive role models in their lives.
My children are the reason I get up every morning and my inspiration for never giving up. I want to show them that as long as they have their purpose, they can achieve whatever they want in life. They come with us for business conferences when possible and we’ve recently returned from South Africa with the Entrepreneurs Institute. They got to see all sorts of wildlife and visit children in a local school and witness the little that they have in material terms.
How do you juggle business and family time?
When my children were younger I used to work every hour I had around their sleeps and play groups but this wasn’t the most productive way of working and would often lead to burn out. Now the children are at school it’s got easier to work to a routine but it is still challenging to fit everything in. I’ve had to learn to that being ‘busy’ isn’t a good thing and structuring my days to work by energies makes this a lot easier. This has come through our learnings with the the Entrepreneurs Institute and is based on the ancient Chinese I-Ching system. Mondays are numbers day, Tuesdays are for bigger vision work, Wednesdays are creative day, Thursdays for connections and Fridays are time to catch up with the team and clients.
Weekends are now for family time and we try and do some sort of a family adventure on a Sunday. We also involve the children in planning out our future by creating a family adventure board. So far my daughter has been pony riding and son has been rock climbing this year.
Time as a couple is very important to us too and we’ve recently starting using a babysitter once a month who is brilliant. We’ve never wanted to burden our parents with having the children at the weekends as they help us out so much during the week, which meant it was a rare occasion to leave the house together on an evening! It feels great to have that flexibility to be able to go to out for a meal or to the cinema when we want now. Watching a movie is definitely the one type of night out I missed the most – something you never get to do when having young children!
What does it mean to be “rich” in life?
To be ‘rich’ in life for me is to have the freedom to travel and experience new things as often as possible. Of course money can allow you that freedom but I strive only to have enough to live a comfortable life. What’s more important is setting up our roles in the business so that we can work from wherever we want in the world. My children are only just starting out at school, so we’re restricted by holidays at the moment but I’d love to be able to take each school break off with them and travel somewhere new.
How are you changing the world and how would you like to in the future?
We are proud to be partners with Global Giving Initiative Buy1 Give (B1G1) https://www.b1g1.com With each t-shirt that rolls off the press, we contribute an essential education pack for children in Cambodia. This giving back is so meaningful for us as it not only does good in the world, but creates a strong sense of connection for our team, clients and their customers. Last year we gave over 120,000 impacts to great projects in this way and our target in 2018 is to reach over 500,000. Our big purpose is Quality Education and we’re currently working on an enterprise package to deliver into schools in UK. I would love to take this concept to third world countries where youths wouldn’t otherwise have access to business education.
If you could give one tip to a woman who wants to do things differently, what would it be?
Put your intentions down on paper. At the start of each year I write my 12 month vision for where I want to be with the business, family and personal achievements and it’s amazing what comes true once you’ve set the intent!
If you could recommend one book to a woman what would it be and why?
Meaningful – The Story of Ideas That Fly by Bernadette Jiwa. Although not specifically for women this book is for anyone with their own business, trying to put meaning into what they’re doing and to connect to their audience. Bernadette has a memorable way with words and has taught me to fall in love with our customers and not our products.
If you could recommend one website to a woman what would it be and why?
http://www.selfishmother.com has to be my favourite blog site for women facing the everyday struggles of having a family. It’s raw and real and so often features topics that hit the nail right on the head. I‘m sure thousands, if not millions of other women can relate to these stories like I do. They also do brilliant merchandise!
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