As parents of a five, three and one year old, one of the best presents that my husband and I received for Christmas, was a cinema voucher – a rare treat these days.
As a lover of musicals since first being enthralled with the swirling gingham dresses in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, at His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen, circa 1985, Les Miserables was the obvious choice. Despite the muffled sobs (and some full on weeping) surrounding us in the cinema, the message that love is the most precious thing was in no doubt, in particular, the love of Fantine for her daughter, and Valjean for his surrogate children. Alongside this, our other current favourite televisual viewing, Borgen, reinforces the importance of trying to get the work/life balance right in relation to your children.
For me, watching the film came at just the right time, to remind me why I became a kilt maker in the first place. Similarly to many thousands of mums, when my first child came along, and the prospect of returning to work loomed, something had changed. I no longer wanted to work late to get things off my desk. I did it, but I grudged the time a little, as I was missing out on time with my child. I still enjoyed the basic job, and I certainly enjoyed the adult company, which I wouldn’t appreciate fully until later, but not the time away from my baby.
I made the decision to train as a kilt maker, as the Keith Kilt School was in my home town, I had always enjoyed sewing, and a new course was starting at just the right time. It was one of these moments in life when things just fall into place. It hasn’t been an easy journey by any means, and there are many many things that I miss about being employed, but as with every family, we made the decision that seemed right for us at the time, and we have to cope with the disadvantages as well as enjoy the benefits.
Fast forward to last Friday, and a new website, Made By Mums With Love was launched. The site sells handmade products – all made by mums, including Bare Knees baby and toddler kilts. I was quickly impressed by the highly professional approach of the two women behind the site. Lousie and Lesley have been working on the site for months leading up to the launch, and had prepared a mammoth guide for sellers, on how to upload products etc. For those of us who are more familiar with Pixar short films than pixels, it was an excellent step by step guide which made an otherwise massively lengthy process, manageable.
Made by Mums With Love is a great opportunity to launch some new products onto the market, and for consumers to find something a little different from mass produced, on every high street in the country, items. The website has a superb collection of imaginative, unique products. If the other mums selling through the site are like me (and I suspect many are), they didn’t go into business expecting to make millions. Each product made and sold is a point towards confirming that leaving the safety of being employed was the right decision for them. Les Mis and Borgen have both, this week, reminded me that life is what you make it. You have to make difficult decisions to fit your own circumstances, and what is right for one family, is not necessarily right for the next, but I hope those reading have a look at the Made by Mums website, and remember it the next time that they are looking for a unique gift – each one really is made with love.