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Like Mother, Like Daughter: Meet 5 Mother-Daughter Business Duos

To celebrate Mother’s Day, we talk to five mother-daughter business duos and find out why they decided to set up shop together, and what it’s really like working side-by-side…

Ruth and Sally: Matilda & Quinn


Ruth and Sally: Matilda & Quinn

1. Please tell us briefly about yourself, your daughter and your business. What are your roles at Matilda & Quinn?

Ruth (mum): I was semi-retired before I started working with my daughter. I had worked in businesses in the past but never in design and manufacturing.

My daughter was a City solicitor at the time but her real passion was for garment construction and design. We decided to start Matilda & Quinn as a response to our own experience of finding it near impossible to find the clothes that we wanted to buy.

Sally is primarily involved with the design of our collections but we generally share a lot of the roles – we go to international textile shows together to select fabrics, we liaise and work closely with our manufacturers on sampling and production and we share in the number crunching too. It’s a wonderful feeling to be creating something whilst at the same time working with my daughter.

2. If you were your daughter’s age again, what business and life advice would you give her?

Ruth: I would encourage her to do what makes her happy in life and business and to persevere and never give up.

3. Complete this sentence: “My daughter makes the perfect business partner because…”

Ruth: I can trust her 110% in a way that I do not think you can trust people who are not your immediate family. I would also add the fact that she has a background in law brings a useful perspective when we are entering new contracts. She is also a very good saleswoman!


4. Is there anything you would change about working with your daughter?

Ruth: The downside of working with family is the fact that we share many character traits, including quite stubborn personalities, which can lead to a stalemate when we disagree on something.

5. Why did you decide to go into business with your mum?

Sally (daughter): Matilda & Quinn was born as a result of me and my mum realising we were looking for the same kind of garment – a multi-scenario dress at an affordable luxury price. We were both looking for wearable dresses with sleeves that were stylish and individual but couldn’t seem to find them anywhere.

We cover a broad age range between us which I think is very positive as we are able to bring different perspectives to the business. When we are working on our collections and deciding which styles will make the final cut we ask ourselves if we’d both wear the dress. If the answer is yes, we know it’s a winner.

6. What advice would you give to women who are thinking about setting up a business and want to find a business partner?

Sally: Finding the right business partner is no easy feat. You need to work with someone who brings complementary skills that will help grow the business. You also need to be very clear at the outset as to how the workload will be divided between you and what sort of commitment each party is willing and able to make. Do you both have the same short to medium term vision for the business? It’s essential that you’re on the same page. You also need to consider whether you can get along with the person day to day – you’re likely to spend a lot of time with them so this is really important. Working with family does have the advantage of being able to be straight down the line with someone.

7. What does being in business with your mum mean to you?

Sally: It’s great to feel we are growing a family business that we both feel passionate about. Central to the ethos of our brand is ethical production and making our garments here in England. It’s good to be making our shared vision a reality.

8. Is there anything you would change about working with your mum?

Sally: I would probably make her more of a morning person!



Shiloh PR: Evadney and Karen


Evadney and Karen: Shiloh PR

1. Please tell us briefly about yourself, your daughter and your business. What are your roles at Shiloh PR?

Evadney (mum): I have been in the media industry since 1987, when I became the first black female presenter on BBC Radio Gloucestershire, presenting and producing an African Caribbean radio magazine programme, ‘Black Echo’.

In 1994, I was awarded an MBE for services to the African and Caribbean Communities in Gloucester. After gaining a Post Graduate Diploma in Broadcast Journalism, I joined the BBC full-time at Radio Bristol as a Broadcast Journalist. In 2001, moved to carry out another journalist role for BBC London Radio.

In 2013, my daughter, Karen and I formerly launched Shiloh PR, a public relations and media training company. I now carry out media training for Shiloh PR clients, in addition to working on Shiloh PR projects.Karen and I have always been very close, and since she moved to London to work for the BBC, we’ve become even closer. This could be due to the fact that we are the only two members of our family living in London, or that we have both worked for the BBC, giving us more in common. It was this that led to us initially doing PR for friends, and eventually resulted in the formal setting up of Shiloh PR Ltd.

We both take active roles in Shiloh PR. I’m now concentrating on working full-time building the company, whilst Karen, who continues to work full-time for another media outlet, creates the press releases and manages all the technical aspects such as maintaining the website, developing social media strategies, as well as managing all our social media outlets.

2. If you were your daughter’s age again, what business and life advice would you give her?

Evadney: I would tell her to find out what she’s passionate about and make that her career. I would advise her that the joy she felt from volunteering with the community could be enjoyed daily as a career. Since leaving the BBC to concentrate on running Shiloh PR, I have not actually ‘worked’ a day, even though I’m probably putting twice the number of hours into the business. I am thoroughly enjoying each moment, however challenging some are. I would advise her not to let fear stop her doing anything she dreams of. I would tell her to live life to the full.


3. Complete this sentence: “My daughter makes the perfect business partner because…”

Evadney: Together we are able to form a whole package for our clients.

4. Is there anything you would change about working with your daughter?

Evadney: I wish she could work alongside me full-time.

5. Why did you decide to go into business with your mum?

Karen (daughter): With our combined media experience and contacts, we kind of fell into doing PR on a casual basis, but after a while, we both spoke about making a real go of it formally and agreed it would be a good idea.

I probably trust mum more than any other person in the world, so thought that if I were to go into business with anyone, she would definitely be the best person. I also have a huge amount of respect for her media experience and our skills compliment each other really well, so help to provide a great balance for the type of work we do.

6. What advice would you give to women who are thinking about setting up a business and want to find a business partner?

Karen: Find someone you trust and who is just as determined to succeed as you are. Also, be realistic about what that person will bring to the business and ensure that you are both happy with the details of the partnership.

7. What does being in business with your mum mean to you?

Karen: It means a lot to me that I am able to work with my mother in this way, and to feel that we are both working towards success with the company.

I also know that she has my best interests at heart.

8. Is there anything you would change about working with your mum?

Karen: One of the only downsides of working with mum is that sometimes it’s difficult to separate business from personal feelings if we disagree on some points.



Yours Sustainably: Lynn and Jessica


Lynn and Jessica: Yours Sustainably

1. Please tell us briefly about yourself, your daughter and your business. What are your roles at Yours Sustainably?

Lynn (mum): Both Jessica and I share a love of craft & design, with an interest in the environment.

I was fortunate enough to be able to stay at home as my children grew up and our business is my first venture into the world of work in over 30 years. After university, Jessica spent nearly six years in Cairo working for a social enterprise company and, while she was there, the idea for Yours Sustainably – to source the best in sustainable design from around the world and support small craft based enterprises and charities – was born. All our home and fashion accessories must fill our criteria of being either eco-friendly, sustainable, fair-trade, recycled or charity based. I run the day to day business, including the social media, while Jessica, who is currently studying for a MA in Fashion Futures at The London College of Fashion, uses her expertise in design and IT.

2. If you were your daughter’s age again, what business and life advice would you give her?

Lynn: Take every opportunity offered to you, be open, and continue to smile… it works wonders.

3. Complete this sentence: “My daughter makes the perfect business partner because…”

Lynn: We have similar ideals and aspirations, plus she loves tea and cake as much as me!

4. Is there anything you would change about working with your daughter?

Lynn: It’s very hard to switch off from always thinking about the business. Giving each other more space would sometimes be beneficial!


5. Why did you decide to go into business with your mum?

Jessica (daughter): Because we share lots of similar interests, such as craft and design, and both care about sustainable issues. I was considering starting my own business importing goods from the Middle East, but on a research trip to a UK trade fair we found ourselves ready to work together. It was a very natural decision.

6. What advice would you give to women who are thinking about setting up a business and want to find a business partner?

Jessica: I would suggest that you are very clear on how much time you can both commit to the business and be prepared to develop new skills to complement each other.

7. What does being in business with your mum mean to you?

Jessica: It means I know that no matter what happens, we will support each other as ultimately family is the most important thing.

8. Is there anything you would change about working with your mum?

Jessica: No, I don’t think so!



Unreal: Laura and Liz


Liz and Laura: Unreal

1. Please tell us briefly about yourself, your daughter and your business. What are your roles at Unreal?

Liz (mum): I started spray tanning after some terrible disasters elsewhere about 14 years ago. I couldn’t believe how awful I looked! I basically got myself trained up and then taught myself a bit about formulation and eventually, after many years working with other brands, came up with my own formulation and Unreal Sunless was born.

Laura is 25 years old and after completing her degree in Business and Marketing, she went off to work for some prestigious companies such as Apple, and a small local company. Alongside this she was already helping me with Unreal. I cover all technical aspects of the business, such as product formulation, regulatory and training, and Laura looks after all the PR, marketing and social media, and gets involved with the design elements of the packaging. All the arty stuff which I hate!

2. If you were your daughter’s age again, what business and life advice would you give her?

Liz: I’d tell her to enjoy herself whilst she has no responsibilities and do everything she wants to do. Eventually you stumble on the “thing” that becomes all consuming (like Unreal) and you don’t have time for anything else. She pretty much has followed this advice so far, having just gone away and come back again after 9 months travelling in Central and South America.

3. Complete this sentence: “My daughter makes the perfect business partner because…”

Liz: She understands how I work. I can become distracted with one project and totally concentrate on that, forgetting about the other things. She reminds me firmly that I need to attend to other matters as well! Other staff don’t feel they can do this at times.

4. Is there anything you would change about working with your daughter?


Liz: Not really. She is gradually getting more and more involved in other areas, which is great because it will soon be my time to go travelling!

5. Why did you decide to go into business with your mum?

Laura (daughter): We both have deathly pale skin and a history of skin cancer in the family, so we just can’t sit in the sun. Mum and I tried out several spray tans (I was usually the guinea pig) and some of the colours I ended up would’ve given the Dulux colour chart a run for its money. We just knew we could do better than this and began searching for a manufacturer who would make a bespoke solution that would look natural and contain no nasty ingredients; our solutions are totally free of alcohols, petrochemicals, artificial fragrances and colourants.

6. What advice would you give to women who are thinking about setting up a business and want to find a business partner?

Laura: Make sure you absolutely LOVE what you do. You can’t wake up in the morning and dread sitting down to work because you will end up hating it. You really have to have a driving passion for what you do because you don’t have a boss to discipline you if you slack off or decide not to do any work one day.

The same goes for when you’re choosing a business partner. He/she has to have the same enthusiasm and drive as you do. It’s also great if you have experience in different areas so your skills complement each other. For example, mum handles all the accounting, logistics, manufacturing etc, and I handle the PR, marketing and design side of things.

7. What does being in business with your mum mean to you?

Laura: It’s great because we aren’t afraid to tell each other what we really think. Sometimes in a company you may have more knowledge than your boss on a particular subject but it can be intimidating to tell someone you disagree with them if they outrank you. With mum and I, we are always very honest with what we think. If I design a new poster that she think isn’t right for us, she’ll tell me. And visa versa.

8. Is there anything you would change about working with your mum?

Laura: Nothing comes to mind. We have a great work/family relationship and are excited about the business moving forward every day.



Smudge Boutique: Alison, Lauren and Carina


Alison, Lauren and Carina: Smudge Boutique

1. Please tell us briefly about yourself, your daughters and your business. What are your roles at Smudge Boutique?

Alison (mum): I’m a mother of two beautiful daughters and a life long workaholic, having run various businesses. Now I’m lucky enough to work with both of them in the tough world of fashion. Smudge Boutique is a women’s clothing boutique based in West Kirby, Wirral, with an online shop too.

Smudge is the product of years of a family of fashionista’s setting trends and always looking “different”. Grandparents John and Patricia were renowned for being the cool kids, with Pat being able to create new pieces for herself and her three kids. It’s no surprise that we all now follow their lead. It’s a natural path to follow if it’s in your blood, and so that’s how we are here now!

A few years in and expanding rapidly with a big online presence, Lauren was persuaded to leave her TB career and join the expanding team. Lauren has brought with her a wealth of talent to Smudge and now heads up the brand marketing. Sister Carina is the head buyer, whilst I run the financials. The three of us make a great team.


2. If you were your daughters’ age again, what business and life advice would you give them?

Alison: If I were their age again, I would definitely be even more ambitious. If you have a dream and it’s realistic then follow it. You will make mistakes en route, but learn from them, work hard and never lose sight of why you are doing it. Family makes the world grow, and though you may not always agree with one another, respect each other, love each other and work hard, but never lose the ability to laugh.

3. Complete this sentence: “My daughters makes the perfect business partner because…”

Alison: They’re hardworking, honest, and never take their eyes off the ball. Plus we all know what’s best for each other so integrity is never an issue. Plus they’re smart, beautiful and loyal.

4. Is there anything you would change about working with your daughters?

Alison: I’d like to clone them so we can spend some more down time relaxing together.

5. Why did you decide to go into business with your mum?

Lauren and Carina (daughters): We had a great idea but knew we needed help, and mum had a wealth of experience in business, so we thought, perfect. Somebody we trust, who will let us be as creative as we want whilst supporting and making it a fantastic business.

6. What advice would you give to women who are thinking about setting up a business and want to find a business partner?

Lauren and Carina: The advice we would give is if you have a dream and you believe in it, go for it, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you need a partner, find somebody who has the same ambition and most of all, somebody you can trust.

7. What does being in business with your mum mean to you?

Lauren and Carina: The best thing about working with mum is getting to spend more time with her and enjoying successes with somebody so important at our side. Equally during the tough times and mini failures we know we have the best support to get through it and keep going. It means we know that no matter what happens, we will support each other as, ultimately, family is the most important thing.

8. Is there anything you would change about working with your mum?

Lauren and Carina: We would like a button to turn off work every now and again so we can spend quality time with mum without us always worrying about business. But the more successful we become, the less worries we have, so it’s all part and parcel of wanting something like this!

Written by:

Victoria is an award-winning writer with a penchant for pintxos (and pudding). Her days revolve around business, barre and bellinis. In reverse order.

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