Katharine Howard, mummy to Amelie (3) and Aurelie (1) set up Katharine Howard Style Interior PR consultancy during maternity leave. Having worked for Conde Nast for 13 years, she decided to go it alone and says it’s the best decision she made. We had the pleasure of getting to know Katy in her gorgeous home in Peckham (SE15).
What tips would you give to women who want to the most of maternity leave?
Enjoy it, embrace it! For me, maternity leave felt like being on holiday. I saw friends, had fun, there wasn't a regime, nothing was on a schedule. I walked everywhere - I felt I had more time than ever before. I also learned to become much more efficient. Having always considered myself a reasonably successful multi-tasker, multi-tasking suddenly took on a whole new level. I now get ready in 15 mins - out of bed, hair & make up done, clothes on. Before Motherhood this episode used to take at least an hour & half...
Once babies are in the picture, you have to get up. There are no snooze buttons on Amelie & Aurelie, but I've grown accustomed and actually, astonishingly, get so much more done in a day now. Even after a big night, with a stinking hangover, when children are involved the show must go on! And it's amazing it really does!
So, my advice is to cherish every moment, bond with your beautiful baby and, if you find like me, you have some extra minutes in the day to work on a master plan, then do!
How, why and when did you decide to change your career?
During my maternity leave, like all mothers I fell truly madly deeply in love with my beautiful wonderful, enchanting new baby. The feeling was overwhelming. I wanted to protect her and never leave her. The thought of returning to work, even to my dream job, seemed heart-wrenching. I couldn't do it, but I had to work. I am not the stay-at-home mummy type. I hugely admire those that are, but for me it would be a disaster. At the same time, not being able to do breakfast and bath time would have been too unbearable.
By the time Amelie was 6 months old, I started to feel as though I could spend a little time working. I did a PR project for an interior designer to help launch his business and threw him a party. I got the bug and the cord was cut! From there, I picked up some talented, established and respected interior accounts - all brands I had worked with at Conde Nast and had admired and known for years. I was choosy about who I worked with from the beginning: only the best of the best who really have something special and beautiful to promote. Having integrity and believing in what you're doing - even when you could really do with an extra dollar or two - is the best advice I could give.
I was lucky that an American online magazine featured our house almost immediately, which brought me a fabulous client based in New York with a house in Scotland that needed designing. From here, various interior design jobs came my way and I'm about to start on two new projects. I am busier than ever, and work harder than ever, but love every minute. To me, it's the best of both worlds. I adore my clients and love the buzz of PR, especially when I'm representing such great brands.
What's your favourite local hangout in SE15 right now?
I adore Peckham! We are so lucky to have so many delicious haunts to choose from. For coffee and croissants it has to be Petitou. Scrambled eggs is also a fab choice for the girls and the salads and flat breads are yum. Miss Tapas is also a treat - authentic and delicious. If you go at 6pm for early dinner or for lunch, they happily welcome families, so we sit on the table outside which houses the pram perfectly. The white rioka & truffle croquettes are my faves. Artusi is utterly scrummy and the Begging Bowl is heaven - you leave having indulged in the most amazing flavours, feeling cleansed and refreshed. Have whatever they recommend because it's always a winner. And the children's chicken with green beans and sticky rice is always a hit!
Find out more about Katharine's interior business by visiting her website www.katharinehowardstyle.com.
If you've been inspired by Katy's story and want to hear tips from more Mums on how to make the most of the special time that is maternity leave...