Like many, Jo cut her teeth in PR in London before starting her own boutique agency. She also recently relocated to her home in Harrogate where she now juggles work, life and motherhood since having twins, Percy and Odile.
DESCRIBE YOUR AVERAGE WORKING DAY / WEEK
My average working day varies completely as the nature of PR is that you get different enquiries all the time! It’s part of what makes it so exciting. One day I might spend the day answering emails and compiling reports, another I’ll be in London for back-to-back meetings with my colleague Carly. We also occasionally have shoot days with some of our clients or a press day where the media come to look at our brands’ new collections. We held our Christmas in July event last week in a cool new London hotel, The Henrietta.
DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO BE YOUR OWN BOSS
Always. I grew up with parents who worked for themselves and it gave me an insight into what it’s like to be your own boss and have flexibility. It also opened my eyes to how challenging it can be at times. I’m so grateful for the experiences I had before setting up my own company but I don’t think I’d do it any other way now!
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT PR?
I rather fell into PR after finishing my degree. I always knew I wanted to work in media in some way but had previously set my sights on fashion journalism. I landed a PR job while in my final year at university and started straight away. It was a fast paced agency and I had some amazing experiences working directly with John Lewis who were my main client. Having worked predominantly on womenswear in the early days I worked on a few children’s brands at my second agency job and instantly loved it. The baby and kids world is more light hearted than fashion and I got on really well with the journalists and bloggers in this area. It led me to go in house at a big children’s retailer where I worked as a PR Manager before starting out on my own. With Carly’s help, I’ve built a company that is gradually becoming known for our expertise in the lifestyle sector and we have ten clients now! All our brands like Jem + Bea, The Bonnie mob and All by Mama are run by mums which I find really inspiring.
TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR RELOCATION FROM LONDON TO HARROGATE
We decided to leave London after getting married as we knew we wanted to start a family relatively soon and we wanted to be nearer my own family when we did that. Another reason we moved away was so we could buy a family home, which is obviously more difficult in London. It was a pretty easy decision to move to Harrogate because it’s where I grew up and as a town it’s a great place to bring up children. For the north, it’s also a relatively straightforward train ride down to London so we still have the connection which was important to both of us. Though he didn’t grow up there, Al my husband had always liked Yorkshire so we just went for it!
HOW DO YOU SUCCESSFULLY JUGGLE THE WORK / LIFE BALANCE?
At times it can be challenging but my husband and I are both based at home so we take it in turns to look after the babies while the other one works. At this age they still nap quite a lot so I make the most of these breaks to catch up too. These days I’ll often do a couple of hours of work once we’ve put them down before we have supper together. There are some things, like cleaning, that at this stage it’s best to delegate in order to be able to keep on top of my work and have the time I want to spend with my babies. I see working now as a small sacrifice for a long term gain – I’ll always be able to drop off and pick them up from nursery or school etc.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE
My style is quite simple and classic, but always with a feminine twist. I love details – whether it’s a bow, a ribbon ankle strap, a fluted sleeve or pretty neckline. I’m not a bright person so you’ll usually see me in neutrals with the odd muted colour. Currently my go-to shop is &Other Stories, I always find something in there that I like! I was so excited when they opened in Leeds. Since becoming a mum I find that I live in jeans and t shirts so I like to add interest to my outfit with a statement piece. I also love Whistles and if money was no object I’d shop at Isabel Marant! For our house I shop around and have found some great pieces from Cox & Cox, Wood/Grey and John Lewis. We’ve also sourced some antique/vintage pieces from Ripley Antiques Show and, when we were in London, we would always have a nosy around the local antiques places! I recently came across the Antiques and Curios showroom just outside of Harrogate which is great too. When it comes to skincare my routine is pretty basic. I use Avène cleanser/toner/moisturiser as the products are gentle and good for dry skin. I love also Jurlique rose face mist. At night I slather on Kiehl’s midnight oil which smells heavenly.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR PERFECT WEEKEND?
My perfect weekend would be spending time as a family, both us four and with our extended family. We’d probably go for a beautiful walk in the Yorkshire Dales or around Fewston reservoir, then on to a cosy pub for lunch or home for a roast. I love spring and autumn in Yorkshire as you really notice the changing of the seasons, which is something I missed when living in a city. The following day we’d maybe go into Harrogate for brunch at Hoxton North, and then I’d pop into my favourite new shop, Violet, for a look around. If we went out in the evening we’d go to La Feria for a delicious supper, I love their salads and sides and my husband loves the chicken so it’s a winner! We’d take the twins with us in the double buggy, they are really accommodating there!
If we were in London we’d maybe go down to Richmond with my sister and visit Petersham Nurseries, followed by lunch on the river. Or we’d head back to Blackheath where we used to live and wander around Greenwich park, go to the food market in Blackheath Village and eat out at Bianco 43 who do the most tasty pizza I’ve ever had!
WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
My mum (who retrained as a florist when I was 16) encouraged me to establish my career before I had children and this was something I was set on doing. Now I’m a mother, I can appreciate how much harder it is to change direction or begin a new career once you have children as they become your number one focus in life.