The ‘mumpreneur’ phenomenon and community action
It is perhaps a fact of life in our society that children force different working patterns on parents, particularly mothers, and not ones that many employers find palatable. It is much to the credit of women that they use their creativity and ingenuity to work around this problem by setting up businesses, to the extent that a new word has been created to describe them—‘mumpreneur’—and journalists have begun to seriously investigate the phenomenon, albeit not always without criticism. Many of these businesses display a social conscience and community responsibility consistent with an awareness of the difficulties mums face.
Mothers Hub is one such enterprise, set up by Angie Hicks, who gave up teaching after having her second child. As with many mumpreneur businesses, it both reflects her desire for a career that, in Angie’s own words, ‘worked with my new lifestyle’ and ‘put down some solid roots within my community’.
Mothers Hub is a shop in Wood Street, E17 (which was until two years ago a fairly derelict part of Walthamstow) that sells baby and young children’s clothing, along with accessories, toys and gifts. The products are primarily British and are locally sourced and ethically produced. The shop is also home to over 20 local designers who have their own businesses; many are, according to Angie, ‘mums who didn’t return to their careers after having children, who instead chose to start their own small business’.
I went to talk to Angie at Mothers Hub on a Friday, and walked into a jumble of bodies, which was in fact a very lively session of Little Musical Adventures (10 to 11am). It was particularly packed because one of the local schools had its roof blown off in a storm and was shut for two days. Lucky for Angie then that she could take her own daughter, who goes to the school, to her shop (it beats trying to explain to your employer why you need yet more time off), and lucky for all the other mums that they had something to go to so their kids wouldn’t get bored.
There is something on at Mothers Hub every morning of the week apart from Sundays, with activities including baby massage, Magic Box (drama and storytelling sessions), Hola Chicos (introducing babies and young children to Spanish through songs and games), and Saturday Art Club. The classes are run by professionals—who are also local parents—and it’s a great chance for parents to get a bit of a mental break while their children are entertained.
The sessions have a lovely, friendly atmosphere, and afterwards you can visit one of the local cafés (Lot 107 is very child-friendly), go to the recently renovated playground, or visit the indoor second-hand and artisan market. As a package it makes for an excellent few hours’ entertainment, and also supports local women who are really making a difference.
Parking: There are reasonable amounts of paid parking spaces (£1.30 per hour, for up to two hours) on the main road and chunks of the side roads in Wood Street Monday to Friday. You can also park at Homebase with some time restrictions. On Saturday there is copious and free parking on many of the side roads, such as Wyatt’s Lane and Havant Road.