Being a single mother and a business owner…how do you do it?

Hello Shibumi lovers! It’s Sophie here and to celebrate Mother’s Day this year I wanted to write about Shibumi’s amazing founder and owner, Ruth. As I’m sure most of you know, Ruth has a beautiful daughter called Coco, what you may not know is that she raises Coco and runs Shibumi single handed-ly! Even in this day and age there is still some stigma attached to being a single mother, but I think that it’s time we started celebrating the amazing Mothers of this world who not only raise wonderful children by themselves but manage to create successful and inspiring businesses at the same time. 

With that being said, I cornered Ruth to ask her what it’s like to be a Mother to both Coco and Shibumi and to get her top tips for other mums considering making a change and starting a business of their own.

What are some of the things you’ve found challenging with running a business and being a mother? How did you overcome them?

Haha.. that's a big question! Zillions of things! ( big deep breath ) Ok no really I guess the hardest challenge is definitely finding the right people to work with in business; if you have the right team alongside you then your heart is so much more engaged in the whole thing. When you work with people you can trust, then it leaves me with breathing space to concentrate on spending more time with Coco without worrying. Working with a team in India can also have its challenges! It is a completely different culture and work ethic and you need to cultivate a lot of patience which I have managed and it's turned out be to a great gift. I overcome my challenges by trusting my intuition, if something feels right, do it , if something doesn't ; don't! Working with a team abroad has definitely taught me as said the gift of patience but also humility and the importance of good communication and I feel blessed with the amazing relationships have been built there, of course at times I have taken it to the edge of giving it all up as it has felt like too much to juggle it all but then something happens or someone says something so positive and my passion and inspiration is ignited again.

Yes I'm human so of course I can feel the pressure of being responsible for everything within the business and raising a child on my own; however when you love then nothing seems too much of an effort, my love for my daughter gives me the drive to make it work even when its tough. Also when you feel you are just meant to be doing something and you feel the 'rightness' of it then it's easy in a way but you have to have your heart in what you do and luckily I do.

Having your own company, especially one where you can design anything you want does mean I sometimes have to watch the ‘excited creative flair’ that I get! It’s easy to get over-enthusiastic with new ideas and get too stretched with wanting to do too much at once. My business coach, Heather has really helped me to learn to compartmentalize and make sure that I don’t get overwhelmed with too many ideas at once. There is lots to say but I don't want to make for too much reading here.. in a nutshell ; You have to ask for support when needed, trust your intuition and believe in yourself and the rest follows.

What is the hardest thing about being a business owner and a single mum?

The hardest thing is definitely balancing the two, trying to do both well without one distracting from the other. Setting boundaries and having good time keeping is really important but easier said than done! The other thing I find tricky is never having a break; I’m either running the business or being a mum, there are rarely points where I don’t have either to attend to but Sophie is always trying to help me find space for myself!

What is the BEST thing about being a business owner and a single mum?

Having the freedom to be myself and express myself in a creative way that is nourishing for Coco and I. I hope to inspire Coco to do the same and see that if you believe in yourself, you can do anything. I also get to make my own decisions and I’m not dependant on anyone else for my success or happiness. There is a lot of freedom in that. Being able to support Coco is a huge driving factor for me and I love the life we have together. I hope also that I can be an inspiration to other single mothers, and mothers out there that if you have a vision of something that you want to do, really believe in yourself and make the steps , even if they are tiny steps to make it happen, then let go of the outcome but trust then you will be surprised what magic can happen. I had nothing when I started, I was living in India and not a penny to my name and Shibumi just happened! But that's another story....

What piece of advice do you wish you’d been given 10 years ago?

Make sure you plan time off and give yourself time to breathe! Make sure you run the business, it doesn’t run you. Trust yourself to make the right decisions; you know more than you think you do! Lots of people are quick to offer advice but be true to your vision and keep your business in line with your values. I really do think I’ve achieved this.

What inspires you to keep the business going when it gets really hard?

Of course Coco but also ( and I know this might sound soppy but ) the truth is it’s my passion to want to help other people, not just through our charity work but also in helping people to feel beautiful from within and to have the courage to wear beautiful colour. I really do feel that Shibumi was a gift and it feels like something I was destined to do but never planned, the best things always come to you when you let go and allow life to happen. In the hard times, it’s my customers positive words and emails that I receive that just make it all so worthwhile. Thank you!

Tell me about travelling to India with Coco, she’s always gone with you. Was this a choice or a necessity?

Choice! Coco was ‘Made in India’ and I never even considered that she wouldn’t come with me. She has always been with me and is an integral part of the business; having Shibumi meant I could raise Coco by myself so they are really symbiotic.

How involved is Coco in Shibumi now? Would you like her to be a part of the business in the future?

Coco loves designing and she’s an incredibly talented artist, she gets it from my mother! She has already designed fabrics for the business but I would never push her to do this; it’s entirely her choice whether she’s involved or not. I think she would love to have her own collection soon though! I’m certainly not waiting for her to take over the business, it’s her choice.

What are your hopes for the future of Shibumi?

Continuing the business in an ethical, sustainable and responsible way will always be at the forefront of what we do. I would love to get involved with other designers, supporting artisans and women’s cooperatives would be amazing. Spreading beauty and colour will always be the philosophy of Shibumi, and helping people is paramount. My hopes for Shibumi is that it won’t just be a clothing brand, Shibumi will become a way of life. The word means ‘beauty in simplicity’ and I want to inspire people to live with that as their mantra.

We really hope that this has been an interesting read and perhaps inspired you to take the plunge and start your own business. It’s certainly not easy but is definitely rewarding and there are plenty of ways to make it work. Coco is most definitely Ruth’s driving force behind the success of Shibumi and it really wouldn’t be the same without our mini Shibumi mascot on the team! Are you a single parent running a business? Do get in touch and let’s see if we can work together!