20 Years Of Business, 3 Kids And The Maze Of Managing A Busy Lifestyle…
I’m Lisa Follows, founder and principal decorator of Bella Curtains & Soft Furnishings, plus busy mum of three kids. After 20 years of running my own business, my journey has all the challenges of building a successful business along with raising a young family & managing a busy lifestyle.
Where It All Began…….
My bespoke furnishings company started as a super small scale side hustle when on maternity leave with my daughter who is about to turn 21! 2 more children later and the business has grown an enterprise with 4 employees and over 15 subcontractors, a boutique showroom, executing projects in the hospitality, medical, educational, government & residential spaces. We have taken our services all over NSW (Australia) and on occasion around different states.
My small side hustle of 5 hours per week has morphed into a business that has grown alongside my 3 kids. Juggling the household, life admin, busy children, health appointments, holidays, school commitments, sport & activities are the familiar set of responsibilities busy families know all too well. For me it was a huge learning curve. Now with 2 kids in Uni and 1 finishing off high school I have surfed the wave of it all.
Overwhelm… Where Do I Start!
So, pretty early on I realised to achieve my professional goals, while raising children and running a household, I was going to need the village as they say! From the early days, childcare was the paramount issue, and the more my family grew and my business expanded, this became even more pressing. A range of childcare and pre-school options were good but then nannies at home were really a great addition to my childcare needs. I have had some amazing childcare educators and Uni students help me with childcare and school holidays over the years.
House Clean & Full Fridge… Almost There!
When feeling that I was never going to conquered my never ending list of “to do” when my kids were small, I got into a groove, that if the main cleaning and washing were up to date plus food was in the fridge then my household was ticking the most important boxes. This is where having cleaners, housekeeping help & the groceries delivered all helped streamline things. I would re-scheduled these automatically so those tabs were closed in the brain.
The Extras When Work Ramps Up…
During really busy periods of project delivery in my business I focused on outsourcing more household chores. Meal prep services for a few weeks here and there were a lifesaver. An ironing service, especially during winter when all 3 kids were wearing long sleeve collared shirts was so fabulous when deadlines at work were closing in. These types of services just gave me extra back up when income was up and time was stretched.
Now I’ve Got Roommates Not Little Kids…
Now my husband and I have the pleasure (and strain!) of living with 2 adults and an older teenager. So while the shift around what I need to run the family and my business has shifted there is still that mountain that stands before me most weeks but it looks a bit different these days! The kids are good with contribution to the chores, but I still outsource help especially when times at capacity within the business. These days that might look like booking some extra household help, the window cleaner, dog groomer, more purchases through online stores rather than in store shopping, using as many online booking systems to lock in personal appointments or even booking an oven/BBQ clean.
THE Calendar… My Mini Lifesaver
In the last 21 years one thing that really stands out is my love of the calendar! For me it has everything from my client appointments, kids school events, all the sport, family events, bills to pay, staff meetings, time management blocking, project tasks, small shopping lists and of course the general “to do” list. Honestly it’s a mish mash of all things professional & personal. But it’s all there for me to handle & see! Electronic or paper… Whatever works for you, if you just log it all there consistently, a quick 10 minutes each night reviewing makes for your next day to be a success from the get-go!
What Can I Do Today To Conquer Managing It All?
Find your pain point task. Outsource just that & free up this time to work in or on your business. You will be amazed at how you feel and then build up your outsourcing from there one task at a time.
Do you outsource some of your tasks or are you still trying to fit it all in?
Leave me a comment below…
About The Author
Lisa Follows has been in the textiles, interiors and soft furnishings industry for over 25 years. Starting a traineeship in 1997, she was a finalist for NSW Trainee of the Year for her studies & training in soft furnishings.
After working for large companies in the residential and commercial arenas, managing large teams and delivering an array of projects. Lisa had the lightbulb moment to start her own business in 2003 while on maternity leave with her first child.
After a small side hustle start up approach, Lisa has taken her business, Bella Curtains, to become an industry leader, working on many residential, hospitality, educational, health & government sector projects. She and her team have developed a systemised approach for the customer service journey aiming for excellence in delivery of bespoke custom made creations.
Now with a comprehensive showroom in Castle Hill, Sydney, Bella Curtains showcases over 30,000 in house samples of drapery & upholstery fabrics from mills and suppliers all over the world.
In 2022 Bella Curtains launched the Bella Curtains Student Fabric Scheme, addressing the business’ environmental impact and sustainability issues, by donating excess overflow product and freighting these fabrics at the cost of Bella Curtains to the designers of the future. Bella Curtains is passionate in assisting any student whose geography and/or finances make access to resources required for their studies difficult to navigate.
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