Moms Doing It For Themselves: Samantha Kelly
Six years ago, Samantha Kelly was grieving, alone with two kids to support, struggling on the Carer’s Allowance. But she thought that she had something to give. Now she’s The Tweeting Goddess, running her own business and is also the owner of the Women’s Inspire Network. The world has become her oyster.
Tell me a bit about your background (education, career)
I am a mum of two girls and about six years ago my journey started when my dad had just passed away and my marriage had just failed, and I was hitting forty and my daughter was just about to start school. There was a lot going on with me. My eldest daughter came to that awkward milestone of her first period and I felt sorry for her, so I went down to the shop to buy her something nice to make it easier for her and saw that there were no starter sets for young girls. I just thought: ‘Why is there nothing that you can give them to ease them into this chapter of their lives?’ So, I got a little lightbulb moment, and because my dad had just passed away I was in a ‘live for the moment’ mindset. So I created Funky Goddess.
But I had no marketing budget and I had no money, so I started marketing the business through social media. My sister put me on Twitter; I didn’t have a clue what to do, so I just started finding mums and had a natural ability to find people to build relationships with. Also, I was lonely in the evenings after the kids went to bed. I was sitting there in my pyjamas on the laptop.
I didn't realise that I was building relationships really, I subconsciously started to find small business owners like me. I went on from there. I sold Funky Goddess eventually. I went for investment on Dragons’ Den - got investment but it fell through as it sometimes does. I didn’t get the investment and sold it on. Funky Goddess is still going strong. But I went a different path.
Did having children change how you felt about your career? How so?
In a way, Abi has special needs and I was caring for her, but I also had that gap when she was in school. So, that really gave me the kick to get started. I was working as a sales rep on the road. But I decided to give up work to care for her full-time, as there were speech therapy appointments, etc. But when Funky Goddess came up I realised I could do both.
The Back to Work Enterprise payment was great too, you know if you’re getting a social welfare payment, you can get that grant, and that was invaluable. Some people don’t realise that you can get your full payment for a year. I remember sending the local Social Welfare department a Thank You! card and they were shocked. They said they never get cards like that! They helped me through hard times when I had nothing. I know what it’s like to have no money for food, no money to treat your children. Obviously, the tug between working and not working comes down to finances.
What happened then was that I got so good on social media that people started approaching me and asking me how to do Twitter? You seem to really get it, we don’t get it? Can you do it for us? My first client was Whites of Wexford, a hotel in Wexford and their clicks to sale went up 15% when I took over their account. Even the head office rang them to see how they managed to increase their clicks to sale so much and then I realised that I had a talent and maybe there was a business for me here.
Tweetinggoddess.com, we manage social media, Twitter in particular. Because there’s a demand for all kinds of social media I have a team of five now. Some of them are really good at SEO and websites, some of them are really good at Facebook, Snapchat. So I surround myself with a team who know all the other platforms really well and we cover everything now. I go into companies and design a digital strategy for them; so I can tell them where they really need to be, what campaigns they can do to get more people to sign up the email lists, ticket sales, etc.
I also have the Women’s Inspire network, women who work from home, building their empires. I work from home at the kitchen table, with my whiteboard. People think I have this big swish office but actually, I do a lot of my work on the go. We have 8,000 members on the Facebook group for Women’s Inspire, mainly entrepreneurs, but I am also finding that women who work in all-male environments are starting to join us as well. These are women who might feel isolated in the workplace. There are over 12,000 followers on the Women’s Inspire Twitter account @WomensInspireIE.
I started a membership, €20 a month where we do webinars and online coffee mornings. Online is where it’s at! Things have just catapulted, I’m just back from a Social Media Conference in New Zealand, and, I recently found out that I am speaking at Social Media Marketing World in San Diego in March 2018. I just can’t believe it! I also did a TEDx talk, watch it, you might cry!
What changes did you make to make your career work for you?
I started to value what I did. That changed my career. I started reaching out to people asking for help. People who were better than me at what they did. Let’s say, I’m not so hot on Facebook or Instagram so I started reaching out to others who were and built my team up from there.
It meant I could focus on the stuff I’m good at. That was the game changer
How did you feel when making these changes?
I felt relieved to be honest, as it meant that I could keep doing what I loved, instead of stuff that I'm not so passionate about. Pay them too! Once you pay people they're happy to do it. I also tried to look after myself a bit more, valuing my time, so instead of making a huge effort to get to Dublin to a meeting that took time out of my day, I would refer my client to Skype instead. I am managing my time better, it’s important in business and if you’re a mum full-stop!
How did your partner support you through this time?
He’s great, I have a boyfriend of four years and I honestly couldn’t do any of this without him. I think having a supportive partner is so important; he washes clothes, he washes dishes he has the house lovely every day. Everyone asks me where I get him from [laughing]. That’s his way of making sure that he does things for me. He hasn’t got a clue about what I do. It’s the only way he knows how to support me. Having a supportive partner is so invaluable.
I would recommend to anyone going back to work that you need the support of your family, you need to sound that out before you make that decision.
What worked and what didn’t work along the way?
What worked for me was building a community of like-minded people around me, hanging out with people who get you and get what you’re doing. So start associating with people who are where you’re at, people who are six years in business for example. Or if you’re starting out, hang out with others who are starting out. Get a mentor. That helped a lot, a mentor who I could bounce ideas off, someone you admire who’s been successful too, someone you feel attracted to (not in a sexual manner, of course) but someone you'd like to be like.
The other thing that didn't work was that I was helping a lot of people for nothing. It’s getting the balance right and valuing what you do. I helped a lot of the women in the Women’s Inspire Facebook group - 8,000 members. But then I started to get really drained and exhausted, it was to the detriment of my health, I was doing all this. I had a business to run, I had to put food on the table. That’s why I came up with the idea of membership at €20 a month. You can keep putting out valuable content and keep giving value - but they're going to pay you for it.
Another thing that didn’t work was not being honest in your business plan. If you’re doing a business plan you can make up all the figures you want but the reality is that you need to pay bills and you need to feed yourself. So try to be honest when you’re doing it up. And make sure that you will be covered. I am no good at this and got a virtual assistant to do that.
Considering your happiness levels before making a switch to now - how have they improved/decreased?
90% happier now. When I wasn’t working, I knew I had something to add, but I wasn’t sure what it was. I still didn't know what it was - I thought it could have been the gift box, or helping young women, but it turns out that helping other female entrepreneurs seems to be my talent and helping businesses to thrive.
It makes me happy when I see a client getting what they deserve, or when a client won an award. I won the Wexford Chamber Award myself this year, I entered three times and I kept thinking I should have won that and then I entered again and won this year.
It’s good for your children too, if they see you working hard they see that you must work hard to get what you want in life. I see things coming out in my children, saying things like “Don’t ever give up on your dreams”, and I just thought how wonderful it was that she’s developing a mindset like this. It’s so funny.
How do you rate your work/life balance?
I neglected my running, I put on about five pounds. Sometimes convenient food can be too convenient. But now that they’ve gone back to school it’s been easier. I am still working on a work/life balance, I think everyone does.
3 bits of advice for working mothers?
- First of all, make sure that you have support whether it’s a family member or really good friend. So that you know that you have that anchor there.
- The next thing is to make sure it’s something you really, really want to do. Go in with your heart. Have a vision board, put everything you want to do on that board. I have a cosy fire with slippers, I have a picture of a cottage by the sea. I have a picture of America, and America is going to happen now. I also have a picture of money, if I want to have more money. I have pictures of the girls out surfing. Make it so that you know you have something to aim for. What would you really love? Even if it’s completely mad and think how can you achieve that and then add it.
- Surround yourself with a community where you can go for a coffee, have a rant. Stay away from the begrudgers. The people who really do matter want you to succeed. Sometimes the worst can be family… that’s another story. There are others who try to drag you down. Don’t ever bitch about people on social media, encourage people and keep it positive.
To go to the Women’s Inspire Network Event: