It's our second birthday today.
Digital Mums has had an 'all-systems-go' mentality over the last two years. The speed we've maintained means we've achieved a lot in that time. But sometimes it's important to reflect, especially as it's something we haven't had much time for over the last 24 months. And it's particularly fitting that I'm doing that reflecting from our very own office, which we moved into for real as of yesterday.
I became involved with Digital Mums in February 2014, four months after Nikki and Kathryn came up with the idea. They had spent those months speaking to women with children, validating their idea, creating training content, recruiting eight women as guinea pigs - shout out to the pilot Digital Mums! - and then actually putting them through the first prototyped training.
(First key learning? Not long enough. 18 months later and it's six times the length!)
At the time they were still running their own social media consultancy Hackney Social, so I came on board to help spread the load. I was working a full-time job at the time, as we all were and would continue to do for nine more months.
We were working anywhere we could. Meetings happened on evenings after work and on weekends. We got to know Hackney's cafes and each other's living rooms intimately. One stand-out session was a nine hour slog near Old Street on a Sunday where we decided who had to create what training content, which we then had to complete at home in the evenings after work.
That seems like a very long time ago.
In a little over 18 months, we've had over 180 dedicated, talented, and hard-working students undertake our training and learn how to do the hustle. They've helped over 180 businesses and charities grow their online communities over that same period.
Our own team has grown from an original four - no full-timers, all working for free - to three full-timers and another nine working flexibly in various part-time roles. All of them are women and all of them have kids.
We've been featured in The Telegraph, the Mail Online, The Guardian, The Observer. To say the idea has resonated with people is an understatement.
But most importantly, we've been achieving what we set out to do - supporting mothers to find work that works for them. We've had 68 Digital Mums graduate and have supported 100% of those who have wanted work into part-time, flexible employment, barring those we're currently in the process of placing.
"What Digital Mums gave me more than anything else was the belief that I had value again and that I can take on any job and make it work.
I have found a career that has enabled me to exploit skills that have been lying dormant for years. I actually get excited about work. It truly is a profession where no two days are the same.
-- Ruth Gilbey
Looking back over the last 6 months and this extraordinary journey in Social Media, I am really grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Digital Mum community and experience...I have learnt so much and have unlocked creative skills which have not seen light of day since art college (a long time ago)!
The transformation from frustrated, lacking in self-confidence and self-esteem stay-at-home-mum is almost complete, as I am in my final week of this marvellous, exhausting experience. I’ve found ME again!
It's been a rollercoaster for the last two years, successful beyond any of our wildest dreams. We've met and worked with so many amazing women and organisations that it beggars belief.
And the future? The words bigger and better spring to mind.
We're launching our second Live Learning Programme later this month. We're raising investment to grow our team and expand what we do. And we're setting up a bursary and mentoring scheme so we can support women who can't afford to do our training to be able to create new career opportunities for themselves.
Kathryn and Nikki originally dreamed of becoming entrepreneurs because they wanted more freedom and flexibility over their own working lives. It's apt that by doing so, they created a business that revolves around helping other women to do the same.
Happy Birthday Digital Mums. Here's to many more.