It was a chance meeting on a train with a newly pregnant woman that helped to propel Tracey Louis Fernand into a new business venture. It took a few months longer and the assistance of Outset Waltham Forest to help this busy woman set up as a Doula and create her company, Mothering the Mother.
“I was happily climbing the career ladder in the social housing sector, with a busy, challenging job managing a number of different project teams ” stated Tracey, “I wasn’t expecting to start a new career and, like many people, at that point I wasn’t even sure what a Doula was!” Doulas offer practical and emotional support to mothers during their pregnancy and beyond – you can find out more here.
Having supported a number of friends and family at the birth of their children and become a mother herself, something caught Tracey’s eye while she was looking on Eventbrite for family activities one half term. “I spotted an advert looking for people to train as Volunteer Doulas working with vulnerable women in the community. I applied and started training, fitting it in around my work and hectic family life” said Tracey.
“I loved the service I was providing to women as part of my training and continued to develop my skills and knowledge” and as chance would have it, she once again bumped into the same woman on the train as at the start of this story and “this really made me stop and think about what I wanted to do with my life”. Tracey went on to complete further training as a Breast Feeding Peer Support Worker with the National Childbirth Trust and whilst on a Perinatal Mental Health course, a shocking statistic had a profound impact on her – the fact that the highest rate of suicides amongst women was in the first year after having given birth.
Tracey says “Outset helped me to conquer my fear of new technology and provide me with the practical skills I needed to set up and grow my business – they provided me with a wonderful introduction to how to set up a business, the pitfalls to avoid and how to strike a work/life balance and manage my time as a business owner.”
“Outset also provided me with opportunities to network as a new entrepreneur with other people in exactly the same boat, going through the same experiences” Tracey stated, “and the other big area that Outset helped me with was using social media to help promote my business. Prior to starting my own business, I didn’t even have a Facebook account.”
“Although I was a confident businesswoman who had held professional positions for a number of years, it feels totally different when you have to go out there by yourself to promote what you do. Outset gave me the confidence to do this and the support network that it helped me to build is still vital to me now”.
“My advice to anyone thinking about taking the step to become their own boss is to, follow your dreams, continue to work hard and make sure that you have a good support network around you.” Tracey added, “I would recommend taking advantage of the help offered by Outset as this will help you to build that network and grow and tap into skills you have – to help you be more successful.”
“The Outset team are friendly, approachable and take you through the process of setting up your business one step at a time so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. Setting up your own business can be quite isolating but shared experiences and knowledge really helps.”
As part of Mothering the Mother, Tracey is working on collaborations and hoping to make support for expectant mothers and their families more widely available and more affordable. “I want to create a safe space where people can ask questions, get reassurance and support locally. It’s all about support, normalising and educating” says Tracey.
More long term, Tracey has big dreams – “Wouldn’t it be great to celebrate all aspects of the lifecycle of women in a more open way so that we don’t avoid the topics considered to be taboo within society?”