The Curious Mummy HQ met the coolest Mum Boss on the circuit, the very lovely Hannah Saunders. The Mum who brought us the award winning Big Fish Little Fish Events – a family rave where grown ups and their children can enjoy music and dancing together. After experiencing my first Big Fish Little Fish rave, I couldn’t wait to meet the Mumspiration behind this fantastic event.
Hannah shares her tips on becoming a Mum Boss, how being her own boss fits into her daily life and what gave her the idea to start.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a blue-haired music fan in my late 40s who has lived in London since 1987 and was for 20 years a civil servant. In my 40s I suddenly had two children and went for a dramatic career change. I live in Brixton with my partner David, kids and two cats.
Tell us about Big Fish Little Fish events and what gave you the idea to start?
Big Fish Little Fish is a family rave and is very deliberately called that to show that it is as much fun for adults as children and created by clubbers/ravers who are also parents. I came up with the idea 4 years ago after I had left my career and needed to do something new with my life. I decided I no longer wanted to work for anyone else and was spending a lot of time with my kids. We loved going to festivals together – Glastonbury, Latitude – but other ‘family friendly’ activities I found to be entirely child-centric and I thought I should just design the thing I wanted to take my own family to so we could have a good time together.
The events have the dancefloor and live DJ at their heart. We’ve had loads of famous names – the Orb, Tom Middleton, Slipmatt, Aphrodite – and fill the dancefloor with bubbles, glitter, giant balloons and a parachute dance along with the house, drum’n’bass and techno. There’s a high quality multi-activity craft area, baby chill and play zones and a licenced bar. Venues vary from the National Gallery to concrete rave caves in Hackney to Glastonbury Festival and we have around 700-1,000 attend each event. Families have a seriously good time. They are now run by regional managers all over the UK (and internationally) and have played to over 100,000 people. We have won the Arts Council National Family Arts Festival Best Family Event for the last 3 years and this year also the Audience Choice Award Best Event, Best Venue and Best Welcome – out of 4,000 events. Everyone involved with BFLF was really chuffed to receive this recognition and delighted so many people enjoyed themselves.
Describe your typical day?
My daughter normally snuggles in from about 6:30am but David does breakfast for the kids and I then get in the shower for 8am. I take one of the kids to school (David the other – different schools) then I sit at home answering emails, arranging events and making calls. Sometimes I need to go out to meetings or site visits. David does school pick up and then I usually do a half-hearted attempt to work whilst the kids are around but normally give up and play with them. I always read them their bedtime story. David cooks dinner whilst I work a bit more then we watch some telly or boxset. On event days we have to arrive at least two hours before doors to do setup then it is very full on operationally until de-rig is complete and we’re in the car on the way home. During the parties I operations manage but always find time for a dance.
What is the best part of your job?
The actual parties – as a life-long clubber and dance music fan I can’t quite believe this is now what I do for a living. It’s always particularly special when a DJ plays the track they are most famous for (The Orb Little Fluffy Clouds, Slipmatt On A Ragga Tip, Liquid Sweet Harmony, 2 Bad Mice Bombscare) and I dance with my family. Those are always real ‘moments’.
What do you think it takes to be a Mum boss?
Well in my particular case it was a partner who would take on the major share of the parenting whilst I got the business off the ground.
How do you find the balance between running a successful business and raising a family?
I am in a very unusual position that there is almost no boundary between my business and family life – they are totally merged – so there is no balance but that’s fine by all of us (I hope). Having said that, because there is lots of flexibility about when I do work (with the exception of the events themselves) I can take days off for outings and half term can be completely clear so we can all have fun together.
What do you think is the secret to success?
Really hard work and people around to encourage you and tell you all will be well when things have gone tits up.
Who are your Mumspirations?
Any single parent – this goes equally for Dads. My Mum brought me up by herself (with help from her family) and it fills me with awe how people do it. If my partner has an evening out and I have to do bedtime by myself, I practically have a nervous breakdown. He’ll come home to find me and the kids asleep on the sofa with an empty bag of Maltesers between us and Eastenders playing.
After work, how do you find time to relax?
Snippets here and there – aforementioned boxsets with David, drunken dancing round kitchen, an occasional gig and horror film. Work is so much fun for me that I don’t feel the need to relax in the way I needed to before. I also like walking holidays in the Highlands and going to festivals.
What are your top five tips for starting a business/What are your tips for budding Mumpreneurs?
Just Do It – doesn’t have to be perfect from the start
Talk to your friends and family – amazing founts of hidden skills and knowledge
Don’t be afraid to learn new things from website designing and social media to writing press releases
Get a good accountant
Really JUST DO IT