Business owner, author and mother of two, Clara Wilcox 39, is what would be described as busy, but this hasn’t stopped her supporting a new venture, the community and family focussed Nurture Network.
Clara who lives in Sutton Coldfield with her husband and two daughters is very keen to support families in obtaining the life that they want. This is not only the purpose of Nurture but was also the inspiration behind her own business, The Balance Collective.
Clara’s route to self-employment came off the back of devastating circumstances, after having her first child, Grace, she experienced the loss of two children. In May 2009 she experienced a missed miscarriage and then in 2010 at 21 weeks pregnant she lost a baby boy, due to a rare condition known as Potters Syndrome. In 2012 she had her daughter Lily.
At this point she was in a senior position at a Birmingham university and after a year off with Lily returned to work. This is when she started to feel that something wasn’t right.
Clara said: “I was really lucky in the fact that I was going back to a job that I loved, and I wasn’t losing any of my seniority, but I really struggled. On reflection I think that going back to work triggered postnatal anxiety, I didn’t trust my decision making and cried every day for a month. I felt like a chapter was ending but I didn’t know what I wanted or where I was going. I had always been ambitious, driven and confident so this uncertainty was new to me. It also helped me come to the realisation that I had enjoyed my job more when I was in the role below the one I was in, where I was more hands on.”
“It got me thinking, if I felt like this in a job that I enjoyed other parents must be feeling the same and what could I do to help them? So, in 2014 I decided to do a coaching qualification and started the business as a side-line, then in March 2015 I was told that the project I was working on had not received further funding, this pushed me to make a leap of faith and commit to my business full-time.”
The Balance Collective is a social enterprise that helps reduce parental unemployment and helps them develop a career that they enjoy not endure. Clara works with parents, mainly mothers who are returning to work helping them build their confidence, identify their strengths and with interview preparation. The business also supports businesses that are looking for somebody to provide support and coaching for their staff that are returning to work.
Talking about her motivation, Clara says “First and foremost I love what I do, and it provides me with the flexibility to be around with my girls but , the reason I offer what I offer is because parents are having to make sacrifices all the time balancing work and kids. It might be working hours that don’t suit them or having to downgrade their career aspirations in favour of having time with their children and I don’t think that should be the case. I believe everybody should have the right to enjoy what they do and feel able to strive for the career they want while still having time to enjoy family life.”
Continuing her work helping families find balance Clara is working with Charlotte Shutt of Brand Remarkable and Ben Birchall of Little Green Frog and Little Green Bookworm to grow Nurture Network a community based social enterprise that will assist people in creating the life they want.
Nurture Network, which is held bi-monthly at The Little Green Frog was started in 2016 by Charlotte and was primarily set up as a way of enabling working people with kids to network with the children in tow. Clara got involved after seeing an online advert for Nurture. She explains “I saw the advert for Nurture pop up on my screen and my first reaction was I need to be there as that is where my clients are, so I messaged Charlotte and we met up. We had a coffee and it quickly went from me being a business owner who wanted to attend, to a speaker to becoming part of the team. Our values are the same and what we saw as the value of Nurture was aligned.”
Now, Nurture is set to grow, looking at how communities spend their time and providing activities and events that the whole family can be involved in from networking, to cooking class through to a game of football. All of Nurture’s projects will be focused around three core values, health, wealth and happiness, somewhere people can go to do something with their children or just have a bit of time to focus on themselves and their development and well-being.
Clara explains: “We have a real vision to provide the community with an holistic approach to how they spend their time. We want to start a conversation about what it means to be a family now, in 2019 and what they do with their spare time. How people spend their time and money changes regularly. The current climate is making people feel uncertain and when people feel uncertain they have a tendency to become risk averse. We want to help people realise what they can control and where their strengths lie and how they can utilise those strengths”
With such a busy life and being in the process of writing her second book you might wonder when Clara finds time to wind down and relax.
She finishes “I make sure I balance my diary to have time for family and me time. When I do have time to myself, I read a lot. It is a big form of escapism for me and I am part of three book clubs a personal development one, another where we physically meet as a group and an online one. I always have two fiction and one personal development book on the go, I find reading opens the mind to different experiences and perspectives and through the groups I get to meet different people and as I really enjoy writing it can trigger ideas. I also like to spend time eating cake”
Nurture Network will be launching a series of community partner events from September 2019.