I would like to welcome Zoë Chapman of Independent Mother to the Single Mums Business Network.
See her profile here
Zoë is another Single Mum in Business who is working hard to dispel misconceptions, reduce stigma, and bring all single mums together – aka Independent Mother
Zoë has kindly shared an in-depth blog which you can read below, and she is actively organising events to help all Single Mums aka Independent Mothers – Please see her links via Linkt.ree at the bottom of this page x
‘My name is Zoë Chapman and I’m a 34yr old Londoner with a 7 year old son.
I became a single mother at 6 weeks pregnant, and after years of being made to feel uncomfortable with the stigmatised title, I now embrace it fully and want to encourage others to do the same.
A year ago I started on social media with my business Kiddiwhizz as an outlet for promotion. I quickly realised that I didn’t favour the glamourised feed of family life that was so popular yet so warped.
I decided to create another profile in order to express my feelings on Single Motherhood with the intention of connecting with others that can relate.
I began by stating that I was there to promote the term Independent Mother as an alternative to the stigmatised label of Single Mother which I had always felt uneasy about. I knew I was so much more than the Single Mother that I felt judged for being, whether it be on the street or in the school playground, hence my Instagram handle not.just.a.single.mother.
For those who knew me, I had fought through the most challenging of circumstances having left home at 16yrs old when my family was unable to cope with my mental health diagnosis effectively. I put myself through the education system whilst battling with my illnesses, an abusive relationship, and barely having enough money to eat most days. I managed to gain a place in my 1st choice university doing the course I’d hoped to do, however at the age of 19, after my first year, it was cut short when my Father had a major stroke which left him paralysed, brain damaged and in a coma. There was no-one else to take over his role, therefore his business and all the responsibilities he had, including looking after the family fell to me.
That was my first taste of business and being liable for not just myself but so many others too.
I fought through a year of hell including nearly becoming bankrupt, a mental breakdown and singlehandedly dealing with the death of my Grandad alongside the financial/legalities it came with, to then getting back to University and continuing with my studies.
I managed the final years of my degree alongside supporting the daily rehab of my Father who remained in hospital unable to communicate. I graduated from university and within months had set my sights on a career in the city and that’s exactly where I ended up. Although working in the financial sector was extremely stressful with long hours, I thrived in a world away from caring from my Dad and my own mental health. Unfortunately, I was juggling too many balls and after finally escaping my abusive relationship I had to take a break from life to work on my own health as I was living on the brink of suicide at any given moment.
After a long stint in hospital I came out mentally healthier than I ever had been and fell pregnant 5 months later.
I’d gone back to working in the city but as a Single Mother with no support I had no choice but to focus on caring for my baby and my father who was improving. I always made sure I had another project on the side though, whether it be voluntary work with my church or with a charity, I needed another outlet where I could be of use and keep my brain active.
After my Father passed away and my son had got over his many diagnosed illnesses I returned to work, focussing on what I thrived on; fixing peoples businesses to make them successful.
However, my heart wasn’t in it and what I’d really wanted to do was to develop a potty training product I had designed years previously and also follow my passion for writing. So that’s what I did. I started a business called Kiddiwhizz after identifying a number of parenting problem solving products that fed into the helpful and innovative theme. I had absolutely no idea about the world of e-commerce, advertising, social media or many of the other sectors that I had to train myself up in. However, I was always up for a new challenge, and felt I needed to go on a journey to find what would really make me feel fulfilled alongside the unbelievable job of being a Mum.
Less than a year on, the Single Mother account I had set up when Kiddiwhizz was in its infancy has taken me on an unexpected path.
It was a total revelation to find such an amazingly supportive community on a social media platform that I’d always been so against due to the fake lives that are portrayed by so many, as I knew first-hand the detrimental effects it can have on mental health. My feed and followers couldn’t be more different. Alongside my status as a Single Mother I also expose and highlight my very long struggle with my mental health. It has been a 20-year long battle to control it but when my son was born I had a reason to live and a reason to fight it, so with the incredible support of the Community Mental Health team I was able to access all the services that I needed. Although my conditions are life long sentences, I now try to live alongside them in an attempt to control them on my terms where possible.
After connecting with so many wonderful people online I decided to attempt to bring these connections to an in-person event. I’m currently in the early stages of beginning to run alternative events specifically for Single Mothers showcasing Single Mother businesses, bloggers and inspirational women in the hope of empowering our incredibly strong community.
The first Independent Mother Event left everyone involved buzzing with pride and a taste for more, therefore I have many more lined up with the backing of exciting collaborators and contributors.
My aim now is to reach as many Single Mothers as I can in order to unite us in solidarity and reinvent the way we are viewed, not just by others but by ourselves too. We must be reminded of the incredible job we do in the toughest and often loneliest of circumstances that were unforeseeable. However, we have no choice but to rise up, learn to live with and adapt to it, in order to create a healthy environment for our children. We need to feel proud of the job we do each day alongside the varied circumstances that we battle and embrace in search of finding happiness and contentment in life.’
I have no doubt of the calibre of Single Mums in the UK and the SMBN is here to ensure that these ladies get the recognition and exposure they deserve, and the best possible opportunity to succeed in enjoying their families and achieving financial freedom.
Zoë will now enjoy exposure to her business with every visit to the SMBN and associated PR. Please don’t hesitate to join us if you are a Single Mum working hard to pay the bills alone, we are here to help you. You are not alone x