Mum Force Interview
The Gilded Bird was set up by mum of three, Jeanie Bird with the aim of transforming standard nursery products into something stunning. Using hand-painted unique designs and exceptional quality materials she’s producing wedge and flat changing mats, splash mats and travel mats and has launched a new bedding and drapery range. Jeanie’s passionate about style and transforming the ordinary into something stunning – and she’s equally passionate about protecting the environment. Her products are made to last, so as not to contribute to the mountains of baby paraphernalia thrown into landfill each year and they’re manufactured in the most eco-conscious way possible.
FANTASTIC FEMALE – JEANNIE BIRD CREATOR OF THE GILDED BIRD
How did you balance being a mother and professional?
It is a daily battle if I’m completely honest. It’s a balancing act and there are days that I find a way to have quality time with my kids while still getting things accomplished with my business, but there are also days when I feel completely overwhelmed. I’ve realised its not about being perfect – I just have to do my best and hope that it’s enough. I’ve also worked hard at being present in the moment with either my business or my kids. If my kids need me, I’m there 100% but when I sit down to work on the business, I have a razor sharp focus on the task at hand.
What have you sacrificed (both personally and professionally) at each stage of your career?
In my 20s I feel like I sacrificed my soul lol. I had such strong drive to be some sort of career queen – always trying to be the best at what I was doing – and ended up falling somewhere in the completely average range. I didn’t know how to be myself and ended up being whatever my employer wanted me to be which led to so much conflict within myself. This constant tug of war with my own values caused me to burnout very quickly in that decade. I accomplished a lot yes, but it came at a price.
FANTASTIC FEMALE – JEANNIE BIRD CREATOR OF THE GILDED BIRD
In my 30s, I had my kids – and I felt like everything I had worked for in my 20s in terms of career came to a screeching halt. I wanted to be a mother and was intrigued by my new fulltime role as a mum, but looking back, motherhood -especially those early years – forced me to find myself again. I didn’t like only knowing myself as “mummy” and I felt I had sacrificed my identity as a woman/career-driven person to become a mum. So it’s been a process of finding where I fit in in the working world again.
Who inspired you and why?
I’ve had so many inspirations over the years from a career standpoint. I was lucky to have some very successful people around me growing up. My dad was my first inspiration. He had his own business (in Canada) and built it from the ground up. He used to have a check above the desk in his office – it was the first check his own business received and it was for $13.10. He framed it to keep himself humble but to also remind him how far he had come. That pride of building something that you can call your own, and make a living from, was what always made me interested in the business world.
What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
Be yourself. Even if it doesn’t feel natural and even if you’re afraid it will cause conflict. Do it. Speak up. Give your opinion. If you’re wrong atleast you will learn from it. If you don’t let yourself shine through, you’ll just become a yes-woman, a people pleaser; you’ll fade into the wallpaper and you will only ever go as far as your manager is willing to take you. If you want to truly progress, you need to show what makes you essential and unique and you can’t do that following colleagues around with your head down. It takes courage but it’s worth it.
Do you think women feel intimidated in business?
I can’t speak for women in general but I’ve heard that idea around women feeling timid to enter the business world and I think it’s a very outdated concept. Personally, I’ve never felt intimidated by the idea of starting my own business. It actually feels like a very natural place for me, however I do think – as a woman – I tend to downplay my accomplishments and might limit my own business goals/dreams based on that very female tendency to not want to sound too bold. I’m working on that though. I know SO many women who are running successful businesses these days so if you are a woman who is thinking of starting a business or heading back into the work force, don’t be timid – you won’t know until you try.
Where will we find you on a Saturday morning at 10 a.m.?
Going for a coffee and a piece of cake with my kids – post dance and swim lessons.
What do you love about your job?
The creativity behind building my own brand – no bigger rush!
What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made?
Ironically, becoming a mum – it’ allowed me the mental space to think about what I truly want to do and that led me to starting The Gilded Bird.
What’s the worst career decision you’ve ever made?
Following the higher salary instead of going towards something I loved doing.
How do you organise your time?
In 30 minute blocks these days!
What do you think is your greatest strength?
My ability to make people feel at ease. And I’m good at big picture perspective. Very needed when you’re faced with a million issues all at once with the business.
What do you think is your greatest weakness?
lol my ability to make people feel at ease…I’m a people-pleaser to my core and that has cost me a lot over the years.
How do you make decisions?
Quickly – I trust my gut and those around me who know more about that topic (ie: my accountant). If I make a wrong decision, I correct it and move on. No time to be indecisive.
What do you read?
Self-help books, and the news. I worked in the news in the former life so I’m always a sucker for a headline
What do you think are the secrets behind getting to where you’ve got to?
Keep ploughing ahead. I’ve doubted myself and the direction I’m going many times, but that shouldn’t stop
you from moving forward. Also I try not to compete or compare. My business is carving out its own little space in the world and I’m proud of that. What someone else is doing (no matter how glamourous) is there own journey and focusing on that only wastes energy.