Happily Ever After - Sophie.mp3
Hannah: Welcome to Happily Ever After the podcast where we talk about life's big stories from break-ups and breakdowns to icky secrets and happy endings. It's the stuff that makes us human. I'm your host, Hannah Harvey. I'm a writer and a parenting blogger at Mumsdays dot com. That's M.U.M.S.D.A.Y.S .com. I'd be really grateful if you could subscribe and leave a review because it basically means more people can find the podcast. And I also really love hearing from you, so please do contact me through Instagram @Mumsdays with any of your stories really and you know how you relate to the episode or even questions that you may want answering. You can find all the details from this episode in the show notes.
Hannah: Hello and welcome to Happily Ever After with me, Hannah. And today I've got a very special guest with Sophie Milliken.
Sophie: Hello. Hello.
Hannah: Thanks for coming in.
Sophie: It's exciting.
Hannah: I know. So Sophie and I, we first met over.
Sophie: A boot camp, a fitness boot camp. Doing star jumps.
Hannah: Back in the day, that was like. I think Ruben was two, and he's now ten.
Sophie: That's scary, isn't it? Yeah. I still train with Phil.
Hannah: Do you?
Sophie: I do.
Hannah: Yeah. Oh I see his Instagram. He's lovely.
Sophie: He is. No star jumps anymore. I just lift weights instead.
Hannah: Look at you. He's progressed from the star jump in many ways.
Sophie: Yeah, well.
Hannah: So. And then we kind of reconnected again because you reached out when I was first going through divorce. Um, so, yeah, we were reconnecting over that and the joy that it is. Because you two have been divorced, have you not?
Sophie: Yes. Yes. So I was thinking about this this morning and it's been about it's probably about nine years since I got my decree absolute. And yeah, it's been ages, but it feels like less time I guess, because we have a daughter. So there's been, you know, there's some level of contact, although it's quite little at the moment. Um, yeah, so it has, it's been quite a while, but I think, yeah, I was thinking about it this morning because I was thinking about the fact that I was like the first person that I knew in my group of my age that got divorced and how crappy that was. And then now kind of looking around and I see, you know, people going through it over the years and kind of joining the gang and and I guess that's probably why I do get in touch with people when I can see that that's happening and just be kind of like, Hey, how are you doing? Are you all right? Etcetera?
Hannah: Yeah. Do you know now you've said that I'm like, you were the first person really that got in touch with me and I was the same way.
Sophie: Like, that's a bit weird.
Hannah: No, not at all. I was like, I literally don't know anybody going through this. And at the time, I felt so lonely. Not because I didn't have people around me supporting me, but just because I felt like the only person that's ever gone through this. And then you reached out and you were like, I've had the same experience and I know what it's like. So it just felt really lovely to reconnect on that level, like shit that you've had to go through that.
Sophie: I did not know that I was the first person to do that. So I'm glad that I did. And I think it's, yeah, I guess anyone that's going through it, it's a nice to, to actually reach out to other people because, you know, like you and I, we didn't know anyone that was going through it. And it does feel lonely and it's almost like people don't really want to talk to you in case you give them the divorce loogie and they don't want to be touched by that. And and I think, you know, for most people that are in a marriage or a serious relationship, when they break up, it's that whole weirdness of they did things together as a couple with other couples. And I didn't get invited to stuff in the same way anymore. And it was it was a bit crap, to be fair. Yeah.
Hannah: Yeah, definitely. And I think it certainly sorts out who your friends are.
Sophie: It does, yeah. I lost a couple of friends during that time, I think. Do you know what? There was a friend who I lost around that time and I look back, actually, and I wonder whether she was going through her own stuff work wise. She was always really into work and took on a lot of stress at work. And I wonder whether she was kind of depressed to do with something that was completely nothing to do with me whatsoever and just couldn't deal with my situation. Yeah. And we were really great friends and we just like, she just basically stopped talking to me. She ghosted me and yeah, that was really rubbish. So I lost her during that time. But I look back and I don't feel, you know, particularly bad about her because I just think she, I think she was going through her own stuff at the time. But there's definitely that thing around people not wanting to be linked to it in any way or don't know what to say. Maybe me and that kind of thing, which is a bit sad really.
Hannah: I do think as well, like I can understand it because there's a lot there was quite a lot of drama involved in mine and I think if you've got stuff going on. You might not have space for me then to be like, this has happened and that's happened. But you know, you know, that's fine, whatever. But I think the hard thing for people in divorce then is then to then say, like, for me it's different because I was blogging and I was trying to re-establish a career. So it was like, I'm going to tell you what's happening. But for many people, they'll just be really quiet about it and they won't say anything. Which is why I really like doing this, because I'm getting people I'm collecting my divorces as I go along and people are getting in touch and being like, This thing's happening. I'm like, I know, But it does get better. And that's what you were able to say to me.
Sophie: Definitely. It's so does once you've kind of got all the legal stuff out of the way, Yeah, you do get through it. Like I remember, um, you know, the point, the point that our relationship broke down. I mean, it hadn't been good for, for a while, but my daughter Jess, she just turned two, and he. He's a very heavy drinker and and other stuff that is not good for you. And we just. We just weren't aligned with our lifestyles whatsoever. And, you know, the drinking got worse and it got to a point where enough was enough. And I asked him to leave and she'd literally just turned two, maybe a few weeks before. And I'd only been running my business for six months at that point. So I'd had this really steady corporate career with John Lewis for years on really great money as well, had set this business up for, you know, literally six months in. And then we split up and we were divorced really quick, like within maybe four months or something. It was super, super fast. It was super fast.
Hannah: Mine took nearly three years.
Sophie: Yeah, well, we had less to to argue over because he had nothing. So he just tried to take what I had and I was just like, Yeah, no, that's not going to happen. So it was quite quick. But I remember being in the spare room in that house six months into a new business and thinking, This is really shit, but I've got no money. Having gone from having a great job, you know, new business, you don't have loads of money coming in straightaway, so no money. A two year old, that's just challenging in general. Two year olds. All right. And feeling completely isolated in every possible way and then having financial challenges around the fact that my mortgage, I think we'd been paying £650 a month between us for this mortgage. At that point in time, I couldn't get a mortgage on my own because I was self-employed. So my dad had to pretend to the bank that he was going to work till he was 75 to come onto my mortgage. But because he was old, the term went from, say, it was on 23 years or something down to 11. So then the payment went from 650 up to about £1,200 and I was earning nothing at this point. So I just remember being a real clear vision Even now of sitting in my spare room. Jess was at nursery and I was working away on the laptop thinking, This is probably crap, like this is proper rock bottom crap levels. But I knew that it would get better and I just kept my eye on the prize kind of thing and just thought, you know what? Two years from now everything's going to be different. And that was I just kept telling myself, This is crap, this is crap, this is crap. And I thought, I'm just going to chuck myself into work because I knew that by working hard on the business, it would distract me because I'm always at my best at work. It is a great distraction from everything. And I knew that by putting those hours into the business, it would improve my financial situation, which solved lots of other problems and that's what happened.
Hannah: Mhm. That takes a lot of self worth, courage, all that kind of stuff that can take for me. Yeah. I'm like my confidence was really rock bottom at that time. But I suppose that's where different things come in. Like I probably threw myself into other things because I had a bit of financial space, whereas you're like.
Sophie: I was the opposite.
Hannah: You've got no choice whatsoever. You've just got to go for it. But, you know, you could have gone, right? Fuck this. I'm going back to John Lewis.
Sophie: I did think about it. I did think about it for a while. And then the other the other thing that was frustrating, I guess, was that anyone, whether they're divorced or not, will find is just around child care, like decent child care across the hours that you want at a price that you can afford. And I thought if I go back and get another job, well, if I'd wanted to go back to John Lewis, I'd had to move back down south. Really to be on anywhere like that kind of money didn't want to do that because I wouldn't have had the support network that I needed. So for me to get a job back in Newcastle and the kind of money that I wanted, I knew I wouldn't get that and I knew that I wouldn't get the flexibility that I would want. So I thought, well, at least when I work for myself, I've got a level of control over my calendar and I can, you know, work in the evenings when she's gone to bed to maybe finish a bit earlier or still have a day off with those sorts of things. So for me, that flexibility and the absolute certainty that I would improve the financial situation at some point that was better for me.
Hannah: So during that period, like I've got a question here about how did you keep your spirits and your energy high?
Sophie: Like I don't think I did.
Hannah: You know, I'm like.
Sophie: I actually don't think I did. I think I remember crying a lot and feeling really miserable and feeling really trapped like I'm trapped with this too. I can't go out because my ex-husband never did overnights until Jess was about God. Maybe 8 or 9, maybe even older than that, quite old. So there were no overnights. We're now back in that situation where he hasn't seen her for a few months anyway. So we've got a whole other drama in that sense. She's 11 now, so I didn't have that freedom. My parents helped me a bit, but they tended to help me and still do for work reasons rather than for fun. So I felt like there was just no sort of release. So it was hard. But I think I've always gained energy from work, which might make me sound a bit sad, but I would argue actually, if you love what you do, that that's actually a positive thing. I've always loved work. I've always loved business. So for me, you know, going and winning that work and and improving our financial situation was just such a motivator for me. And, you know, I've been lucky that whatever business I've run, I've had fantastic clients who are just genuinely, really nice people and I've had brilliant teams that I've worked with and they lift you up and they know when you're having a bit of a crappy day and they'll slide the bar of dairy milk across the table when they, you know, when they know that you need a bit of a lift or they'll just do something nice. I mean, I've got two people in my current team who came across from the last business. Super, super loyal and both of them have come round and babysat for me sometimes for days at a time so that I can go on a business trip or, you know, when I left my last business and set up the new one, I was emotionally drained because it was quite a brutal exit and I went to Tenerife on my own for four days and Rachel and my team moved in and looked after Jess and took her to school every day so that I could go on that trip. I mean, you know, they're like
Hannah: Oh that's giving me goose bumps.
Sophie: Employee goals, you know, team goals, just total legends. So I think there's something around who you surround yourself with. And, you know, someone in business world talked to me on a podcast actually a while ago about people being either radiators or drains. So you want to hang out with those radiators that are going to give you the lift and the boost when you need it. And anyone that's draining your energy, you just haven't got time for that because particularly at that stage in life when you're feeling pretty bruised anyway, the last thing you want is for someone to to drag you down even further. So yeah, you need to, to take your energy where you can get it. Really.
Hannah: Yeah. And I think really leaning on being able to ask for help is quite important during that period. So I think there was a bit where I had the kids pretty much well I did for six weeks and I didn't know how long that time was going to last. So I was literally like on the phone to. Every parent of Ruben's school. Can he come for a playdate? Can he stay overnight? Can he do this? And. Yeah. I needed it. I needed to know that I was going to have at least one night a week when I was on my own.
Sophie: It's so important. I'm feeling that at the moment, to be honest, because Jess hasn't seen her dad for maybe I want to say about three months now, which is quite a long. It is a long time. And I - even though I'm away a bit for work, but because it's so full on, it doesn't feel it's not a break, is it? It's not a break in that sense. And I get to the point where I'm like, We've spent too much time together just on our own. And actually I'm going to go mad. And she's 11 and she's hormonal. And so we don't we can't spend that much time together. So I'm trying to like bank a few play dates and sleep there at Sleepover Age, which is excellent. So that kind of helps, but you need it for your own sanity. I'm a better parent when I've had a break and I'm back and I'm sure, you know, just feeling a bit happier and jollier because otherwise I'm quite I'm quite radge. That's not cool.
Hannah: No, I had that experience fairly recently because their dad had been on holiday for a couple of weeks, about three weeks. And towards the end I was like. Oh, this is a lot. And I had a bit of a breakdown on the beach involving a bee stinging me.
Sophie: Well, that's quite harsh.
Hannah: The sting wasn't that hard. But I was just like, Or that painful? But I was like, I. That just tipped me over an edge. And then the very next day, they were back at school and back at nursery, and I had a bit of time to myself and I recorded a podcast with Katie. And just the process of doing that brought me back to myself. So I guess it's working out where you're going to get your energy from, who your friends are that you can lean on when you need them. Um, yeah. Like I turned up at my mum's and had a big cry and she was like really good and took them out and..
Sophie: That's what you need.
Sophie: And it does get easier as they get older because they are more self self sufficient. Your daughter is still quite young, you've still got a bit of a way to go in that sense. But you know, Jess goes to a big school in September and I can just see that big changes coming and that she's just not going to want to hang out with me. So actually, I need to make the most of it in some ways as well.
Hannah: Yeah, exactly. Oh, so nine years. How do you feel about dating?
Sophie: Depends when you ask me, I guess. You know, I might give you a different answer next week, but.
Hannah: Are you bothered? Like, is it something...
Sophie: I go through phases where, you know, I have had relationships, mostly crap ones since I got divorced and I have dated, but I do go through phases where I just cannot be arsed, where I just think I can't be bothered. I've met a load of morons and I'm busy with launching something with the business and I just think I haven't got the headspace for it. So I kind of go through phases and I also, I am genuinely actually worried. I was telling someone this earlier, I'm genuinely worried about whether I actually have the capacity to live with someone again now because I've had one relationship where we kind of tried living together, but it was it was just awful. So he was always kind of in and out anyway. So it was like a four year on off relationship that ended maybe three, four years ago now anyway. So it's kind of like in the middle. And that wasn't great at all. That was really toxic. And I think now I've become so set in my ways, like so set in my ways, like I love eating my weird stuff that I like to eat that I would never cook for someone if they came round. I like watching what I want to watch on TV. I actually don't watch much TV either, so I'd rather go to bed early with a book. And for me, you know, like going to bed like half 8 or 9. It's heaven. It's absolute heaven, but it's not really compatible with the boyfriend. So I struggle a bit with stuff like that and I just think, God, could I ever live with anyone again? And I've got, you know, I've got loads of space in my house. And I was like thinking, oh, if someone moved in and I'd have all this stuff, there like, Do I want that? So it does worry me a bit because I think I would like to be with someone. But then also I don't want to be with the wrong person. And then I worry about my judgement because I've made such terrible mistakes in the past. And then and then I just kind of talk myself out of bothering. Really.
Hannah: Yeah. I was going to say, do you feel like you sometimes repeat old patterns?
Sophie: And I think so, Yeah, I think so. I think I do seem to go after guys that are just. Not right for me, but in different ways, but just not right. And I think when you come out of something and you've got, you know, the benefit of hindsight, experience, age, all those things, you can look back and go, Oh my God, there were so many bloody red flags right at the start, actually. But when you're in it and you want it to work, you just avoid them. Whereas now I think I've been out of it all for so long that I'm probably just seeing red flags everywhere and not maybe giving people a chance. Maybe.
Hannah: Yeah, it's tricky that one. And I think as well because I think we're attracted to a similar kind of guy, you know, someone who's quite ambitious and like. Um. I don't know, Like, probably a bit wild.
Hannah: And so then when the nice guy comes along, you're like, Oh. Am I going to get bored with you?
Hannah: and you just immediately assume it's not going to work.
Sophie: There's definitely something in that. But I'm like, and maybe this is why I'm you know, I struggle with it all because I am attracted to that for sure. But then I am not like that. Maybe I have been a bit when I was younger, I was never dead wild, but you know, I'd be out a lot and I'd be partying and stuff. But I would I would never describe myself as wild. Yet the guys I used to go for were wild. And I just think like, that kind of guy is not compatible with my going to bed at 830. It's not.
Hannah: We've changed.
Sophie: But I love it.
Hannah: I do. And it's I think it's very important when you are a solo parent, not just a solo parent, but when you have young children or children at all. You can only be your best self if you've drunk, if you've slept enough, not drunk enough.
Sophie: 100%, 100%. And you know, obviously I know, I know you don't drink now and I, I don't think I drink a lot. But when I do, I really struggle the next day and I don't even have to drink that much. I can have, like, because I'm obsessed with tracking my sleep like I love it. It's just like guilty pleasure. Like, oh, how many hours did I get? What quality sleep was that last night? And I just get obsessed with it and it stops me from drinking because I know that if I had one glass of wine tonight with my dinner, it will impact my restoration score on my sleep. So then I think, well, it's not worth it. And then if I was to have like a big night out where I drink quite a lot, I'm so. So hangin' the next day and then I'm just really angry with myself because I'll lose a whole day on the weekend. And I just think, what a waste. Sometimes it's yeah, it's nice and it's worth it.
Hannah: And you still move in the businessy circles where there's like, awards ceremonies and booze flying around. Yeah.
Sophie: Oh, I was at such a good one last week I was at the launch of a new Ferrari and they had Ferrari champagne, which was really nice, actually. Yeah. This Ferrari champagne. And they had, um, Rio Steakhouse where they're doing all the food and they had set up a bar so you could go and get cocktails and like, strawberry daiquiris and all. This is nice. So yeah, there's a lot of that.
Hannah: Sometimes it's worth it.
Sophie: It is sometimes worth it. But I think as well do kind of get a bit bored or stuff like that because I get invited to lots of things like that and it is exciting and it's a novelty and Jess loves it when I come home with a good goodie bag. She's done well with those over the last month. But you know, I was looking at my diary for for this week and this is the first week that I haven't had events on. Like most nights. I was literally at something constantly for for about 2 or 3 weeks. And I'm just like thinking now, oh, early nights all week, lush.
Hannah: It's nice that you've got that balance so, so that you still are managing. The early nights, some weeks, and other times you can be like just out. And it's like, yeah, another I was talking to another guest about that whole balance between motherhood and still nurturing your dreams and your ambition. Like, where does your drive come from, do you think? Um.
Sophie: I don't know. I've been asked this before. I ended up doing a TEDx Talk on it because someone asked me.
Hannah: I don't know. But you can watch my TEDx
Sophie: You can watch my TEDx, Just pop my name into YouTube. Yeah, well, you know, I say that, but that was a genuine conversation. So I've done this book launch a few years back. Now I've done this book launch and and after the book launch two people that organised Ted talks came up to me and said, Do you want to speak at our TEDx Talk? I didn't even really know what a TEDx talk was. I'd never watched one before, so I just said yes to the first one and thought, It's ages away, I'll just figure it out. Then realised it was quite a big deal and a bit scary because you have to do it live and you get one shot and that's it. And there's all these. You have to have like three meetings before they let you do it. And it was a bit intense. And I went along to the first meeting, it was in Birmingham and I went along to the first meeting and the organiser was like, Right, so what's your idea? Because I haven't had to pitch for it. I just got given it. I didn't have to apply or anything like you normally do. And I was telling her this idea and it was linked to my business and it was quite boring. I can't even remember what it was, but it was quite boring, but it was safe. And at that point I never used to talk about anything personal because I didn't want people to know that I was a single parent actually, because I didn't want them to have any sort of preconceptions of what I was about or think that I couldn't do the job, whatever. So I never used to talk about anything personal, and she kind of threw her pen down in the middle of this meeting and was like, That's really boring. She said, I want to know where your grit comes from. Like, where does that come from? And I remember really directly asking me this question and I just started chatting away and she was like, Right, that's your story. Will you tell it? And I was like, Oh my God, I feel really sick. But I did it. And that was that was what the TEDx was. And that led to two other things, cool things happening as well. But I think, like, none of my family are entrepreneurial at all. They've all got their normal jobs. They're all dead normal in general. And I think I've always been quite entrepreneurial and I think that I get a sense like a bit of a thrill when I do business deals and cool things happen. And I like the fact that in business you can just rock up to to something and something else exciting will happen off the back of it. Like my book launch, getting to do a Ted Talk, you know, it's a snowball effect. And I think as well when I was going through the divorce, that period of time where I had no money, like minus money, if anything, and started racking up all this debt with my parents, I was lucky that my parents could help me out. But I did have to pay them all of that money back. So I was getting more and more in debt every month and I think I owed them about 30 grand in the end because they were having to help sub me on this mortgage. And I'd had a really cracking salary before I'd set the business up. So it was a right, you know, step down at a crap time in my life. And I think I had and still have this insecurity around money and thinking, Oh my God, what if it runs out and what am I going to do if I don't have it? And for me, it's not about having a nice handbag or a fancy holiday or whatever. Don't get me wrong, I do like those things also. However, it's not all about that. And you know, I've lived quite happily without holidays for years and I've gone through those tough times. For me, having money equates to freedom and choice. So I can now choose to send Jess to a school that I would like Jess to go to. So to me, that's brilliant that I've got the opportunity to make that choice and to give her an opportunity that I didn't have when, you know, when I was growing up. And I think she will excel in that environment. You know, it's nice to have been able to take her to a, you know, she's very well travelled. We've been on some mint holidays that have created experiences for us and it's not always been the really fancy, expensive ones that she's raved about. In fact, you know, I often say to people when I talk to her about, Oh, where do you want to go this year? What should we do? You know, where's been your favourite holiday? She often says to me, Mum, it was when we went to Birmingham because she came with me on that Ted talk and got to hang out with the, you know, the film crew that were filming it and do all these really cool things. And she loves all of that. So, you know, with young kids, it's often the simple things, isn't it? It's not the fancy holidays, but for me it's definitely that whole freedom and security side of things. I think that has always pushed me on and just the fact that I get a buzz off doing deals. Yeah, it's like a drug dealer. Buzz off the.
Hannah: Deal. I can relate to that. Like when I was growing up, I was like the girl in Edgbaston Birmingham. So I understand why you love it so much, but I used to help the milkman and then everybody in the area would be like, Oh, because you go and collect the money. So you're chatting with all these like really rich people, and they'd be like, Oh, do you know somebody who can walk dogs? And I'd be like, Me, Do you know somebody who can clean me? Can't clean, don't even clean my own house. But you know what I mean? Like, just that you do one thing and then something new will come from that. I love.
Sophie: That. I love that. It's about taking.
Hannah: Up the podcast.
Sophie: Yeah, taking opportunities, seeing where conversations lead, just being really open minded and I think. Cool things happen. Yeah. Yeah.
Hannah: I love all that. I just need to turn it into money. At some point, you're going to have to coach me.
Sophie: Yeah, it needs to make money.
Hannah: That's the thing. Like, you can't do everything for free forever, which is where I've ended up going down that sort of route. Careful with that. Yeah, and I guess it might be a slightly. I don't know, just feeling like I should be giving back because I'm in such a fortunate position. But then, you know, it's not going to last forever.
Sophie: No. And I think as well, when you do too much stuff for free, it kind of devalues your time and your people's perception of your value as well. So, you know, things like had a really good chat with a business colleague ages ago where she was saying to me, I'm not speaking at events anymore, ever again for free. Because, you know, men always get paid for stuff and women are terrible and just, you know, are grateful for the opportunity. But actually, the amount of time that it takes to prepare for a talk, to get there, to do a talk, blah, blah, blah. And there's this expectation often that you'll speak for free. And I was like, Yeah, you're right, I'm not going to do that either. And I've very rarely would go and speak at an event for free now because I don't need to. And um, you know, I will if, if it's for, if it's something linked to the charity that a chair or, you know, linked to my old school or whatever, you know, I would do that. But I think you get treated better as well because there's something just about that value exchange.
Hannah: Yeah. You know Sarah, who you work with?
Sophie: Sarah Bendrick. Yes.
Hannah: I heard you say her surname again, so she's coaching me at the moment. And she says, like, um. You know, people pay attention to what they pay for.
Sophie: Yeah, well, you put a value on it. So, you know, I'm sure you've signed up to a freebie course or something and then never, never do it. Whereas if you paid, I don't know, a couple of grand for it, you'd think bloody hell, I'll need to do that and get the value back. So I think as women as well, and particularly Sarah would definitely tell you this, there's that whole thing around imposter syndrome. Oh, I couldn't possibly charge that for this or whatever, but actually, why not? If you're providing a service to someone, there is value in that and we should own that and we should be making sure that we are getting our worth in things like that. And we shouldn't constantly bow down and do everything for free.
Hannah: Too bloody, right. Yeah. So you've won loads of awards recently or been nominated for loads. Yeah. So you sold your first business? I did, yeah. So the one that you started when Jess was two.
Sophie: Yep. Sold that.
Hannah: How long did it take until you sold it?
Sophie: So I started that business in 2013, and. And I sold and I had a co-founder at that point, but he exited after maybe three years, I think. And then I sold it in 2019, stayed on for my earnouts, usually a year or whatever. So I had a year for my earnout, stayed on for that, was going to stay on for a bigger exit and get loads of money, but absolutely hated it. And you know, much as I've been talking about money and wanting the security etcetera, it's not the be all and end all. You've got to. Well, everyone will have other things that they value more than than money. And for me, it was integrity and, you know, all sorts of other things. And I just wasn't enjoying it anymore. And I felt that I'd sold it to people that kind of didn't share my values. So I was getting more and more frustrated. I was challenging things a lot with, you know, investors that supported that business. And I just thought, that's bollocks this and just decided to leave. So the exit process, I would probably say was as bad as a divorce, actually, because it was I was like leaving my baby, my other baby, my other child. And it was really brutal. And I felt that their treatment of me and it was only literally like two two people in that business, everyone else I actually still speak to and like and respect. It was just a couple of unfortunately very influential, powerful people and I felt that they didn't treat me very well during that exit. So what could have been an amazing exit where I'm now raving about how lovely they all are and still supporting the business. It was quite horrible. And when I left, I was just so battered, absolutely drained and then I couldn't operate in that market for nine months because you get all these exit restrictions. Yeah. So there's loads of things I couldn't do for nine months. So that was at the point where I was thinking, Well, what the heck can I do next? And that was where the idea for Moja came from, because I was thinking about what I'd made that first business successful was when I started doing loads of profile building things, and it wasn't intentional. I didn't plan to go and do the TEDx talk or write the books or whatever, but it was that whole one thing, you know, leads to another and that kind of thing. So. So we set Moja up, literally. I registered it the night that my contract ended at the at the business. And literally and I left that afternoon after months and months of discussions and then registered at Companies house that night and and yeah and then we had the launch party a couple of months later and we've been trading for what, 18 months now we've got.
Hannah: So what you did with Moja was not.
Sophie: It's not competing at all. No, it's completely different. It's completely different. And I did have a period of time where I thought, do I go back and compete and win all that? You know, get all those clients back? Because the clients were really loyal to me and they liked me and we got on and I'm friends with them like they're my friends. They're nice people. So a lot of them left when I left, which which I said to, to the business. This is a risk because if you're not treating me well, they're going to hear about this like people talk. It's a small industry and they're not going to like that. You've not treated me fairly, so you just might want to think about that from a commercial point of view. But they weren't really interested, so they were quite arrogant. They just thought they'd retain all these clients. But it's been really funny seeing them leave and move on to to a competitor who I'm friends with as well. And she just texted me the week to tell me about another one that's gone. And I just think it's funny. It's slightly..
Hannah: Karma isn't it?
Sophie: It is business karma. So. So yeah. But yeah, we're now 18 months in. We've got a lot of clients throughout the UK. We've even got someone in Europe as one of our clients in Europe, but we've got all sorts of really interesting people. We won our first award for Moja in May at the National Start-Up Awards, so we won the Best PR Start-Up, which was super cool. So we we've got our first award in the Cabinet, and then I've just found out that I've been shortlisted for the Best Business Woman Awards in. The best new business and best PR category. So nice award ceremony to go to in September. So yeah, it's cool.
Hannah: And what's really awesome about what you do is it's quite accessible for everybody. So if there's somebody listening to this who's like starting something up and they're looking to build their profile, they would come and work with you.
Sophie: Well, I would hope so. Yeah, absolutely. And and do you know what? Like, yeah, anyone could come and work with us and, you know, really, they're going to have to be scaling it and have enough cash to to justify working with us. But the idea is that by working with us to raise their profile, we we kind of do all the stuff that Google would say about you. So someone Googles one of our clients, all the stuff that pops up should be stuff that we've we've helped to get there. So there's all sorts of activities. It's helping them write their award entries, It's helping them write their first book, podcast type things, articles, speaking opportunities, all of those things. And then it's underpinned by the press. So the the press and PR side of things underpins all of it. So it's just a different take on things. But you know, if people are earlier on in their journeys or they're a one man band and they literally do everything themselves and they're bootstrapping, we've got a free series of videos that will show you how to do it over on our YouTube channel. So there's tons of content that we've produced that can teach you how to do it yourself that's free. So.
Hannah: Yeah like building up your profile and all this stuff. But if you are working on your own, yeah, but it's about you.
Sophie: It is. And that's, you know, it goes back to the imposter syndrome thing again, particularly for women, is some people feel a bit awkward about that, you know, how do I put myself out there? And it's a bit painful and it's a bit cringe, which is why us doing it for them actually is quite it's quite easy because then they don't have to do it themselves in that sense. But the reality is that the benefits that come from putting the spotlight on you, it's spotlight spotlights your business so effectively because people are more interesting usually than their businesses. And it's just proven to be a really successful way of growing your business. So sometimes you've just got to jump on board and just do it.
Hannah: What if you don't know what your business is?
Sophie: Well, that's unusual. Most people who have a business know what it is.
Hannah: I'm just asking for a friend.
Sophie: Well, your friend should work with someone like Sarah Pittendreich who will maybe be able to work that out.
Hannah: Yeah. Very good. So I was going to ask you to leave us with your kind of tips of. What a woman could do if they're leaving a relationship, but also wanting to nurture like their business dreams. Like if you've got any tips because obviously you had to throw yourself into it.
Sophie: Yeah, I mean, that would be my tip because I think if you are coming out of a relationship, you're battered anyway and you're dealing with all of that. If you neglect the business, you're going to lose that as well. You know, unless it's a hobby and you don't really need the money or you don't really want to put the time in. And there's a lot of people that I meet at business events where they're like, well, you know, I don't I want a work life balance and that doesn't exist when you run your own business. I'm sorry. It just it might be an unpopular thing to say, but the reality is to get to that point where you can totally choose what you do with your time takes a lot of bloody hard work before you get to that point. It's it's you don't have a really successful business work in a four hour week, you know, it's just a total myth. I think you can get to that point. To be fair, I think you can get to that point, but not without doing the the 60 or 80 hour weeks in those early years. I think, you know, you've got to just throw yourself into it. And I think, you know, maybe it's holding a mirror up if you're in that situation to say, do I really want to do that? I'm going through the divorce is business for me as well. And if it is great because like for me, it was it was my sanctuary. It distracted me. When I was working, I wasn't thinking about the solicitor's letter that I had to respond to or the court date coming up or any of those sorts of things that happen during divorce. I was just in the zone of doing the business stuff, but for some people that actually might be a pressure too far, so maybe they should go and get a job, whether it's temporary or whether that's where they end up going. The other thing is most people well, not most people I don't know. A lot of people would have a business partner or people that work in the business. So it's making use of of those relationships. Or even if it's someone that is a one man band or a freelancer or whatever, there will be some business networks that they go to. You know, one of the things that really helped me in those early years actually was I was going to a women in business networking event. It's one that doesn't exist anymore. In fact, when it when it ended, we actually created city ladies because we missed having having that sort of set up. And when when I used to go to that, there were always the same.. There was like a hard core group of women that used to always come to it, and then you'd get new faces each month and about. I think the seven of us ended up creating a group chat where we would talk about business stuff in there, but then it quite quickly turned into like non-business stuff. And I think half of that group were divorced with kids, all with daughters, weirdly, or we've all got daughters, and the other half were kind of in relationships or whatever. So we'd be chucking in all the romantic questions and we'd go out for wine and we'd go out for dinner and stuff. And that group was really good for just kind of keeping me on track and keeping me focussed. And they understood the business challenges as well as the family and the divorce and all that sort of stuff. And actually they were probably the first divorce people that I met, a couple of women that were in that group because none of my friends were divorced. And even now, my friends outside of business, I don't know if any of them have got not really close friends. There's a lot of them that I think probably would benefit from getting divorce, you know, a couple in particular. When I see them, I'm like, Come on, is it not time for you? Is it not time? I do say that. And there's one friend. I have to be careful. I don't think she would listen to that. Maybe she will. But she she really should divorce her husband. And he hates her coming round to my house because she's always really fiery when she comes back and like, really challenging. So he doesn't like her to come round. But I'm like, You need to leave.
Hannah: It's funny that don't go see that woman who tells you to leave me.
Sophie: I know how rude.
Hannah: That's really helpful. I love the idea that it is. It's that idea of it's like in business, we call it like a mastermind, but of other people, especially women who are going through similar things at the same time that also get the whole business thing. So you're all supporting each other in lots of different ways.
Sophie: It's important. You can't underestimate it. It's finding your tribe and, you know, being there for them and actually, you know, that same group, they're so interesting because they're all we've all got very different businesses and there's a couple in that group that have now gone back into employment. So the business side wasn't for them, but we've still got business in common. And when I had that Break-Up with that on off four year guy, that was just awful. I was really heartbroken. And they rallied around and they were like, Right, we're going to meet at Thames House and you need to be there at 6:00 or whatever. And one of them came and got me and took me there and they'd ordered like takeaway. They had loads of snacks, wine, sweets and they'd bought me all these lovely presents and I had like a bag, I think they called it the Bag of Happy, and it had loads of lovely things in it and they were like. You need to dig into this bag whenever you're feeling sad and take something out of it. And it had like chocolate and it had this really nice, this, this like coin that sort of said, it's super Mum. It was a bit cheesy, but it was really nice and it was a nice sentiment behind it. And it's it's in my purse now even and just loads of lovely, really thoughtful, nice things. And you just need people that get it.
Hannah: Yeah. Get it, can support the dream, can commiserate when it goes wrong.
Sophie: But celebrate when things are good as well. Yeah, it's important to do that because we forget that sometimes.
Hannah: Oh, 100%. Yeah. The people that you can go to and be like this cool things happen and they're not like, Oh.
Hannah: Oh, thank you so much for coming in. So that's been really fascinating. It's funny how we can be talking for so many years and then I'm like, Oh my God, I didn't know that.
Sophie: It's always the way.
Hannah: Yeah, but I really appreciate it. Thank you.
Hannah: All right, then. Thank you so much for listening and I'll see you again next time for another episode of Happily Ever After with me, Hannah. It would be amazing if you could leave a review and subscribe. And of course, if you've got a friend who might enjoy this episode, please do pass it on for anything else. You can get in touch with me through Instagram @Mumsdays or by my website Mumsdays.com. And did you know that I've got a newsletter? So it's the best way to stay in touch and to make sure you don't miss any podcasts or any freebies or competitions that we're running. And again, you can sign up to that through the website.