Julie Hawkins, Founder of Single Mums Business Network
Helping single mums to gain exposure for their business and the belief to succeed
Only seven years ago, I was a single mum living in relative poverty. The father of my daughter made it clear he would never be part of our lives, but I stayed strong by channelling all of my love, time and energy into my child. She was a blessing from the universe because I genuinely thought I’d never have children after suffering a miscarriage in 2010. That same year I’d split from my husband, so I had been in a dark place until my daughter came along.
When I was three months pregnant, I signed up to study Law at The Open University – a long-term plan to ensure I wouldn’t be raising my baby in a ‘stereotypical’ single mum set-up. I always worked when I was married – more than 20 years, in fact – and I was determined to be a reliable sole provider with a secure job.
Four months later and still studying, I designed the KIH (pronounced ‘key’) Bed – a pregnancy cushion now used by professional practitioners to enable their clients to lay prone full term. I had the product fully protected and it passed all the relevant industry tests – leading to award wins and a turnaround in my fortunes.
Fast-forward to 2016 and I’d graduated with a Law degree; had been successfully marketing the KIH Bed for two years; and I self-published a book on Amazon about finding happiness! Life began to stabilise and I started to focus on my next venture…
In May this year, I founded Single Mums Business Network (SMBN) to help women who have been on a similar journey to me. Our membership is growing rapidly and I’m excited about our conference next week, plus we’ve made it onto Forbes’ ‘SmallBiz100’ list!
There are 2.5 million single mums in the UK and they’re NOT workshy; they just need some support to gain exposure and build their confidence. That’s why I’m passionate about promoting collaboration so we’re not in competition.
As women, we enjoy much better relationships both personally and professionally when we’re happy, so my network nurtures a sense of sisterhood whilst also making the message plain that we don’t have to keep struggling on our own to succeed.