Welcome to Mum With a Plan.
My name is Allison Furlong. I am no longer 21 and live in Liverpool, UK. I am a proud mum to Alfie who is 9 (The Kid), and Mabel, a crazy Miniature Labradoodle who is 5 (The Dog). I have my own creative business making dog accessories which I work on part time. I would love to be working full time but I have a condition known as M.E. which makes it impossible. Working part time means I can get the rest I need, rearrange my work if I’m ill, and provide for my family.
I haven’t always had my own business. My jobs have been varied to say the least…
Dressing up as Dangermouse!
My very first job was while I was still at school. I had to dress up as Dangermouse and walk around a tourist spot in Liverpool called The Albert Dock, handing out leaflets and waving to kids. That was my employer’s vision anyway. The reality was that I spent most of the time running away from teenagers who would try and throw me into the dock. It was here that I learnt the useful life skill of being able to run quickly when not actually being able to see anything (I don’t know who the costume was built for but the eye holes were nowhere near where my eyes are situated)!
My first full time job was at a call centre. I hated it, and wanted to do something a bit different, so, I packed my bags and went to London with my cousin who was about to open a new Student Pub.
I loved this job! I was made Assistant Manager and went on various courses to get me ready to run my own pub. I was given the opportunity soon after to cover a 6 month maternity leave. After that, I was then allowed my own pub. I went on to manage 3 further pubs; one in London, then back home to open a pub in Liverpool, then I moved over to Huddersfield to run one there.
After 5 years of running pubs, I decided I wanted a change. I applied to be a Holiday Rep with a travel company. I got the job so I packed my bags again (but this time added sun cream) and I jetted off to Gran Canaria. I eventually ended up as Guest Service Manager, responsible for thousands of holiday makers.
I loved living abroad and I loved my job. It was pretty stressful though. My role involved dealing with complaints, deaths and accidents, as well as evicting troublesome holiday makers. We worked Spanish hours which was a revelation (they have naps in the afternoon!). We enjoyed our time when we weren’t working. I lasted 3 years in Gran Canaria. I was getting too old for the hangovers and lack of sleep, plus, it was mentally draining always dealing with serious problems all of the time.
Back in the UK…
On my return to the UK, I started working as a Customer Service Manager for a Housing Association in Liverpool. It was while working here that my life started taking a different route.
I met a nice young man and after a few years together we had a baby boy called Alfie. I took 9 months maternity leave and then went back to work full time. I thought I was coping fine but one morning I had a complete breakdown in work (I actually don’t remember this at all) and got myself to the Doctor who, luckily, was only down the road from my office.
It turned out I had Post Natal Depression. I was signed off work for 4 months.
This time of my life is very blurry. One thing I do remember though is how people would say to me ‘I thought there was something wrong’ when I told them what was going on! I didn’t know I was acting any differently.
Creative Business Idea
While I was signed off work, I had a massive Ebay clearout of all of Alfie’s baby clothes and anything of mine I no longer used. With the money I made, I bought a book on how to make jewellery and a load of beads, elastic, wire etc and I taught myself what to do.
When it was time to go back to work, my house was full of jewellery and I felt really calm. After being back in work for a few weeks I realised I didn’t have the mental strength to carry on with the stress of my job so I asked to work part time instead.
Whilst working part time, I started to think about whether I could turn my new found love of making jewellery into a creative business. 3 months later I walked into work and handed my notice in.
This was the turning point in my life. I didn’t have any savings. I was leaving a well paid job basically on a hunch that I may be able to make money with my jewellery. I had never run my own creative business before and I was still struggling with Post Natal Depression, as well as breaking up with Alfie’s dad. It seemed everything was against me but I just ignored all of that and went for it anyway!
I built up a successful business selling jewellery, but things changed again when The Dog came along. I didn’t like any of the collars and leads on offer, so off I went again. This time, I bought a sewing machine and a book on how to use it. This led to the birth of Dog Charmed!
I was diagnosed with M.E shortly after getting The Dog, which meant my working hours dropped drastically. I decided to focus on the dog accessories from here on as it was proving to be very successful.
These days, Dog Charmed is still going strong. I also spend time helping other Mums on how to start and build their own Creative Business.
Recent Blog Posts:
The official definition of a craft is an activity involving skill in making things by hand. The Internet is a wonderful thing. It makes everything so much more accessible. It is possible to learn new crafts, and there are hundreds of different platforms on which you...