“Believe in yourself, as everyone wants the best for you”
Claire Willsher is a military spouse, she is also the founder of DR ME – an influencer in diet, resilience, mind and exercise. Self-taught and self-motivated, Claire inspires people to make changes in their lifestyle for holistic improvements. Sounds pretty amazing…
What is your career background?
I have always had a passion for sport and completed a Sport Science Degree followed by a PGCE at the University of Exeter. I have been a qualified secondary PE teacher for 15 years, and have worked in numerous schools (primary and secondary) throughout the UK during our 8 RAF postings. Now my children have both gone off to boarding school I wanted to start a business where my work could fit more suitably around my family life. At the same time I wanted to follow my life-long passions of sharing with people why health is important and how they can make small yet significant changes to their lifestyles through diet, resilience, mind and exercise for whole body improvements.
Why did you approach Recruit for Spouses?
Through the research I have carried out over the last year to get my business off the ground I have deducted there is a few key people/institutions that put military spouses at the heart of what they do and Recruit for Spouses is one of these. Being a military spouse is hard at times, and any support we can receive is hugely beneficial.
Can you briefly explain what you do?
Working in a primary school in Kent teaching PE I had a fantastic head teacher who allowed me to take the whole school off timetable for a week and do a ‘health week’. This was a huge success, which impacted pupils, staff and parents alike. Quickly, a second health week was booked in and has now become an annual event. On leaving the school my head teacher gave me a book titled ‘the small-business start up guide’ with an inscription saying “you have amazing potential to put your talents into a thriving business”. I love the fact that I am giving people the opportunity to make themselves into the best possible version of themselves.
Off the back of this I have spent the last year researching and developing my business idea DR ME. Through active workshops I focus on 4 key areas which I think are imperative to making people more healthy, namely; Diet, Resilience, Mind and Exercise (if you take the first letter from each they make the acronym DR ME).
I also want to inspire people to make small changes to each of these areas, and thus can instantly improve their whole body health giving them ownership to become their own doctor- by insuring they become ill less often and using knowledge gained on workshops as medicine.
What challenges did you face?
Starting a business is a hard task. You have to be multifaceted with your skill set, and what you don’t know you have to learn very quickly. I have been on courses to improve my social media marketing, and presenting skills, as well as self taught skills such as website building (www.doctor-me.co.uk) book keeping and email marketing. Prioritising what needs to be completed next in order for the business to thrive has been a challenge too.
What has been your proudest moment?
Last year I was accepted onto the Heropreneurs scheme. In January 2019 I was invited to the HSBC central headquarters in Birmingham to present my DR ME business idea in front of a boardroom of 25 regional business entrepreneurs in a ‘dragons den scenario’. Following on from my presentation they picked my business plan apart and gave me great advice how to drive things forward. The best thing about it was there was an underlying response that DR ME was a great idea and I have subsequently presented DR ME to various businesses present in the board room that day.
Why is being in work so important to you?
Work not only gives purpose and identity. Without this you can drift through life feeling lost, especially in the transient lifestyle we live. I also love being able to help people and sport/health has always been a passion of mine. It is great to own my own business as I determine which direction to go in, when and where to drive the business forward and make it fit around family life.
Having a desire to work in something that interests you is key. I love what I do, but I am fortunate to have a supportive family which helps make this possible.
Working from home can be lonely and isolating at times, which is why I recently decided to set up the RAF Leeming co-working hub, in an attempt to bring like minded spouses together for support, friendship and daily connections, reducing the loneliness that can arise from home working. I have met a group of ladies that have been hugely supportive and enabled us to further our businesses as a result.
As a military spouse, what has been your biggest obstacle in balancing work/military life/family?
Being a military spouse means you are never in one place for very long, and usually away from the support network of family and friends. Therefore, in many incidences people forego a career as childcare is not readily available. When my children were young I got around this by working in the schools they attended, and only since they’ve gone off to boarding school have I decided to throw myself into the DR ME business.
What advice would you give to a military spouse looking to get back into work / start their own business?
Just give it a go. I know if I hadn’t given it a go a year ago I would have looked back with regret. Find something that ignites a spark of passion and run with it….
Also, talk to other spouses to get ideas of what is possible, and tap into the amazing military support network on social media for help and advice.
Believe in yourself as everyone wants the best for you.
Linked in: Claire Willsher