Spotlight on Spouses – Lucy Mans
Name: Lucy Mans
Business Name: Family Rule
What is your career background?
Before Family Rule I was working in marketing as a Director within the Premium Beauty Industry. A role I had worked really hard for, was completely dedicated to and absolutely adored!
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I had decided to make a wooden height chart as a gift to my husband shortly before our first was born. As he is in the military I wanted something that would mean we could take those memories with us no matter how many times we moved. I look at it now and it fills me with nostalgia… and makes me cringe! It was made using a sharpie pen and some stickers (now peeling off) and i’ve only recently allowed myself to ‘upgrade’ it to one of my new hand-painted designs because it was the start of our new beginnings. It received lots of lovely comments from friends and family when they visited so the seed was really planted then.
How did you move from the idea to the actual business?
I was still working full time and pregnant with our second child when Family Rule really came to be. I started building the website in the evenings as a little challenge for myself. A little piece of creativity that was 100% me; a release from work as well as motherhood and something I had never done before. I then officially launched in January 2016 thinking that, if anything, it would be a great hobby to have as a sideline. Fast forward two and a half years (and pregnant with number three) and I’ve had such a wonderful response it’s certainly more than a hobby now. I can be found most nap times/evenings/any-spare-child-free-second-except-to-shower happily getting orders ready for their new homes. I can’t wait to see where else I can take it
How do you spread the word about what you do?
I’ve been very fortunate to have had the support of some wonderful women I admire and follow and who have wanted a Family Rule in their homes. With their influencer support my business awareness has been growing. I am obsessed with Instagram and also use Facebook. However, my customers are my biggest ambassadors and their word of mouth speaks volumes for my little brand.
As a Military spouse, what has been your biggest obstacle when trying to balance work/ kids/ your spouses military commitments?
Being a military spouse was the main catalyst for starting my own company. Working as I was, full time, for a huge corporation based in London was all well and good before children and while my husband was posted there too. When the children arrived and postings further afield were on the cards I made the decision to start looking for something that could really work flexibly for me and for our family. With so much changing and seemingly last minute within the military it can be difficult to plan as confidently as I would like. Not to mention childcare logistics. At least the only person I have to answer to now is myself and if I need to spend a day or two checking out nurseries or doing a recce of our new quarters I can do so guilt free!
What has been your proudest moment?
Apart from getting my very first order, which felt so wonderful. I feel proud every time I get sent a picture of a Family Rule being enjoyed in its new home and the customer feedback and comments I receive fill me with a huge sense of joy and purpose. I also felt really proud when I actually paid myself for the first time… something I put off for longer than I should have to ‘protect the business’ but when I hired an accountant she set me straight.
Why is work so important for you?
I like to be able to create as well as connect with other people outside my day to day life. I have always been ambitious and wanted to continue to fulfil this side of me regardless of military circumstances. Family Rule allows me to do this as well as bring in a little income while raising our children. I fell very lucky to be doing what I do and able to be as flexible as possible during this phase of our life together.
What advice would you give fellow Military spouses who want to start their own business?
Know your own strengths as well as your challenges. Go, go, go with areas you are confident in and seek help, build relationships, to get support areas you find challenging. There are some amazing groups out there on social media who are teaming with like minded people ready with ideas and support. You may feel like you are starting on your own but there is always a community ready to champion you and offer advice.
Things will always evolve. You don’t have to have all the answers from the get go. Just start!