Spotlight on Spouses – Natalie Trezise
Name: Natalie Trezise
Business Name: Owner of YourHomePatch
What is your career background?
I always wanted to be a teacher. I love learning, being around people and laughing; three things very much part of the classroom environment (despite what you might read in the tabloids about secondary school life these days!). But more than anything, what I loved most about being in schools was feeling like I was helping someone be the best version of themselves and moving their life forwards, even if that just meant they could now name elements on the periodic table! I never had any intent to set up my own business but that’s what happens in life; unexpected twists and turns that you just have to grab with both hands and run with!
Where did the idea for your business come from?
When you fall in love with someone in the Armed Forces, you become part of an enormous Forces community! This can come with many wonderful blessings; you might get to meet lots of amazing people, see different parts of the country or even travel and live abroad. I know I certainly have learnt to be more patient, less of a planner (which goes against everything I used to believe in!) and just generally go with the flow, because in the Forces, nothing is certain except for change! It was this feature of life as a Forces wife that helped me to create YourHomePatch. I wanted to create a resource which would help Forces Families cope with the perpetual change and upheaval of relocations by providing one constant, one go-to source of information about your new home patch.
My (now) husband was posted in Germany when we first met. Our relationship was based, like so many couples, on Facetime calls, Whatsapps and dashing for the departure gate for a 24hr visit. I loved the sense of community when I was out there and was welcomed with open arms by the other wives and girlfriends from day one. Not once did I come back from a trip to see him without regaling tales of the totally wonderful “Jean/Rachel/Claire/Charlotte/Amelia” etc etc…all the lovely wives and girlfriends who, if I’m honest, I was in awe of. These amazing women were keeping their (insert expletive) together whilst their other half was here, there and everywhere except for at home with them. These women and the many others I have been fortunate to get to know and call friends have shaped my business into what it is today.
How did you move from the idea to the actual business/ job role?
Time and time again, as new families move into a patch, you hear the same tales of challenges faced, isolation and frustration. When we get posted, we all need the same or similar information to make that process easier; how do I get a pass for camp? What time is the medical center open? Where can I go to get a delicious meal…to name just 3! Then add to the mix childrens’ centres, MOT garages, dog walking services and you can see there is a huge need that just isn’t currently being met. I wanted to provide people with a quick and easy way to find the information they need, irrespective of where they are posted. Once you know about YourHomePatch, you never need to feel like you don’t know about your patch again because you simply change your location and welcome in a treasure-trove of information. YourHomePatch travels with you from posting to posting, just like that unopened box of “really important extra military kit” that always gets shipped onto the removals truck, expect YourHomePatch is much more useful!
I attended the X-Forces Enterprise “Empowering through Enterprise” workshops and learnt a whole array of new skills that I so desperately needed to make the first step into setting up the website. With the help of an X-Forces Enterprise appointed mentor, the journey began. The only thing that actually got me though to start the business was….starting! Picking up the phone, speaking to people and slowly but surely things started to happen. I had no plan- in fact I still don’t really have a plan, but I do “stuff” and that moves things forwards even if just in a tiny way. In the beginning I felt overwhelmed by how much there was to do, so I just didn’t think about it that way. My list said “Design a logo” and I could feel the panic course through my body every time I read it. “I’m a Scientist”, I’d say, “I know nothing about design”. So instead I set myself targets like “all I need to do today is pick the colours for my logo” and forced myself not to even think about any part of the logo beyond colours. Then the next time I worked on it, I looked at fonts for logos and so on; rather than try to tackle this huge scary logo-beast, I broke it down into bite-size, “Natalie can manage this” chunks!
How do you spread the word about what you do?
I try to engage with social media as much as possible, keeping posts fresh, informative, but also fun. I have been fortunate enough to be mentioned by X Forces Enterprise in their social media accounts as well as appear in Just for Families Military magazine. When I meet new people, I also bore them senseless about it, because you never know who you’re going to meet that could help you get a foot through a door somewhere!
As a Military spouse, what has been your biggest obstacle when trying to balance work/ kids/ your spouses military commitments?
I might be the contradiction to the norm here, but I actually feel being a military spouse has been my greatest benefit. Yes, I have to juggle setting up YourHomePatch with a full time job, running the house and taking care of our dog and other responsibilities whilst my husband is away or working till the small hours, but mainly I’ve found more benefits then barriers. Frankly, I wouldn’t have started YourHomePatch if I wasn’t a military spouse, being inspired by all the amazing military families I see every day tackling life’s challenges.
What has been your proudest moment?
It was actually really recently at the Army v Navy Rugby match! So many people from my husband’s regiment congratulated me on what I have achieved so far and every one of them said they thought it was a great idea. I didn’t even know they knew about it, let alone liked it, and so I was chuffed. I felt like word was starting to spread and that people were backing me; and that felt fabulous!
Why is work so important for you?
Having meaningful work is so important to me. Knowing I am doing something that is making a difference, no matter how small a difference that might be, is huge. It gives me a sense of purpose, direction and motivates me to do more in all sorts of different areas of life. I once read that the more you do, the more interested IN others and the more interesting TO others you become; I love this and see the truth in it every day.
What advice would you give fellow Military spouses who want to get back into work, retrain for a new career or start their own business?
Do it. Just do it! Face your fears. Put yourself first, as only when your needs are taken care of will you be able to “be there” for everyone else. Ask for help all the time, don’t try to go it alone. Find what you care about and JUST DO IT!