Sophie Cooper on finding postnatal inspiration for her premium denim brand.
Q. How did you originally come up with the concept for your denim brand, I Am Denim?
A. About a year after my son was born, I had to undergo major stomach surgery. It was in the weeks after recovery that I found something as simple as pulling on a pair of jeans an absolute struggle and an uncomfortable one. Searching for the right pair made me realise how much we all struggle after pregnancy, c-section and surgery to find a great pair of jeans that are comfortable, look good and are of a high quality. I wanted to create jeans that everyone could wear with total confidence and that is how I Am Denim was born!
Q. How do you balance working life (especially the demanding nature of running your own business) with the responsibilities of motherhood?
A. Running my own business is very demanding, and you do have to consciously be aware of finding that balance. With access to technology around-the-clock and from any location I find my hours can be flexible, which is great and makes things so much easier. If I have not completed everything in the day due to a school event, I always have the option of working at night from my laptop in my pyjamas! For me family comes first and so I find if I plan my hours and schedule my tasks for each day it is beneficial and more productive. Having a good support network of friends and family around you during school holidays can also really help.
Q. Do you support flexible working? If so, in what way do you do so and should be championing?
A. Absolutely! It can be a real struggle for mums getting back into the workplace and often the cost of childcare can literally mean the reality of mums working for nothing. With 24/7 access, flexible working allows for higher morale, better health and far more productivity. For businesses to thrive, being open to a flexible approach is key, whether that’s part time or working from home.
Q. What’s the most challenging aspect of running a business in today’s fast-paced world?
A. For me, personally, it’s knowing when to stop or take a break. It’s very easy even on days off to be thinking about new designs and ideas or tasks to be completed the next day. Making sure you have a digital detox on days off is really beneficial and actually helps you feel more refreshed and focused and enhances family time.
Q. What advice would you give to other new mums looking to start their own businesses?
A. Honestly, if you’re passionate about it then go for it. If you believe in what you’re doing and have a vision, then never ever give up. People often like to give you their opinion along the way, sometimes negative, and they sometimes dress it up as advice – but in your heart you’ll know what’s right for you and your business. Have a plan in place, and always be prepared for things to take longer than they do. Lastly, never be afraid to ask for help or support. Starting out by yourself takes a lot of courage, self-belief and determination, and is so worth it.
For me, being able to help people feel more confident and comfortable, and enabling them to look great in the jeans I design, is really special.