Libby had been working as a legal secretary in a corporate firm for nine years when she realised she was ready for a change of scene. Having a baby sparked an interest in working with children, so she decided to team up with her own mum, Angie, to open their very own tiney home nursery. We spoke to Libby about how they did it…
What made you look for a change of career?
“The minute I fell pregnant I knew that I needed to come up with another plan because I knew it wouldn’t be easy balancing motherhood and the demands of the corporate world. I didn’t feel fulfilled and I was ready to do something new. I was kind of in limbo wondering what would suit me and my family, when relatives began talking to me about childminding. They said it was great fun and that they were doing really well, so they kind of won me around. While I was on maternity leave, I spent some time assisting in my family’s childminding setting and realised it was for me.”
What appealed to you about it?
“Although I’ve always worked in a corporate firm and helped to run businesses, I've never had my own business. When I’d had a bit more of an insight, I was excited about it and knew it was something I wanted to do and build on. I just didn't know how I’d make it work at the time, so I carried on plodding along at my other job. Then it just so happened last year that I saw an advert for tiney and I decided that this was the route out of my job. I’d been talking about it all the time but had never done anything about it, but this time, I knew that this was my chance, and so I jumped at it!”
What stood out about tiney specifically?
“It was the fact that you would help with the funding to get me up and running and support me through the registration. I didn't have a pot of money, I didn't have savings and I know how much money you need to complete an Ofsted registration. I didn't have that. So the fact that you guys were willing to support me from the start meant that I knew straight away that this was my route. Before tiney I went to our Local Authority to find out about becoming a childminder. It gave me insight into exactly what we needed to do and what the fees would be, but I came away knowing I just didn’t have the money at that moment. I still wanted to do it, even if it took two years of doing training courses in the evenings, but then tiney came about and because I'm a bit of a freak when it comes to paperwork, I didn't hang around, and here I am, a registered childminder within three or four months - it’s amazing! I’ve turned around an actual career within a few months when I thought it would take years. It wouldn’t have happened without you guys, so I’m really thankful.”
How did you end up teaming up with your mum?
“When I went back to work after having my daughter, my mum looked after her and absolutely fell in love with it. She said “If you’re doing it, I’m doing it, and we can do it together”. So I knew from the get-go that we were going to be a mother-daughter duo. We have a really good connection, she’s very hands-on whereas she likes to call me the spreadsheet queen! I’m very computer literate and do 95% of the paperwork and she does a lot of the cooking and cleaning, so we’re a good team.”
Have you received good support from tiney since you trained?
“I’m on the phone to Michelle on the tiney team all the time - poor Michelle! I ask her all sorts of questions and everything is answered straight away. I feel like someone is always holding my hand through the whole process. Starting your own business is daunting and I don't know everything. I don’t have the EYFS background a lot of the other women in the training group had and I came into it blind, so the support has been great. Having tiney in the background has really helped me and boosted my confidence.”
Community is really important to us at tiney. Have you benefited from chatting to fellow tiney home leaders?
“Yes, there are five or six people who trained at the same time as me who I’m in regular contact with. We all told each other about our registration visits, we compare what activities we’ve been doing and we’ll be arranging to meet for coffees when we can! It’s great having so much contact with people doing the same thing.”