Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Mothers and Co; How Do You Look after the Children and Start Up in Business? Give Up Your Sitting Room, Says Katie Law, HOMES & PROPERTY

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Mothers and Co; How Do You Look after the Children and Start Up in Business? Give Up Your Sitting Room, Says Katie Law, HOMES & PROPERTY

Article excerpt

Byline: KATIE LAW

THE new breed of working mother has discovered she can combine her creativity, running a company and getting the school run done, as long as she doesn't mind turning her sitting room into a warehouse. All it takes is a little investment and lashings of energy.

Marina Guirey's Kensal Rise front room is brimming with the linens, pottery and enamel goods that she is dispatching to her first customers since her new internet shopping site, The Linen Works, went live last week.

The 37-year-old exchanged the buzzy world of advertising for her pared-down "pantry chic" website business, so she can spend more time with her sons Temujin, four, and baby Aubrey.

Now she can work from home, with the help of a part-time au pair.

It was her musician husband's family holiday home in Provence that provided the inspiration for The Linen Works. "The house is falling apart, but is filled with lovely old linens and enamel plates; proper items collected by my mother-in-law, things with integrity. I want to sell them here."

The whiff of wooden dolly peg is unmistakable in the range of simple cotton and linen fabrics she sources from a small French factory near Belgium. It's undoubtedly appealing, but will it work? There's so much competition. Guirey is convinced that the taste for utility wares has far to go, and being online means being able to sell anywhere in the world. Having invested a large chunk of her own money, she has big plans.

"After the website comes the mail-order catalogue; then my own range of linens and, eventually, a shop. Yes, I'm sure it'll work. There's a big demand and I hope to be doing this in 20 years' time."

It was when Karen Walker saw some glass balls nestling in the window of an antiques shop in Amsterdam - like the ones you see in Cornish fishing nets - that she knew she had the kernel of an idea for her own business. Like Guirey, she had given up the day job, as an investment adviser at Arthur Anderson, to look after Ruby, nine, Sam, five, and Otis, 19 months, but there was still something missing.

"I felt as though I'd had an arm cut off. …

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