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Emma Skett has set up her own make-up and photography business on the side of her regular work so that she can attain the work life balance she desires.

Emma Skett’s business is not only a way for her to do something she enjoys and have time with her young daughter, but it is named after her.

MOJO is a photography and make-up business which offers a range of services, from wedding photos to make-up parties and makeovers. It is named after Emma’s daughter Mollie, who is called Mojo by her grandfather.

Emma set up MOJO in 2008. She had a degree in fashion photography and had worked for a design agency after graduation. She did a lot of commercial work for organisations such as BT and Vodafone. “It gave me a lot of experience,” she said, “but it was not fashion photography. However, I live in Swindon so it’s hard to get any fashion photography experience.”

She wanted to do something she enjoyed more so she started doing portraits and wedding photographs on the side of her part-time job.

She had gone part time after her daughter Mollie was born in 2006. It took her quite a while to find a part-time job with a design agency, but they were very supportive and helped her set up her website.

She was made redundant, though, and had to find different part-time work to pay the bills so started working for an insurance company.

Long hours
Emma works long hours. On top of a three-day-a-week 9-5 job and looking after Mollie, she also does her photography work in the evenings and at weekends, often going out at night to do a shoot and working until 2am then getting up at 6am to get Mollie breakfast.

Mollie sometimes comes along to shoots and Emma is having a MOJO t-shirt made for her. “I gave her a camera so she can take pictures.”says Emma. “It’s a good feeling having my own business. I feel freer.”

Emma is constantly trying to add new services to widen her customer base. Two years ago after doing a make-up qualification she added makeovers to the mix. “It was a natural extension of my photography,” she says. “I could offer makeover shoots and I could do the make-up before wedding or portrait shots. Photography is my area of expertise, though. I’m not a beautician.”

She also does eyelash extensions and this has proved popular and recently she added mini MOJO makeover parties.

Emma has her own portable studio which can be set up wherever she goes and includes a professional back-drop at a reasonable price. “No-one else locally does this,” she says. This means she can do full makeovers and photographs for brides in their own homes. “It keeps my costs down as I don’t have to hire space and it is easier for customers as they can change outfits as many times as they like,” she says.

She puts all the photos she takes onto her website so customers have the freedom to share the link with their families and they can pick the photos they like and buy them.

Emma says that she hopes that when Mollie starts school in September she can invest the money she saves from childcare fees into developing her business. Mollie goes to nursery two days a week and is with Emma’s mum one day. Emma spends the other two days a week on Mollie and mum activities like swimming. “With school coming up I won’t see her as much during the day. I would love to be a stay-at-home mum, but I can’t afford it,” she says, “so the next best thing is for me to do something I enjoy.”

She adds that some of her work, like weddings, tends to be seasonal, but other services like the eyelash extensions keep her going in between. She has minimal marketing costs. She mainly advertises by word of mouth and through social networking and does all her administrative work when Mollie is in bed.

Her work schedule is intensive even in the evenings. She says she works on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights and has Wednesday nights off. The other nights are mainly reserved for her partner’s 10-year-old son from a previous relationship. “It’s hard work,” she says, “But I want to be able to provide all that I can for the family. I hope I am teaching the children a lesson that what you put in you get out.”

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