Louise Harris used to live the rock and roll life, but baby Isla meant she had to tweak her working life to fit with her 15 month old.
Louise Harris used to live the rock and roll life. She is a press officer at Quite Great Communications in Cambridge, an agency specialising in music, and would work 9-6pm, often in London and often staying on to go to a gig at 9pm, rolling home around 1am. She would also fly off on press trips abroad. All that has changed with the arrival of Isla, her 15-month-old daughter.
She hasn’t changed her job, though, just tweaked it to fit with her new lifestyle as a working mum. “I’ve taken more of a back seat and reworked my list of duties,” she says.
While she was on maternity leave, which she extended from nine months to 12 because she didn’t feel ready to go back, she kept in touch with her boss. The company was thinking of expanding the consumer side of its business and her boss encouraged her to think of ideas around this theme. “I looked around and saw that the Babyshow was on in London. I got an exhibitors’ list and emailed people on it, asking if they needed pr. A couple replied that they did,” says Louise. A month before she was due back from maternity leave she met up with potential clients and got two contracts.
Her company then decided to set up a new division called Babygr8 PR with her in charge. Louise, 30, started back in September, working 9-4pm three days a week in the office and half a day from her home in Bedford on a Friday. She says the business is building up and is optimistic about the future. She says companies are cutting back on advertising in the recession and looking at other ways they can get more with less cash. Using good PR, she says, means they can get into many publications instead of just the one they pay for with advertising. Plus Quite Great have good links with showbusiness and music so they can access mainstream publications like Hello and OK through celebrity tie-ins. Celebrity mum Nell McAndrew, for example, has worked with the company. “I realised I had a lot of transferable skills after nearly 10 years in the business,” said Louise. “It was just a question of building up new contacts with the parenting and baby press.” She also, of course, has her own personal interest in the baby market.
She says the return to work was quite fraught as Isla had not been prone to illness before she started nursery. Contact with lots of other children meant that she came down with quite a few bugs and Louise got them all too which made her feel guilty as she had only just gone back to work and had to take time off. Isla goes to nursery on Mondays and Fridays, but Louise’s mother in law lives nearby and looks after her on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Louise’s partner works full time in London and gets home late during the week, although he sometimes works from home.
She does still manage to go to evening events at work, but she says her clients know she has a child to look after. “I’ve toned things down a bit,” she says of her former lifestyle.