Founder of Third Door
Third Door is about you. Your family, your career, and your peace of mind.
Tell us about the venture/ business/ initiative you have started...
Third Door is the UK’s first coworking and flexible nursery hybrid business, based in South-west London. I co-founded the business nine years ago with my husband. Back then and even more so today, Third Door has been about removing the parenthood penalty and creating a better work/ life balance for mums and dads. We have created a solution that allows parents to be able to work near their children, thus saving them time and money by cutting their commute time, as well as removing parent-guilt. Our nursery solution is super-flexible allowing parents to choose between fixed days and flexible packages, upgrade and downgrade their childcare package depending on their needs. With the flexibility we offer, we have helped countless families, especially mothers, who may not otherwise have been able to return to work and continue their careers on a full-time or flexible basis. We also have many members who are freelancers or run their own business and they say they couldn’t have done this without the services we offer. We always designed our services and amenities to be inclusive of fathers, and as a result, are delighted with all our dad members who also regularly use the Workhub.
What is your definition of success? What advice would you give to your younger self about "success"?
I also think success is built up on a succession of small failures to be honest! That’s the great thing about running your own business, you can tweak your business as you go along learning from any mistakes alongside feedback from customers or your team. I guess what I would therefore say to my younger self is “don’t be afraid to try new things, mistakes are ok, and you can learn from them.”
What challenges have you encountered on your journey and how have you overcome them? Is this a common challenge in your industry? How can we tackle it?
Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome? If so, are there any examples you can give and tips you can share with other women on how to overcome it?
Are there women you look up to? Who are they and why are they inspirational to you?
What are your thoughts on work-life balance? Do you apply any techniques to achieve work-life balance?
As a mother in business, I would remind mothers to remember to look after themselves both physically and mentally. That’s why I love going to the gym to do weightlifting, spending time at home baking, reading the latest book about feminism (!) or watching a great movie. Step away when you need to and work on your own schedule, not somebody else’s. Relationships with loved ones are more important than building your legacy or money. Because when all that fails, it is only relationships that you can fall back on to support you. Nurture yourself first and your relationships and everything else will work out. I step away from my work for a few days every few months and then go back to my ‘why’. I also make sure I have downtime for myself, as well as my family. I can’t stress how important self-care is. Likewise, to aid this focus on self-care, I also try to work shorter focused bursts, rather than long stressful days.
How did you know it was the right time to start your own venture/ initiative? How would you advise someone who is just starting out with a project outside of their regular 9-5 job?
A few months after I had my first child back in 2007, the only thing I knew for certain was that I wanted to return to work and further my career. However, like most new mums, I was reluctant to be far from my baby and wanted somewhere I could work in peace whilst my little one was cared for nearby. My husband was also studying for a self-funded MBA at the time as well as working full-time as a remote employee. When I suggested the idea of Third Door to my husband, he immediately understood the concept and based it as a feasibility study for his MBA dissertation. When he received a Distinction for his work, we decided to set up Third Door for real and two years after the initial idea we launched Third Door, in Putney, London. The world’s first coworking space, with an onsite flexible nursery, was finally open for business.
The timing may not have been spot on (I mean back then no one even knew what coworking was) but we completely believed in the idea and the stronger vision of creating a spaces where family and work could grow together. The conviction was so strong that we built Third Door as we could see that in the future, knowing that this would be type of spaces parents would be looking for. And I am so glad we did it when we did; to pioneer a whole new concept and see so many follow in our footsteps has been pretty amazing.