The Power of Redundancy
It’s June 2009 and I’m sitting in my lounge, feet up, phone in hand, communicating with my now ex-colleagues over Facebook. I’ve been crying on and off for the past four hours. I’m eating chocolate and draining the last of the wine. The time is 1am but, no work for me tomorrow so bed-time is futile, except that I have a two-year-old upstairs who is programmed to wake at the crack of dawn; he’s oblivious to mummy’s lack of employment.
A week later, the practical side of my brain has balanced out the emotional side and I am thinking of ways to earn some money. I’ve convinced my husband to load the car at 5am with an eclectic mix of house-hold paraphernalia; we’re heading to the local car-boot sale. I notice that the lady at the stall next to me has a vast array of baby clothing and she’s selling brands such as GAP and John Lewis for as little as 50p per item. I fill a bag for a fiver, kitting out my son on a shoe-string.
I’m washing all the baby clothes and feeling pleased with my frugal purchases. I’m no stranger to second-hand; my mum used to be an avid jumble sale shopper back in the ‘80s so I’d often be seen hanging out in outfits that had cost less than the price of a coffee.
Whilst dressing my son in his pre-loved attire my entrepreneurial brain is struck with an idea: what if the lady at the car boot sale could have a different kind of selling experience and the customers, a more engaging buying experience? Soon enough, The Little People’s Boutique, an indoor-pre-loved market, is born. I build a website, design my own logo, write copy for collateral, negotiate with the venue, pound the pavements dishing out leaflets, create communications for stall holders and interact with customers at the pop-up events.
Another week passes and I get a call from an ex-colleague who has recommended my solution development skills to a friend of his; I find myself penning a proposal for an overseas incentive. It’s a long shot – the client is brand new – but we win the business and I run the project which culminates in event delivery onsite in Italy.
My career slowly gains momentum, once again, and it’s not the only thing beginning to blossom: baby number two is en route! Freelance life keeps me busy for five years, I’m working on all manner of different projects from automotive events involving bathtubs, delegate dinners in haunted venues to proposals for activities and client-experiences during the 2012 Olympics.
It’s August 2020. I’m sitting in the kitchen filling out job applications; LinkedIn has replaced Facebook as my daily scroll. My entrepreneurial brain feels exhausted after months of attempting to pivot, swivel, flip, differentiate, sit outside of the box, read upside down and take a view from as many perspectives as my mind will muster. My two-year-old is now a teenager and my blossoming baby has just entered double digits. I’m a job-hunting parent; a creative soul with endless(ish) energy, passion for purpose and desire to make a difference. But today’s landscape is very different to that of June 2009: we’re in a pandemic. My LinkedIn feed is filling up with posts from connections who have joined the redundancy club. Some are just starting out in their careers, others are mid-point, some are parents wondering how this will affect their family, others have just bought property with a partner. Too many different circumstances to mention but all experiencing the same emotions and thoughts of: now what?
In June 2009, I didn’t know how things would pan out and now, in August 2020, I still don’t have any definitive answers – the path ahead is so uncertain, for all of us. But what I do know is that we’re never done writing our own stories. There might just be the most explosive plot twist yet to be discovered.
My experiences and the people I’ve met along the way have shaped who I am today and for that, I am grateful. Time spent organising The Little People’s Boutique is remembered fondly and has also left its mark on the kids; despite being so young at the time, they understand the value of money, the benefits of buying second-hand and perhaps most importantly: to see and act on opportunities when they present themselves.
I recently took part in a Careers Live! event for the YouNG Project and was asked what I would do differently if I were to re-live my career journey: nothing, I wouldn’t change it. I’m so very thankful to those who have played a significant role in my story so far – those who have taken a punt on me, mentored me, those who have given me opportunities and helped me to flourish through incredible support and friendship. To anyone who has been affected by redundancy: keep writing and turning the pages – you are in control of your own story.
(Not) The End.
You can say hi to Janina Monaghan over on insta @styleatthehutch