My life had always been ordered and organised, and I knew where I was going.
I was a career girl, and had worked my way up to being manager of an estate
agent, waiting to get my own branch .. and boom - I fell pregnant!
Being 39 and pregnant, I knew that once I had my baby, I wanted to be a hands on mummy for as long as I could so I already knew I wouldn't go back to the job after maternity leave, but how do you survive on £150 per week, when you were used to earning upwards of £30,000 a year? Scary, right?!
I had six blissful (if slightly tiring) months with Isla before I had to make a decision about what to do with regards to working. We were just about coping money wise, but I found a job in a call centre working nights and was due to start a couple of weeks later. Then my life was turned upside down. My mum was diagnosed with lung cancer, and was told she was too poorly for any treatment, so we just had to make her comfortable. I made the decision to decline going back to work, and became mum's carer, which also meant caring for my dad as he had dementia.
She passed away 3 months later. Then my dad's condition worsened and we had to move in with him to care for him round the clock. Not much time for working at a 'proper job'... Between dealing with dementia daily, and having only a 15 month old to talk to I decided I needed to do something to preserve my sanity, as well as adding some money to the family pot as we were really struggling. I researched literally 100's of 'work from home' type schemes and came up with nothing solid. I stumbled across Cheeki Monkeys due to wanting a stall at a local event, but there wasn't one in my area. The advert said, 'why not hold your own?' ... and the seed was planted.
I couldn't honestly see any reason why I couldn't make it work, even with just a couple of hours a day, and I'd get to interact with other adults, and make some money too hopefully. I figured for the set up fee and insurance etc, it was a worthwhile investment. It is hand on heart the best decision I ever made. I have a life back, I make my own money, I've made great friends and lots of contacts. I am busy when I want to be, and not when I don't. I only have to physically work out of the house on event day, and when I do I can take my daughter with me too!. I get out what I put in, and that keeps me motivated to make each event bigger and better. My first event in August 2015 was a small affair, but it taught me important lessons, and was a great training ground for what was to come. I went from event one with 20 stalls, to event two (Nov 2015) in a huge venue with 45 stalls, a bouncy castle, entertainment and people lining up waiting to get in on the day. As long as the basics are right, then you can have so much fun experimenting with new things you can do to make your events fun AND lucrative! It is now April 2016, I have just expanded into another area, and have booked another three venues. I have events booked every month until the end of the year, and my Christmas event is already half sold. I have regular stall holders who book 3 or 4 events at a time, and I have a waiting list of stallholders for some events too. I can work in my PJ's on my laptop at 2am if I want, I can have Mondays off if I want, I can hold an event a week or once a month, I decide. I don't have to pay for childcare, and I never have to get stuck in rush hour traffic. Cheeki Monkeys has literally changed my life, all for the better and I couldn't be happier.
I absolutely love doing this, it doesn't even feel like work to me. The Event Organiser Facebook Forum is brilliant for advice, best practice tips and questions we all have, and for sharing resources etc. Gemma and Craig are so supportive and hel
pful, and most importantly they are 100% realistic about the business, and are always ready to listen to new ideas too.
I really and truly couldn't recommend this enough to people, if you don't have an organiser in your area, and you're reading this, go do it! sign up! what are you waiting for?
Cheeki Monkeys Event Organiser (The Fylde Coast, Lancashire)