Hampstead Business Mums - Shauna, OFFSPRING ON A STRING
How long have you lived in the Hampstead area?
My partner, 3yr old son and I came to live in the area in April this year, after having left London for an 8 month sabbatical in the West of Ireland for personal reasons. Funnily enough, my first experience of NW3 was around 20 years ago when I shared a flat on Heath Street - in fact I shared a double BED with my best friend at the time. Let’s just say we had a tight landlord, but at 23yrs of age we were living the dream in Hampstead so couldn’t really complain! She and I are still close friends, obviously!
Do you have much family around?
Sadly no grandparents aka 'free babysitters' to talk of but I do have a sister-in-law in the area with 2 teenage daughters so lots of family playdates/dinners at least.
Have you lived elsewhere in London?
Let's see. Fitzrovia, Primrose Hill, Islington, Clapham Common (my only stint south of the river!), Bayswater and Shepherd’s Bush…. no, I’m not running from the law, just like a change every few years.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Definitely next to a beach - it’s where I grew up, though an Irish beach at that, so not a lot of opportunity to sunbathe. However you just can’t beat the fresh salty sea air, with the wind in your face and the sand in your toes whatever the weather. My partner was born and raised in Africa, but actually hates the heat! So I guess Ibiza for the winter months would suit both our tastes.
How would you describe yourself prior to being a mum?
A bit of a party girl. Having worked in the advertising industry for much of my pre-Mum career, I suppose you could say I attended the odd product launch party or two. Life was fancy-free and a different kind of crazy - often 16 hour work days, late night deadlines and weekly red-eye flights to Geneva. Champagne & coffee were my best friends.
How would you describe yourself now?
A bit of a party pooper. Now, I much prefer a night on the sofa with my 2 boys, eating popcorn and watching multiple episodes of Paw Patrol before my son’s bedtime. Then it’s a long deep bath and bed with my iPad by 10pm. I’m such a rock star Mum!! The champagne and coffee still lurk around - well, it’s Prosecco now with our little guy’s future to think about.
Please describe your business? When did you start it?
I design and sell little sterling silver boy/girl keepsake necklaces as gifts for new Mums primarily, though it’s the sort of sentimental keepsake you can give to any Mum for a special occasion. The idea came to me in 2013 when my son was playing with a favourite bath toy so I designed a little boy charm in it’s likeness. Friends loved how delicate it looked, and so a girl-shaped version followed and presto, ‘Offspring on a String’ was born. The beauty of the product is that you can simply add additional charms in the future when another baby joins the family. Don’t laugh, but I’ll be launching a cat and dog range in time for Christmas - I think we all know a pet lover or crazy aunt who treats their little four-pawed friend like their own ‘offspring’.
What drives you to run your own business?
My son primarily & the flexibility it allows me to watch him grow up on a daily basis before he embarks on his lengthy school journey. He’s just started nursery this week so I literally only have 3 continuous hours a day to throw myself into my business before pick-up time. They are little for such a short while, it’s why I use the quote “Mothers hold their children’s hands for a little while, but their hearts forever” on my keepsake packaging .
What’s the most ‘unmumsy’ thing you did recently.
I flew back from Ireland with my son a few weeks back, hopped in the shower, threw on some heels & lipstick and headed to meet British Vogue editor Alexandra Schulman at her latest book launch. Two glasses of champagne later, I shamelessly gave her my partner’s business card… and one of my necklaces as she’s a Mum of one too. Becoming a Mum has given me the courage to do unmumsy things for sure… or maybe it was the champagne!!
Is your other half supportive? In the family home? With the business?
Incredibly. He is my rock, my finance manager, not to mention my live-in housekeeper. When he’s not shooting fashion models he also works/edits from home so we try and take it in turns to share the care of our son. I don’t remember the last time I washed a dish, he's that good. Maybe I should rent him out as a side-line business?
If you didn’t start your own business, what would you have been doing?
I definitely wanted a change of career after becoming a Mum, so if I hadn’t started Offspring on a String, I probably would have enrolled in Prue Leith’s cookery school to realise a life-long dream of becoming a chef.