Mothers in business with Hannah Dale
For me, motherhood and Wrendale have always been inextricably linked; bound by circumstance and necessity, the two paths interwoven and blending into one another.
In some ways, Wrendale would never have come into existence if it weren’t for maternal relationships. My mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer just seven days before Amelia, my first daughter, was born. It was the struggle of trying to care for a young baby whilst also spending precious time with my mum as well as the financial pressures of funding childcare that made it difficult for me to find a conventional job and I came conclusion that the best option for me would be to try and start a business of my own.
Hannah painting 'Bright eyed and bushy tailed' in 2020
The upside of this was that I was able to manage my own time, drop everything if I needed to and generally fit work around the demands of my home life. However, the reality also brought with it some fairly major challenges. I think it’s fair to say that I underestimated the demands of a new business - it needed nurturing and caring for every bit as much as my baby did. In the early days I had to wear a lot of hats - I was artist, graphic designer, accountant, salesperson, customer services, debt collector, cleaner and all round general dogsbody. Covering so many bases often meant finding myself in less than ideal situations - I can remember taking an order from one of our stockists while in labour at Grimsby hospital (they never knew!) and leaping out of bed in the early hours of the morning to answer the phone to a customer while we were on holiday in Thailand and trying to sound as wide awake as possible. I am a perfectionist through and through and from the beginning wanted to offer the very best customer service - an ‘out of office’ when we didn’t have any support simply wasn’t an option.
Hannah in Atlanta at AmericasMart Home & Gift in 2017
I became adept at painting at the kitchen table, able to pick up and put down my paintbrushes as and when I was needed and to keep half an eye on what the children were up to at the same time. To dip in and out like this is quite a singular skill when painting is such an immersive process and it definitely took some time to develop. I also started keeping some strange hours, waking up early to get on with work before anyone stirred and snatching any time in the evenings and at weekends - it was definitely the most demanding job that I’ve ever had!
Hannah painting 'Awakening' back in 2015 at the kitchen table
I have also found, and I’m sure many parents can empathise, that motherhood and guilt have been close bedfellows. I will never forget an unkind comment about professionalism (or lack of it) from a customer at a trade show on seeing our new baby boy Oliver in a pram tucked into the corner of our stand and I have agonised over leaving the children to attend trade shows overseas when I have needed to. Fortunately, Jack has always been supportive in every way, pulling his weight on the parenting front and even more so with Wrendale, leaving his job in the early days to work alongside me - I am so lucky to have this partnership.
Hannah & Jack back in 2017
Mother’s Day can be a hard day for so many people, for many different reasons. Although no one will every replace my mum, I am lucky to have so many people who each fill a little portion of those shoes and I try to think of it as a day to show my gratitude to them.
So I wish a Happy Mother’s Day to every kind of mother out there, and to all of the kind souls whose small gestures make a difference to others. And an extra big hug to anyone who needs it.