Jobs for Mums Malta talks to flexible working Mum Alexia Bannister for our Maltese Working Mum Monthly Interview.
WOW! is all I can say. She is a ball of energy. With several businesses on going she still makes sure to spend quality time with her three young children without failing to nourish her growing businesses. I am amazed how she juggles it all: She says with lots of coffee, but I think its strong organization skills and determination which makes her a true example of how Mums can job it!
Read along and find out how Alexia's flexible work schedule allows her to manage, kids, home and work life with only 24 hours in a day!
Name and Surname: Alexia Bannister
Relationship Status: Married
Children: Harry 7, George 5, Emilia 3
Work Status: Self Employed
I grew up in Malta. After finishing secondary school, I studied at the Art & Design Centre in Valletta where I developed a passion for design. I worked for a web design business for 10 years, then in 2008, I stopped working to become a full time mother. Six years and three children later, I took the plunge and set up my own online store, Kekstor, an idea that had been brewing for some time.
Tell us something about yourself. Hobbies. Anything.
I’m obsessed with not wasting my day. I love the outdoors – so when the sun is out, the children and I are out. It’s when I’m at my happiest and my kids love it too. I get incredibly frustrated when we are stuck indoors.
I love swimming and the beach although I’m still that girl who would rather save a blow dry than jump in. I grew up going to the beach every day in summer. The same beach from my childhood is still my second home, with family and friends in tow. They have no choice in the matter.
I absolutely hate cooking and anyway, I am rubbish at it. I am very jealous of illustrators. Their ability to reduce thoughts to drawing in a couple of minutes has always impressed me but unfortunately it is not one of my strengths.
Tell us about your Company/ Business?
I started Kekstor in 2014, shortly after my daughter was born. My idea was to curate a selection of toys and other unusual designs which aren’t easily found in Malta. Kekstor currently stocks fifteen brands and is growing. By offering free / next day delivery inc. gift wrapping, we provide busy mothers with hassle -free shopping. The stress that comes with going shopping with your kids is eliminated.
I do a lot of research and I like to think that my customers trust me to offer new niche products. Having an online business works well for me, because of my experience working in the web design industry for ten years and, as a mother, I don’t need to be tied down to regular shop hours. I recently co-founded, with my sister, a new line of kids clothing called lovemeels. We are very excited about launching our new summer collection in April. A new website and other social media pages are on the way.
How did your career change when you became a Mum?
When I became a mother, my career stopped. I found it very frustrating being stuck at home and not occupying my mind with other things. I focused on stock photography and developing the odd website. For me it is really important to have an outlet, aside from the children.
Becoming a mother helps you become an expert in time management. if you are passionate about what you do and set your mind to get the task done for the good of your sanity and family it will get done.
When and why did you choose to go back to work?
When my daughter was born I figured it was time to start something new that could build up over time. Kekstor is very small, but expanding. It helps me be flexible and manage time easily to deliver products around what I already have planned.
How do you and your child/children spend time together?
I only work on Kekstor when the kids are at school or asleep. I am always at home when my two boys return from school, and I pick up my daughter from the nursery. After homework, we come up with fun play ideas. For example, doing some gardening, painting or if it’s warm enough, going to the beach.
My older son is now seven and things are changing as he has a number of extracurricular activities. That gives me some time to get out with my youngest two. We love going to Buskett and visiting new playgrounds around the island.
You seem really busy! How do you manage work and family?
By drinking a lot of coffee! With the children at school it’s easier. I do my best to get most things done in the morning and catch up with the rest once the children are asleep. Whilst Kekstor focuses on Malta, with lovemeels the focus is more international. At the moment, since we are about to launch the new collection, my sister and I are working round the clock. Just yesterday, my daughter was standing on a table in one of the sample harem pants, having her photos taken to be sent that morning to be edited for amazon, this happened in the hour before she went to school.
In what ways do you allow your work life and home life to overlap?
It normally doesn’t, as most work is done when the children are at school. Holidays, like Easter, starting this week can be an issue. I can’t take two weeks off, especially as we are launching the lovemeels summer collection. My children respect that I need time. A couple of hours in the morning is a happy compromise to get my work done, and then to focus on their play later in the day.
Do you think it is easier or harder to be a working Mum today?
The opportunities for mothers to be able to be flexible in their work are still not encouraging, but improving. Mothers need to be given an opportunity to work by task rather than by hours. One problem all mothers have is time, however we are great at time management and creating the time windows we need. If opportunities by task are created then more opportunities for mothers will be available.
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