Elisavet Arkolaki ( aka Liza ) has met the love of her life in Malta. Started a family and launched her very own business here. Jobs for Mums Malta talks to flexible working Mum Elisavet Arkolaki for our Maltese Working Mum Monthly Interview.
Read along and find out how this natural 'redhead' Mum's flexible work schedule allows her to manage, kids, home and work life whilst travelling the world.
Name and Surname: Elisavet Arkolaki
Rel. status: Married
Children: Erik, 2 years 8 months, and 1 in the belly
Work status: Self-employed
Company Name: Maltamum and Maltamum Shop
Elisavet (aka Liza) was born and raised in Athens, Greece. She studied French Language and Literature at the University of Athens, did her Erasmusat Nouvelle Sorbonne in Paris, and earned her Master’s Degree in Global Marketing at the University of Liverpool. She’s been working for different companies and held various job positions, mainly related to sales, writing, translating and online marketing. She is the spirited mum behind Maltamum and the Maltamum Shop. Her love for travelling has exposed her to a rich mixture of cultures, made her spend a good amount of months in France, Spain, Norway and Thailand; she has travelled to over 30 countries. Malta had certainly been her favourite destination to date, since it's the country where she got to live for 9 years, where she fell in love, got married and gave birth to her son.
Tell us something about yourself: career background, hobbies, anything
I'd begin by saying that I am the proud mum of Erik and that I met the love of my life 9 years ago in Malta. I am a redhead from Greece - a natural one, just for the record. I'm an avid reader since forever, so I read basically everything that falls in my hands.I am kind of a hopeless housewife, although I'm progressing since I got pregnant - especially in the cooking department. I don't do that well with routines and I surely get bored when I'm doing the same things over and over again. I'm quite an adventurous person and I love travelling. Among other things, I have worked as a correspondent for a Greek magazine which gave me the opportunity to visit many different and fascinating places. For instance, I had the chance to visit the Bastoy prison in Norway, the first ecological prison in the world featured in a Michael Moore documentary. I also went out for dinner with my favourite graffiti artist Miss Van in Barcelona after having written a piece about her. A short story of mine had been shortlisted in a writing competition and my short story Filling the Parcel was featured in the Maltese publication Unbroken Words which was published in February 2014.
Tell us about your Company / Business
It was in July 2013, three weeks before Erik was born, that I started what came to be the very popular mama-blog www.maltamum.com. I wanted to create an online community for mums where we can share our experiences and knowledge from pregnancy and beyond, and actively help each other. Needless to say I got to meet some extraordinary mums through it - thank you all for reaching out, you know who you are! After Erik’s birth, I noticed a market gap when it came to some very useful products all mums need. I was in fact quite surprised that they didn’t already exist in the local market. Naturally, the idea of an e-shop followed. In July 2015, I signed an exclusivity deal with Ergobaby, and launched the e-shop MaltaMum Shop. Later on, the top brands Thudguard and Juppy followed. Read here how Maltamum's 'love affair' with Ergobaby started.
How has your career changed since you became a mum?
I did no longer like the idea of working long office hours. I just felt that the most important thing was to be at home during Erik’s first years. I wanted to be present full-term. At the same time, I felt the urge to remain professionally active, even if that meant working from home. Working with Maltamum gives me time and space flexibility, allows me to spend lots of time with our son, provides our family with an extra income, and makes me proud to offer an excellent service and top-notch products to mums all over Malta.
How do you and your child/children spend time together?
We’re travelling a lot and spending months at a time abroad, and as a result there is lots of variation in the things we do together. We might be literally living on a beach in Thailand for a couple of months or renting a campervan and exploring Norway. When in Malta, we love spending time on the beach, in the playgrounds, and with his best friend Eva and her mum.
You seem really busy! How do you manage work and family?
By sacrificing the need of having ‘alone’ leisure time and limiting it to a minimum. We also try to visit the grandparents every now and then and having them visiting us. I am also lucky to have a husband who usually works from home. This way, he and Erik are out for a father-and-son adventure almost on a daily basis.
What is your childcare situation, and how do you deal with the arrangement?
Erik doesn’t go yet to a nursery. I work when he has his nap, when he sleeps and when daddy takes him out for their daily walk. When we’re visiting the grandparents or when they come over to us from abroad there are some extra hands for baby sitting and that also frees me up some extra working hours.
In what ways do you allow your work life and home life to overlap?
The time-consuming tasks though such as arranging order deliveries, ordering stock, writing blog posts and organizing our marketing activities are left for when Erik sleeps or spends time with daddy, friends and relatives. There are times that I allow my work life and home life to overlap; that is when we’re at home with Erik and he is busy playing on his own or with a friend. When he doesn’t need me, I will dedicate a few minutes here and there to reply to emails and Facebook messages from customers and business partners.
What are your greatest professional strengths and achievements?
Being the good kind of stubborn, never giving up, being adaptable, keeping cool and working well under pressure, loving to learn new things. I'd say that my biggest professional achievement so far is definitely Maltamum.
What motivates you?
The independent lifestyle that Roy and I wish to maintain for our family. Working from home works perfectly for both of us.
Do you think it is easier or harder to be a working Mum today?
I think it’s much easier. There are so many more opportunities for women nowadays to work from home. Sometimes all they need is a laptop, an internet connection, a good business idea or a freelance project from a remote employer. 10 years ago this was unimaginable. Of course, there are people out there who enjoy working from an office on a full-time basis. But for introverts like myself, working from home simply keeps my energy levels up and somehow helps me feel more efficient and on top of my business.
What flexible work opportunities does your company offer?
I am very lucky to work with two amazing and inspiring mums who are genuinely passionate about our products. They work from home and they schedule appointments with clients at times that are convenient for both sides. My experience is 100% positive and I wouldn’t have it otherwise. They are self-motivated, trustworthy, compassionate, they have mastered multi-tasking and they do not need supervision. I like working with mums; I like working with people who have attained the kind of skills that only a mum has. Raising small human beings while running a household and working takes a person to a whole different level of competence.
Why should an employer not think twice about employing a Mum?
Mums are the undisputed experts at multi-tasking. They've learnt how to handle things swiftly and effectively and how to make the best use of the time available. They are skilled at working under pressure and to cope with tight deadlines. When a mum decides to go back to work, this means she really needs doing this for financial reasons or for her own psyche. Both are very strong motives that can push someone to work hard.
Can women have it all? What advice would you have for Mums striving to do it all?
It depends on how each one of us defines ‘all’. As we all know, everything comes with its share of challenges, so one needs to prioritize. Once you get kids, your time literally shrinks. And then there's that moment when you find out what it is that you really want to do with your life, and not what others consider you need to be doing. Starting that day, you know what you have to put your energy into and what you don't and consequently can make a plan to accomplish your vision. For our family, what we strive for is to avoid living a stressful life, eat as healthy as possible, have enough time to spend with our kids, freedom of movement, travelling. We don’t care about branded items and are not attached to possessions. Among the many things for which I am grateful to my husband, few are more important to me than the "art" of living with less. The daily practice of living "light" gives you precious space to define your own rhythms and a different sense of freedom.
What is the best parenting advice to give to working Mums or those looking to return to the work force?
Don’t allow anyone to make you feel guilty about your choices. You're ultimately the best judge of what's best for your family. Try to keep any negative emotions and worries at bay. This will also be of benefit to your kids, as they will often be picking up on your different feelings and always react accordingly. Try to keep in mind: if you're happy, so will the little ones around you.
Jobs for Mums Malta - Katja Dingli Bennetti