Where I Work: Nancy, the co-founder of a plastic-free period products company
The coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown that has ensued has meant a lot of us are newly working from home.
To explore the reality of at-home working, we launched our mini daily series, Where I Work.
Each weekday we have a nose around someone’s home office and chat about how they make remote-working, well, work.
We’ve seen a home office on a houseboat, a jewellery design shed, and met a barefoot athlete who cut the legs off his desk.
Today we’re (virtually) hanging out with Nancy Saddington, the cofounder of Mondays, an online business offering plastic-free, organic cotton period products delivered to your door.
In lockdown, Nancy, 45, is working from the home she shares with her three children, her husband, and Tessa the dog.
Hey, Nancy! Tell us about how you started Mondays.
After a career in financial services I decided it was time for a change. Having had three children I knew that returning to a corporate environment would be difficult to balance and that my heart now lay elsewhere. I’m a dreamer and I wanted to make my dreams a reality!
During my first pregnancy, my midwife informed me that traditional period products are made of up to 90% plastic. From that moment I wanted to ensure I only used plastic-free period products.
The thing was, I couldn’t regularly source them and I got hooked on the idea of starting a plastic-free period subscription service; delivering women’s monthly essentials to the door, making the purchase of these replenishable products convenient and environmentally friendly. So that’s what I now do – obsessively!
How has coronavirus changed the way you work?
I would occasionally work from home if I needed to focus on something in particular. The Mondays office is gorgeous and I love being there, so that’s always my preferred place of work. We have walls of Mondays boxes and a giant 3D vulva, I mean we wouldn’t have had one of those when I worked in financial services!
I love being in the office surrounded by the Mondays buzz, the team and the walls covered in our plans and campaigns. I miss it!
Coronavirus has definitely changed things – my home has become the place with the ‘buzz’ but it’s a different buzz. With three children being home schooled, the dog and my husband and I on zoom calls pretty much all day, it’s chaos!
Whilst the office is still a beautiful place, it is no longer the beating heart of Mondays. That has moved to Zoom for the time being!
Talk us through your home-working space
I take my MacBook and my Mondays bag of papers and products with me everywhere so I’m ready to work, wherever that might be, whenever the moment presents itself.
Most of the time I’ll work from the dining room table. But if it’s lovely weather I’ll take my office outside. I’m usually always surrounded by Mondays products and boxes too!
The best piece of equipment I have got as a result of coronavirus is a new bike. I used to travel on public transport to work every day, but obviously travelling by public transport is something that we should only do if absolutely essential at the moment so I have treated myself to a new bike (decorated with Mondays!) in case I need to make any essential trips to the office – as an added bonus it’s reduced my commute from 25 minutes down to just 12.
The other important thing I have to hand at home is a cup of tea!
Have you come up against any challenges while working from home?
The never-ending interruptions! Home-schooling is definitely the biggest challenge, as I am sure most parents who are working from home would agree with. Even with the best will in the world the children always have a question.
In terms of business challenges, we are fortunate in that a significant portion of our business is direct to consumer and we have the most amazing fulfilment team in the UK that are working really hard to ensure all our orders go out as usual.
Since the world has had to adapt its way of living, we have seen that consumers are really considering where they are spending their money and switching to support companies like ours that both are ethically driven and also support worthwhile causes.
We are a member of 1% for the planet, which means every time someone buys from Mondays we donate 1% of what is spent to City To Sea, a UK based charity that is committed to reduce plastic pollution.
Like many young start-ups, this virus has presented us with an unexpected challenge but the whole team is pulling together to ensure that even with the huge increase in subscriber numbers over the last few weeks all the Mondays deliveries are dispatched in time.
What rules do you stick to while working from home? How do you stay focused?
To be honest, in the midst of this lockdown, I am struggling to stay focused. There is always someone that needs something. I start a task and then someone wants a mid-morning ‘playtime’ snack!
I find lists invaluable to help me keep track of where I am!
What I also find helpful now is breaking down my day. I get the ‘must dos’ done and then move on to the fun stuff. I do have to be careful not to get caught up in all the fun and end up forgetting the monotonous admin tasks.
What’s a working day like in lockdown?
Like most business owners, I am up at the crack of dawn. I run through the previous days sales figures and then (while I have a cup of tea in bed), I review any unresolved customer service queries that have been flagged by the team, to see if anything needs my attention.
This comes back to a goal we centre Mondays around. We ask everyone that joins Mondays, that they recommend three of their friends to try us. In order to make this goal a reality we have to ensure all Mondays customers feel the difference, no one recommends a friend if they don’t personally love the experience. At Mondays, we are all 100% committed to making everyone’s experience a fantastic one, so resolving queries as soon as they come in is paramount and a great way to start the day.
It’s then up and off out for a walk with our dog Tessa before coming back to get the children up to have their breakfast.
Then, we have our team catch up over Zoom, with a cup of coffee. This is scheduled each day to fit around the team’s various commitments. These meetings are critical at the moment, as obviously we have, like many businesses, had to pivot and refocus our priorities in the last month.
Every day is different at Mondays, which is what makes it the best job in the world. And it is really rewarding to work with such a dedicated passionate team.
As a result of this enforced lockdown and the chaos, we are all learning more about one another’s personal situations. While we are all passionate about periods, we all have other aspects to our lives and in this time, we are sharing and seeing those other elements much more, which is lovely and I think it will make us a more bonded team in the long run.
What advice do you have for other people newly working from home?
Structure your day. Have a list. Take regular breaks! I am trying to structure two or three ‘productive’ breaks every day. I use them to exercise, to take a coffee and enjoy the view out the window (great thinking time) and the third if I fit it in is to check off a job on my personal to-do list, which is often an internet shop!
And don’t let the interruptions get you down! Everyone is in the same boat so don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get everything done.