GUEST COLUMN: How can trade professionals strike a balance between family and business?

Kim Nutayakul, director of Thai Design Distributors, reflects on maintaining a successful career as a new mum.

Juggling my time between working in the family business, as well as looking after two young babies was something I never thought could impact my life so much… Until I had them!

I was inspired by my parents, who together with my grandfather, founded Thai Design back in 1975. I grew up travelling with my parents to Thailand on business at least twice every year and I always knew one day I would join the family company and support customers with the manufacture of their jewellery. When my dad, Bill, passed away in 2003, I threw myself head-on into the business, and together with my mum, Lilia, who is just as strong-willed as my dad, we brought the business back up.

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I also knew that I wanted kids at some point. Sometime after my first son was born in 2015 and a second boy came along 14 months later, it hit me:  How was I meant to run a business and be a mum? As I am sure a lot of new mums out there know (and trust me, I’ve had many long conversations with my female customers), there’s really no such thing as maternity leave when you own your own business. Fact. I couldn’t have even imagined not checking my emails at least once every few hours (when baby was feeding). I remember one time, when my eldest was several months old, I was trying to get him to nap by bouncing him in the Baby Bjorn carrier that was attached to me, pacing with sweat, up and down our home corridor and frantically trying to also reply to emails with my free hand on the iPhone (he didn’t sleep).

Some new mums, like myself, would go through the profound guilt of feeling torn between wanting to have the full 24/7 experience of being a new mum, but also not being able to (or willing to, shall I say) fully let go of their work or career before their little munchkin(s) came along.

The truth is that I believe it all comes down to striking a balance. There is no right or wrong way in how you decide to share your time with work and children. You are still an accomplished business woman, as well as an amazing mum. I’ve found that one of greatest things with growing up and working in the jewellery trade is that so many of my customers are partners, couples or in some sort of family business, and it’s great to able to share something in common. And it does get easier! What’s important is that you are happy and that you make it work, your own way.

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