“Being a great parent is definitely more about quality than quantity; Here’s why.” with Dr. Ely Weinschneider and Kate Bell, CEO of Zip Us In

It’s definitely more about quality than quantity. When things get really busy, I block out time in my diary, as if attending a meeting, to engage with my family children. I had the pleasure of interviewing Kate Bell. Kate is a a second time Entrepreneur and mother to Lauren (17) and Niyah (5). Director of […]

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It’s definitely more about quality than quantity. When things get really busy, I block out time in my diary, as if attending a meeting, to engage with my family children.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kate Bell. Kate is a a second time Entrepreneur and mother to Lauren (17) and Niyah (5). Director of Fate Promotions, marketing agency and Founder of Zip Us In. Cambridge Judge Business School Alumni and business mentor. Zip Us In was incorporated on 12th September 2014 and has only one CEO, Kate Bell. Zip Us In products can now be purchased in 40 Go Outdoors stores across the UK as well as on Amazon across Europe, USA and Canada. Zip Us In also supply products to a number of independent retailers throughout Europe. In 2017 Kate was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year by Barclays while her unique product has won 8 industry awards to date. In 2018, the Universal Panel was launched. A patent pending product that features a unique fixing to attach an expander panel to ANY zipper.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?

I grew up in a very entrepreneurial family. My parents ran a printing company and so worked very long hours and somehow still managed to carve out enough time for my sister and me. They didn’t always make every school performance and we were often collected from school by grandparents, but we had incredible family holidays and they taught us so much about the value of hard work.

Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?

I left school with very little clue about my future career path and fell in to a job in stationary sales thanks to my sisters boyfriend at the time. I side stepped in to advertising sales during which time I married and had my first daughter. The marriage didn’t last long and I was left as a single parent keen to bring my daughter up with the same hard working example my parents had set me. I wanted to move in to an editorial role which would enable me to work from home, but with no qualifications, the editor of the paper I was working for, wasn’t really taking me seriously. As they were quite desperate to fill the role, I offered to work for free and prove my worth. It worked, and they gave me the job within 2 weeks.

About a year in to my new role, the paper requested I become office based, something I couldn’t do with a toddler to look after, this led to redundancy for me. I was distraught and called my parents who were travelling at the time. They told me it was Fate and now was the time for me to stop talking about running my own business and get on and do it. By the end of that day, I had registered my first company, Fate Promotions Limited and had acquired 3 clients. Like my beautiful daughter, Fate Promotions has grown and flourished over the last 15 years and continues to be a successful marketing agency.

Eventually I married for the second time and when expecting my second child in 2013, I had the idea for the Zip Us In Jacket Expander panel (full story of this brand further down). In the last 3 years of trading, Zip Us In has scaled beyond my wildest expectations. This business has been a labour of love and my family have been my inspiration. Both of my daughters have attended trade shows with me and my husband and they even travelled to Germany last year for an international exhibition. We like to involve them, so that they have the opportunity to learn about running a business.

In 2017, Barclays awarded my Entrepreneur of the year for the South and this lead to a Scholarship with Cambridge University Scale Up business program. Allow this meant time away from my family, this was a fantastic opportunity to learn even more about scaling the business.

Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?

I start early as the little one gets up around 5.30. We snuggle for 20 minutes of Peppa Pig while I down a bucket of coffee and clear out the overnight email and social media messages. I aim to fit in 30 minutes of exercise in the morning (insanity is my favourite) to get me motivated for the day. After school drop off, my day is broken down in to very specific time slots to ensure I split myself effectively across the two businesses. I spend a large amount of time at my computer, lucky for me I have a home office. I also squeeze in lots of meetings and fairly regular trips to London. Every day is so different! Last night at 11.30pm I was on Facetime to Canada demonstrating the function of the Zip Us In range to a customer, Time zones, have to become irrelevant. I love the variation and find it inspiring to face new challenges every day. I almost always collect my youngest from school and try and ensure that from 4pm until bedtime is family time. Bath time, reading stories and night time cuddles are the best part of parenting and something I am not prepared to miss out on, even if it means working after the girls are asleep to keep on top of the work load. We experienced 5 years of fertility issues and had to fight hard to final have our family after 5 miscarriages so I am grateful for my family every day and never undervalue that.

Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. This is probably intuitive to many, but it would be beneficial to spell it out. Based on your experience or research, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be detrimental to their development?

Stability is so important to a child, and I wonder if longer working hours is directly related to the current increase of childhood anxiety. It is easy for us to forget that children need to feel valued and if we are subconsciously sending the message that our time is to valuable to give to them, we can’t expect them to grow with confidence and self-worth.

On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is important to make time to spend with your children?

I find that the amount of time I spend with my children isn’t quite as important as the type of time. Children need their parent’s full attention to feel valued, it’s easy in today’s world of mega multitasking to try and spend time with them, while fitting in a number of other things. Time is so precious but giving my children my undivided attention for an hour is far more valuable to them, than 3 hours, while checking my email and taking phone calls.

According to this study cited in the Washington Post, the quality of time spent with children is more important than the quantity of time. Can you give a 3–5 stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?

I make the effort to unplug from devises from dinner time through to bedtime. We always have an uninterrupted family dinner and take turns to talk through our days. With the little one, it’s easier to give her my full attention at bath time and we read a story every night before bed.

With my eldest daughter, we try and book in ‘mummy /daughter date nights’. These can be going out for dinner together or movie nights, just something that involves being together and laughing together.

Family holidays can be tough because work doesn’t stop. My family have come to accept that I have an amount of work I need to do even if we are on holiday, but holidays always involved valuable family time. Taking trips out for the day is a great way for me to disconnect from work and be more present with my girls.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention?

It’s definitely more about quality than quantity. When things get really busy, I block out time in my diary, as if attending a meeting, to engage with my family children.

I highly recommend unplugging from devises to ensure you are disconnected and therefore giving children your full attention. We have funny family questions we always ask each other at dinner times to spark conversations and to make each other laugh.

We often have family games evening and get out card games or board games to play together.

I often take my youngest daughter swimming and my eldest daughter to aerobics class. It’s a great opportunity for me to fit in exercise and have some family time.

How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?

A good parent is one that loves their children. There is certainly no such thing as a perfect parent. We are all trying to do our best and we never get it right all of the time. My philosophy is that I must be available to listen when my children want to talk to me, because if I’m not, one day they’ll stop trying.

How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?

We have been very open with our children about the struggles of building an international business and they’ve also experienced the opportunities that this hard work has provided. They have travelled with us and they experience the lifestyle that the business has given us. My daughters have watched me take a simple idea and develop it in to something much bigger. I encourage my eldest daughter to read inspirational books that have helped me to focus on my goals and I remind them everyday that anything is possible.

How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?

Through happiness. If my family are happy and I am happy then my life has been a huge success!

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?

I have recently read ‘The Secret’. I adore the concept that we omit energy and we receive that same energy back, a great reason to ensure I remain positive and inspired at all times.

I also loved the book ‘Hand to Mouth’ by Jodine Boothby, an inspiration Mum and business owner who also developed her own unique product.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Always say yes and work out the details later. — I have no idea who said this first, but I live my life by it. I will never pass up an opportunity as you never know where it might lead.

I also love — It’s not the years in your life that count, but the life in your years’

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to inspire parents who have a great idea, a product concept developed through their own experience as parents. It’s an incredible challenge to develop that concept and take a product to market, but it’s possible. Like being a parent it’s so rewarding to see something you created grow in to something amazing.

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

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