“I mostly work from the dining room table, surrounded by scattered toys, piles of post/brand lookbooks and boxes.” Ben Turner, founder of family outdoor clothing brand Beyond the Stork, on the reality of starting a new business…
Ben Turner, 36, lives in south east London with his wife Claire and two children: Billy, three, Olivia, one. He works as a civil servant by day and has launched a family outdoor clothing brand – Beyond the Stork – from the kitchen table…
What’s your home like?
It’s a 1920s semi and is lovely, Claire has a real eye for interior design and has spent a lot of time restoring it. It hadn’t been touched in about 40 years when we moved in. My favourite part has to be the reclaimed oak parquet… it looks amazing.
What time are you up in the morning?
I’m normally up around 5.30am, though not through choice, I’m not a morning person.
What wakes you up?
Usually Billy, ever since we moved him into his cot bed he will get himself up in the morning and wander in to our bedroom and just whisper over and over ‘mummy daddy, mummy daddy, I had a nice sleep’
How do you feel?
First thing in the morning? Tired and grumpy! I don’t usually get going until I’ve had my coffee and toast.
Once the kids are asleep it’s time to start on Beyond the Stork: writing blogs, updating the website and social media-ing
What do you do first thing?
I normally get up grudgingly and make Olivia’s bottle, I’ll then shower while Claire gives Olivia the bottle. I then make toast for Billy and me. Once Billy has eaten I fight with him to get him dressed and washed, do our teeth, sometimes the easy way, sometimes the hard way. Then it’s out the door to catch the bus to nursery, annoying as many commuters as we can along the way.
In three words, describe mornings in your home?
Busy, frustrating, stressful.
What’s for breakfast?
Toast and marmalade for Billy and me, tea for me and milk for him, porridge or Weetabix for Olivia.
How might the rest of your day pan out?
The rest of my day is busy, I still have a day job and Billy has been at the nursery in my building, though he has just started a new nursery. Olivia will be starting at my work nursery soon. So I have been commuting in with Billy on the bus/tube.
I work my day job until about 4.30pm, pick Billy up and head home, normally tube/train but we take the Thames Clipper on Fridays. We get home for around 6pm, fight to keep Billy off Cbeebies, fight to get Billy to eat any dinner, followed by bath and bedtime and dealing with various delaying tactics by Billy, including ‘just one more story’, ‘where is my Thomas?’ and ‘a cup of milk to drink’. Once the kids are asleep it’s time to start on Beyond the Stork: writing blogs, updating the website and social media-ing.
What’s your workspace like?
My workspace is not as organised as I’d like. I mostly work from the dining room table, surrounded by scattered toys, piles of post/brand look books and boxes.
Launching Beyond the Stork
Tell us about your business…
Beyond the Stork launched on 1 September. I have wanted to do something for a while, partly to get out of my comfort zone and partly in an effort to get a more flexible work/life balance. I love modern design and struggled to find a place where I could find cool brands for my kids and me in one place. As a family we also love travel, getting outdoors and going on adventures. It was this that prompted me to launch Beyond the Stork. Bringing cool British and Scandi brands for adults and kids together with a focus on travel, the outdoors and adventures.
Where do you work alongside running Beyond the Stork?
I work during the day as a Civil Servant.
It’s early days but so far, what’s the greatest challenge when running your own business?
The biggest challenge is time, with two children and a day job my time is already severely limited and it can be hard to concentrate in the evening, particularly when I’m knackered, but the potential is so exciting it keeps me motivated.
My ideal weekend involves the outdoors and usually coffee and cake
What makes it all worthwhile?
It’s really early days but I think the biggest driver is the flexibility it will hopefully give me. I get a buzz out of it too, particularly sourcing new cool brands and interacting with our followers on social media.
Are there aspects of the production that you delegate to others?
I’m not the best at web design, Claire has helped me massively on the website design, getting it just right, while I have focused on media, marketing and keeping track of the accounts.
Are you a happy lone worker, or do you enjoy the buzz of a shared workspace?
It’s perhaps a bit cliché but I’m happy either way, it just depends on my mood. Sometimes I’m head down with headphones on, other times I like the company of others. It probably depends on the time of day too, definitely a lone worker first thing in the morning before I’ve had my latte!
Is the juggle real for you… do you find it difficult balancing fatherhood/relationship/me-time/time for friends/career?
I find the juggle real for sure. Me-time is not too bad as during the week the kids are in nursery so I can go for a walk at lunchtime. At home, Claire and I seem to manage well despite all that we’ve got going on. We spend most evenings together: talking, working watching TV… usually rubbish repeats or Made in Chelsea (my guilty pleasure).
Describe an ideal weekend…
My ideal weekend involves the outdoors and usually coffee and cake. I love going to the park with the kids and living in SE London we’re spoilt for choice. We have got some great outdoor spaces a short walk from home. I also love the mountains. I grew up going to the mountains and by my early 20s was climbing in the Alps every year. The Alpine trips have stopped… for now, the risk is difficult to justify, but being in Snowdonia or the Peak District keeps me happy. I can’t wait for the kids to be old enough to climb with me.
If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
It changes most days if I’m honest, at the moment I would say probably home. I love my home and the area we live in, however, Chamonix is sounding pretty good at the moment too, waking up surrounded by the mountains is amazing, especially at first light, it’s so peaceful.