Career Changers: Sara from Seventeen Minutes
Break downs, break ups and break away moments: we hear from people about the events that forced them to reevaluate their career.
The first interview in this series is with the wonderful Sara Vickery-Bragg. Sara is the founder of the small business Seventeen Minutes, a self-care subscription boxes for mums. It’s the ultimate dose of relaxation every mum needs, delivered to their door.
Since 2019, Sara has run her business from her home in North London where she lives with her two children, Max (3) and Olivia (1), and her husband Ralph.
As a kid, what did you want to do when you ‘grew up’?
I always wanted to be a writer. I loved reading so it was no surprise that I went straight in to publishing as a career.
Could you tell us more about what did you did before launching Seventeen Minutes? How does it differ to your current role?
I had a 10 year career in publishing, working in international sales for a well-known children’s publisher. Running my own business is a completely different challenge. It’s just me at the moment so I’m responsible for everything, from branding, sourcing products and social media to accounting and website maintenance.
That being said, I’ve always been in sales because I love working with people and finding them the right products so there’s definitely some crossover from the customer service side.
What made you decide to change careers?
When I was on maternity leave with my second child, I realised I no longer wanted to return to my job. I wanted flexibility, to choose my own hours, to grow a business and to feel passionate about my work again. I decided to go for it and quit my job.
After a few months coming up with ideas, I started Seventeen Minutes. I had a gut feeling this was the right business for me because I really connected to the reason behind it.
Are there any aspects of your old role you miss?
Not many! What I miss most is my team. I worked with a brilliant bunch who became friends as well as colleagues. I miss the chats in the kitchen while we made tea and the payday lunches.
Working on your own can sometimes be pretty isolating so I try to go to networking brunches and events as much as possible.
Tell us about your new role and the launch of your business.
I started Seventeen Minutes in March this year. As a mum of two, I struggled with losing my identity and found that carving out time to myself really helped me feel like ‘me’ again. I used my own experience to come up with the business idea; I wanted a product that would motivate other mums in the thick of motherhood (the sleep deprivation, the tantrums, the overwhelm with it all) to take time for themselves and to press pause.
I created Seventeen Minutes subscription boxes as a reminder to mums to put themselves first for a change and take time to slow down and relax. I launched the business on a tight budget and started small. The business is growing gradually and I feel more and more motivated every day.
What’s your workspace like?
It’s usually my kitchen table. Ideal because it’s close to the kettle!
Could you describe your ‘usual’ working day for us?
I’m currently working three and a half days a week. After dropping my children off at their nurseries, I get started straight away.
I set myself a few tasks each day and work my way through them. Some days it might be designing graphics on Canva and taking product photos, other days it might be paying bills and planning content for social media.
I tend to work through lunch as I need to cram as much work in to my child-free time as possible. Then I pick the kids up around 5 and I’m back in to mum mode.
What’s the greatest challenge you faced when changing careers?
Confidence was the biggest hurdle. I knew for a while that I wanted to start my own business, I just didn’t believe in myself enough in the beginning.
Over time, I talked myself round and finally made the leap. I’ve never looked back!
What makes it all worthwhile?
The satisfaction knowing that customers are genuinely benefiting from taking time to themselves and that they love their boxes.
Building this business from scratch has been so fulfilling and I’m loving the emotional rollercoaster. Even the tough days are worth it because I end up learning lessons.
Do you believe in 5 year plans?
I try not to think too far ahead at the moment. As a new small business, I’ve planned out what I’d like to achieve in the first year and set business goals, eg, gaining 50 new subscribers over the next 6 months, curating new self-care packages and getting press coverage from my top 3 publications.
What advice do you have for others hoping to make a change in their careers?
If you’re thinking about doing something and fear of failure or lack of confidence is the biggest stumbling block, find a way to overcome it. We all have different ways. Read a motivational book or go to an event that inspires you. Talk to friends and family.
The turning point for me was thinking ‘if other people can go out there and start a business, so can I.’ Once I believed in myself, the decision to go for it was easy.