I first came across Anna, aka Mother Pukka back in 2015, when I was scrolling through Insta with my new baby in arms. I was instantly attracted to the strong, modern Mother Pukka branding and the sassy Mama behind it all. I’ve watched Annas instagram following sore from 10k to where it is now at 245k+, her family grow and her career bloom. I was then on a panel with Anna in 2017, an OMG moment for me as i’d only just launched my biz.

Anna is a mother of two, based in East London and is such an inspirational Women. She was working at a leading beauty brand when her flexible working request was rejected for fear that it would open to floodgates to others seeking flexible working. So she quit. A post she made on Instagram saying ‘today I quit’ garnered an overwhelming response, and the idea for Mother Pukka and Flex Appeal was born. Since then Anna has been using her platform as a journalist, best-selling author and social influencer to not just spread the word about flexible working, but by actually getting out there and meeting with companies large and small, to start the conversation and find out what UK businesses are really doing to improve flexi-working.

Anna and her husband Matt have just released their second book, ‘Where’s My Happy Ending’ so i’m delighted to have been able to interview her and thrilled to feature her on Mama Tribe.

Read her interview below…

Anna Whitehouse – photographed by Emily Gray

Hi Anna,

Before Mother Pukka, what was your career journey?

I originally trained to be a barrister, and remember being at Devereaux Chambers and not being able to see a lot of women at the top. At that point I wasn’t sure I could see a way through on this path. I was only 22 and I knew I wanted to have kids, so there was quite a lot of forethought, but I wasn’t sure I could sustain a career that I knew might end in a blockade. I realised I might want to challenge the system, rather than be part of it. So I stepped away to become a journalist and I’ve been asking questions ever since.

Anna Whitehouse, aka Mother Pukka, and her daughter Eve, photographed in Shoreditch.

Did you always have a clear idea of the direction you wanted to develop the brand Mother Pukka and how has it evolved?

I knew I had to make Mother Pukka work, because I quit my career for it. So there was a primitive, maternal instinct that set in which said; I can’t be taking time away from my children without it paying off. I knew after that first ‘today I quit’ post, that I needed to start asking questions and for people, and businesses to start listening and actually doing something about the situation. I initially focussed on building an Instagram audience – posting and responding, answering hundreds of DMs a day and thousands of comments a month: an RSI-inducing process of engaging with people rather than broadcasting to them and ignoring them. But it also relied on a magazine-editor’s eye for consistency, and art-director’s demands for good imagery, and managing all this while remaining as honest and direct as it’s possible to be. But it’s now reached the stage where growing the IG following is less of a focus. An audience can become too big and it’s important to remain connected and remember who you’re talking to. The future is focussed on books (Where’s My Happy Ending? was released last week, click HERE to buy), Broadcasting (Anna has just got her own show on Heart Fm) and pro-bono work pushing flexible working through FlexAppeal.

Under your brand Mother Pukka you are an influencer, an author of two books and creator of the Flex Appeal campaign. What has been your biggest challenge? And what are you most proud of?

The biggest challenges were before the gender pay gap reporting. I felt I was looked at as just this woman shouting on the street saying ‘do this, it’s a great thing, it’s good for business’. I had all the stats, I could back up everything I was saying but I wasn’t being listened to up to that point. Then the gender pay gap reporting came out and everything changed. I think the proudest moment was when we delivered evidence to the Welsh Assembly on a link between flexible working and the gender pay gap, and how maternity discrimination feeds into that. It felt like such a huge opportunity to pool together all of the voices and frustrations that I’d heard behind the scenes from those following the campaign, and be able to actually ‘put it somewhere’. We were no longer just talking to an echo chamber, and the week after that, flexible working was pinpointed as the primary way to close the gender pay gap in Wales. I just thought ok, this is a start – let’s do this.

 

You also work as a presenter on Heart radio. How do you manage the Mumboss juggle?

It’s a team effort. In my family it’s a bit of a free-for-all to get things done which involves a lot of group effort and compromise. I certainly wouldn’t say I’m equipped to be doling out advice on how to manage it all, but I would recommend reading our new book ‘Where’s My Happy Ending?’ for some interesting anecdotes on the subject.

Your brilliant campaign Flex Appeal has helped so many parents already. What advice would you give to anyone struggling at work with issues surrounding childcare, maternity/paternity leave and flexible work? Where can they turn for advice or help?

I think a lot of people give up when they’re given an initial ‘no’. My advice would be to really consider how you approach the situation. Think about what’s best for both you and the business and present your request in the most powerful way possible. If that doesn’t work – wield the gender pay gap reporting at your employers. There are very few companies who wouldn’t want to be seen as trying to help fix this.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting their own business or campaign?

Make sure you really, really want to see the change. Know that it’s going to take a heck of a lot of research, dedication, support, and determination to make a difference. Play to your strengths and pool your resources – don’t be afraid to ask for help from the right people at the right time and don’t ever give up.

Mama Tribe Interview

Mama Tribe is all about community and collaboration. Are there any great businesses you want to share with the Tribe, or Women in business you think we should be following?

An inspiration to me is Steph Douglas, the founder of ‘Don’t Buy Her Flowers’ (interviewed on Mama Tribe last month, READ HERE) and Ellie Taylor the comedian and radio presenter.

Thanks so much Anna, it was so great to hear a bit about your career and motherhood journey, and best of luck with the NEW book. Danni x

For help about flexible work or more information about Flex Appeal, click HERE 

Follow Anna …

WEBSITE : Mother Pukka

INSTAGRAM : @mother_pukka        

 

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