The highs & lows, the crash and burn and end of chapter
by Danni McCabe
Founder Mama Tribe
Life is a series of chapters.
For those of you you that have read my bio or been friends or followers of my journey you’ll already know that my previous business a Bridal Boutique, that I launched in 2011 burnt down. As in there was a fire above my shop that wrecked the whole building, leaving me without a premise to trade from and ultimately caused the closure of that business. In many ways I was gutted about the fire, it certainly wasn’t part of my business plan in any way, but it did however create an opportunity for me to pause, reflect and decide if I wanted to carry on with this business. I decided I didn’t. Much to the surprise of family, friends and my accountant.
Why? Because I had set up a good business, built a solid brand and earnt a good reputation in my industry. My accounts looked good and business projection was all really positive. So choosing to close it down following the fire, rather than restarting, seemed to some like the wrong decision. But for me it wasn’t. I knew what I loved about my business, but I was also able to recognise the areas of my business and the job I had created for myself that I didn’t enjoy. Although it was a sad realisation how I truly felt and it was a difficult decision to put in to action, I decided to not reopen after the fire and went through the process of closing that business down.
End of a chapter
What many of you won’t know is that after having my first baby boy in 2010 and then setting up my business 2011, my husband and I had been struggling to have a second baby. Unexplained secondary infertility, a very frustrating diagnosis! But after the fire and the decision to not reopen my bridal boutique in 2014, it gave us the time, headspace and opportunity to start IVF. Which after our 3rd attempt we were lucky to have our second baby boy in 2015. Then during what was technically my maternity leave I came up with the idea of Mama Tribe
I knew what aspects of my first business I had really enjoyed and I also recognised what are my strengths as a business owner. Together with my career experiences through my 20-30’s which was mainly in growing a health club membership business and community, I could see clearly what my next business would look like.
I launched Mama Tribe a directory that promoted Women in business and a membership community that supported them on 8th March 2017, International Women’s Day. I had seen and experienced what it is like to be a Woman in business, to be a Mum in business. I have dealt with misogyny in the workplace and had faced difficulty as a Woman setting up my first business. When trying to get a shop lease the contempt shown by the estate agent and landlord was disgusting and sadly it wasn’t until my husband attended meetings with me, that I was taken seriously when applying for a small business loan with my bank.
I also understood how hard it is to juggle family life whilst trying to retain your career or grow your business. These issues created talking points and were a common dialogue between the Women I came in to contact with. I realised that there was a need for a place for Women to come together to feel supported, to ask for advice in a safe space, to be encouraged and motivated.
I am so proud of what I have created and what I have been a part of. I have met so many inspirational Women over the last 4 years. I have been inspired, humbled, motivated and felt part of a warm and supportive community. I would like to say Thank you to everyone that has been involved in Mama Tribe. To all of those that chose to become a member, to be a part of the community and to support each other. Thank you to those that attended meetups, wrote for my blog, spoke at events, engaged on social media and were part of it just by following and giving us a ‘Like’. I have had the pleasure and enjoyed watching Women create, develop, launch and grow their businesses. I have seen them bravely pivot, not just in the last 12 months, but around their own development and circumstances. I have listened to them share their true feelings as Mums and small business owners, the worries, fears, anxiety, imposter syndrome, the struggle, the exhaustion, the feeling of overwhelm and loneliness. But through all of this Mama Tribe has connected people. Women supporting Women is what it was always about, and I am so proud that I was able to create a community and platform that offered that.
The other story
However behind the scenes I have personally had 4 of the hardest years. Just before I launched Mama Tribe in 2017, my Grandad passed away which was quite traumatic. Then my Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer and after 2 hard years of fighting it, he passed away in 2019. I was at an all time low and whilst trying to keep my business running and holding my family life together, I was struggling with my own mental health and relationships. Sadly in the Autumn of 2020 my Aunty passed away, whilst we were in lockdown and with my husband and I at breaking point I crashed and burned.
The last 5 months have been really difficult and I know everyone has found it challenging in different ways. What I struggled with was being in lockdown in a bad mental state, in a relationship that seemed broken, whilst trying to be the strong Mother my children needed and a leader for the Women in the community I had created, my business. I tried to be open and honest throughout the last few years when I was unable to show up, as I dealt with the series of things happening in my personal life. But in January when we were told we’d have to home school until March, that I’d have to find a way to be Mum, teacher, wife, business owner whilst contained within four walls without any help, support or ways to escape or take a break I felt helpless. I felt like was firefighting. I wanted to do my best, but felt like I was failing at everything and I couldn’t win.
I felt like I did after the fire of my first business, stood in the ashes of the last 4 years. I’d experienced the highs and lows, had used up all of my energy, I’d been running on adrenaline. I’d tried to do it all but I was emotionally exhausted, I was broken, and I knew I needed to make a change.
End of another chapter
I have decided that I have reached the end of this chapter. I have decided to close down Mama Tribe, for now, as I’m not 100% sure if this is a temporary or permanent decision. I am sad about it and it has been a really hard decision to make. But I know I don’t have the energy, or the mental strength at the moment. I know I need to make changes that suit me, my family and a life that makes me happy. It’s okay to close this chapter and I’m comfortable that I’m making the right decision.
The last 12 months of my business I have pivoted and kept things going, but the Pandemic has forced me to cancel plans and make changes. I know there are some parts of my business, like meet-ups or in person events I wouldn’t be able to fully restart realistically until 2022. I have also seen many of my lovely members sadly have to cancel their membership as they close their own businesses or have had to suspend them as they manage their own little fires. It has been quite upsetting to see so many businesses i’ve supported close. I know there are members still involved that need and a want the type of community I have created and events I have organised. I know Women need the support and connection. But sadly I can’t be the person to organise this at the moment and sadly I need to step away for a while.
Moving on, the next chapter
I am very happy to let you know that my husband and I have worked through some of the issues affecting our marriage and we have chatted about our future together and what we want to do. Although I am sad to close Mama Tribe for now, I am excited about a new business venture that my husband and I are planning to launch. It is the beginning of a new chapter for us and I’m really excited about it.
If you’ve read to this point, then I’d like to say thank you for reading my story. Thank you for your friendship, support and being involved in my business and community. I wanted to share and explain my decision in the hope that it may help someone else. I know others have struggled over the last 12 months and have also had to close their businesses or face the end of something. But hopefully if you can see it as chapters of your life, you can move on with a sense of freedom, acknowledge what was good and feel proud of what you have achieved. Life to me is all about chapters and I’m looking forward to rebuilding relationships, launching a new business and continuing to care for my family as best as I can. Maybe most importantly, I’m looking forward to looking after myself and building myself back up.
I will be closing Mama Tribe down over the next month. But if you’d like to stay in touch then continue to follow my current Instagram page @mamatribeuk, which is where I’ll let you know about my future plans and new biz. Or for those of you that have become friends, please keep in touch via @cotswoldlife.danni.
Wishing you all the best and thank you for being part of my journey.