Tell us a little about yourself?
I am Katharine MacLaverty and I am the Director and Owner of The Dulwich Trader Ltd (including the three shops: Dulwich Trader, Tomlinsons, and Ed as well as our website: Rigby & Mac). I've lived in Crystal Palace for about ten years and love it. Dan and I moved here temporarily to road test each other in a rented flat before committing to buying somewhere together and finding our ideal location - it turned out our ideal location was Crystal Palace (and we did like each other)! We now have two children, Bella, 6 and Frank, 2.
What is your business and why did you set it up?
I work with my husband Dan running our three lifestyle stores - the Dulwich Trader in West Dulwich, Tomlinsons in Dulwich Village and ED in East Dulwich and now our web business Rigby&Mac. Dan's mum Penny set up the Dulwich Trader 26 years ago to serve the large community of mums in West Norwood and West Dulwich as there was nothing of its kind where people could buy nice gifts or treat themselves with fashion or homeware without going into the centre of town. After a few years her husband Ernie came in to set up the computer system and never left so it became the family business! I was an occupational psychologist working in central london and when they decided to retire in 2008 I took the business over with a view to a more flexible work life balance as we were at the point of starting a family. It was a bit of a scary time to make such a big move as the economy was obviously crashing all around us! Dan decided to join me a couple of years later after the birth of our daughter as he realised that with his event management job he was never going to see her - again he came to set up the online business and never left so we've mirrored his parents a bit there!
How do you balance running a business with motherhood?
I find it difficult to balance the business and motherhood and tend to feel like i should be doing both much better. It's great to have the flexibility to be able to be there for the kids when I need to - for example special assemblies and so forth - without having to think up a good enough reason for my boss! On the other hand my daughter asked me during half term why I always had to be on my ipad when I was playing with her and she is completely right. I used to be able to work in the evenings at home but now two children down it's all I can do to raise the glass of wine to my lips in the evening! I think it is possible to balance it but you have to be a very high energy person - I'm an Aries so I believe this is supposed to be me all over but sadly it's not quite true!
What do you love about SE London and particularly being a mother here?
I honestly wouldn't want to live anywhere else. Some of my friends have left London to get bigger houses to fit in their kids but for me, south London has everything I want - beautiful parks and playgrounds for the kids, loads of vintage shops and cafes for me and absolutely no effort involved in getting to any of it. I'm in the antique shop, coffee in hand within two minutes of leaving my front door and I've usually seen at least one person I know by then too. There are so many mums with young kids here that there is always someone to have a chat with and so many different activities for kids of all ages. I love how passively entertained you are in London - in the deeper suburbs you have to actively seek entertainment and everything is a bit more homogeneous. Here you are stimulated without having to do anything much!
Can you share one secret tip to other mothers in SE London?
There are pottery activities starting up at a pop up called 'do and play' at 20 Church Road in Crystal Palace - it's just getting off the ground at the moment but I took my daughter to make a clay model last weekend and it was great fun. They're going to run kids and adults pottery classes so I'm hoping my kids are going to start throwing me some excellent ceramics!
Good to know...
You can find Katharine at Rigby & Mac / Instagram / Facebook / Twitter. Rigby & Mac offer local store collection from the site so that is useful when you want to shop in peace and only do a quick in and out of the shop with feisty toddler!