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Fashion and Beauty: How architect Alison Fearns changed her career – to run a children’s fashion shop

IT WAS late motherhood that made former architect Alison Fearns consider a complete life change at the age of 48.

Alison Fearns of Kids Bedroom Boutique, Springfield Mill, with her daughter Lucy

IT WAS late motherhood that made former architect Alison Fearns consider a complete life change at the age of 48.

Today she is to be found behind the counter of a children’s bedroom shop, running her own business instead of working for Kirklees Council.

However, if it was not for the arrival of her only daughter Lucy, now six, Alison suspects she might never have decided to go it alone.

But a demanding career in planning policy and research and what she describes as “the responsibilities and expectations of 21st work culture” meant she found it difficult juggling work with her home life.

“I missed out on all the daytime nativity productions, the special assemblies, and once Lucy went to school it meant having before and after school care so she missed out on after school activities,” said Alison.

Trained at London University and in private architectural practice for several years, Alison joined Kirklees as a surveyor 19 years ago and was latterly a partnerships and procurements manager working in regeneration.

It was the quest to find a child-sized bed for Lucy two years ago that gave her the idea of launching her own business selling bright and cheerful children’s room furnishings.

“My husband thought I was mad thinking about setting up a business in a recession, but the council had started to announce its austerity measures and I’d started to make plans about what I’d do,” said Alison, who lives in Stocksmoor.

She even went as far as applying for a new job. “I was shortlisted for it but didn’t get it. The interview feedback was that I didn’t show sufficient hunger for the job and I realised that was because I didn’t really want it.”

In the end redundancy allowed her to invest in her new venture, Kids Bedroom Boutique in Springfield Mill, Denby Dale. She also runs an online shop.

Alison found help from the Government’s Business Link organisation. “I did a number of courses with them in e-commerce, book keeping and starting a business. I found it very beneficial.

“They don’t do the courses any more but they still have a website,” she said.

Alison says her new career has been “liberating.”

“It took me 12 months to get used to the unpredictable nature of working for yourself and not having a regular income.

“But I run my shop in school hours and collect Lucy from school every day. Having the website means I can check up on that whenever I want to at home. I have no regrets at all,” she added.

Although what she does now is quite different from what she was doing back in 2010 when she took redundancy, Alison says she intends to use her design skills in the future.

“Part of my game plan is to design and sell a range of my own products.”

To those facing redundancy she has the following advice: “See it as a one-off opportunity to do something new.”

 

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