Would you go into business with your mum or daughter? Wellbeing entrepreneur Liz Earle her eldest daughter Lily did - here’s how they made it work
Four years ago, wellbeing entrepreneur Liz set up an online platform dedicated all things wellness - from food, to women’s health, beauty and gut health. Her subject knowledge and credentials were second to none, but as far as the world of tech was concerned, she had it all to learn. So Liz, 54, did what many parents do and called on her tech-savvy eldest daughter Lily, 27, who at the time was a primary school teacher, for help. The site, Liz Earle Wellbeing , has since expanded into a quarterly print magazine and Lily hasn’t gone back to the classroom. She is now Digital Editor of this hugely respected brand and oversees everything from social media to video content and the LEW podcast.
Liz’s passion for all things beauty and wellbeing has clearly rubbed off on Lily. She changes her hair colour on a regular basis and contributes to the magazine’s beauty pages. When they’re not at Wellbeing Studios (a gorgeous cottage near Battersea Park in London that’s got to be the most ‘hygge’ office we’ve ever seen), Liz lives on a farm in the West Country with three of her five children aged seven, 15 and 17, two dogs plus the farm sheep, Hereford cattle and chickens. Lily lives in London with her husband Harry and their dog Basil.
They gave us the lowdown on how to make a mother-daughter working relationship a success.
On a typical working day
Liz: "As Editor-in-Chief at Liz Earle Wellbeing magazine, no two days are the same, but when I’m at Wellbeing Studios, I could be checking page proofs for the next issue, recipe testing, shooting stills and interviewing guests for my Wellness with Liz Earle podcast series . We often have fascinating people from the world of wellbeing drop by; recent guests have included Dale Pinnock the Medicinal Chef, motivational baker Lorraine Pascale and the legendary Donna Hay . I was beyond thrilled when Lily said she would come and work for Liz Earle Wellbeing – it was a real coup as she’s incredibly talented and a real grafter. Our working relationship has been brilliant from the get-go. It is so special to have someone in a key team role who is so trusted and committed to the same goals. We’ve always been close, but more so now than ever."
Lily: "Back in 2014, Mum had just started this website called Liz Earle Wellbeing and needed some help managing it – it has now grown into the magazine and my role has grown with it.
"I manage all the digital content and strategy across the LEW website, social media platforms and podcasts as well as shooting and editing much of our film content for the website and our YouTube channel. Working in a small team means that we often muck in wherever someone is needed, but I usually spend my mornings planning our upcoming content. Then I’ll be analysing the data that has come in over the last few days and what we can learn from it. Afternoons are spent working to research and create new content to help achieve our strategy goals. I had always been interested in digital media and I’m quite technically minded."
On their relationship growing up
Liz: "We’ve always been very close and I have always tried to keep the channels of communication open, especially during Lily’s teenage years when she was inclined to be less talkative!"
Lily: "We had a lovely relationship when I was growing up. As the eldest of five, I used to love helping look after the little ones in the evenings after school. Whenever I hear The Archers theme tune it still reminds me of listening to the radio while doing the bedtime routine with my mum and little sister who was only a few months old!"
On worries about working together
Liz: "I didn’t have any, except that perhaps Lily wouldn’t want to come home to the West Country as much as she would be seeing a lot of me at work! It’s wonderful having the opportunity to mentor her and hang out together through work, especially as she’s left home.
"My advice for mothers working with their daughters is that it is important to respect the other’s home life and not think that just because you’re related you have the right to ring up on a Sunday evening with a work query!"
Lily: "I didn’t have any, which surprises most people. Mum has been growing businesses my whole life and I’ve been mucking in and helping for nearly as long, so it isn’t that we went from have no working relationship to suddenly working together every day, it grew very organically.
"It is such a privilege to work so closely with such a respected name in the industry – I’ve learnt so much from her. We also both have a lot of fun at work – especially when out on shoots with the team.
"At work, I refer to mum as Liz – I made that decision very early on so that I wasn’t addressing emails to ‘Mummy’ with the Brand Director copied in! I actually find it quite easy to switch between the two relationships."
On the surprising things they have learned from each other
Liz: "Lil is always very plugged-in to the world of tech and I’m constantly amazed by just how much she knows about new developments and digital technologies I’ve never even heard of. Lily got me into podcasting, which I now absolutely love. At first, I was really unsure and didn’t realise how big and powerful the reach of the podcast it. The younger generation are surprisingly into them! Our first series alone generated over 100,000 downloads, which really took me by surprise.
"What I love about working with Lily and a younger team is that there are all these bright young things who can go out and gather all this information and new ideas and bring them back into the Wellbeing Studios – that's very energising. I can then balance that with my experience and research from working in wellbeing for over 30 years."
Lily: "In Mum, I’ve seen the resilience and determination that you need to have as an entrepreneur. The founder of a brand is the driving force behind everything. Mum has taught me how to stand my ground and push forward for something that I truly believe in, even when things aren’t easy. I've grown up absorbing the world of health and beauty, but with Liz Earle Wellbeing I'm also learning how to grow a business from the ground up. I think we’re a great combination; Mum has such incredible experience and knowledge and as Digital Editor I can help communicate this wisdom across the online world."
On how they see each other differently at work
Liz: "I do see Lily as more of a grown-up! It’s tempting to see your offspring through the prism of childhood, but at work Lil shows a maturity I don’t always appreciate when we’re larking about with the family. I’ve also seen how good she is in a crisis and resourceful and wise she is, so I probably trust her judgement now more than ever on all matters, both at work and at home."
Lily: "When you are a child, your parents are just your parents; you don’t necessarily know about their working world or appreciate their achievements. Over the last few years, it has slowly dawned on me that my mum is a Titan of the wellbeing and beauty industry and it is really awe-inspiring to work alongside someone in that position. I have discovered, though, where I get my need for the ‘perfect’ writing environment from! Both mum and I often do everything in our power, including drinking at least three cups of tea and readjusting every cushion in sight, to put off actually settling down to write. But oh wow, our offices look good!"
On differences in working styles between Millennials and older generations
Liz: "We have a young and creative team at LEW, hugely sparky and full of good ideas. It’s a big plus to have this mix as it enables us to combine experience and wisdom with new technology and channels so we communicate to a huge audience.
"My latest book, The Good Menopause Guide , is clearly aimed at an older audience than Millennials, but my young team have had some fantastic thoughts on how to engage Liz Earle Wellbeing readers in the book, through our podcast series, the menopause section of the LEW website and through setting up a closed LEW Facebook menopause community where women can talk to each other and share their experiences. I think the two generations can work brilliantly together through complementing skill sets."
Lily: "Millennials do change jobs much more than our parents ever did and I think this can sometimes be hard for the older generation to understand. I feel really lucky in that Mum and I have never had any problems communicating with each other, but that does take a lot of work and I believe it is because we’ve always talked openly and honestly to each other, even from a young age."
On giving each other a performance review
Liz: "A+ for both Lily and Basil - Lily’s Battersea rescue pup and the LEW Studio’s wellbeing wonder dog!"
Lily: "She’s just a bit of a slacker really…. A joke of course! To take inspiration from my teaching days, it would have to be a gold star!"
On the best advice they’ve received from each other
Liz: "Lighten up. It’s perfectly possible – and indeed preferable – to have fun while you work."
Lily: "Crawl, walk, run! Essentially don’t rush anything and take your time to make sure that everything you do is right for everyone involved. It is such a counter-cultural piece of advice and an important thing to remember, especially when working in the fast-paced digital world."
On the health and beauty finds they’ve converted each other to
Liz: "Lily is always up for new things so she’s very receptive to ideas from me. I’m a bit more ‘I know what I like, thanks!’. It’s very handy when I stay over at her place as her bathroom cabinet is full of things I have passed on to her, from favourite skincare to shampoo, such as Elnett Unscented Hairspray, £3.98 (the best) and Batiste Dry Shampoo for hair emergencies."
Lily: "Red lipstick! I am a huge fan of bright, bold lipsticks and it has been so fun to see mum rocking a red lip too recently. I also love putting bright colours (especially pink) in my hair; I particularly love Bleach London’s Rose Shampoo, £6.50 and Conditioner, £6.50 . Needless to say, this is not something that I have convinced mum to try yet!"
On Mothers’ Day 2018
Liz: "I’m gathering all my children (except Lily who can’t make it this year) and spending the day at home on the farm, with a traditional roast lunch, fruit crumble and a long walk across the fields with family and dogs."
Lily: "Sadly, we aren’t going to be together for Mothers’ Day this year, so we are going to make time to spend an evening together the following week. Usually, my siblings and I club together to make breakfast in bed with homemade cards, chocolates and flowers (and the dogs) and spend the day together back on the farm."