I met Melitta the first year I started to work in a private bank in Geneva. She was Head of Internal Communications while I was working in Marketing and External Communications. I’ve always been fascinated by female managers as unfortunately there’s still a long way to go until we achieve true gender equality.
I was quite young at the time, with no family plans yet, and I was totally puzzled when she quitted her successful managerial role in order to focus on her family and freelancing. At that time, I couldn’t understand why a woman would quit her career for her family, but at the same time I was fascinated about it.
A couple of years ago, our paths crossed. I was a mum too and I had also resigned from a quite successful job in order to enjoy a more balanced life. Having become a mum, I now could totally understand Melitta’s decisions and identify with her life and her choices.
A year ago, when I decided to approach photography from a more professional perspective, we met and talked a lot about being a mum and starting a new business at the same time. I felt her story and what she does was very inspirational. That’s why I asked her if she’d accept to be featured on the blog.
I met her in her beautiful house overlooking Lake Geneva on a sunny summer day and spent the morning with her and her daughters. The house looked just as it would on a normal day and I got the chance to photograph Melitta and her daughters in their everyday environment.
Thank you, Melitta, for welcoming me into your house and answering my questions so honestly.
Melitta, can you introduce yourself?
I’m Melitta, originally from Wales in the UK, I’ve been living in Switzerland for nearly 14 years. I live in Montreux with my husband and two girls who I adore spending time with.
Before moving to Switzerland, I lived in London for 13 years. It was great in my 20s but in my 30s I wanted to settle somewhere with a more relaxed pace of life and a nice view, ideally featuring water, since I grew up on the coast.
When we got the chance to move to Switzerland I couldn’t believe our luck! We’ve been here 14 years now and we’re very happy.
How did you get to where you are today?
It feels like I’ve lived many lives since we moved here as a newly engaged couple all those years ago. I started out as a trailing spouse, but quickly found work running the Internal Communications Department for a private bank in Geneva.
When I had my daughter four years later, I became independent offering freelance writing services and communications consultancy. I loved the freedom to work, but be a very present Mum at home. But as my client base grew, so did the deadlines and stress. When my husband took a new job, which meant he’d be travelling a lot, I decided it was time for a change.
So, after 8 years of freelancing, I decided to build a business around some amazing aloe vera based health and nutrition products I had discovered and loved. Today I run this business and also help other women start up a similar part-time business from home. I also love sharing the business and health lessons I’m learning via my blogs and social media. I finally feel like I’ve found the right balance, or ‘blend’ of work, family and time for me.
Can you tell us a little bit about your business?
Three years ago, when my freelance business was at its peak, I was feeling pretty stressed and alone. As a result, I got myself into some very unhealthy eating habits and I didn’t feel motivated to exercise. When my skin and body started to show the signs of this it got me down. That’s when I discovered Aloe Vera Gel.
A friend in the UK told me about it, so when I came home to Switzerland, I found the purest source and started to drink it on a regular basis and after just a month, I started to feel much more in balance and my skin started looking healthy again. Then I did a nine-day aloe vera based cleanse program that really helped me regain my vitality and healthy habits. I was delighted.
When people around me saw the difference in me, they wanted to try the aloe vera and cleanse too – so I started to build a second business around these products, mainly just to help other people enjoy the same benefits that I enjoyed, but my customer base soon grew and I took the decision to leave my freelance work aside and focus on my new wellness business which was more social, fun and rewarding.
Today, I still support my customer base with great products, daily health and nutrition tips through social media and a weekly Motivation Monday newsletter with tips, inspiration, tools and recipes to try out during the week.
I also work with other women motivated to start a home business in the same sector as me. I provide them with free training, coaching and mentoring to give them every chance of success. I love it! It’s so exciting and rewarding seeing them succeed in their businesses and life goals.
What are your plans for the future?
I love my current business, so I’m going to continue supporting my customers and helping more women succeed with their own home business.
I started a business blog at the start of this year to give further support to the women I work with, while also reaching out to other women around the world who are building a home business, or aspiring to do so.
Following the feedback I’ve been getting from my blog, I’m currently working on a webinar and 5-day challenge designed for people considering starting a home business to help them make the right choices and get started with clarity and confidence.
Given that my business is all about building and maintaining a healthy, happy lifestyle, I’ve recently supplemented this with a second blog sharing health and wellness tips.
I see lots of women with amazing potential and full of exciting ideas, so I’d love to get out there and inspire more women to take the first steps towards the balanced life they dream of. So to that end, I’m also working on my public speaking skills which I’m really enjoying.
What’s a typical day for you?
Haha, as an entrepreneur and a Mum, there is rarely a typical day!
Having said that, I’ve learned that success comes from your daily habits more than anything else, so I always aim to complete a few key activities that will support and grow my business each day.
These daily activities include: engaging with and supporting my customers, reaching out to women interested in learning more about starting a home business to share information with them, supporting the women I’m currently working with and working on my online presence. Once those are done, then I’m free to get creative and work on new ideas and projects.
What inspires you?
I have a creative mind, so I find I get inspired by so many different experiences, it’s sometimes hard to stop myself getting distracted and unfocused.
I think one of my main sources of inspiration is other female business owners – it’s just amazing to see how many incredible businesses there are out there and I love learning from their experiences. Seeing how other women manage their businesses around their families and other commitments is always encouraging.
I’m also a bit of a self-development junkie! I love reading books that help me grow personally and professionally. I don’t always have time to sit down and read, so I have invested in an app where I can buy most titles in audio book form – I listen to them while cooking, doing chores or driving around.
My children are also a constant inspiration! For them everything is magical and nothing is impossible. I try and remember that when I’m facing a new challenge.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your beautiful house over the lake ?
I fell in love with this house the first time I saw it. It had that beautiful view that I have always dreamed of, with the lake and Alps in the background. We are surrounded by nature and really feel like we are living the mountain life. Yet the village is just a few minutes walk away and has everything we need. And Montreux itself is only 20 minutes walk away…though it takes slightly longer than that to walk back up to the house!
We bought the chalet six years ago and bit by bit we’ve been transforming it from a run-down holiday home, to a modern family home. It’s a long process, but I love the space we are creating.
We should be finished with the interior in the Spring and then we can make a start on the garden – I’m really looking forward to that part! We want to create a little Swiss paradise that reflects the beauty and tranquillity of the lake, mountains and forest around us.
How do you see yourself as a mom?
That’s a tough question! I try hard to be focused on my business when the children are at school so that I can be focused on them when they are at home. They have so many questions, ideas and desires to try new things, I’m really happy to have time to explore these with them.
Since starting my wellness business, I’ve tried to involve my daughters as much as I can. They love being part of the team and I can see that their involvement is helping them adopt a positive, problem-solving mindset, which I think is a real asset!
I don’t always get things right, and we do have times where everything gets a bit hectic and messy – in every sense! But I don’t think any of us ever get things 100% perfect, so that’s OK.
How did your life change since you’re a mum?
Before I had my daughter, I was fully prepared to return to work at the Bank. But from the moment I first held her in my arms, I knew I couldn’t do that.
When it became clear that I could only return to my job full-time, there was no part-time option, I decided to think again and find another way to work, but be at home with my daughter too. That’s when I started as a freelance writer. I’d build a strong network when I was working, so it was quite an easy option to make.
The hardest thing was not being able to do everything. I used to be into everything and was always happy to help the people around me. But when you’re a Mum, you can no longer make those kinds of commitments, you have to be focused on your family first. It took me a while to adjust to that, but now I no longer feel guilty about it. I think everyone understands that too. You can’t do everything.
How do you like to spend time with your kids?
That’s hard to answer as we do everything together.
I enjoy involving the girls in what I’m doing, so we cook together a lot for example.
I used to be quite arty, so I love spending time painting, creating and experimenting with them too.
We go swimming, walking and just enjoy hanging out together dancing around the kitchen.
I think one of the things I like best about being a ‘Mumpreneur’ is the chance to blend my life. I don’t balance one thing with something else, everything just comes together and kind of works. It’s fun!