Before I set up Peirene, I never twittered, I wasn’t on facebook. I never negotiated contracts and prizes. I never had to deal with up to hundred emails a day. I never thought about how to market a product, I never sold anything at a stall.
Nor had I ever spent eight hours on my hands and knees. At least not since I learnt to walk.
Maddy and I spent last Tuesday on the floor in Peirene HQ. I was cutting paper, ribbons and snippet of sellotape, Maddy was wrapping the books. After lunch we swapped. She cut, I wrapped. By the end of the day my knees were red and swollen. But we now have stacks of Peirene Christmas parcels ready to be sold at our Roaming Store and online shop.
“Did you ever imagine having to do something like this?” Maddy eventually asked me, probably wondering herself what she had got herself into.
I thought for a moment before I answered.
“No.” I said. Then I continued: “On the other hand: I knew I would do whatever it takes to make the publishing company work.”
Setting up business is like having children. If I had thought about it too much in advance, I would never have started. Because the facts look grim: Both, children and business, produce a lot of work, a lot of worries, a lot of hassle. So much of being a mother and a business woman is repetitive – and no one gives you credit or even thanks. So much can go wrong – and sometimes does go wrong. And there are so many reasons to worry – because ultimately the responsibility lies with you.
And yet, I wouldn’t exchange either my children nor Peirene for anything else in the world. They have taught me a lot about the world and myself. There are still many lessons to learn. And every now and again I experience moments of utter happiness, pride and joy. They are fleeting moments. But I am getting better at catching them.
“That doesn’t show!” Peirene is looking over my shoulder.
“Your moments of utter happiness. In fact, this could be your next life lesson: hold up a sign each time you feel a touch of happiness so that we, too, can share the moment.”
Then a broad, slightly wicked smile appears on her face.
“Why don’t I give you an I’m happy sign for Christmas?”
I hope my children will have more glamorous present ideas for their mother.