Jo-Ann Anastasia Smyth, is 58 and is from Lurgan. She is also a VIP Member of the Mums at Work Club and a graphic designer.
Jo-Ann isn’t a mum; Mums at Work isn’t exclusively for just Mums with biological children, we have stepmums, women with fur-baby children and in Jo-Ann’s case, she is a carer for her father. She told me, “I have no kids but have had mum and dad living with us for the past eleven years until mum passed away last July 20 aged 92 and dad is still with us and will be 94 in August. So they have been my kids for the past 11 years.”
Like many other carers, Jo-Ann is juggling self employment with commitments, and she identified with the Mums at Work initiative to support women in their journeys.
Jo-Ann says she always wanted to start a business; she had observed how much her boss was charging for her designs and started thinking about starting her own business. so she asked the managing director if she left, would he outsource the designs jobs to her, rather than employing a new graphic designer, and he agreed. Jo-ann said she had kept a loyalty bonus that she had received from a previous job, in the hope that she would have an opportunity to set up her own business and in 1991, she began her dreams started to become a reality.
Jo-Ann told me, “My experience in graphic design has enabled me to create functional and practical design solutions for a wide variety of clients throughout both the North and South of Ireland, in all aspects of corporate identity, brochures, leaflets, packaging detail, multi-media CDs for presentation, exhibition displays, points of sales and production of magazines.
I work with a variety of colleagues in associated fields of photography, illustration, pre-press and printing. All assignments are carried out from concept to finished and printed materials.
Jo-Ann’s 5 tips for others are:
1) Know your market
2) Keep your nerve when you think the work isn’t coming in, don’t buckle under it stay strong and keep driving on through the hard times
3) Learn from your mistakes
4) Be disciplined
5) Don’t be afraid to take risks, they will pay off
Jo-Ann told me her luck changed when she was in the gym one day and a girl asked her if she had heard about Mums at Work. After googling us, she joined our online networking group www.facebook.com/groups/mumsatwork
Jo-Ann attending the networking night at the Cohannon Inn on 18th May 2018 called “Mums creating their own success event,” and while she was nervous, she met a lovely lady called Joanne Neeson and felt more relaxed. Jo-Ann then hosted two coffee mornings and both Briege Price and myself came down to meet the lovely ladies of Lurgan.
Jo-Ann says, “It was lovely to meet women with the same struggles as myself and since joining I have gained my own self confidence, and made a boomerang video and a live video. I have realised that it is important for customers to see the person behind the business page and that, while we hate doing “Live Videos” they are a great way to build trust and rapport with our customers. It is great to know that lots of other business women also hate it and hate watching it back but we are gaining confidence together.”
Jo-ann added at the end, “Thank you Sinead for running this group it has given me that extra push I needed during a sad time in my life xo”
I have felt really honoured to meet Jo-Ann myself and to meet so many other ladies who have the same struggles, the same journeys but different paths.