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STUDIO TSL - Digital Content Creation - From the creator of The Style Lane

WORK LIFE: Career Chat With Jessica Schuhle-Lewis, Founder Of Orwell + Austen



Friday, 1 June 2018

We caught up with the woman behind beautiful cashmere sweater brand, Orwell + Austen, to find out how she keeps those business and motherhood plates spinning…  


I open my eyes at... 4, 5, 6am. Rarely after 7am (sadly). I have a 7-month-old who doesn’t sleep through yet, so my day can start at any time at the moment. If the baby doesn’t wake me (and I’m lucky) my husband might whisk away the baby and our toddler, so I can get an extra hour or so of sleep.


The first thing I do is... Take care of the baby, drink a large glass of water, and check my WhatsApp, emails and Instagram (in that order). I manage my factory remotely, and rely heavily on WhatsApp. Nepal is 5.5 hours ahead, so I usually have an early morning chat with the factory. They will be offline from 12/1pm UK time, so its important I get as much time as possible in the morning to check in, and deal with any queries and issues.

Jessica Schuhle-Lewis Interview - Orwell and Austen

Breakfast includes... Weekdays, I usually have breakfast with my toddler, so she generally dictates what we have. Mostly eggs of some kind, toast, and occasionally pancakes (when she insists I whip up a batch). In a previous life, I would have started the day with a green smoothie, but now I tend to need to drip line coffee – my go-to is a coconut or almond milk latte.


My journey to work is... I work from home and do a lot on my iPhone. Juggling two small children and a business, means I am work mode or mum mode for most of the day. My toddler is at a child minder during the week, so once I have dropped her off, and got the baby down for his first nap, I tend to head to the home office to try and do some work, before the baby wakes up again.


A typical working day begins with… WhatApps to the factory and sorting out orders to go out that day. Checking social media, and posting something to the Instagram page.

A lot of our sales are generated through Instagram, so I try to keep on top of posting and engagement. I’ve also found some amazing, supportive bloggers through the platform, so I like to check out what they are doing.


I'm in charge of... Everything apart from PR and wholesale relationships. I work with a lovely sales agency (The Brand Ambassadors) and a great outsourced press team (Julia Sugden PR). I design everything, run social media, pack and send out orders, manage the manufacturing process, sort out the website. You name it.


Daily inspiration comes from… Film, music, walks with my baby, magazines, Pinterest. I’m always looking for ideas, wherever I am going and whatever I am doing.


My favourite lunch spot is... Petersham Nurseries. I love the setting, the food is simple, seasonal and delicious, and I have lots of lovely memories of being there at different junctions in my life. My other favourite lunch spot has sadly closed - The Dock Kitchen in Notting Hill. We held our wedding reception there, so I was absolutely gutted to see it close.


Inside my desk draw you'll find... Old pens, staples, scraps of scribbled on paper, unopened post. Anything that I don’t want to see on the desk tends to get put in there.


I beat the 4pm slump by... Exercising. I often go to the gym around that time (my gym has an excellent crèche for the baby), as I find a bit of exercise gives me a (much-needed) boost. It is also gives me a bit of essential ‘me’ time. If I can’t make it to the gym, I can be found on an afternoon walk with my baby, and our French bulldog.


Can’t live without… Family. My husband and my children are my world. They motivate, support, and inspire me. They also exhaust and exasperate me at times, but I genuinely wouldn’t have it any other way. Also, and this sounds so sad, my iPhone. I can run 75% of the business from it.


My bedtime beauty essential is... Dove soap. I think it is great for removing make- up. I’ve tried expensive make-up removers, cleansers and toners, but I always go back to it. I never, ever sleep in make-up (no matter how tired I am), and have recently discovered M&S face cream, which works really well on my skin.


Work-life balance begins with… Putting your phone down. I’m trying to put my phone away more, especially at weekends, when I want to focus more on being present for my children, and slowing down.  


A tip for aspiring entrepreneurs? Fail, and don’t be afraid of failing. Building a business is a process. You will get things wrong. Learn from the mistakes, but don’t dwell on them. Celebrate the victories (however small), and don’t lose sight of where you came from and how much you have already achieved to get to where you are.