Finding herself out of work for 12 months was a difficult time for Liverpool resident Maureen. She said:
“I was unemployed for 12 months, and as the months went on being unemployed I just felt like ‘I just need to do something’.”
Sewing had been a hobby since the age of 20 for Maureen Marlow. Known as Mo locally, she had always helped out friends with clothing alterations and had previously worked for a fashion business that had concessions with brand like New Look. Maureen found whichever way she looked at it; it seemed that all roads were pointing to self-employment
“I used to get a lot of request “Mo can you alter this and that”. A business is something I thought of a long while ago, but just hadn’t gone for it. This started as alterations to help out friends and family, but because of requests to make tailor made clothing it went from there really and I realised I could turn it into a business.”
Because of the equipment needed for doing the alterations and tailoring, Maureen was convinced she needed premises to get her idea off the ground, but she found this wasn’t going to be easy.
“I tried to go after a few different shops but kept missing out. This shop where I am based now I missed out on too, but I heard that the other woman who got it wanted a dress maker to share with, as she has a boutique. I got in touch and we took it from there.”
Having made the contact Maureen started helping out in the shop initially on a voluntary basis to see what the customers were like. She was still required to do weekly job searches by the Job Centre in order to receive her benefits, but having tasted what life would be like being based in a shop on Park Road, Maureen was all the more determined to get her idea off the ground. She discovered that free business start-up support was available through local social enterprise ‘The Women’s Organisation’ so got in touch for some help.
Maureen told us “I did a 2 day business course, book keeping and tax courses. It was all really helpful. The course gives you a better insight as to how to do your business properly. I was going in with my eyes closed and hadn’t realised. Doing the course it made me realise I needed more insight into this and showed me everything I needed to think about.”
Maureen negotiated space for her business at the shop ‘Leigh Leighs Boutique’ at 270 Park Road in Liverpool, and is now running ‘Made by Mo’ her dress making and alterations business there.
Now feeling more positive about the future Maureen reflected “It can feel degrading being unemployed and you feel like people are looking down on you. The day I signed off I was thrilled to bits.”
Looking at what she has achieved in setting up ‘Made by Mo’ she told us “I’m quite proud of myself. I’m only from round here (Liverpool). Since I’ve set up I’ve seen people I haven’t seen for years and they look at me in this shop and they are impressed. Everybody round here knows everyone else and they spread the word so things are picking up. Being from round here I understand you’ve got to make people feel at ease. Because I know local people and they know me they don’t feel shy to pop in with their clothes or ideas, I am getting lots of different customers through the door.”
Maureen is convinced she has made the right choice going self-employed.
“Sometimes in employment the way you are spoken to isn’t great. Being your own boss you haven’t got that pressure on your head and I don’t have anyone telling me what to do. I quite often need to take my mum to hospital appointments and such. With this I can choose my hours flexibly around things around that. I can start ahead of other shops opening to get bits done before opening to the public and work longer days when I want to. It’s more convenient for me. It is so much better working for yourself.”
If you are looking for a local alteration or dress making service why not pop in to Made by Mo’s at Leigh Leighs Boutique on Park Road, or email Maureen via Mo.Marlow@hotmail.co.uk.
And if like Maureen you would like to utilise your skills to create a job for yourself, why not contact The Women’s Organisation today on 0151 706 8111 to find out about the free support on offer including a £200 grant to get your started.
Maureen is pictured above with Councillor Nick Small, Karen Hemmings from Liverpool in Work and Jackie Williams from The Women's Organisation. The photograph was taken 6th March 2013 to celebrate the continuing partnership work under the 'Women's Enterprise Programme' supporting unemployed women in Liverpool.