Introducing our latest Wow Women founder of Mother Pukka, Anna Whitehouse. As well as being an author (Her book, Parenting The Shit Out Of Life is a Sunday Times Bestseller),  Anna is a Heart Radio co-host, a writer for Marie Claire and has been working hard to raise awareness for flexible working hours – something we at Asquith are completely on board with!

We sat down with Anna to find out more about her work, her family and how she is raising the bar of work/life/balance for everyone.

Anna Whitehouse from Mother Pukka wearing Asquith ethical activewear.

(Anna is wearing our Mellow Hoody and Long Harem Bamboo Yoga Pants.) 

As a company run by women, most of us with young children we are all about flexible working hours which is why we are in full support of Flex Appeal! Can you give us a brief intro to what Flex Appeal is and why more women should be aware of it?

Working life has pulled a massive U-turn with access to digital tools that mean we can sit in the tinned goods aisle of Tesco if we choose and still make things happen. We’re pushing for someone being judged on their ability to produce good work not sit on a chair past 6 pm. That’s a win-win for employee and employer: in most cases, flexible working means happier staff, lower costs, and greater productivity. Flex Appeal began in a moment of wanting to help employees ask for it (their legal right after 26 weeks in employment) and employers to say yes.

 

What prompted you to start Flex Appeal was it a singular moment or a long line of things that lead you to where you are today?

It was my flexible working request being denied. I posted that I had to quit and the outpouring of frustration from others drove me to launch Flex Appeal.

 

If you were to describe Flex Appeal in three words what would they be?

It’s about evolution. Evolution in a digital age that’s willing and ready.

(I’m aware that’s more than three words.)

 

What’s the most common concern from companies and corporations regarding flexible working hours?

The fear is mainly, “how will I know what they are doing?” Look at what people are doing not where they are sitting. And if you fear how it will work, suggest a trial period of flexible working and measure the results. Hard facts can’t be argued with. If you’re delivering the same or more, then it’s working. If it doesn’t work out and you can’t hack it any longer, take a look at the flexible and part-time job site Timewise or the flexible courses offered by Digital Mums.

 

We were shocked by the statistic that 54,000 women a year lose their jobs in the UK because they have children. How do you think we can individually change the way that businesses work to support women with children?

The words ‘flexible working’ has been tacked to parents. Life is messy and whether you’re a (single) mum, dad, carer or someone who just needs Friday mornings off to slap some paint on a canvas, flexible working is about getting the best from each individual – ‘individual’ here is key. The one rule for everyone has to go – salaries and skills aren’t the same across the board, and how you work shouldn’t be either. So to tackle the wider issue of women being discriminated against, we need to look at the big picture of how everyone can work in a more flexible, ultimately better way.

What has been your proudest moment on the Flex Appeal journey?

Delivering a TedX Talk on flexible working with my husband. We’d had a big argument the night before and it was a miracle we delivered it without hissing at each other.

 

If you could fast forward to 2029 what would you like the working world to look like?

There would not be this ‘owner and pet’ mentality where employees feel owned by employers. In my utopian working world, we would ebb and flow between work and life demands, ensuring that we were not strapped to our email 24/7 driven by fear of presenteeism. Trust would be at the heart of it.

Anna Whitehouse from Mother Pukka wearing Asquith ethical activewear.

(Anna is wearing our Blissful Wrap and our Divine Pants.) 

If you were to describe your job in three words, what would they be?

Messy, stressy and satisfying.

 

What’s has been the highlight of your career so far?

Getting the job as a presenter on Heart and being allowed to run a full segment on flexible working to an audience of 9.8million.

What was your dream job when you were younger?

To be a radio presenter. Or a hamster keeper in a pet shop.

 

What do you love most about your job and why?

The ability to pick up my daughter from school every day and work around that.

 

How do you manage to juggle being a mother a businesswoman, a campaigner and an all-around woman on the go?

I don’t. The biggest issue with flexibility is not how little people will do but that they won’t switch off. I have an issue with switching off.

Anna Whitehouse from Mother Pukka wearing Asquith ethical activewear.

(Anna is wearing our bamboo yoga top the Be Grace Batwing Top and our Flow With It Leggings.)

For those who have not yet picked up a copy of ‘Parenting The Sh*t Out Of Life” what can they expect to find?

We cover everything from miscarriage from a male perspective to the time I fell asleep with a Lindt chocolate ball in my belly button and thought I’d shat the bed. It’s an eclectic mix of experience, pain, happiness, and laughter. However you raise your kids, laughter is the common denominator across parenting. As long as we’re laughing more than we’re crying, it’s all going to be vaguely OK.

 

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

To not look up to people or down on people – to treat the queen as you would the bin man.

 

What is your single piece of advice to the next generation of women?

To use the tools we have to make your voice heard. Social media has many negative connotations but the one thing it has done is unified people. Collective experience is a powerful thing and wields it for change. Flex Appeal began with an Instagram post about my frustration with the current system. I said ‘I quit’ and actually it was the beginning of my biggest role to date.

Anna Whitehouse from Mother Pukka wearing Asquith bamboo activewear.

(Anna is wearing our bamboo yoga top the Be Grace Batwing Top and our Flow With It Leggings.)

What does ‘wellness’ mean to you?

Laughing more than I’m crying.

 

What are three things all women should know to better their health?

I’m not the person to ask but I’d say do what makes you happy with the people that make you happy. As much as you can. Given you can’t always change jobs but the time outside of that should be given to those that lift your spirit not pull you into a gutter – unless there are a few drinks involved.

 

What is your quote of the day every day?

To believe that every person you meet is a potentially good person. Go in with that belief and get rid of any of the bastards that let you down. That one’s from Joanna Lumley and it’s done her well.

 

Who is your ‘Wow Woman’?

Steph Douglas from Don’t Buy Her Flowers. She is a true supporter of women, from those she doesn’t know that well on Instagram through to close friends. She was also my sister’s boss and it’s rare to hear the words “she’s an amazing boss’ but she was and I believe is.

 

Are you able to share one thing you are doing in 2019 to help the environment?

Reusable coffee cups. I have my Flex Appeal coffee cup everywhere I go and am also saving cash with every coffee.

 

If you could only live in one item of Asquith clothing what would it be and why?

The Long Harem Pants. They go seamlessly from school run to meeting with the potential for a run if the stars align and I’m able to go from sweaty parental ‘must be somewhere in the next five minutes’ walk to gallop.

(Anna is wearing our Mellow Hoody and Long Harem Bamboo Yoga Pants.) 

You can find out more about Anna’s amazing work here…

Check out the @mother_pukka Instagram here… 

And finally, you can shop Anna’s look here…

 

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