We had a few moments with Jade Hampton, Marketing Professional and Writer.
“I’ve never known for sure what I wanted to do from a young age. I’ve changed my mind almost annually since I was 12. I once wanted to be a SEN teacher, then toyed with the idea of joining the police, but I’ve always had a sense of “one size does not fit all” for me, and I think that’s why in the words of Emma Gannon, I now consider myself multi-hyphenated. Jade of all trades!
I did really well in my GCSEs but my education took a turn for the worse during my A-Levels when my best friend died, we were both 17 at the time. As to be expected, I didn’t do very well in my exams and subsequently gave up entirely on education. An apprenticeship and several awful jobs later, I managed to find myself on the path to where I am now.
I worked my way up from entry-level admin assistant to now being 50% of a whole marketing department at an independent school, whilst also running my own business, freelancing in digital. Now I’m about to launch a crowdfunder backed by the #BackHerBusiness campaign from NatWest, in the hope to raise enough funds to start a Digital Agency based solely around flexible working and home working, to give talented people who just so happen to be parents, a chance at getting back into the workforce. If you want to follow my progress with the campaign, you can follow me on Instagram @jadethefeminist or join my online community on Facebook, where I’ll mostly be crying about having to talk into a camera for my project video.
My advice to women looking to break into the industry is that LinkedIn is your best friend. Spend time on your profile, connect with interesting people who work at interesting businesses that you’d like to freelance for. Find people who are passionate about the same things as you. I’ve had countless leads through LinkedIn, you really can zone in on the type of person you’d love to work with. It’s a really great platform to be a part of, as its algorithm is the kindest to small businesses/freelancers, meaning it gives you a fair shot at being seen.
Being a freelancer comes with many misconceptions. I was only asked the other day, on a call with a prospective client, if I was wearing my pyjamas! It was 2 pm! I think there’s a lot of misconception around freelancing not being a proper job, and that working from home means you get to watch This Morning and drink tea all day from your bed. It is 100% more flexible, but it’s by no means easier. It takes a will of steel to work from home and get shit done.
I think my biggest challenge so far in my career was overcoming prejudice after I had my son. There’s this stigma around Motherhood in the workplace that makes people assume your brain is complete mush, and you don’t value your job anymore or work hard. I had time off from a previous job for appointments, when my son was younger, as he’s got quite severe developmental delays, and the backlash I received was phenomenal. I was reprimanded for not “towing the company line”, and they extended my probationary period to “monitor my attendance“. Ultimately I was bullied for being a Mum and so I left to return to freelancing simply because I believed I deserved better. Which I did, and still do. I’m grateful to have found my current employer actually, they are several million miles apart from my previous job, and value me for my skills and knowledge, regardless of how many children I happen to have parental responsibility for.”
Suffering From and Managing Digital Burnout
“I suffer from it on the daily as of late! I think the advice that never fails for me is “switch off”. I find giving myself a break from screens completely at least every other day for a few hours, not only helps my mental health but also I find I suffer from fewer headaches and get so much more done!
Self-care is so important and I need to practice what I’m about to preach. When I unplug or switch off, I do make a conscious effort to do something productive that doesn’t involve a screen. Cleaning is a great one for me, I find hand washing the dishes therapeutic, as well as reading or getting on the floor and playing with my toddler. I’d say get away from the screen as much as you can without it being detrimental to your productivity. I also once read that your eyes need a break every 30 minutes, and you’re supposed to look at something green! (Don’t quote me but I love an old wives tale)
Mental health in the workplace still has such a long way to go. Mental ill-health will never be fully understood by those who have never suffered from it, unfortunately, and that remains a huge stumbling block in the workplace. One day it’ll be totally fine to call in sick because you’re having an anxiety attack, or need a day off to process some news. It’ll become celebrated to practice self-care, employers will say “sure you can work from home today because commuting makes you anxious” and “of course it’s fine for you to flex your hours to fit around you picking up your medication every month”, but we are just not there yet. Not by a long shot.
I’ve suffered from anxiety disorder since my best friend died in 2009, and have since developed an impulse control disorder called Trichotillomania since then. I manage my conditions with a medication called Sertraline, and by being kind to myself. I avoid TV programmes, news and social media posts that might trigger my anxiety, and I try my best to practice self-care. I believe workplaces should help their employees to manage their mental health, by 1. having conversations about it, and 2. offering any support they can, whether that’s time off, flexible working, and most importantly by building a positive workplace culture that makes people feel secure, valued and appreciated.
Social media can have both a positive and negative impact. I’ve made some extremely positive connections through social media, and have also had negative experiences. It’s different for everyone. I think we need to work on changing our culture and teaching ourselves and our children resilience, empathy, kindness and Internet safety, rather than affixing blame to the platforms themselves.
Ignorance is not bliss, and this is the way the world is now, we must learn to adapt.”
Ultimate Squad Goals
“So many women inspire me. Sandi Toksvig, Harini Iyengar and Sophie Walker, all of Women’s Equality Party fame, and comedian Katherine Ryan for being a total badass.
Joeli Brearley of ‘Pregnant then Screwed’ is a huge inspiration to me, she’s leading the way for parents everywhere and whenever I read what she’s up to, she gives me that fire in the belly feeling. Greta Thunberg, I love following her on social media, for someone so young she has such a focussed sense of purpose and it is absolute GOALS!
I also have a group of girlfriends that are the ultimate squad goals. We met online through a parenting website and we talk every single day. They inspire me every single day to just keep going.
Hell yes, there is a lack of women role models and mentors in the industry. I think providing safe spaces for women to exist together is the first step. It’s the exact reason my colleague Clare and I created the Working Women’s Collective (a Facebook group), as a place where working women can find other working women and ask the stupid questions, ask the important questions and find support without input or judgement from the patriarchy.
I think I’m most excited about the growth of the online community. 2020 will hopefully see more and more women logging on and connecting, building networks and forging friendships.
Have I ever felt discriminated against due to my gender? All. The. Damn. Time. I could write a book, and probably should, but instead, I’ll point you in the direction of the wonderfully horrifying hashtag #everydaysexism, which highlights the crap that women are faced with every single day of their lives. If you can’t tell, I’m a MASSIVE feminist, and so answering this question would probably be my life’s work.
I feel as though I have to prove myself more than my male counterparts. It’s a fundamental part of the patriarchy that feeds the unconscious bias held by so much of the population, that men are more competent than women. That goes for any and every industry, unfortunately, and is partly behind my passion to create my digital agency, for talented people who happen to be parents, and so Mums just like me!”