Home > Life > TMC Talks > TMC Talks To Christie Wollenberg Creative Director & Co-Founder Of Otiumberg

Let’s face it being a mum is a big enough job on its own. It’s a full time commitment with no pay and mad hours! So adding ANOTHER full time job to the mix is not only very impressive but also massively inspiring. We recently spoke to Otiumberg, Demi-Fine Jewellery Co-Founder Christie Wollenberg to find out how she manages it all..

Explain what you do in a sentence?

I am creative Director and Co-Founder of Otiumberg, the British Demi-Fine jewellery brand.

How long have you done your job?

We founded Otiumberg in 2016, so 5 years. Prior to that, I had roles in communications at Burberry and Louis Vuitton.

What’s the coolest thing about it?

That my co-founder (Rosanna, my sister) and I created a brand we love and are proud of. that we oversee every part of the business and it’s a wonderful feeling to see the brand grow. That everything we have done has come organically, from saving the initial cash to start we have build the brand from the ground with no external investment

What does your day or week entail?

I am a Mum of 3 under 5 so it’s all a massive balancing act. When I am not on maternity leave (my youngest, Leo was born 10 weeks ago) I try to be in the office at least 3 days a week but always try to reserve Friday as a day with my kids. When I am in the office it’s all about sitting with the team, solving problems and meeting with partners. When I am at home, that’s when I do my best creative work. At the moment I am breastfeeding so whilst I am technically on maternity leave I obviously don’t want to just switch off for six months. I try to catch an hour here and there to answer some emails, think about the next collection and chat to my sister to see what’s been going on in other areas of the business. Having a sister as a co-founder means we have a natural alignment that most co-founders might not find. It’s reassuring to have that trust and to know that we’re looking out for each other.

Where did you start out?

My first job out of Uni was at Burberry as a junior buyer and then as time went on I moved into PR, events and VIP. I learnt a lot during those years as it was and still is one of the major fashion brands in the world. I then moved with my boyfriend (now husband) to the Middle East and got the opportunity to work for another fashion powerhouse, Louis Vuitton. The experience I had in this role, working across the Middle East region would prove very useful for Otiumberg.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Definitely juggling being a mum and running my own business however, there was a moment a few years ago. I was living in a flat where I was running Otiumberg from and one evening we got broken into and the whole collection was stolen. We literally had to start all over again and rebuild the collection. It was a massive lesson and we moved on and got stronger from thereon. They broke in when we were all asleep so it was pretty shocking and upsetting.

How have you found working with family?

From a business perspective, it’s incredible because we are so instinctively aligned. There is 100% trust. From a personal perspective it can be challenging as it’s easy to forget we need sister time too where we don’t talk about work and enjoy each other’s company away from Otiumberg.

What piece of advice would you give to someone hoping to do the same?

I think it’s key to be kind to yourself. If you have young kids, understand that there will be days you won’t be able to do as much as you want work-wise, on the flip side, some days you won’t be with your kids as much as you wanted because you got caught up in work. The key is acceptance and it’s something I still struggle with.

Something you’ve learnt that is crucial to either your job or to success?

Appreciate where you are and celebrate your successes. It’s very easy to achieve a goal and immediately raise the bar again. It’s important to look back and see how far you and your business have come.

How important is it to switch off?

Very! But it’s not easy. You have to want to switch off and if I’m honest, subconsciously, I think there’s always a part of me that wants to know what’s going on!

How do you manage your work / life balance?

It’s a constant struggle. I don’t think there is such a thing as HI balance, at least not for me, but believe that you have to try and focus on one thing at a time in order to get through each day. You have to know that you can’t necessarily control what your day looks like as you have little humans that rely on you. I manage each day by knowing that it will be slightly unpredictable, sometimes stressful sometimes incredibly satisfying!

How do manage mum guilt?

When i’m working at the office i’m so busy that my mind is focused on the business. It’s when I’m picking up my son from school and he’s so happy to see me that I feel bad I can’t do this every day. I manage the guilt by knowing that i’m a happier and better mum when I’m creative at work and am doing what I love.

How did you get over the feeling of missing your baby when you went back to work?

It’s tough and emotional but I also know that I’m doing the best I can for my kids and want them to one day be proud of what their Auntie and I have achieved!

Shop the full Otiumberg collection here .

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