MumBoss - Meet Hayley Harthern; Self-confessed Challenge Addict & Managing Director of Big Chief Tipis
Hayley is one hell of a hard working single Mum that’s definitely not adverse to a challenge. She’s run the marathon, cycled from Vietnam to Cambodia AND climbed Kilimanjaro. With ten years of experience in the events arena, Hayley used her expertise to set up her own events company alongside her father, Gary. Hayley is now Managing Director of Big Chief Tipis as well as a co-founder of The Manchester PA Network.
Big Chief Tipis specialise in the hire of large event tipis throughout the UK with a special focus on weddings, festivals, private parties and corporate events. Their mission is to make a difference in the world of events and become an integral part of the industry of human happiness! Although Big Chief Tipis is just 3 years old, they have already worked with the likes of Michelle Keegan and Mark Wright on their outdoor wedding, Glastonbury Love Fields for their VIP glamping hub and last but by no means least – The Queen for her 90th birthday celebrations at Windsor castle!
Now Hayley’s baby boy, Hunter, is her greatest achievement. I had the pleasure of chatting with Hayley about juggling motherhood and life as a ‘mumpreneur’.
You are Managing Director of Big Chief Tipis and Co-Founder of the Manchester PA Network, where do you think your ambition and drive came from?
My father! He works all day, every day and loves what he does. I sometimes get branded a “workaholic” and I definitely get this from him. I love to be constantly on the go and easily get bored and my Dad is the same too. I rarely get off the hamster wheel – unless it’s on a yacht with a glass of Rose!
Big Chief Tipis is a family business. How do you find working with your Dad on a daily basis?
Very testing at times! But I think everyone who works with their family would say the same if they were being honest. We lock horns on a daily basis but the great thing is that we both want the same outcome and we’re really passionate about what we do.
Any problem that arises, I know that together we can overcome it as we’ve both got incredibly varied experience and can see things from different angles to make magic happen! We make a really good team, and my sister has just joined the business too which I am really excited about.
Juggling life, as a single parent and a career woman can be hard. What tips do you have to do both successfully?
I think I’m still figuring it out to be honest! I went back to work for one day a week from when Hunter was 3 weeks old, and then from 3months old I have been in three or four days a week. Every Friday, Hunter & I will have the day together. This eases my guilt of working the rest of the week – which I know I shouldn’t feel, but having a day dedicated to him and I makes both of us very happy.
All my career I have worked until midnight on the computer most nights at the office, so to have to leave “early” and go to collect Hunter from nursery – it was quite a big adjustment for me! I’ve recently started having one day a week working from home, called a “Red Day” where I can get on top of all of my projects without being distracted in the office. This has really helped me get through a huge amount of work. I also followed the Gina Ford Contended Baby routine from when Hunter was 6 weeks old, so from 4months onwards he slept through for 13 hours a night!
Lastly, a great support network always helps – in particular my mum, grandma and sister and her wife have all been incredible. Whenever I want to have a bit of a social life, or need to work later in the office / go to a client meeting, my mum and co are more than happy to help me with Hunter which is such a big help.
You refer to yourself as a ‘challenge addict’ and you’ve conquered some pretty amazing challenges in your life already, having climbed Kilimanjaro, cycled from Vietnam to Cambodia, ran the London Marathon AND had a baby! What do you consider to have been the biggest challenge you’ve faced on either a business or personal level and how did you overcome it?
Each one of them requires a huge amount of time dedicated to the preparation of it – without preparation you’re screwed in my opinion. When I trained for the sporting challenges I trained for 2 hours a day, 7 days a week. But with this, you trained, you did the challenge and then it was over. With a baby, you train, you give birth and then that’s when the real challenge kicks in! But I do refer to Big Chief Tipis as my firstborn, because in a lot of ways setting up your own company is the same as having a baby!
In my first year I remember surviving on 3hrs sleep a night, driving up and down the country, having no social life, feeling completely drained but pushing through each day as it came along – so essentially, I took baby steps and treated each day as a new challenge, much like when you have a newborn. By the end of our first year we had done tipis for Michelle Keagan’s wedding, Glastonbury and 40 weddings – suffice to say, with tenacity, we smashed it.
How do you think being a Mummy has changed you? Is your outlook on life different now you have Hunter?
This was one thing that really scared me before I had Hunter – everyone said “being a Mum changes you” and I remember thinking “but I don’t want to change, I’m pretty happy with how I am!”. Now I’m on the other side, I can say that I haven’t changed that much. I’m just as opinionated, confrontational and honest as I was before, but I do think it has softened my edges. I remember my family saying to me that they didn’t know what kind of a Mum I’d be because I have an ice heart! But they’ve seen the other side of me now that is completely mushy with Hunter, and they were all surprised(!).
I do want to make him proud of me and give him everything I grew up with and more, so that gives me even more drive than I did pre-baby. Maybe I would be different if I wasn’t a single mum, but being in this position pushes you to remember who you are as an individual (not only as a Mummy) and what you want out of life – which I’m seeing as a very good thing.
You’ve worked in events for over ten years and I’m pretty sure you’re the 'hostess with the mostess’. What would be your key ingredients to throwing an amazing bash?
Thinking of the guest’s journey – from when they receive the invite and drive to the location, all the way through to what drink they’re given on arrival, what time the food is served, what music is playing in the background and what surprises you’re going to blow them away with. I always book a photographer for every event I plan for my family and friends – having those memories captured for life by a professional who can blend into the background is my favourite thing.
I have got such an awful memory, so when it comes to planning a party, I follow the same format for each one so that I don’t forget anything. And remember to delegate – you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Pull in friends and family and give them little tasks to do by a certain date – they’ll love being a part of it.
Years ago Tatler published a Party Guide and in it, it talked about the type of people you should invite. They described the key guests to include as Proteins and Carbohydrates. The Proteins are the life and soul of the party, interesting and diverse, while the Carbs are just happy to have been invited, will chat to anyone and will fill Instagram with their pictures! This has always made me laugh, but a good balance of the two is great in my opinion.
Thank you so much for taking the time out to chat to me. As a fellow single Mum I think a lot of your comments rang true with me too. I think we’ll always feel like we’re trying to figure out that work / life / Mum balance, but if you love what you do and have amazing people around you then anything is possible!
Like what Hayley has to say or interested in planning your next big event with Big Chief Tipis? Check them out!