You know very well, mums, as we are very happy to take care of our little ones and be there for them all the time but we really need just some “me time” once in a while, right? With each stage of life, we face different challenges and as much as we love our kids we just need to be some hours without them. Hard to admit, but let’s face it, is true for most of us.
And Sophie is one of the mums that not only that admits but she actually did something: she set up Touring Tykes, that take your kids, if they are age 3 to 5, every Saturday for around four hours to different activities around Dubai. No need to go with them, the staff there is very friendly and can manage any behaviour.
Sophie is originally from Australia and arrived in Dubai around twelve years ago, when she was just 20 years old. She told her mum that she’ll be gone just for one year and yet she’s still here, happy with a family of her own now. She came with a job with Al Tayer company as Operations Manager and was involved in the opening of all their luxury shops in Dubai. She had an extremely busy life enjoying Dubai as a single working woman but after five years she decided to quit. Just like that, with no future plans, just a vague idea that she would like to start a business with the settlement money.
It didn’t take long to decide as she was the “party guru” for all her friends asking her for advice where to have different events like birthday parties, anniversaries, company outing or just to have fun. And that’s how she started “Special Occasions”, a party planner company, from her own apartment, just herself, with no staff and almost no perspective, just relaying on friends.
“If you take me back then, I wouldn’t do it again. It’s so scary to leave such a life, not knowing what tomorrow will bring. My first event was a kid birthday party. I arrived there hours before, being just myself, no assistants, I decorated the room, inflated all the balloons, taking care of the catering and the cake. By the time the party started, I was already tired and I had to do also the entertainment for the kids. At the end of the party my profit was only 200 dirhams” says Sophie, now laughing but back then almost crying with fatigue and only pocket change as a profit.
But this didn’t keep her back. On the contrary, she was determined to make this company work and become a player in the industry. Now, almost six years later, she has five full-time employees and Emirates Airlines is one of their best customers. Awards…..
Career oriented, marriage was the last thing on her mind. But Cupid was there and one time when she was out with her friend, she met her husband. They were married eight months later and had the first child in their first year of marriage. He is now 3 years and 5 months old and they have another one, just 11 months old. But even with a family and a kids, she still had to be very active in her company, especially that most “special occasions” take place in the weekend, meaning her leaving the daddy and the kids home alone.
Therefore she started to browse the Internet every week to find activities and events for kids in the weekend, to provide her husband a list of options and to be able to go to work without thinking what will they do all day in the house. In the same time she noticed that even there are events and activities, in the weekends parents might be tired and not really enjoying running around after the kids or to take them in different locations to keep them busy.
Getting so much experience in organizing her husband’s weekend with the kids and seizing the opportunity as an entrepreneur, she started a second company called “Touring Tykes”, offering trips for the kids age 3 to 5 years with a twist: parents don’t have to come!!! So, every Saturday, they can have a “time out” enjoying a breakfast while the kids are having fun and experience different things. Because every time they go in a different place.
And that’s how Sophie, from owning just one business, after getting married and having two kids, found herself running two businesses. How does she manage?
"I have no idea HOW, but It always somehow gets done! I have an great husband who does help a lot and also a fantastic nanny to assist too otherwise I wouldn’t survive with 2 companies to manage. No matter what now I make sure I'm home to prepare the children’s dinner and sit to eat with them at the end of the day until they go to bed. If I have more work to do I do it once they are asleep – having time with them at the end of the day at least is very important to me."
Running two businesses is not easy and doesn't leave much time to spend with the family especially in the weekend. Holidays are shorter also but not impossible but always one must make the most out of it. "We don’t get to go on too many holidays because again its always busy with events when its holiday time and I prefer not to go to Australia during our summer as its too cold! we do always go and visit grandparents in Melbourne when there weather is nicer there at least for a couple of weeks and we visit other grandparents in Greece for a little while in summer too. When we want to have a real holiday with no family visits…Thailand seems to be our destination of choice – easy and relaxed" says Sophie.
At least there is fulfillment in what she does as her "Special Occasions" business and herself as a business owner was recognized over the years, getting award after award:
What else should we know about Sophie? "Anyone who knows me knows I'm addicted to RED – the color red runs my life! I love watching MasterChef Australia and Scandal, love the sunshine and to eat pizza!"