Hopscotch Heroes is all about celebrating women who successfully balance work, life and everything in between; we've featured bloggers, authors, businesswomen and mumpreneurs and here's where we get to pick up some valuable tips on how they manage it all.

This month it's the turn of Femke Speelman,  the founder and spirit behind celebrated UAE based resort wear portal, Phemke.  With a dedication to 100% handmade ethical fashion, she set up the business in 2016 whilst juggling motherhood to her three beautiful girls (three under five, in fact!).  With a passion for travel as well as fair trade, Femke tells us a bit more about why and how she strives for and strikes balance in her ever-busy days:

My husband and I came to Dubai in 2010 and our three daughters were all born here. They are now 5, 3 and 1 years old - and usually attract a lot of attention due to their blond hair.  

I was born in Saudi Arabia, something I am very proud of, so I am happy the girls have a similar story to tell throughout their lives. Raising my children abroad almost felt like it was meant to be.

After a steady and successful career in Brand Management with two global corporations, and after having my third baby, I decided to set up my own business. As the girls were getting older, I dreaded the long, hot summers here in Dubai. All I wanted was to be able to take them back to the Netherlands and enjoy a long summer holiday outdoors. It also became harder and harder to combine having small children with my busy work schedule, which involved quite a lot of international travelling, so I decided that it was time for a career switch.  My dream has always been to run a successful business, something that I knew would be both challenging and rewarding – I witnessed this first hand throughout my childhood as my father was a successful entrepreneur.

Setting up Phemke has been a steep learning curve for me. From drafting the idea and concept, to creating the first collection and everything that falls in between - finding suppliers around the world who meet my criteria, importing and exporting, setting up an e-commerce site and etc. But I'm loving it! We are the first sustainable resort-wear brand in the region, and we are very proud to support the slow fashion trend. Phemke is about sustainability and handmade products from the hands of artisans around the world. We are empowering women in the rural areas of for example Madagascar and Bangladesh, and we are telling their unique and important stories. Buy less, but better – that’s our philosophy!

The biggest challenge I face is juggling all the different aspects that are related to setting up a business and taking care of our three girls.  Working mostly from home it can be challenging to stay focused. I sometimes long for the days when I sat in my office, getting lots of work done with no disturbances. I have to be so much more efficient with my time nowadays. Working in the morning, running errands, arranging deliveries to our customers, importing and exporting big shipments, going to the post office and bank, picking up the girls from school, taking them to their after school activities, and then working a little bit more in the evenings. My days are busy, but rewarding. I am finally living my dream as a successful entrepreneur, as well as being there for the children.

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We have a big and very loyal customer base, ladies who are always eager to find out what’s new in the collection. It makes me so happy that they love what we do. They believe in the concept and love supporting Phemke - because they know that by buying our products they support sustainability and local artisans from all over the world. Empowering women throughout the world, happy customers and being there for my girls, that’s what keeps me going every single day. 

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