Croydon's Jane Knight founded Successful Mums back in 2014 on discovering a "gap" in the jobs market for mothers looking to return to the workforce.

The south London mum said she hoped to help up to 100 people like her get back into work by providing career advice, training and networking skills.

Yet in the seven years since its creation, the careers support network has helped over 6,000 mums in Croydon, Sutton and Merton with various courses and support programmes tailored to a huge variety of south London mums and their various hopes and plans going forward.

The project also recently won funding from the GLA to support 100 mums in those three south London boroughs. 

The below Q and A examines the past, present and future of this remarkable south London project.

When, and why, did you launch the Successful Mums Career Academy?

I launched the academy in 2014 when I identified the gap to help mums back to work. I had recently become a mum and I embraced the joy of becoming a mum, however the reality was that when you have a baby you can lose your mojo and not sure where to start when it comes to finding a flexible job around your family.

What challenges did you face when you started your own business, and how did you overcome these?

I was fortunate that I have had a range of coaches from the age of 25 and a wonderful network of people I could call on. This didn’t stop the challenges though. Applying for funding had its challenges especially as a new start up business, I did a lot of work for free to build up evidence and testimonials to use as part of the funding process. I now share the funding application process with others to fast track funding. Another challenge is generating an income, however it’s about taking small steps and, I believe, always having a plan B.

I knew, if it doesn’t work out I would find a job, at least I would be a more entrepreneurial employee! The opposite of success isn’t failure, the opposite of success is never trying…

How do you manage family life alongside being a business owner?

Lots of juggling, I haven’t met anyone that has managed this 100 per cent. I do my best, I have systems in place and I’m lucky to have a great network of friends and family. I get up early to get the life admin completed and dedicate time on a Sunday to dinner plan, sort out the week, the kids clubs etc… and where I can get the children involved in the housework! Sometimes I drop a ball. I pick it up and keep going.

What do you think the impact of the pandemic has had on working mothers?

In many ways, working mothers at home have spent quality time with their children and family which is positive, however the home schooling was a huge challenge. The need for digital skills for mums is even higher now, so any digital or I.T training should be part of every mums development plan. We provide these skills and of course there are many fantastic courses out there too.

Focusing on the positive, more employers have seen that flexible working is possible which has been great for many women who previously spent lots of time travelling. Recent lobbying for flexible working will continue to support mums to return and sustain a career they love. We’re lucky to be working with employers who embrace women returners and employ our Successful Mum graduates on completion of the training programmes.

What advice would you give to any women wanting to start their own business, or change their careers?

For women that are starting a business, my advice would be to be niche, the more niche your product or service, the easier it is to target your market audience. For example, a general photographer will need to do a broader marketing campaign than a photographer that focuses on new-borns. Being niche means you can then build your reputation in that area. For women changing careers, imagine you are choosing your GCSES , which subjects would you choose, then what would you want to do with those GSCES. If you had a week to work shadow any of your friends or family in their day job, who would you choose and why. Finally, think about your hobby then think about how you can work in an industry or environment that is similar.

What do you have coming up/planned in the next few years for the Successful Mums Career Academy?

Successful Mums have just won funding to support 500 London Mums in the next 12 months through our online coaching and training courses that include CV support, LinkedIn, Career advice, Personal styling, NLP techniques plus links to flexible employers. We are also kicking off a project to work with 100 Employers to make their workforce more “women returner” friendly through a number of women’s well-being projects, menopause policy and free advertising on our Job Board. The two are a perfect match!

How can people contact you?

Through our website, follow on social media Insta, Facebook, LinkedIn or drop me a line at