Having worked with families for many years, Michelle and I founded Purple Parenting (now affectionately known as Purple) nearly 4 years ago. Since those early days, things have changed and developed – just see how young we look in our picture with our first cheque! There have been numerous shifts of thinking, differing ideas, a few clashes, some massive learning curves – and a few drunken nights. Digital marketing is still a bit of a mystery, taxes, accounting and excessive amounts of admin are still a necessary evil, intellectual property is a thing and somebody, please somebody, enable us to have a website that is easy to edit.
I remember the first ‘meeting’ at the local pub. How was this going to work? How did we see it moving forward? How the hell were we going to get it off the ground? There was so much to sort out. We had been close friends and colleagues for some years, we knew we shared the same principles and ethics, we both had the same ideas and sadly for those around us – the same sense of humour! You would think the rest would come easily, but boy were we naïve! We love running our own business, but it can be tough. Our partners have been unbelievably supportive – having belief in us, when at times ours has been sorely lacking.
Our first hurdle was what would the name of the company be? So having been asked many times why we chose ‘Purple Parenting”, here are some of the reasons. There were so many ideas, many awful ones, some unrepeatable ones and some that came a close second to Purple. Logic did not necessarily play a huge part in some of the choices. We ran a mile from ‘positive’, ‘pure’ and ‘productive’ – the latter of which sounded too much like the description of a cough! Loving a bit of alliteration, we had many laughs discussing ‘p’ words; ‘Painless parenting’, ‘potential parenting’, ‘patronising parenting’ (really?), ‘pissy parenting’ (can you sense the desperation?), were all quickly and thankfully disregarded. We are good at what we do, but even we drew the line at ‘peaceful’ or ‘perfect’ parenting. We wanted something different and memorable but something that had a strong image.
Finally a text was sent, “What about Purple Parenting?” which got a tentative “I think I like it!”. There now seems to be many ‘Purples’ out there, but I would state here and now…we were one of the first (yay…go us!). Who doesn’t like purple? Purple is a colour which apparently has ‘the calming influence of blue, and the energy of red” and represents the future and moving forward – yep, we can Google! We both love Jenny Joseph’s poem – ‘Warning – When I am an old woman I shall wear purple’ and as we both worked in the public sector for many years, at times struggling with some of its restrictions, we loved the sentiment of freedom behind it. We ran it past friends and family and someone answered “Like a purple patch”, meaning a run of success and good fortune. Who could argue with that? Finally, and probably the clincher – purple is the colour of Cadbury’s chocolate. The case for purple was complete.
Over the past 4 years, Purple has enabled us to work in a way which embraces freedom, flexibility and offers an adaptable approach to families and practitioners. We get that parenting is not always Monday to Friday, 9-5. We were determined that there would not be a ‘one size fits all’ approach, but rather an ethos that acknowledges and supports each parent and child as unique and individual. We have built and developed our staff training and really love the buzz of working with staff to build their skills and confidence. Training should be fun and we always try to follow the ethos of “When you’re laughing, you’re learning!”
In the course of putting this together, I asked Michelle what Purple meant to her. She came back with the following, “It’s not prescriptive, it gives us a flexible approach that enables us to work in the right way for each child, parent and setting – I bloody love it!” She highlighted the fact that we are both – and I quote “funny as…” – but I don’t think everyone gets our unique brand of wit and humour. We do try to keep this for our ‘admin days’ I promise!
Yes – we are a business, yes – we need to pay our bills, but we are lucky enough to be doing something we love and believe in. At the centre of it all is the passion for what we do and the privilege of being able to make a difference.
Sarah and Michelle run a company called Purple Parenting, offering behaviour and sleep support through individual work, groupwork and workshops. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange your free telephone consultation to help with behaviour, selective feeding and fussy eating, sleep, tantrums, aggression, anger, anxiety and more.