Working in the early 90’s in a largely male dominated industry, as soon as a female Architect became pregnant, she was shuffled out the door. I saw this happen on numerous occasions to my talented female colleagues.
When I decided to have children there was no paid maternity leave, but you were able to take up to 12 months of unpaid leave and your employer was required to keep a spot open for you. Part time work was pretty much non-existent as an option, so most of us took unpaid leave until we could return to full time work.
I found it extremely difficult transitioning from financial independence, so found myself working on private projects during my maternity leave period. At this time, Jenny was struggling through the same predicament.
Minx was really born from necessity. Jenny and I both wanted to be able to work part-time and with nothing else on offer, we created our own employment. We chose the name Minx, because it encapsulated our attitude: If you won’t have us, we will do it ourselves – sort of a cheeky “Minxish” proposition.
Our initial projects were managed by job-sharing while we both worked part time from the front room of my house. Jenny-Jane evolved when we realised that we would need to be across all projects to ensure that our clients were properly serviced. As our children became more independent, we found that our business grew to the point where we were both able to work full time by the time they were school age. In fact we were also able to employ staff, some of whom were also working mums finding part time Architectural roles scarce.
Eighteen years on, there are nearly 20 of us working at the Minx office. Today there is not only paid maternity leave, there is paid paternity leave. We have staff working part-time to allow them to wrangle kids. Our office has an equal gender balance.
On International Women’s Day we feel proud to have proven that it is possible to provide flexible employment opportunities for Architects. And also proud to have demonstrated that two Women can create a successful business from nothing other than a desire to work while trying to balance life!