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Running a business and motherhood: an interview with co-owner, Victoria Johnston

, by The English Room

Welcome back to The English Room! You’ve already celebrated your first year of being a mum! So what’s it like running your own business and raising kids? 

I very much enjoyed the year with my twins at home (even though I have never been fully away), but I could also feel it was time for me to come back to work full time. I missed my colleagues and the clients. Having your own business and children gives you a lot of freedom but it also means you can never fully switch off.  

How has your role changed since coming back from maternity leave?

I would say two main things have changed. I don’t teach much at the moment as I need to be more flexible picking up William and Stella from nursery. I mainly work in the office organising courses, answering emails and doing the bookkeeping. The second thing is that I am only at The English Room from 8am – 3.30pm which also means I don’t see our students who are here in the evenings, which is a shame. It certainly is a challenge balancing these two roles: motherhood and running a business.

The English Room has been open for business for more than 7 years now – what have been the most memorable English Room moments for you?

There are so many nice things that have happened in the past seven years, meeting interesting people of all backgrounds, but four main events stick in my mind:

  1. The opening of The English Room in 2010 with  just a handful of students and an untested concept. We celebrated in a half finished building.
  2. Winning the “IHK Gründerpreis” in 2011.
  3. Our five year anniversary in June 2015 – a glorious day with colleagues, clients and family.
  4. And our annual staff Christmas parties, which is always a great way to show how much we appreciate the work our staff have put in.

What makes The English Room different to other language schools in Leipzig?

What I like about The English Room is that it doesn’t feel like a school. It’s a place where you should feel comfortable and relaxed. Added to that, we are a small, hand-picked team of professionals with the same goal. We all care what happens in the classroom.

What’s been the most surprising thing about running your own business? What advice would you give to people who want to start their own company in Leipzig?

I thought it would be challenging to work with my husband but we each have our strengths and complement each other well. To anybody starting a company my advice would be don’t underestimate the amount of bureaucracy involved and the importance of understanding the bones of your business.

How do you switch off from your busy schedule?

I attend a weekly yoga class with Tom Berghoff. This is my must-go-to appointment! After every session I feel totally relaxed and have zero back problems. At weekends I spend time with family and friends at our weekend cabin near Naumburg. The view is amazing overlooking vineyards and the river Saale.