Alexandra Eleftheriou founded her company The Mothership International while living and working in Qatar as a nanny.
Name: Alexandra Eleftheriou
Business/Company: The Mothership International
Country/countries of origin: UK (London)
Expat country/countries: Qatar
Current country: UK (London)
Alexandra’s story in a nutshell:
I am a trained Nanny and Maternity Nurse and got a job to work in Qatar where I learned a lot about expat families (Qatar is majority expats). I have never really considered how hard it was to re-start your whole life in another country especially with children and being away from your family and friend network!
Qatar is where I learned about not only what I wanted to achieve in life, I also made lifelong friends, experienced some amazing job opportunities (I managed to work in a school for a few days a week as well as nanny) and I founded my company. A lot of parents that I met wanted me to create a healthy nap and sleep pattern for their child and when I left Qatar I couldn’t help but think about all the parents I hadn’t got around to – so I set up my Online Sleep Support Service so I can create personalized Sleep Support Packages for parents in all countries – no one is too far for us! As long as you have an email and skype we can work with you.
Biggest start up / expat challenge:
Getting family’s to understand what we are about. A lot of parents just say ‘So you will train my child like an animal’ and that is not the case AT ALL we create Positive Sleep Associations and a healthy sleep schedule to help them nurture and grow.
Who are your cheerleaders?:
My first cheerleaders were actually my Qatar Expat Family, they were and still are the most inspirational people I have met. They believed in my idea and kept on helping the idea grow. When someone really believes in you – you want to do it for them not just yourself!
Never give up! It sounds so cliché but you never know which one of your ideas may work. I used to run a cleaning company before and I had to close it due to me being snowed under with other work, I believed I had failed and really didn’t want to try again but all thanks to my Qatar family that is out the window! Thank goodness I started to believe I could do it again. Also I have learned that along the way I may have to say ‘no’ to things I used to agree to everything and take on a million jobs just to please everyone. Now I plan wisely, I am extremely organized and this also helps give me a healthy work life balance.
In my line of work it is not really cultural differences but all people are different so each package I start on a clean slate. Each parent likes to parent in different ways, some parents prefer attachment parenting and some family’s may like to let their children make their own decisions. Some parents want their children asleep at 7pm and some at 9pm. Everyone is different and that is OK as long as the children are happy and healthy then all is well! We will of course advise what we feel is best along the way.
I am petrified of failing but I have managed to embrace it this time round with The Mothership. If I fail at least I know it doesn’t work and I can move on to the next move that’s the only way to keep moving forward. If I didn’t try anything I would still be walking around with an idea in my head and nothing to show for it!
I think convincing myself I can do it is extremely hard because I don’t have a business background and at the start I didn’t know anyone who had. You just keep treading water until you get there.
Working practices and benefits in your adopted country:
I find in Qatar families are open to more than in London probably due to the new start for most families they are open to more to make the transition as smooth as possible whereas London Families (as much as I love them) you have to answer 1000 questions to get a ‘maybe’ haha but I do promise all parents the investment is worth it.
Where you find inspiration from:
Speaking to other business women is extremely inspiring it really keeps you going!
How you stay motivated:
Every family I work with motivates me to carry on, every time someone says thank you for a sleep package or thank you for the Facebook page it really helps me – that really motivates me.
Useful tools for expats in business:
Networking – I feel some people want to be a lone ranger but you need to team up and network with others not only is it a useful tool but it motivates you when you talk to like-minded people.
I am always out and about talking to people and if not then I’m on social media and emailing new people to see if we can support each other.
Plans for the future:
We are currently looking at a Regional Advertising Opportunity which I am so excited about so that would be my next step along with hiring a Birthing Specialist to help mums talk about any birth issues they may have struggled with. I would also love to network with more people (of course you can never have too many!).
Learn – Develop – Grow
This is my company’s slogan and it really is a 3 step rule, the more you LEARN the more you DEVELOP as a person/business and therefore you GROW!