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Did you hear Mila and Pheebs were taking a break in 2020? We’ve asked Alexis Charkiw to explain her decision to take a break, why pivoting is not a sign of failure and what plans she has for the new year.

Alexis Charkiw

It was lovely to be asked to be a guest on the Welsh ICE blog and anyone who knows me personally knows I love to share experiences and knowledge from running my own business so when people asked me why I’m taking a break from Mila and Pheebs I thought it would be useful to explain…


The Caerphilly Hackathon

The Hackathon

Back in June this year Welsh ICE ran the Caerphilly Hackathon and as part of the event myself and Francesca of Lunax Digital together with Clare and Adam of Caerphilly Council created a business idea called SWAPP – a skills sharing platform whereby people exchange their time instead of money. We pitched our idea on the day in front of four judges and were so excited when our idea won! We received the £500 prize and planned to buy a pink sofa for our office but the journey didn’t end there. Only a few days later we were officially asked by Caerphilly Council to submit our idea as part of the Foundational Economy Fund with a chance to make the idea come to life. Fran and I had only two days to turn it around. We submitted our application and honestly thought very little about it until we received an email in October congratulating us on our successful application for £100k funding. A surprise to say the very least!

In the meantime, it was business as usual….

The Lex Approach

Lots of client work needed completing before the summer holidays so it was back to the books (literally).

In May 2019 I got married abroad and it was during this time away I’d decided to go back to my financial roots and start my own bookkeeping practice. I gained clients really quickly as I knew people who were actively looking for help with their accounts and I started The Lex Approach really slowly so I could keep my other business going efficiently too. You see my other business is a product subscription box so the hamster wheels begins again every month.



Mila & Pheebs

I’ve been running Mila & Pheebs since May 2016, starting from the kitchen table to now fulfilling subscriptions and orders from the Pink Office at Welsh ICE. We create themed boxes full of stationery and craft kits with fun activity sheets and a newsletter packed full of fun facts and jokes. It’s amazing when we receive the competition entries from our young subscribers and how their ideas come to life. It’s a very fulfilling job to create and source products that spark creativity and is the very reason I started the business in the first place.

So why am I taking a break from M&P? Chances are you thought something along the lines of ‘it can’t be going that well… she must have got a job… It’s such a waste to stop her business after all the money, time and hard work she’s put into it’.

I’d agree, it does seem from the outside that to stop running my business is a ‘waste’ but this could not be further from the truth.



The Decision

Since the news that we’d won the funding I had been evaluating what roles, work and activity I enjoy the most in my working day. It turns out that bookkeeping is something I gravitate towards without realising so it seemed natural to concentrate on this as my core business. But SWAPP is a great opportunity to really make a difference in the community so that also needed to be priority. Mila and Pheebs is my longest business and whilst it is my baby I grew from the kitchen table, it is also the vehicle that has helped put me in the position I’m in right now. Without M&P, there’s no way I would have even attended the Hackathon, nevermind won it and gone on to win the funding.


Why changing direction is not a form of failure.

Just like an employed position, sometimes you can get tired of the same tasks, responsibilities and well…job! There’s no point in doing something unless you really enjoy it. I know it might seem like stopping could look like failure but how is it failure if it’s a conscious decision to pivot in a direction you will enjoy more. One of the beauties of being self employed is making our own decisions so I embraced this and decided to make room for a new opportunity.



Plans for 2020

So my plans for next year is to get SWAPP off the ground and the concept working. Both Francesca and I are so excited at what a difference it could make to the community.

Also ensuring my bookkeeping practice goes from strength to strength. I truly love accounts and project management so the two businesses will make 2020 such an exciting year.

The future for Mila & Pheebs remains positive too because we’ve had Christmas cards from our subscribers asking us when we’ll be back and we have ideas to launch when the time is right to come back. Watch this space.

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