Founder of Mother’s Meeting Jenny Scott tells Jessica Jonzen how her creative agency helped her fight loneliness and depression
It is fitting that Jenny Scott is having her nails done during our interview. Having just dropped her five-year-old son, Sonny, off at school, she is taking the opportunity to multi-task while her 15-month-old daughter, Jasmine, takes a nap. As the founder of Mothers Meeting, Jenny is evangelical about the importance of women taking time for themselves once they have children, and practices what she preaches. “Our ethos is about women, not babies,” she says, while choosing the colour of her polish. “We’re all about the mental state of mums and making them feel better about the fact they’re doing the hardest job in the world,” she says.
For the uninitiated, Mothers Meeting works with brands such as Nike, Liberty and J.Crew to produce innovative events for a network of women – who just happen to be mothers. But they aren’t simply marketing tools for brands; they’re tailored for creative, style-conscious women who want to find life beyond their local baby group. Events include a monthly gathering at Shoreditch House, which sees more than 100 women attending to hear guest speakers talk about life as a working mum. Each month it covers a different topic, from sex to make-up tutorials. Then, there is the monthly business club, as well as ad hoc brand events. Last year, Jenny also published How To Be A Hip Mama Without Losing Your Cool, and plans are afoot for the next instalment.
Not bad considering that Jenny, 33, originally set up Mothers Meeting to make friends after Sonny’s birth in 2010. Originally from Wales, she moved to London at 18 to study graphic design at Camberwell College of Arts. For 10 years she worked in advertising. “I was always going to parties and that kind of thing,” she recalls. “When I found out I was pregnant, I was like, ‘Having a baby is not going to change me,’ and, of course, I was in for a massive shock.” But what surprised her most was the loneliness. “I went to baby groups and thought, ‘This just isn’t for me’. I knew I had this opportunity to go out – there was so much to do and see – but I found it really hard to even get dressed in the mornings.”
Jenny later decided to design a poster saying she was going to an exhibition at Somerset House – all comers welcome. “I thought, ‘If I put it on the internet then I can’t just cancel,’ you know?” One person turned up. After that, Jenny would book a table at a restaurant she wanted to visit and call it a lunch event. “I was just inviting people to things that I wanted to go to but didn’t have anyone to go with, and it grew from there,” she says.
After a year of organising free events and getting coverage in the likes of The Sunday Times Style magazine, Jenny returned to work in design. “I didn’t feel fulfilled by it because I’m a people person. I like bringing people together, but I didn’t know what that was as a business model.” She decided to deploy her background in advertising to work with brands that had previously been clients. “Nike approached me, wanting to do something, so I started a Nike workout for mums, then other brands started getting in touch.”
Jenny is open about the fact that Mothers Meeting helped her overcome the identity crisis that many women experience when they become a parent. “You keep one foot in your old life because you’re scared of becoming this person you don’t know,” she says.
The death of her father when Sonny was a year old triggered a period of depression. “Every morning, I’d wake up and feel so sad, and one day I just realised I wasn’t happy.” Jenny went to her doctor and was prescribed antidepressants. She also discovered running and its incredible ability to lift her mood.
She weaned herself off the tablets after two years and immediately fell pregnant with her daughter, Jasmine. “Second time around, Mothers Meeting has basically saved me, so when it stops making me feel good about myself and about being a mum, I’ll stop doing it altogether,” she says. “What I do is heartfelt, and that’s why women keep coming back.”