From eye surgery to luxury shoe design…
This must be one of my favourite stories to tell. It isn’t a personal experience kind of tale, yet although I have never met the main character of this story, I feel I’ve known her for years: Meg Cope, former eye surgeon, mum of three, CEO and founder of Zaccys.
Zaccys was one of the very first names that I followed when I started my AllMumsTalk Instagram journey. There was always something about this profile, I reckon the mix of the Mediterranean sunshine, the gorgeous cliffs by the sea and the effortless style of a re-invented classic: luxury espadrilles. Oh, but the footwear…I knew that behind the scenes there would be more than stunning tanned legs making all seasons look glam!
One day, despite all amazing stories and requests I receive in my inbox that unfortunately I am often so slow to process (juggling a toddler and a bump while living the mad rhythm of a blogger’s life!) my curiosity made me send a message on Instagram the very moment I noticed the brand was such a huge supporter of not one, but several charities for children; somehow, I guess that deep down, I wanted to know which was the connection between a luxury footwear brand and charity organisations for children. This is how I found out Zaccys was founded in London in 2015 by our main character of the story, Meg Cope, a former consultant eye surgeon with over twenty years experience in medicine working for the NHS, who in 2012 had to take a career break to look after her youngest child, Zac, when he was diagnosed with leukaemia. Fortunately, after three and a half years of fighting cancer through a rigorous treatment, the brave tiny human won the battle.
When Zac completed his treatment in 2015, Meg decided to move away from a demanding job in medicine and focus more on her family. After noticing a gap in the fashion market, designing luxury espadrilles seemed like the way to go, offering Meg the flexibility she needed, so Zaccys took shape – named after her son.
But here’s more on motherhood, the project and a great competition from Meg herself for AllMumsTalk’s readers…
1. Motherhood is a game changer. How did it change you?
Motherhood has been my very greatest joy in life. I feel lucky to have my children everyday, even if they are testing me at the same time! It’s made me happier, more fulfilled & more confident.
2. I’ve read the emotional story behind your gorgeous brand and the challenges you went through as a mum. Can you tell us a bit more on how Zaccys started to take shape?
I had struggled to find a replacement for a brilliant pair of low elasticated wedge espadrilles that I’d bought in Italy years ago. I started drawing an upgraded version of my ideal pair, thinking I’d try to get them made…This turned into a whole collection centered around the concepts of comfort, versatility and a maximally flattering aesthetic.
As I started to research factories I began to learn about espadrille manufacture & the complexities of making the luxury version. It was the interest of friends – who said they’d buy some too, if I could get them made, that sowed the seed to turn my ideas into a business. I ran the idea past a good friend who is a successful entrepreneur in fashion, she encouraged me and gave me the confidence to go for it.
3. Where does your inspiration come from?
Long, warm, sunny, Mediterranean holidays, classic timeless style, the beauty and texture of warm jute braids. The metallic highlights & pops of colour are my way of having fun & putting more personality into the shoes. I am always drawn to beautiful jewelry & colours in nature. Travelling is always a source of inspiration as was living in an incredible eclectic, cosmopolitan, historical city like London all my life. The brand is also all about comfort & this underlies all the technical aspects of the shoe construction.
4. How does a regular day of yours look like?
We relocated to Athens just 3 months after launching the business…it was a huge challenge finding logistical solutions to keep Zaccys in London whilst packing up the lives of three children!
But it was an amazing move for us, we have a great quality of life, we all appreciate the climate here & the opportunities to enjoy a more outdoor life on & next to the glorious blue Aegean Sea! We were also finally able to get a dog, my dream of 40+years!!
My children travel to & from school on a bus so I can be at my desk by 8am. Being 2 hours ahead of London & 1 hour ahead of Spain gives me an edge & helps me to keep on top of things.
I do spend a lot of time at my desk (fortunately I have an amazing view!) dealing with emails, talking to my customers, suppliers, retailers, factory & logistics team. Running the day to day, I am still a team of one, so there is always lots to do!
I also try to spend some time each week, focusing on bigger picture & longer term goals, as well as allowing myself a little headspace to encourage creative thinking. Athens is a very inspiring place to be.
Greece has provided many opportunities for Zaccys & I often head into town or the business district for meetings.
I am almost always home when my children get back & can enjoy hearing about their day, relaxing & eating a meal together.
The work-life balance feels pretty good, most of the time.
5. Today so many of us may experience periods of low confidence when motherhood kicks in, often when a career change is also involved.
What would you advise mothers to do in order to overcome this and pursue their dreams like you seem to have successfully done it through growing your lovely brand?
I was surprised & confounded when during my first maternity leave I felt I’d completely lost a sense of who I was. I hadn’t appreciated how much my job defined my sense of self-worth & being. It was an adjustment that took time & conscious effort to make. Happily, I was ultimately able to allow myself to relax & savor the precious time at home. Going back to work presented some new challenges but I was lucky to be able to make it work.
Changing jobs or careers can be an enormously unsettling event. I really struggled again when I moved to work in a different hospital having been with my team for 7 years in Kingston.
I think the best advice I can give other working mothers is to have the courage to admit if you’re not happy, usually there is a better solution & it’s a question of finding what that is & making it happen, however hard or scary the prospect may be.
In some respects, it was easy for me, despite feeling increasingly frustrated by the constraints of the NHS, I didn’t choose to ‘jump ship’. Effectively, I got ‘pushed’ when Zac was diagnosed. His illness gave me the opportunity to be fully present at home for the first time since having my children, I couldn’t go back to my old routine once I realised what I was missing.
6. Which are the 3 ‘I got this from my mama’ lessons you’d like your children to learn from you and proudly use later in their adult lives?
Walk in someone else’s shoes, don’t be afraid of anything, don’t give up.
7. Which are the main challenges of working on your own project? And the perks 🙂
Generally, I can manage my own time to fit around the needs of my family. I make the decisions, set time-frames and standards. I can do things differently and I can be creative.
The downside for me, as a sociable person, is the lack of a team. I have always found people interesting, it was one of the aspects of Medicine that I relished. The lack of camaraderie, support and validation at the moment can be lonely and difficult.
On a practical level it also means that when anything that needs to be done, I have to do it myself!
I think you need to be extremely focused, single-minded as well as resilient, energetic & positive to succeed as an entrepreneur.
8. Your favourite quote…
‘Fall seven times, stand up eight’
My Dad always taught me to be fearless, tough and tenacious, even in face of adversity, to never give up.
9. Finally, what has motherhood been teaching you so far
Certainly to be more patient. It’s not naturally in my DNA! Some how I found that ability to be infinitely patient with my children most of the time.
To listen more, although I think that’s an age-related change too!
Certainly, to be more relaxed & put less pressure on myself. Motherhood is such an enormous responsibility and can be terrifying. I think it’s terribly important to try and actively move away from the natural anxiety that pervades your whole being after childbirth. Children need love, guidance, wisdom and support not neurotic micro-management.
Now my children are a little older & with the lifestyle here in Greece, we also have the opportunity to be more spontaneous. A little taste of being younger & carefree again, but this time round with them. We have so much fun together.
The shoes are designed by Meg in London and handmade by master craftsmen in Spain. I am proud owner of a pair of Zaccys which I must honestly admit are exceptionally comfortable, and are indeed ‘designed specifically to lengthen and flatter the leg’ therefore Zaccys has achieved the handmade luxury through its finest quality finish while working with master craftsmen and sourcing only the finest leathers, natural cotton and jute.
The brand seeks to repay the tremendous support that Meg and her family received during her son’s illness. A financial donation of £2.00 is made to Children With Cancer and CLIC Sargent charities for every pair of Zaccys sold.
Enter our competition to win a luxury pair of supremely comfortable espadrilles.
Follow Zaccys on Instagram and tag three friends who might want to learn more about Zaccys (soon launching men’s SS18 collection, too)
Competition ends on Monday, the 17th of July 2017. Follow AllMumsTalk posts and insta stories for full details of the competition.