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Career Q&A: Being Made Redundant and Moving From Financial Services to Story Mama

by Career Management

In this Career Case Study Series we’ve asked the talented individuals around us to share their stories.  Learn from people who have taken a leap of faith in their career and stepped outside their comfort zone. I hope that you can relate to these stories and use them as a source of strength to encourage you to confidently go in the direction of your dreams and live the life you imagine for yourself.

Being Made Redundant and Moving From Financial Services to Story Mama

Debbie first shared her story with us in November 2013, as she approached the celebration of Story Mama’s 1st birthday.  At the time (and for a number of years afterwards), Story Mama was a specialist online children’s book store, based here in Melbourne.

Here Debbie reflects on the emotions leading up to leaving her busy corporate life and starting her own business. 

Once upon a time there was a corporate career girl attempting to manage a full time role in 4 days and a small child. She worked in financial services and whilst she loved her team and the challenge, she felt guilty all the time. Guilty when she was at work that someone else was looking after her child, guilty when she was at home that there was still stuff to be done in the office.

When a redundancy became available, she jumped at the opportunity with mixed emotions, but was determined to make it life changing and to truly crack the flexible working and work from home challenge.

Redundancy is often a difficult situation, as it bangs up your self esteem, messes with your head and takes you way out of your comfort zone. However, it can also be a blessing. This is because it gives you an amazing opportunity to re-evaluate how you are living your life, and somehow gives you permission to try something else.

It was during this time, the girl was getting frustrated when buying picture books for her child and his little friends, that information about age suitability was limited and she couldn’t get her hands on some helpful top 10 lists – like the best 10 books for a 2 year old.

She hated ordinary picture books and just wanted to be able to identify the great ones.  So… with a giant leap of faith, a supportive family, a little bit of mentoring, and a handful of capital, she started writing a business case…. to cement the dream in her own head and to see whether the idea stacked up… and what do you know, it did!

It was out of the ashes of my financial services career that Story Mama was born.

We stock just the best picture books, recommended by mums and loved by little kids.
My small business adventure has been a massive learning curve so far, but I am loving the challenge. We will be celebrating our first birthday in early December. It’s amazing and completely empowering to have built a brand, a business and new career.

Debbie successfully built Story Mama over the next 7 years. It became a popular choice for many parents (myself included) who were after children’s books recommended by other parents.  During this time Debbie also became a key member of Think Bespoke’s team, and is now the Head of Online Content Solutions for Think Bespoke.  In 2018, Debbie closed the online bookstore and now spends most of her days writing for a variety of clients while child and dog wrangling.

Debbie Hatswell, Think Bespoke



Karen Hollenbach

Karen Hollenbach

As one of Asia Pacific’s Top 10 LinkedIn Experts I share fortnightly news with my global email community and run monthly online Lunch and Learns to teach professionals how to unlock LinkedIn. Sign up to my newsletter to help you learn LinkedIn – the right way!


  1. Samantha McFarlane

    I think my decision to start my own business was the best decision I have made in a very long time. I was micro managed by a manger who didn't like the fact that I worked part time. The behaviour of this manager impacted on my health. Almost 12 months down the track, my family and I are so much happier. I love the work that I am doing and am very fortunate to have met some fabulous mum's

    • Think Bespoke

      Thanks for sharing Samantha. Happiness is the key. Well done you for making this decision as so many people do not take that leap of faith . . .

  2. Cath

    I still think that my redundancy (which came as quite a shock at the time, I might add) was the best thing that ever happened to me, even though my business has changed direction quite significantly since then. It got me out of a toxic environment and opened up a whole new world of positive business, supportive women and more effective parenting. I am like a totally different person. I won't

    • Think Bespoke

      It is the change of environment and being catapulted out of your comfort zone that sometimes makes a redundancy good for us Cath (in retrospect). Thanks for commenting. I hope you are well.


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