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I'm Charlotte. That's me on the left up there with two of my team. I’m mum to Finlay and Teddy and one half of Mr and Mrs Pantry.

Before we had the Pantry I worked for a company for 8 years. It didn’t end so well. I was told my flexible working was being taken away and I would have to work full time or leave (because they had ‘too many mums working part time already’). The people I worked for who were not willing to keep me on (or find a place in the company for me now I had two little people in tow) should have known better and done better. But, I now know this is where I found my strength to run a business PART TIME while being a kick ass mum too.

Years have passed and we have 3 restaurants and an event catering company. It has been a tiring few years, but hey I was tired already… I have small children!

I am surrounded at work with amazingly inspiring women and I wanted to celebrate that today, on International Women’s Day. I have written this blog to celebrate everyone who works for us and has made our company a success, not just the gals. But let's give an extra big shout out to the women today as we are all doing an amazing job. Mothers, non-mothers, maybe-one-day mothers… you’re all bringing a unique and important set of skills to our growing business and for that Chris and I thank you!

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We have provided a flexible working environment at The Pantry Group to allow all parents that work for us to do just that, parent. And guess what… all of the parents that work for us give us their all, are 100% committed to their roles and are not confined to draconian ideas that work and parenting don’t mix well. Women are always going to have to gestate the babies, thats not going to change… so we as employers need to be the change and I am ALL FOR IT!

Each of our three restaurants is run by a woman, our HR manager is a woman, our events team is all female, we have a superb female team of floor and bar staff and we have 4 female chefs (flying the flag in a VERY male dominated profession!). I learn from these women every day, and I hope that I inspire and encourage them too. It is time for the hospitality industry to become more flexible as otherwise these amazing candidates who happen to be parents will be lost by an industry that is already suffering a massive skill shortage. Running the business with small kids is hard, but I have managed it. So it is 100% possible for me to make roles within my company accessible for people with kids.

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People ask me quite a lot how Chris and I ‘fit it all in’. The brutally honest truth is that in order to… certain things were not able to be given the time that maybe they would have if we weren’t self employed. The kids and the business was it for a long time. Friends went unspoken to for months, we went to a lot of our friend’s weddings solo …and our house…well the less said about that the better! But now, we have an amazing team and we can have Sunday lunch with our friends and their kids. Simple things like that are so special to us now. But now we have a superstar team of amazing people (men and women) working for us and we can start to enjoy some work - life - balance.

So, to our amazing team of women. Thank you for helping us continue to make this a success. And to our amazing team of men, thank you for helping us to continue to make this a success.

But here, today, on International Women’s Day. I am saluting, fist pumping, high five-ing and shouting out loud saying thank you ladies…here’s to another year of smashing it!

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And PS, while I'm on, there's a few other AMAZING women in business in Edinburgh who would like to speak up too. Click HERE to read their stories.....