Community Assistant Pete recently caught up with Virtual Assistant Julia Chaplin to talk everything from business support to Love Actually.
So easy question first, who are you & what’s the name of your business.
I’m Julia Chaplin and I’m director of Ellis Chaplin Limited.
Tough question next. What’s your go to binge watch TV show?
That’s easy! It has to be Gavin & Stacey
For anyone who doesn’t know, what is a Virtual Assistant & what do they do?
It can be a whole host of things from basic business support like administrative tasks such as typing or producing invoices. For me personally I focus more on the technical aspects primarily building websites for smaller businesses. As well as helping them get that initial online presence I also train them to update and maintain their own website.
What inspired you to become self employed?
My background is in IT and Database management but I found myself in a job that was causing me stress & that I didn’t find rewarding so I actually quit without really having a backup plan in mind. It was during this time that one my friends who knew the skillset that I have suggested that I should become a VA. I didn’t even know what a VA was so had to Google it!
Tell me about that first month. You don’t even know what a VA is, so what’s going through your head?
Honestly I just pushed forward and told people that I was setting up my own business because I think I was afraid of the stigma surrounding being unemployed. So the first few months was about finding clients and doing the odd bit of administrative work for them, like typing letters and minutes. It was around that time that I came to the hub.
How did you find The Wrexham Enterprise Hub?
I first came into the hub when I attended the Google Digital Garage session that was hosted there. So I made an appointment to become a member and right from the first moments everybody made me feel really welcome, despite it being a completely new office it wasn’t scary at all!
The support from the staff has been amazing and although my job does enable me to work from home there were so many aspects that I wouldn’t know where to start from, so having workshops on offer covering topics like marketing or social media were huge helps in boosting my confidence. I’ve noticed a huge improvement in my self esteem since becoming part of The Town Square community. The other part of that is that I now know how to recognise when a job isn’t in my skillset and because of the amazing network in the hub, there is always someone to pass it onto.
You’ve become such a vital part of the community, on top of your own business you’re also part of The Wrexham Business Group. Why was it important for you to get involved with that?
I was born and raised in Wrexham. So Wrexham is part of me and things like The Wrexham Business Group is great for small traders and businesses in the town, it brings the community together. It’s important to me that we put forward the best about Wrexham and address town centre issues.
For everyone keeping score, you run your own business, chair other groups, you have children…how do you manage the work – life balance?
Well first of all I call it the life-work balance because life always comes first. I think that I am really luck that my family and support network all live locally and are so supportive of what I am doing. I think part of it is also because I never really felt I was ambitious so even though I’ve always worked hard, I was promoted in roles before this it never got in the way and I’m now in a different place than I was when I was younger in terms of that ambition.
Your journey to self employment has been a fascinating one. What have you learned along the way that you’d want others to know?
Don’t try and do it all by yourself. Get support, if there’s a coworking space that you can access then go for it! It’s so amazing to have people around you or are in the same situation and the creative environment is so inspiring. It really does give you so much motivation to see so many people following their dreams.
Last question is always the most difficult. Hollywood is making the Julia Chaplin life story, who plays you?
It would be the lady who plays Natalie in Love Actually! (Pete Googled her, her name is Martin McCutcheon!) I like her because she’s down to earth and quite feisty!
So there you have it, Julia Chaplin of Ellis Limited. Be sure to give Julia a like & a follow on all her social media pages and if you need someone to help with your website, get some typing done or watch Gavin & Stacey with you know who to ask!