Posted: by Jo Tuesday, 28 July 2020 @ 11:02
As we continue our My Best Self campaign, we are asking some of our Mantra friends and followers to share their stories with us.
We want to share stories about how we can all step up to be our best selves in life, and how having a mantra – a memorable set of words – in a given moment can really help to change our thoughts and our behaviours.
Our August interviewee is Surlender Pendress, a truly inspiring woman who is the founder of Love Writing Co, a brilliant company which creates age-appropriate pencils and other writing materials, making it easier, faster and more enjoyable for children to learn to write.
I first met Surlender on a NatWest Enterpreneurs’ programme, and saw first-hand how hard she worked to establish and launch her business, with some necessary pivots as the business idea evolved.
Jo: Tell me a little about yourself, Surlender, to introduce you to our followers.
Surlender: Coming from a traditional Asian family and being the eldest of six, I was the ‘Leader of the Pack’ and was always told I had to lead by example, so I have always had a strong mindset.
Married at 19, single mum at 32, with little or no money, I became Mum and Dad to my kids and life certainly was a challenge, but I loved it! I knew from a young age I was meant to do something different and whilst my friends wanted to be models and actresses, I wanted to own my own business and be my own boss.
At the age of 46, after taking redundancy, I set up my first business with a business partner, but it turned toxic very quickly as our visions were totally different, and I left this business heartbroken and lacking confidence.
With the support and encouragement from my husband, Richard, my children, and a new business partner who had the same vision and work ethic as myself, we set about creating an innovative brand that would be disruptive yet rewarding.
Love Writing Co was created with a passion to make a difference. It’s a brand that is focused on developing products and tools to make it easier, faster and more enjoyable for children to learn how to write confidently.
Jo: And where did the idea for Love Writing Co come from?
Surlender: Love Writing was created from a personal need – my children really struggled to learn to write, and being a single mum, I simply could not afford expensive tuition and products. I tried everything on the market and nothing really helped.
I created a range which I absolutely loved with my previous business partner, but it was a very toxic partnership and really took my confidence away.
I broke away from that partnership and met Mark, my current business partner, who shared a love of making a difference to children, and also wanted to create a brand that would help children to learn to love writing.
Love Writing Co started from my experiences helping my siblings do their homework and my children struggling to write. Mark, my business partner, is dyslexic and also found it hard to find any products that would encourage his children to want to learn to write - hence we set about creating an innovative range that would inspire children to learn to love writing from the start.
Love Writing was created - and with it, a new me!
Jo: You and I met on the NatWest Accelerator programme, which aims to support and guide entrepreneurs, and provides mentoring and networking opportunities. How helpful do you think it is, to learn from other people and get their support?
Surlender: If you don’t ask, you don’t get! Very early on in my entrepreneur journey, I recognized I really needed some business support. I joined my local NatWest Business Hub, and I signed up to do a Business Growth Programme, where I met the most amazing mentors and entrepreneurs, many of whom had or were experiencing what I was going through.
Being an entrepreneur can be lonely, and being part of a community that can understand your journey has helped me tremendously. Business support is vital, but I gained so much more, I gained true friendships that motivate and guide me when needed, and always there to support me in good and bad times.
So ask for help, seek advice and get a support network around you to keep you focused.
Jo: Talking of inspiration, you have ‘Everything I need is within me’ engraved on your myMantra necklace. Tell me more about that phrase – why you chose it, and what it means to you?
Surlender: The Universe will always say yes, but you must say yes to yourself first. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve made excuses NOT to do things, and then wondered why my life was stuck in a rut.
It is only when I started to simply believe in myself, did my world change and the clouds in my head cleared to create a life that reflected my values and satisfied my soul.
I realised it was me who needed to change and accept that everything I needed was within me to live a fulfilled life - hence the mantra, ‘Everything I Need Is Within Me’, is so special to me and makes me feel empowered!
Jo: And do you find yourself saying those words to yourself at various times? How does it encourage you, or change how you feel?
Surlender: By believing in myself and reminding myself ‘everything I need is within me’, it makes me wake up each morning feeling gratitude for all I have.
We really cannot control everything that happens to us, but I have learnt that changing how I react and taking action in situations will change how I see the world and how the world sees me.
I can say today, this really is me and I own who I am meant to be.
Jo: Which design of myMantra necklace did you choose, and why?
Surlender: The Ornate Lotus in Rose Gold because the Lotus flower is regarded in many different cultures as a symbol of purity, enlightenment, self-regeneration and is so beautiful.
I just knew this was the perfect necklace for me as it symbolises how I have changed over the years, and that life is beautiful.
Jo: And talking of the Lotus Necklace, I know you also chose that same necklace for a good friend of yours, and you had the same words engraved. Tell me about that?
Surlender: Me and my friend both turned 50 this year and we both have been on a journey - divorce, redundancy, setting up businesses and changing our outlook in life to ensure we lived our best lives and learn from lessons in life.
Jayne is very much like me and has changed her life by believing in herself and living a positive life, so when we both hit 50 I chose the same necklace as its simple but powerful message really does reflect our mindsets and lives.
I felt this really was the most beautiful gift I could give to a beautiful and kind soul who has always been there for me.
Jo: Thank you so much for sharing your story, Surlender. It’s fascinating to hear so much about you and your journey, and understand what lies behind your business. I wish you every continued success with Love Writing Co, as it continues to grow and expand.
The Ornate Lotus Necklace is our ‘Mantra of the Month’ this month, which you can buy at 15% off here.