M&O - Mr and Mrs Mark and Odette Clayton are joint founders of M&O Limited, a start-up company that empowers parents, couples, young people, and businesses to be the best they can be…
My latest interview with Curricula & Co’s former client M&O took place on a rainy Monday afternoon in Spinningfield, the slick business district of Central Manchester over lattes and cold-pressed juices. Let me tell you, the XYZ building, with its relaxed, yet polished aesthetic is the perfect setting for business lunches, co-working spaces and hot desking, as well as being a state of the art office building.
It’s very clear to me that these guys are truly invested in what they do, though they are now working separately - Mark runs the coaching business himself, while Odette spends most of her time working for a charity called Family Life UK, whilst volunteering to deliver workshops at M&O.
Coaching has many different facets, and can benefit different people and sections of society in different ways. Mark’s biggest passion has always been business coaching, and for Odette, it’s strengthening and empowering parents and family relationships, but their unique giftings collide in their shared love of sopporting marriages and couples to overcome challenges and fall in love all over again.
When the couple first started to get to know Anita Frost, Curricula and Co founder and director, they chatted loads about their ideas, which were still in their formative stages, and that they were still playing around with. Initially, they had the idea of starting separate businesses, but later, this developed into a joint venture, which quickly became M&O Limited. It was Odette who first met Anita, and she had some individual coaching sessions with her, with the aim of teasing out her ideas, and building up a picture of what it could look like. In this stage, market research was a big focus, as they tested the ground to see what was already out there, and what gaps and needs they might be able to meet. Anita was great at helping them understand and pin down what they were really invested in, and to build the business around that passion. One of the things that took a lot of work and thinking through was the name of the business.
‘When Anita met with us, she would always lead us into accountability, and we would be given something to work on in our own time, to build towards the goal’, they explain, ‘she didn’t do it for us, we had to do it ourselves, and we needed that. She helped us get the website up and running at first. She sourced that specific help through companies she had partnerships with, so that enabled us to start really strong’.
Through Odette’s work with parenting, they managed to gain a contract with Manchester City Council, and they ran parenting courses on behalf of the council for vulnerable families in the city who were struggling with parent-child relationships. This went on for a year, and earned a good income for the business, but towards the end of that year, sadly the council’s funding started to run out, and their service was cut. While searching for new contracts with other organisations and service providers, M&O found contracts with two foster care agencies, whereby, as well as parenting courses, they were working with couples, to build stronger romantic relationships. This is important, because children going into foster homes with two parents need them to stay together.
Having come from already very unstable family backgrounds, if the family that is supposed to be a safe place for them breaks up, then that creates even more instability in the foster home. The foster care agencies really saw a great need for this, and they bought into what Mark and Odette were offering. These days, they still provide services to foster care provision in Manchester, as well as creating and running workshops on behaviour and identity also through the fostering agencies.
Tune in next week to read Mark and Odette’s professional back-story, as well as a more in-depth and personal look at what it is that motivates them.
See you then!