Entrepreneur and graduate Sally Bunkham (2002 BA(Hons) Cultural and Historical Studies) talks about her experiences while studying at the University of Brighton and how she turned a negative experience into a positive and started her own business!
“I ended up at University of Brighton a bit by accident…and what a lovely accident it was! I had almost given up on going to university when I didn’t get the grades I wanted at A Level. My pal persuaded me to give clearing a go. We stuck a pin on the list and it ended up pointing at Brighton, on a course called “Historical and Cultural Studies”. ‘Why not?’ I thought.
“Brighton felt a million miles away from my sleepy Lincolnshire hometown. I remember walking through the streets and thinking how colourful everything was. Tattoos, piercings and amazing eclectic fashion everywhere! I was daunted but immediately loved it. I made some fantastic friends in Varley Halls, who I still remain close to today.
“I remember how fabulously ‘right on’ my course felt. We were taught to question the world we live in and to look back on history in a totally fresh way. It was nothing like the history I was taught in secondary school. It was modern and it was exciting. It really made me see how the history of yesterday shapes our modern world…it still continues to do so. I remember being fascinated by what I learnt about Stalinist Russia. I have particularly nostalgic memories of watching and studying the Russian art film “The Mirror” by Tarkosvy. It was deliciously different and more beautiful than any of the stuff I’d learnt in school.
“Being at university taught me to talk to everyone. I flourished being in those diverse surroundings. It felt like a bit like everyone could belong because everyone was a bit of a misfit. I was in my element!
“One memory that stands out is my lovely best friend and housemate accidentally deleting my dissertation the night before it was due to be handed in. It was back in the day of floppy disks and we clearly weren’t very computer literate. There was a mass panic in our house and myself, my best pal Tash and my other pal Simon sat all night typing it up again from my handwritten notes. That night taught me to be calm and use humour in the face of adversity, and that if you all pull together, you can achieve a lot! My dissertation was handed in on time the next day. We still all have a laugh about that night to this day and they remain my closest friends.
“I was sad to graduate as it meant those fabulous 3 years were over. I tried to live in London but I missed Brighton too much and was back within a year. I had a brief stint in sales before finding a job working at The University of Sussex and working in events. I met my husband, Paul, in 2007 in the crowd of a Primal Scream set at Bestival. Despite meeting on the Isle of Wight we were delighted to discover we both lived in Brighton. We married in 2013 and had our first daughter, Daisy in 2014. Rather crazily we discovered I was pregnant again when my first daughter was only just 3 months old. So in 2015 I had 2 daughters under 2 (nearly under 1). I was flung into motherhood and I soon realised it was to be the second biggest life changing event I would encounter thus far (after moving to Brighton to go to university!).
“Rather sadly, I was diagnosed with post-natal depression following my second daughter. It was a bleak time, but bizarrely provided the inspiration for my career now. I am the founder and CEO of mumsback.com. We provide hamper gifts for new mums, focussing on all the yummy stuff we’re not allowed whilst pregnant. I got the idea following my back to back pregnancies missing all the stuff I wasn’t allowed! It also dawned on me that all the gifts I received as a new mum (although lovely) were all focussed on the baby. I thought there should be more that recognises the crazy journey of pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood that us mums go on. We are also a social enterprise, and £1 from every hamper goes to PANDAS Foundation, who support families going through perinatal mental health issues.
“Things are going really well and we’ve been featured a number of times in some great publications like The Independent, The Guardian, The Metro and mashable.com. We are also a partner of notonthehighstreet.com. Mum’s Back has been on the TV and radio a number of times speaking out about the importance of maternal mental health awareness, and I’m absolutely loving turning something rather negative that happened in my life into something so positive.”
You can find information about Sally with the following links: