Tragic loss turns life motivation for single mother

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Tragic loss turns life motivation for single mother
Wendy Francis-Best, founder and creator of Love By Jo products

Dubai - Wendy Francis-Best's husband passed away suddenly, but she grabbed life by the horns to develop her talent into business to support her family


Kelly Clarke

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Published: Sat 9 Jul 2016, 9:17 PM

In September 2015, life as Wendy Francis-Best knew it changed.
Happily married with two young children - 6-year-old Olivia and 2-year-old Jude - the Dubai resident of 16 years received news which shook her whole world. "My husband Michael tragically, completely unexpectedly, passed away. It was such a shock to us all and still feels very surreal today."
At just age 37, Michael's dream of building his own business to provide a better future for his family was cut short.
Left in a state of financial ruin, Wendy said her parents were adamant about getting her and the children back home to Northern Ireland. "Within 24 hours of my husband's death, my parents were in Dubai and my mum said to me: 'I'm not leaving without you'."
But, despite wanting to be close to her family, Wendy wasn't prepared to move yet. "I told her I wasn't ready to leave my life here. I had been in Dubai for 16 years at that point. It's my home'." To just up and leave Dubai didn't feel right, she said.
Though Wendy had always worked various part time jobs down the years, she admits she was "stalling" when it came to building a proper career. "Michael had set up his own business, so I always had him as a financial back-up. He was my security and my main focus was raising our children," Wendy said.
Life for her and the kids was already in turmoil following Michael's passing, so she didn't want to cause more upheaval for her young family. "I have good friends here; my children have friends here. We were settled, and I didn't want to disrupt our lives any further at this point by running away."
Describing the Dubai community as "phenomenal", Wendy was blown away by the amount of support she received. Friends and strangers rallied around to help her out financially and emotionally, offering support that was way more than she would have ever got back home, she said.
"I guess, back home, the government helps you out at times like these, so people are around you to at the start, but they soon wean off. Even today, I am left speechless by the generosity of people who have helped me out here."
Shortly after Michael's funeral, Wendy decided to take life by the horns and re-launched the small business she had previously started. "When my husband died, I was left with no choice but to turn my life around, so that's what I did."
The idea behind her business is a unique one. Years ago, Wendy lost her job after getting pregnant with her first child, and struggling with financial difficulties, she started making everything for her baby and mother care needs from scratch, instead of buying it.
"I made myself a lovely nursing cover out of cotton jersey, to use while breastfeeding in public. After a friend asked me to make one for her, the news started to spread and I realised I was sitting on a potential business idea."
Today, her LoveByJO products have become popular among mothers all around the UAE, and even spread as far as UK and Australia. "I sell through online stores like Little Majlis, and at craft markets around the city."
Using only locally sourced products, the nursing covers are handmade in the UAE, and Wendy's eventual goal is to turn it into a fair trade business.
"Life has taught me not to plan too far in advance anymore. My husband was very supportive of my business and really believed in me. The branding was all created by him, so by re-launching it, I'm making him proud and honoring his hard work. That's what motivates and inspires me," Wendy pointed out.
She also hopes to help other women to establish successful nursing relationship with their babies, in the future. In her words, "Life as I know it is all going to work out."

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