Colin Mitchell on juggling family and work.

A woman who works and is a mother is classified as a “working mom”. On the other hand, a man who works and is also a father is rarely, if ever, termed a “working dad”. The reasons for this are multi-fold and largely flawed, but Colin Mitchell personifies just that—a working dad. He is the sole proprietor of at least three successful businesses, and father to three beautiful children, with the latter trio occupying the highest priority in a schedule that could make anyone’s head reel.

Mitchell’s hectic daily agenda starts off with the morning school run, followed immediately by a staff meeting to ensure the smooth running of his primary business, Signwave. Between emails and client meetings, Mitchell makes real-estate decisions under the umbrella of his ancillary business (Mitchell Properties), and even manages to squeeze in a lunchtime workout at the gym. In the afternoon, a kid or two is added to the melee at Signwave, arriving after school and producing artwork that Mitchell proudly displays on his office door. Despite all this, the chaos comes to a definite end at sundown. “I put my kids to bed every single night,” Mitchell proudly claims. “That’s my schedule, so work has to end before bedtime.”

When asked how he manages to divide his time, Mitchell refers to his phone calendar, which is shared with his wife, Lisa. “This,” he says. He lives by the hourly blocks on his phone, even on weekends. A typical Saturday’s schedule looks like an overcrowded juggling act, with three kids’ worth of extra-curricular activities, sandwiched between an early-morning husband-and-wife bike ride (to make use of Lisa’s Mothers’ Day gift) and an afternoon training session with the next generation of triathletes (St. Monica’s triathlon programme, spearheaded by Mitchell).

Before Signwave was established, Mitchell had a long and convoluted professional history, involving the creation and running of numerous small businesses.

In his early career, working as a bank teller, Mitchell managed to drum up business on the side installing car stereos—an enterprise that soon turned enough of a profit to become his main money-maker, allowing him to leave his position at the bank.

This led to several additional side-ventures—all of them lucrative. “Everything I touched was just always doing well,” Mitchell says of his early entrepreneurial days. “I could never do anything wrong, it seemed like!” With one notable exception—Mitchell claims his biggest misstep was the bomb of a party that he threw in Miami, to which no one showed up, leaving him “in the red,” he laughs.  After the failed event, Mitchell returned home to his mother’s house with his tail between his legs. Through her shrewd advice, she opened the door to his next—and arguably biggest—venture: Signwave.

“You know what you’re good at,” she said, referencing his aptitude for graphic design in his schoolboy days, “Go and paint signs.” Mitchell acted on her suggestion, and Signwave was born. Now, fourteen years later, he has just launched a new business under the Signwave banner: Island Custom Fabrics. Serving the growing local fashion industry, the company offers fabric printing at a molecular level, with the design embedded in the fabric, expanding the limits of what has up to now been feasible for local designers—and adding to Mitchell’s ever-full plate.

As Mitchell’s professional life gets increasingly busy, his commitment to his family remains unwavering. Speaking of his younger days of being a self-professed workaholic, Mitchell credits his wife for his shift in priorities.”Lisa always advocated the significance of family-life over everything else, and was at odds with a man whose opinion at the time, he says, was “there’s no family without money or work.”

The ultimate turning point came when the couple tragically lost their first child, just days after her birth. Mitchell says that those days—the worst of their lives—helped him to see what really mattered.

In the chaos of the daily rat race, Mitchell’s three kids can be assured that at the end of the day, their dad will be there to say good night. Looking at Mitchell’s routine, it’s clear that women aren’t the only ones who do it all. 

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