It’s no secret we love anything that’s personalised so we were thrilled when an email landed in our inbox from Harper’s BAZAAR Australia’s beauty writer Anna Lavdaras to tell us about her new lifestyle label PHILÉ...
The launch collection features an edited line of monogrammed 100% cashmere baby blankets and shawls. “The brand philosophy is all about the classics – colourways, cuts and campaign all abide by this ethos. I’ve linked this classical theme to my Greek heritage, using a local illustrator to hand draw the tissue paper with figs (an ancient symbol of the Greek goddess Demeter), and also chosen a name which means nurturer/friend in ancient Greek,” says Lavdaras. Read on to find out more about her time management tips, beauty essentials and why persistence is key when launching a new business.
“ They’re chic, timeless and still really comforting and usable. The complimentary embroidered monogramming is a personal touch that transform each piece from simply an object to ‘your’ object ”
What are your time management tips?
One of the most impactful lessons I took from Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive was: there’s no such thing as multi-tasking. God it was so heartening! I’d spent most of my early 20’s flailing around in an effort to do everything all at once and ultimately failing at doing anything well. It’s just not a thing. I now handwrite two to-do lists each morning; one for my personal life (pay bills, buy mum’s birthday present) and another for my job, attacking each task exclusively before moving onto the next.
Go-to beauty products for the woman-on-the-run?
Cream-anything. Forget fumbling with powders that’ll smash in your gym bag, buy multipurpose makeup in solid formulas. This trick seriously changed my life. I use a Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser with SPF which is three products in one, a cream concealer by rms called “Un” Cover-Up to dab over those under-eye bags and any surprise zits, and the Tom Ford Shade And Illuminate palette as a blush, highlighter and eyeshadow (try mixing the two colours together – genius). From Monday-Friday, I only use makeup I can apply with my fingers.
Favourite way to unwind…
I go for a long swim to clear my mind, and then follow it up with a steam. My gym is pretty incredible – it doubles as a spa – so it’s not a chore being there.
Describe your inbox…
It’s very organised. The only emails you can see are things I haven’t actioned yet. Everything else either gets deleted or filed away. It’s never full enough to scroll.
What makes you feel stressed?
Overbooked weekends. My weeks are so full with my job, events, my brand, etc. I need time to relax come Saturday/Sunday. I’ve only recently learnt this about myself and started saying ‘no’ a lot more… getting over the FOMO was another matter entirely.
What is your approach to health and wellbeing?
I take the French approach; I’ll never say no to dessert but knowing this, I’ll eat less leading up to an indulgent meal to leave room for it. Routine usually helps, and planning. During the work week I try to stick to vegetarian, dairy-free and low-carb meals, but I don’t hesitate to order a pasta or burger come Sunday. I also exercise most mornings; I go to Physicore in Paddington, swim at Premier Gym on Castlereagh street or walk the 8kms home from the office.
Tell us about your career path…
I worked in PR for around two years before realising that I was completely miserable. I wasn’t writing nearly enough and I really missed it, so I enrolled back into university for a post-graduate degree in journalism and started night classes. At 24 years old, while my friends were getting promotions, I scored myself an unpaid internship at Cosmopolitan.com.au and promptly quit my job – I only could do this because I have the most supportive parents in the world. Getting a job in this industry is 50% about working your butt off and the other 50% about being in the right place at the right time. I was recommended for the role of editorial coordinator at Shop Til You Drop while I was at Cosmo (next door) by the editor overseeing me, and it became my first paid job in magazine land. It was a tumultuous time for the magazine as it transitioned from a monthly to a fortnightly, so I was the PA to a series of pretty inspiring editors. I loved it! Two years in, I was devastatingly made redundant with the option to either reapply for my job title with added responsibility or take a risk and apply for the features role. I spend sleepless nights crafting my measly portfolio into something that looked somewhat presentable and role-playing my interview, and I lucked out. I then got to spend another year at Shop writing fantastical fashion news stories before the whole team got made redundant. No time to sulk. My awesome editor Tracey Withers put me forward for a role going at Harper’s BAZAAR and I scored my dream job as the beauty writer, where I’ve now been for going on three years. It sounds very dramatic when I sum it all up in a couple of paragraphs, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Can you us about the launch of PHILÉ?
The idea for PHILÉ came to me about a year ago when the first of my friends invited me to their baby boy’s christening. My grandmother was a seamstress and taught me early on to appreciate quality fabrics, so cashmere was on my mind when I jumped online to hunt for a luxurious baby blanket to gift. There was just nothing… not on my budget anyway. Uniqlo had introduced me to concept of accessible cashmere so I knew it was possible. Once I found a supplier the rest was simply a series of decisions to make. I have very strong ideas about what I like and don’t like –probably finessed by my field of work – but the process was really fun for me. I opted for colours that were a little more ‘grown-up’ than most other baby accessories on the market. I’m just personally tired of the cliché baby blues and pinks that litter baby store countertops – our shades are navy, grey and ivory. They’re chic, timeless and still really comforting and usable. The complimentary embroidered monogramming is a personal touch that transform each piece from simply an object to ‘your’ object.
To shop, go to www.phile.com.au
What’s a typical day look like for you?
It really does vary in my job, If I’m shooting it’ll be very different to a day in the office. Mostly I’ll start with hardcore pilates class at Physicore, then a 30 minute walk into the office while listening to a podcast. I’m really into Oh Boy by the Manrepeller right now. Coffee in hand, I’ll organise my emails from the night before while making oats in the office microwave. Depending on where we’re at in the cycle of the magazine, I could be writing a story about hydration myths, researching ideas for the next issue or calling in products to shoot. Events are fairly common in beauty, so I’m always coming and going, be it a breakfast making flower crowns to celebrate a skincare launch or an afternoon eating a dessert degustation for a new colour line. I’m not making this up, these are legitimate events I’ve been to in the past month. At lunch, I’ll pick up/drop off my products to my embroider and ship off orders. If I’m not at an event, I’ll use the evenings to catch up on admin, order stock, and package up my products. It’s full on right now as I negotiate this new dual job, but I’m loving every second of it.
Top three tips for women looking to launch a new business…
1. Details: especially if you’re looking to launch an online store. Your packaging is your shop front, so it should tell a story. I had my tissue paper hand-drawn by an illustrator, and I hand write a personal note for each purchase. Opening one of our boxes should feel special.
2. Imagery: we’re living in a visual world, so you really need to invest in this aspect of a brand to make it relevant. I worked with a photographer who I deeply admire and a stylist who had a strong aesthetic and a good understanding of what the brand should be. We also created a film which works for Instagram and the website – it’s about creating a mood, while making something that can be shared. If you’re building a brand from scratch, I believe you need to create a personality for it. An identity that will evoke feeling.
3. Persist: I’ve been workshopping business ideas for years now – my desktop is littered with half-finished business plans. I would literally lie awake at night thinking up gaps in the market and scheming feasibility. When the idea for PHILÉ came to me, I costed it out and it just made sense. I didn’t need to do a business plan, I knew in my gut this was it. I got onto it immediately, and it’s taken a year from conception to launch. It takes time and persistence, but it feels so satisfying when it’s wholly your own.
Lightweight but so warm, opulent yet reachable, exciting and timeless all at once. If you’ve never owned a cashmere piece, you’ll never understand… It’s the embodiment of luxury.