PHOTOGRAPHY BY TRISH LEE
Today we take you inside the home of our founder and editor Georgie Abay...
To talk about her career change from the deputy editor of VOGUE Australia to founder of The Grace Tales, growing up in Sydney and motherhood. We also had fun dressing her children up in the new Tommy Hilfiger girls’ collection, available now at David Jones.
What time do you wake up and what’s a typical morning like in your household?
My three-year-old Arabella wakes me up around 630am. She comes into bed for a cuddle and is usually followed by her sister Lottie who jumps on my head and starts yelling in my ear for a bottle. It’s a very zen way to start the day and of course, I start the day feeling totally chilled out and relaxed. Honestly, it’s probably like every other mother’s house with young kids: chaotic. Some mornings are definitely more stressful than others – it really depends on what mood the girls are in when they wake up. If we’ve all had a restless night, they’re often overtired and we might have worked through, oh, about 10 tantrums before we’ve even left the house. I’ve now bought them two squeezy honeys so there are no more fights over who holds the honey (for their cereal). Then there are mornings like we had today when there’s no school so no rush to leave the house, it’s pouring with rain outside and both girls sleep until 7am, my husband brings me a coffee in bed and we read books together until 8am. These calm mornings are rare. On a pre-school day I’m madly rushing around the house making lunches, putting on washing, tidying up and trying to get myself looking vaguely human before I leave the house. I’ve been told on more than one occasion that my moisturising cream or my foundation isn’t rubbed in.
What is the best advice you’ve been given about motherhood?
‘This too will pass’. I often think of this when things get stressful. It’s just a phase. It’s just a phase. It’s just a phase. I repeat it over and over. I try to remember that they’re only little for a short while. When they were both newborns, I was so exhausted and overwhelmed, but now I crave those koala cuddles and middle of the night feeds. I’m so aware of how precious life is, and soon both of them will be off to school.
Can you tell us about your childhood?
My brother and I grew up in Sydney’s leafy Northern Suburbs in a beautiful home close to lots of parks and good friends. We lived in a Federation house, which my mother restored. She worked as an interior decorator from home and everything was always styled beautifully. I remember long summers, the sound of cicadas, jumping into the pool after school, climbing trees and the seemingly endless animals that I had – dogs, birds, cats, rabbits, fish, guinea pigs. It was a happy childhood. I was always a creative child. I had a small room off my bedroom, which we used as a walk-in wardrobe – my parents let me paint the entire room. I’d sit there for hours painting. I loved photography too.
When did your love of fashion begin?
I’ve loved fashion for longer than I remember. I don’t remember where it began, but I can’t remember ever not loving fashion. At school, I adored visiting the shopping mall, looking at all the clothes. And it was a dream come true to forge a successful career in fashion magazines. I did an internship at Elle magazine when I was at school and from that moment on, I knew I wanted to work in glossy fashion magazines. It’s an incredibly creative, visual industry and I’m still deeply passionate about fashion. These days, I focus on fashion that will appeal to style-conscious mothers. I also get so much enjoyment from dressing up my girls – it’s a lot of fun having two girls. They have a better wardrobe than I do!
Have you always been ambitious? What led you to work as the deputy editor of Vogue magazine then transition into the founder of The Grace Tales?
I’m a very ambitious person – my mind doesn’t stop and there’s not a day where I don’t come up with a new idea. You really can achieve anything you set your mind to. I knew I wanted to work for Vogue and focused all my energy on achieving this. I worked hard and in the end, I got there. After I had children, my priorities shifted. My dream career suddenly wasn’t a dream career at all. The Grace Tales happened very organically and I never imagined it would become such a success. Ambition is a good and a bad thing – I’ve made some changes in my life so that I’m working at a slower pace. My girls are my priority and spending quality time with them each week is really important to me. When work gets too overwhelming, I’ve got better at pulling back.
What has been one of your biggest career challenges?
Returning to work at Vogue after Arabella arrived was my biggest career challenge. I can handle difficult women and bullying, but juggling career and motherhood? I found it really hard. I left the magazine after my second daughter arrived because I couldn’t do both jobs. Something had to give. I remember when I left I was discussing it with my dad (who knew how hard I’d worked to get where I was) and he said something along the lines of “it’d be a shame to throw it all away”. I didn’t see it like that. And I didn’t have a choice – I couldn’t do both jobs. There’s not enough flexibility in the corporate world. I’m also a strong believer in doing different things throughout your life – you don’t have to have the same career your entire life. Change is a wonderful thing.
What are your time management tips – how do you juggle it all?
I’m pretty efficient and race through things quickly. Sometimes too quickly! If I know I have two hours, I put my head down and power through my to-do list. That said, my to-do list never seems to get any shorter! I think you just need to prioritise. I can’t answer every single email so I prioritise what needs to be done in order of importance. I also try and keep our house as clutter free as possible so it’s easier to clean up after the girls finishing playing. The more stuff you have, the harder it is to have a tidy house!
Favourite social media platform and why?
Instagram. I think I’m the only person on the planet not into Snapchat. Between Facebook and Instagram, I don’t have time for another social app! I’m excited about Instagram Stories – I’ll be using that a lot.
What are your daily beauty essentials and how long does it take you to get out the door in the morning?
I can get ready in about five minutes but I’ll often get told I still have cream on my face, haven’t rubbed in my foundation or find I only applied mascara on one eye. I wouldn’t say I look ‘put together’ when I leave the house. I don’t wear makeup everyday – usually I’ll only wear makeup if I have a meeting. I recently had some eyelash extensions put on – they’re amazing and it means I don’t need to do anything to my eyes and still feel ‘done’. The best beauty product I’ve ever used is a mask that soaks into your skin by a brand called Pola. My mother got me onto it and it’s like an at home oxygen facial. I also love Chantecaille foundation.
How to you treat yourself?
Doing a Pilates class, getting a spray tan, dinner with my husband or girlfriends, a sleep in, chocolate, red wine.
What is your approach to health and wellbeing?
Until very recently, it was non-existent. I didn’t exercise for over four years and ate a lot of junk food (Husband: “babe, where did the packet of Tim Tams go?”). I had our girls very close together and being premature, they didn’t sleep very well. I was exhausted. A couple of months ago I found a gym that has a kids’ club. It has been the most positive change for me – I now exercise four times a week. I just prioritise it. It means I socialise and work less, but your health is important. I wish I did it earlier. I’ve also recently started eating kale. I usually follow my kale salad with six Mint Slice biscuits. Balance, right?
Do you prefer to text or call?
Mostly text and always a couple of calls with my close girlfriends – we need a daily download.
Coffee or tea?
Soy cappuccino in the morning and peppermint tea in the afternoon. Peppermint tea instantly calms me down.
What is your definition of success?
It used to be all about what I’d achieved in my career but now, it’s a happy family.
Derek Henderson print
Your role model is?
My mother – she’s an amazing woman.
What did your own mother teach you about life and motherhood?
Mum keeps things real – she doesn’t dwell on things and if I get upset, she’ll give me some perspective. Life is never as bad as you think. She’s also taught me to be happy with what you have.
What’s your approach to interiors?
Our home is quite classic and traditional – I’m not into super modern interiors. I like homes with character and charm.
Are you tidy or messy?
Obsessively tidy. Unless I’m on holidays, then mess doesn’t bother me at all. Strange.
What do you love most about raising children in Sydney?
Is there a better city in the world to raise kids? I love the outdoorsy lifestyle and the beautiful beaches.
What will we find in your handbag?
A big mess! I might be tidy at home, but in the car and my bags, I’m a mess. Wipes, nappies, lip balm, wallet with missing cards thanks to Lottie hiding them and then random toys.
Tommy Hilfiger dresses, $99.95 each, from David Jones
What was your last investment purchase?
A beautiful pink Scanlan Theodore coat. I don’t spend a lot on clothes anymore, but love a new coat every few years.
What are your fashion essentials – the items on high rotation in your closet?
Sass & Bide jeans, Nike sneakers, shirts, Spell blouses, TopShop T-shirts, Uniqlo puffer jacket.