The Tale of Olivia, Oscar, Evie & Lila Babarczy



Olivia Babarczy is one of those engaging, magnetic and instantly likeable women. A mother of three – Oscar, 8, Evie, 5, and Lila, 3 – she’s expecting her fourth child any day now. It’s been a big year for the Sydney-based Babarczy, who not only left a career in finance behind, but has just launched a chic new resortwear line, The Plunge Collective....

“While I have always been very ambitious, my biggest success is and always will be my children. I feel like I was put on this earth to have a big family and feel so incredibly lucky and blessed to have had my dreams come true in this regard,” she says.

The determined Babarczy worked her way up the corporate ladder for over a decade before making the decision to change her career path. “Corporate careers can be very demanding with long hours and big expectations, but I suspect it’s much the same in many industries. I think the key to making it work is to be doing something you are passionate about so that time away from your family doesn’t feel like a sacrifice and also to have the right amount of help to support you in your role,” she says. “My clients were quite shocked at my decision to leave at what they perceived to be the peak of my career but at the end of the day, after 15 years in finance, I had achieved what I wanted to achieve and despite many different permutations and combinations of working 3 days, 4 days, a day home etc.; it was the right time for me and my family. I didn’t have grand plans to start The Plunge Collective at that exact point, but I was itching to do something more creative, after my experiences in renovating and interior design.”

Babarczy certainly has plenty of experience renovating. She recently finished doing up her spectacular Spanish mission style home, which was built in the 20s and designed by architect Glynn Gilling. It’s her fourth renovation in eight years. From the charming wallpaper in the bedrooms to the bold patterned tiles in the kitchen and dramatic pendants in the living room, it’s the kind of home you’d never want to leave.

One of four, Melbourne-born Babarczy was made to be a mother: “Motherhood has taught me so many things,” she says. “Probably the biggest lesson has been the recognition of my capacity to love so freely and unconditionally. It’s something that has shocked me each time one of my children have been born and it’s one of life’s greatest pleasures.” Just in time for summer, we caught up with the stylish Babarczy to talk everything from kaftans to motherhood to interiors…


Having it all really has many definitions…

What that means to me may be completely different to someone else. I think women can’t necessarily have it all but I they can certainly prioritise what’s important for them. I have and always will be a working mother because it’s what makes me happy and fulfilled. If I am happy and fulfilled then everything flows from there and my home is happy and fulfilled. Does that mean that I have to make sacrifices? Absolutely! Perhaps I miss out on a little ‘me’ time or that dinner with friends because feel I haven’t had enough time with my children of late. At the end of the day it’s all about finding the best balance for you and your family and being passionate about what you do, whether that is at home or in the workplace.


I have always been very career focused…

A very busy life has come part and parcel with that, but there is no doubt that life has become even busier since having children! I think the biggest changes occur with your first child because the whole structure and dynamic of your life is altered forever and that is an adjustment regardless of whether you have a sleeping baby or not.


I think finding that balance is something we all constantly strive to achieve as best we can…

At times it can be difficult when our lives are very full and busy! In my mind, working together as a team and having similar values is a very strong base for a partnership, but also being on the same page with regards to work/life balance and how you both choose to bring up your children is equally important. I think if you can be aware and understand what the other person is, or may be going through at different times in their lives, then you are half way there. After our first child my husband and I decided to schedule in a dinner date once a week as something that we would prioritise, so we started our Saturday night dating series and it’s something we still do after eight years and very much look forward to each week! It’s a chance for us to reconnect, get out and about with friends and enjoy a level of independence that we don’t always have throughout the week.


I found it quite a big jump from two to three children…

Mainly because I was trying to balance a very demanding career with an equally busy household, with perhaps not the right level of support. I think every mother has a different story to tell with regards to their individual experiences, which tend to be very personal depending on age gaps between children, the children’s personalities and whether they sleep, the demands of career, their pregnancies, the support of family, so on and so forth! I think to go from two to three children you have to accept that there is going to be a level of organised chaos that ensues and also to make sure that you have enough support to make sure that you, as a mother and the person running the household, also have the building blocks in place to make the transition.


“ For me motherhood is continually teaching me lessons about myself; my strengths, weakness and also my limits ”

My daily beauty routine is reasonably simple…

It has become somewhat simpler since having children. I like the idea of taking time out for facials, but the reality is it doesn’t happen very often. I have sensitive skin so it took me a while to find the right beauty products to suit my skin and I have had to make changes to my routine to accommodate my pregnancies. In terms of my specific routine, I cleanse, tone and moisturise my skin morning and night. I find Environ and The Skincare Company products wonderful to use as well as Dr Spiller’s Collagen Crème. I love the freedom of not wearing makeup every day and I also use Nutrimetics Nutri-Rich Oil to achieve the look of glowing, natural, dewy skin. But equally, when the occasion presents itself, there is nothing better than getting dressed up and feeling glamourous. A great mascara from Lancôme or Benefit and a bold lip courtesy of Nars helps me achieve this look.


Exercise has always been a big part of my life…

It is extremely important to me. I find it very meditative and try to incorporate it into my routine four to five times a week, if I can. While I have a love/hate relationship with the gym, I have always enjoyed running and the outdoors. As I have got into my 30s, I have found it beneficial to also incorporate more ‘yin’ forms of exercise and yoga has been hugely transformative for me. For my pregnancy the biggest change is that I have swapped running for walking, but I have been able to continue to do yoga throughout, up until the last couple of weeks.


I think pregnancy is a special, special experience…

When those first flutters happen, such a beautiful bond grows and there is also the realisation of just how clever the female body is; to not only create, carry and grow a baby inside of you, but to be able birth and feed it as well. It really is mind-blowing. I have had quite different experiences for my four pregnancies, some aspects I have loved and others not so much. There is no doubt that pregnancies can be very challenging and it’s not all glowing skin and peaches and cream. The morning sickness, exhaustion and vulnerability, I would happily leave behind. However the quote by Emerson rings true in that life is a journey and not a destination and not all things are handed to you on a silver platter. That said a visit from the stork would be nice!


“ As my family has grown the biggest change has been the need to be organised as well as to be sensitive and aware of what my children want and need. Part of that is making sure I am able to put aside time to have special moments with each of them to ensure they feel loved and secure ”

I love clean lines and a reasonably monochromic approach in my living areas…

The bedrooms are somewhere you can have a little more fun, particularly with colour. I am a romantic at heart and I think it’s lovely for children’s bedrooms to feel calm and light and most importantly, to be a room they love spending time in. I was inspired by a recent trip to Paris and I used wallpaper in both rooms which adds a textural element and a little more depth. The styling is reasonably simple, but can afford to be with the use of the wallpaper. I am lucky in that my girls share a love of all things romantic as well, because at the end of the day it’s their room, not mine and it’s important that they are happy. For my son’s room, I wanted to find a balance where it felt masculine without being overpowering or dark but also not too baby boyish either. And who doesn’t love a stripe?!


For my first child…

I had the routine books out and couldn’t work out why he wasn’t following any of them. He was very much on his own path I think! It’s a very personal thing and best to do what works for you, your family and your baby in the early stages. With each child, as with each pregnancy I have had different experiences so I would say there is no one set of rules or routines that work. You do your best and hope for the best! That said, I do feel better in structure and my husband is similar, so once we are through the haze we tend to try to follow a very simple routine for both the baby and our older children.


Sleep deprivation can be a huge challenge…

I think you need to just do the best you can to get as much as sleep as you can. Sometimes that is easier said than done and for me having had both a ‘sleeper’ and ‘non-sleeper’ my experiences have been vastly different. What I have found helps is having a support network around you when the baby is born so that even if the baby isn’t a great at sleeping or settling, you feel that you aren’t on your own and still get the chance to catch up.


Being a first time mother is an incredible experience…

It also can be a very lonely time. My advice would be to be realistic about your expectations and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. It’s a steep learning curve and a lot of what happens is outside of your control. It’s important not to be too hard on yourself.


Finding a balance between career and motherhood is a constant challenge…

A career in finance was a natural transition for me and something I thoroughly enjoyed for the majority of the time. A big catalyst for change was the birth of my first child where I was working 12 hours days, five days a week in a very arduous role. I just knew I couldn’t keep up the pace and carved out a different role for myself in an area where I felt I could add a lot of value. It was a great transition and a role that I was promoted in a number of times which was extremely rewarding. However, as my family expanded over a number of years, despite the success, I found finding that balance increasingly difficult and I felt like I wasn’t doing anything particularly well and the person suffering at the end of the day was me. That time was a catalyst for me to reassess my priorities and work out what was most important to me.


I had toyed with the idea of leaving my corporate career behind after my third child…

I wanted to make sure that it was the right decision and one I didn’t make lightly so I waited until my daughter was two. The idea of The Plunge Collective was a bit of a light bulb moment in itself. Although I had been thinking about a business within the resortwear space for a couple of years. I chose this particular path because I felt there was a gap in the market between the high end which is expensive and not always functional and the bottom end where perhaps the quality or form is not up to scratch. I am truly inspired by beach and ocean living so it feels very natural to be designing within this space. I wanted my Plunge woman to feel just as glamorous on the beach as she might anywhere else and be able to go from beach to bar or beach to lunch feeling confident and elegant in her Plunge Collective kaftan.


“ I wanted to create a collection that not only feels luxurious to wear and looks great, but also ticks the other boxes that are important such as breathability and functionality ”

We bought our house a little over a year ago…

To be honest, we weren’t actually looking at the time. We knew we hadn’t found ‘our spot’ as yet, but it was really a combination of unique circumstances that eventuated into us buying the house. The house was built in the 1920s in Spanish mission style and designed by architect Glynn Gilling who has worked on some wonderful Sydney houses. However the previous owner had lived in the house for over 50 years and it was very old and decrepit with small rooms, heavy carpet and antiques. The gardens were also a force to be reckoned with! It had been on the market for a long time and I think most people put it in the too hard basket, but the moment I walked in the door I knew it was ‘the one’. The love affair began! In terms of the renovation itself, I wanted to be sympathetic to the authenticity and romanticism of the building but modernise it. It was a very organic process. The result is a very light filled, modern home which I think is still true to its Spanish heritage but with both Scandinavian and Californian influences and quite a monochrome pallet.


My summer fashion essentials are first and foremost a kaftan from The Plunge Collective…

It can take you from beach to lunch or wherever your summer reveries guide you! A fabulous bikini or one piece is key and there are so many wonderful swimwear collections on the market now. A great summer dress, bold jewellery, a pair of slides from Cabin and Cove, white jeans from Skin and Threads, a pair of Lulu white and silver brogues from Meandher, a wide brimmed fedora hat, vintage denim shorts, and a black, white or monochrome top from Zimmerman, Christopher Esber or Alexander Wang are all pieces that are also staples in my wardrobe.


I think the hardest part of being a Mum…

Is finding a balance between the needs of your family, your husband, your career and yourself. And the challenge of sometimes having to be at three different places all at the one time! Sometimes I feel I have that balance and then an event outside of my control happens and I very much lose it. But for every hard part there are infinitely more best parts! Never was there a role that was more rewarding, whether that is the overwhelming love you feel for your children, the way they make you laugh, or their innocence. Being a Mum, I think, is truly is the greatest role you can play in life.


Olivia’s little list of loves:

One of my greatest pleasures since I have started The Plunge Collective is being in charge of my own schedule and hence having the flexibility to work when best suits me. What has flowed from that is that my mornings are now no longer ridiculously frantic with me rushing out the door before my children wake and I can sit in my bed and wait for the pitter patter of little feet to come into my room for a morning cuddle. There is nothing better than sleepy, well-rested children!
I have recently finished renovating our house and being an avid renovator (this was my fourth renovation in eight years) it’s very clear to me that I am obsessed with property, interior design and art! My favourite artists at the moment are an eclectic mix that range from Guy Maestri and Ana Pollak to Slim Aarons and Tino Sands.
Yoga and meditation are something that I have discovered in the last couple of years and both have been extremely valuable for me in both a physical and spiritual sense. Power Living in Bondi is such a nurturing and lovely place to practice.
I feel extremely lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world and one of my favourite things to do when I have a spare half an hour and my children are at school and daycare is to walk down to Nielsen Park and have a swim at the beach. I am absolutely inspired by the beauty of the ocean and all things relating to the beach and for me, there is nothing more cleansing and invigorating than a dip in the crystal clear ocean.
It goes without saying that one of my favourite things right now is my Plunge Collective collection! It’s been a wonderful journey from the initial concept, inspiration and design of kaftans; to finalising the collection and I loved working within a more creative space. Despite being right at the end pregnancy, I am still wearing the pieces and feel great in them.
There is nothing better than a massage but when that is a four handed massage, it takes it to a whole new level! Venustus in Oxford Street are experts at this and the experience is pure luxury and life changing.

Photography: Julie Adams Words: Georgie Abay


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