Georgie Abay On Friendship, New Year Intentions & The Clarins Extra-Firming Neck & Décolleté Cream She’s Adding To Her Skincare Regime
It takes a village to raise a child. If I were to reflect on my journey as a mother, this rings truer than anything else. We all need help. We all need a village. We all need a friend who we can do a drive-by and drop off our kids for our hour while we regain our sanity...
We've all experienced the isolation that can come from becoming a mother for the first time. Those feelings of being disconnected from the rest of the world. For mothers, community is our lifeline. Creating a modern village is what makes us happy parents.
I met financial planner, best-selling author (her new book Mindful Money is out now) and founder of Sugar Mamma Canna Campbell many years ago. We actually went to school together, but being in different grades, we never connected. It wasn't until years later, through a mutual friend, that we really got to know each other. Fast-forward 10 or so years and I couldn't imagine life without her. We've been in the trenches together (we still are) and we've seen the best and worst of one another. We've watched one another start businesses, write books, have breakdowns over the stress of new motherhood and we've leaned on one another constantly. We've shared everything from skincare secrets to sleepless nights and more.
" We've watched one another start businesses, write books, have breakdowns over the stress of new motherhood and we've leaned on one another constantly. We've shared everything from skincare secrets to sleepless nights and more "
Canna Campbell On The Clarins Extra-Firming Neck & Décolleté Cream She's Adding To Her Regime<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="dede4f234edf91a3d38accc37713ee13"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wLQR3uPVJ9o?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Zoë Foster Blake, former beauty editor, skincare guru and GRACE magazine cover girl, famously said: “your face stops at your boobs". It's true – the delicate...</p><p>The skin of the neck and décolletage is fragile. With the constant movements of the head, the skin of the neck is stretched and creased throughout the day (especially if you're tucking your chin in to stare down at your phone or computer screen for long periods – guilty!), encouraging wrinkles and lines to form more easily.</p><p>And while I always imagined ageing gracefully, the reality of coming face to face with pigmentation spots, wrinkles, skin sagging and altogether not-so-bouncy skin in the mirror was more confronting than I'd been prepared for. Any mother will confirm that motherhood accelerates ageing at an alarming rate. The combination of approximately 29,000 hours of lost sleep (an estimation, but probably not far off), non-existent time for self-care, and the added stress of tantrums, childcare fees and general mum-guilt, creates a perfect storm for ageing to really make itself at home on our faces.</p><p>Thanks, then, to the clever team at Clarins, who took inspiration from the movement of the sunflower stem (genius!) to develop <a href="https://www.clarins.com.au/extra-firming-neck-decollete/?utm_source=gracetales&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=29/01/2020-2020_efneck&utm_content=article-link" target="_blank">Extra-Firming Neck & Décolleté.</a> Sunflower extracts in the formula improve the elasticity and firmness of the flexible neck and décolleté area, boosting the skin's resistance to daily bending and rotating while protecting against harmful indoor and outdoor pollutants. The combination of anti-ageing powerhouse ingredients Kangaroo Flower and Organic Mitracarpus plant extracts helps smooth lines, firm, and lift. Organic Desert Date plant extract targets dark spots for a more even skin tone (goodbye, pregnancy pigmentation that never quite departed). And boasting a heavenly sounding combination of Organic Oat Sugars plant extract, Leaf of life and Shea oil, the melting cream formula applies with a lightweight and surprisingly non-oily finish.</p>
Canna Campbell using Clarins Extra-Firming Neck & Décolleté, $112
So, together with Canna, I'll be firming up my skincare range this year. Because as Nora Ephron writes in her collection of essays, I Feel Bad About My Neck: "Our faces are lies and our necks are the truth. You have to cut open a redwood tree to see how old it is, but you wouldn't if it had a neck." If only someone had told Nora about the Clarins Extra-Firming range. I also won't be taking my village for granted. Because while friends enrich every stage of our life, friendships during motherhood are what keeps us sane, they're what keeps our head above water.
If you're curious about Botox, you're not alone...
Francine Ithier is the owner and founder of Miss Franc, a boutique medical cosmetic clinic located in Sydney's Paddington. From facials to fillers, she does it all. And she knows her stuff. Which is why we decided to ask her for a beginner's guide to botox. Here, she answers all our questions.
The whole idea of preventative botox is a gimmick targeted at younger women…<p>If you're young and the line in question isn't evidently visible when you're in repose position, then it's not needed. A lot of girls want this smooth, shiny forehead so their makeup sits right. This is all well and good, but with a lifetime of botox of ahead of you, if you get to 50 and botox no longer works (because we build a resistance to the product over time) then what is the solution? Instead of putting money into botox when you're younger, invest in the right (professional) products and treatments for your skin – far more worth it.</p>
Women lose all expression following botox basically because they've had the wrong dosages applied to their face…<p>Some women actually request that result, and therefore that's what they get. Some physicians will unethically inject too much for commercial gain, that's how their practice runs, that's not how my runs.</p><p>In saying this, when you first inject botox – from a tiny amount to a full dose – you're always going to get a shiny forehead (because botox tightens the pores). When it kicks in, in two weeks, it's going to be nice and tight and firm, but the difference in dosage is how long it lasts. Most of my patients (and I) prefer little bits more often as opposed to a very stiff face for that 3-4 months.</p><p>I use multiple botox products in one seating because I like the way certain products sit in certain areas of the face. This is different for every patient. Following an assessment of the muscle and how it needs to be treated, I will select the product accordingly.</p>
For first time visitors, a thorough consultation is undertaken and a plan is put in place - botox wise, filler wise, skin wise…<p>A quotation is provided and dates' scheduled at a suitable time. The needles that are used are BD needles – the same needles that are used for insulin-dependent diabetics. It's a very tiny 31gauge, sterile needle, and it goes sub-dermally under the skin, leaving a little bit of a 'blebbed' mark for 30 minutes after the procedure. </p>
You do feel it but of course, this is dependent on each patients’ pain threshold…<p>Some patients come in with their own Emla cream from the pharmacy and that's OK. Some find it a little bit uncomfortable and others come in and love it; feel like they've just had a facelift and off they go. </p>
You should not exercise for 24 hours following a botox treatment…<p>Why? Because patients should not sweat or do any kind of upside-down, downward dog style movements. Botox takes a full 4 hours standing upright to take effect. </p>
If you’re on blood thinners, bruising will be very prevalent…<p>If you're a bruiser by nature, if you're hungover or have your period, you're also more likely to bruise. In any case, they're tiny microscopic bruises, very easy to cover with makeup. There are very rare occasions when an injector will hit a vein and bruising can be a little more obvious. This is because we don't have an ultrasound, so are unable to see every vein, capillary, and vessel under the skin.</p>
Results start at day 3…<p>And can take up to 14 days for full effect.</p>
There are risks of Brow Ptosis…<p>So when we inject up in the forehead, you can slip into a muscle very close to the brow that may cause drooping. There's a marker that we look for, to ensure this doesn't happen, but on the very rare case this occurs, it can take up to 6 – 8 weeks to lift again. If it's your first time you may get a heavy feeling in the brow, which is normal. </p>
Our approach at MISS FRANC is…<p>Lesser units, more often so that you have a nice soft look to your brow, forehead and crows feet. Patients who live close by can afford to take this approach but for my patients abroad, I tend to give a longer-lasting dose which means they will feel heavier, sooner. But generally speaking, my patients will take a less is more approach and commit to the skin treatments in-between to aid with the longevity of botox. Results will last anywhere between 3-4 months.</p>
"Everyone should have a brand," Lama Perin, owner of Bodibar told me...
"If you have the patience," she cautioned. Two years on, the comment was still stuck in my head. Lama had successfully launched Bodibar, a luxe vegan mud scrub range with her sister and before that co-founded party accessories line Paper Eskimo.
Just like that feeling when you discover a new word and then hear it everywhere, since starting Summer Stories, an all-natural Australian shampoo and conditioner line that leans into our continent's unique botanicals (quandong, kangaroo apple, finger lime and lemon myrtle) – I'm now hyper aware of all the great indie brands in the beauty and personal care space filling my Instagram feed.
Even before starting Summer Stories, I was a fan of Queenslander Ellen Newman who has just one sensational, versatile product, The Great State, a body balm in a reusable turquoise tin. I befriended Molly Dunkle of handmade lipstick brand dunkle authentic at a Brisbane women's events. I've ordered my initials on a matte canister of Maarks lipstick in classic rouge. And I picked up a bright blue tube of Ultra Violette sunscreen to protect my freckles.
I knew the microbrands were coming. I had spent years working in New York City ad agencies and each Fortune 500 client shared a powerpoint that showed their market share being eroded by indie brands. Whether it was beer, soaps or soft drinks, every quarter these household brands lost a percent here, a percent there to artisanal, craft upstarts in amber bottles and hand-lettered labels.
The cost of entry for new brands is not what it was. A Squarespace website can be built in minutes. A Shopify storefront in an afternoon. And it's fascinating to note how many large brands are using off-the-shelf web products. My smoothie supplement order arrives via the Shopify checkout. And those abandoned cart emails used by retailers are automatically generated by a Shopify plug-in that's a $9 a month subscription.
In the past, supermarket brands needed million dollar budgets for television and print campaigns. Social media means you can find your niche audience. And you don't need a football stadium of humans, just the ones who will buy your products and dig what you're trying to do.
The internet also allows an unlimited opportunity for knowledge sharing. In her book Girl Boss Sophia Amoruso says she succeeded in business because she Googled everything. It's how she worked out how to build a mailing list to warehouse economics. She Googled.
Add to this Facebook groups like Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine – where anyone can ask a question and find the right vendor, supplier, wholesaler, connector – anything they want. There's this feeling, perhaps optimism, that the whole world has changed. That it's opened up. That you can do anything. Anyone can have a brand if, as Bodibar's Lama Perin says, you have the patience.
Go to Summer Stories
Beauty sleep? We haven't had one of those since we were single, childless, and in our twenties. Which may just explain why the signs of ageing have been rapidly making themselves known via our less-than-bouncy skin. According to science, it may also have something to do with the fact that collagen production naturally slows down with age...
No doubt you've heard of collagen. But what exactly is it, other than a fancy ingredient showing up everywhere? To put it simply, collagen is "the main structural protein that forms the connective tissue throughout our body, from skin to bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments," says New York dermatologist Dr. Shari Marchbein. In English? More collagen means more plump, youthful-looking skin, shinier hair, and stronger nails. Sign us up!
Sydney-based Vida Glow founder Anna Lahey is way ahead of us: "Vida Glow started in 2014. I had discovered collagen in Japan and started taking it for my personal use as my hair, skin and nails were never quite where I wanted them to be. I suffered from significant hair loss and resorted to 'natural' looking hair extensions and acrylic nails. Within three weeks of taking marine collagen, I noticed a dramatic decrease in the amount of hair I was losing. By the five-week mark, my skin had improved, my nails were strong and growing so quickly. Nothing in my diet or lifestyle had changed. I had taken so many different hair, skin and nail supplements in the past, and nothing "really" worked. This was a game-changer!" As the effects of collagen kicked in, she began inspiring other women to do the same.
Olivia Bond is a Sydney-based private jeweller and gemmologist specialising in high-end diamond jewellery and engagement rings. She lives with her husband Jeremy, their two daughters, Lulu, 4, and Sybella, 2, and their Australian bulldog Stanley...Her beauty routine has always been simple and with a classic oily/combination skin type "breakouts on my T-zone and dark circles under the eyes that seemed to arrive after my babies were born and will not budge!" are her biggest concerns. However, now that she's a mum she tells me that she's more invested in skincare than ever before. "I suppose it is partly to do with being a little bit older and partly to do with the fact that looking after my skin makes me feel good and is a little luxury when I haven't had much sleep or when I haven't been able to get out much. I think even with the most amazing products, you only really look your best when you are taking care of yourself." "I also try to get lots of quality sleep (easier said than done with small children!), eat predominantly fresh whole foods and drink lots of water. I think exercising not only has benefits for how you look, but boosts your mood as well, so I prioritise it in my day." We got a peek inside her beauty cabinet. Here's what we found… Go to www.oliviabonddiamonds.com
I apply the magnificent RATIONALE product Beautiful Skin Superfluid SPF 50 every day after moisturising. It is a sunscreen and has the added bonus of making you look all dewy and fresh, even when you are really not.
I love the idea of beauty supplements, I really think that your skin and hair can be a reflection of how healthy you are and what you are putting into your body. I try to take Welleco Super Greens every morning as I think it gives my skin a glow as well as massively improving my energy levels. I also use The Beauty Chef Glow Inner Beauty Powder in my smoothies. I make an iced latte at home a few times a week and always add collagen to it, I figure I need as much collagen as I can get! Also just eating lots of good quality proteins and leafy greens makes me feel and look my best.
WelleCo SUPER ELIXIR Greens, from $35; The Beauty Chef Glow Inner Beauty Powder, $59.95
I am a RATIONALE girl through and through. Since the hormonal changes during my pregnancies, it has really been a skin saviour for me. I use the Essential Six every day and try to do the Immunologist Mask once a week. It gives a glow factor like nothing else I've tried. I put it on for twenty minutes the morning before I have an event on. I also apply RATIONALE's Catalyst GelCreme every evening after cleansing. It is acidic and works beautifully to exfoliate. I find that's all I need, as well as an in treatment peel at the RATIONALE clinic once a month. It is one of the only times I have in my daily life to just stop and do nothing for an hour. Between working predominantly from home and being the primary caregiver to two girls, there is little to no downtime. I see Emily at RATIONALE in Sydney's Woollahra and I really look forward to it every month. I also love going to see Lowri at the All Saints Clinic in Double Bay. It is heavenly in there and feels like a real treat.
KNESKO DIAMOND RADIANCE COLLAGEN EYE MASK
I use the Knesko Diamond Radiance Collagen Eye Mask when my under eye circles are really bothering me.
I have a fairly major obsession with Bastide products. The scents are wonderful and luxurious without smelling artificial, and they have no nasties in them. The scent of the Miele de Lavande Hand and Body Lotion is like a bottled summer holiday in Provence. When my skin is dry in the cooler months I love the Bastide Corps a Corps Body Cream. Unscented and really nourishing.
BASTIDE Miel de Lavande Hand and Body Lotion, $66
I prioritise skincare over makeup. So if I am limited on time I do my RATIONALE serums and moisturiser and then (always) add sunscreen. However, for every day after moisturising I put on the RATIONALE Beautiful Skin Superfluid SPF50, then a bit of BAREMINERALS Original SPF 15 Foundation. I then put the tiniest smudge of the RATIONALE Beautiful Cheeks Superfluid SPF50 on the apples of my cheeks, groom my eyebrows with the Hourglass Arch Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel and I'm out the door.
NARS LIQUID FOUNDATION
I usually keep it very simple but if I have an evening out or an event I will use the Mecca Lit from Within Primer and Nars Liquid Foundation for staying power. If I have a had a dreadful night or have had too much champagne the night before, I bring out the By Terry Terrybly Densiliss Concealer for under my eyes.
Mecca Cosmetica Lit From Within Primer 45ml, $40; By Terry Terrybly Densiliss Concealer, $99
BY TERRY TERRYBLY MASCARA
I love By Terry Terrybly Mascara because it adds length and volume and doesn't give me panda eyes when I wash it off.
BY TERRY BAUME DE ROSE LIP CARE WAND
I find that a bold lip is too high maintenance for me, I prefer nude lip glosses. My favourite is By Terry Baume de Rose Lip Care Wand. I also never leave the house without Hurraw Coconut lip balm.
Paloma Garcia from PALOMA salon got me on to Oribe products. They smell amazing, are so luxurious and also don't contain parabens or SLS. They also do a beautiful Gold Lust Dry Shampoo that I use when I'm out of time in the morning.
ORIBE Signature Shampoo, 250ml, $50.46
I often skip perfume for day to day but I love the Kai Roll On Perfume Oil from Mecca if I have something on during the day as it is fresh and not overpowering. When I have a night out I love the Bastide Ambre Soir EDT. I have lost count of the compliments I have received for both.
Images: Grace Alyssa Kyo
The Grace Tales is a global lifestyle platform for mothers searching for style, substance, and solidarity. Driven by creating content, community and connection, we celebrate the paradox of modern motherhood; the struggle and the beauty, the joy and the relentlessness.
If I'd had written this post a few years ago, "time out" would have gone a little like this: consuming as many Tim Tams as possible in the cupboard so I didn't have to share with the kids (I needed the sugar hit to get me through the day); a glass of wine – I'd often look at the clock at 5pm after a stressful day and wonder if it was too early; pushing a pram around the block; a shower without any interruptions and a full night's sleep (yes, uninterrupted sleep is "time out" for new mothers)...
I was terrible at looking after myself in those early days. I'd had a rough pregnancy with my second which ended up with me hooked up to a blood transfusion (and four more to follow) in hospital when she was six weeks old. At the end of the whole ordeal, I was completely depleted. Yet, I still ignored making myself a priority. For the most part, it was because running a growing business while looking after a newborn and a one-and-a-half-year-old didn't leave me with much time, but I also had my priorities wrong.
Here's where it gets exciting – there is hope in sight. My girls are now 5 and 6 (they were born 17 months apart) and I've gotten a lot more serious (and selfish) about "me time". So, here's what I do to prioritise me because not putting your own oxygen mask on first doesn't help anyone.
My favourite serum
When I was a teenager, I started dipping into my own mother's beauty cabinet. She'd used Clarins – the French luxury skincare brand founded by a masseur called Jacques Courtin in 1954 – for years.
Courtin's journey began with his own treatment oils, which he said firmed the skin. Also, with the belief that wellbeing and happiness were intricately linked to beauty. He was right – looking after yourself, taking the time to care for your skin, makes you feel happy. If I'm not looking after my skin, it's a sign that I'm not prioritising myself – I'm not making time for "me". We're all guilty of this, but caring for your skin doesn't have to be complicated.
My approach to beauty really began peaking into my mother's beauty cabinet – she passed her love of Clarins onto me and it's a brand I've loved for years. One of the reasons I love Clarins – other than it helps me achieve radiant skin – is that it's a story of a passionate family who creates skincare products which are handed down from generation to generation. One day, I hope my girls will also use Clarins.
So where to start? I thought I'd introduce you to one of my favourite products, which also happens to be the brand's number-one seller. It's a serum which I use without fail, twice a day after cleansing and before moisturising.
Double Serum originally launched in 1985. In 2017, the formulation was updated to combine 21 potent plant extracts, including the introduction of age-defying turmeric, a heavy-duty antioxidant that works to protect your skin from oxidative stress such as signs of fatigue, breakouts, ageing. There's also avocado, which promotes soft and supple skin, and oat, which firms and lifts. Teasel extract works to minimise the look of fine lines and Organic leaf of life extract will enhance your skin's natural hydration levels. Yes please – I'll take it all.
As someone with sensitive skin, Double Serum has never once irritated me. It's also one of the only products which will satisfy the hydration needs of my skin, particularly in Winter when my skin just feels so dry all the time. With Double Serum, I'll use two generous pumps and spread it out all over my face neck and décolletage (the skin on these areas are just as delicate as your face).
The texture of the serum is super light and it doesn't leave my skin feeling greasy like some other serums can. The minute it's on, my skin soaks it up. Instantly, it feels and looks more dewy. Basically, it does what it's supposed to do. Double Serum was created to target the 5 vital skin functions: regeneration, oxygenation, nutrition, hydration, and protection. It's formulated to keep your complexion youthful and that's exactly what it does. It's a product for all skin types, which is great for someone like me who suffers from hormonal breakouts one day and dry, flaky skin the next.
I'll apply it and wait a minute before applying my moisturiser (I use Clarins Extra-Firming range which is great for women in or approaching their forties – I'm the latter). I then give my skincare about 10 minutes to settle before I apply makeup.
It doesn't matter how hectic my day is, applying this serum twice a day gives me a few moments of "me time". It's a little ritual reserved just for me.
I recently went on a sleep retreat with The Goodnight Co. where we talked a lot about the importance of putting your phone down two hours before you go to bed. I had gotten into a routine of watching TV or working most nights and it wasn't doing wonders for my sleep patterns. I love getting into bed and reading – our bedroom is my favourite space in the house – but by the time I finished watching Netflix or working, I was always so exhausted. So, I'm making a big effort to prioritise books after 8pm when the kids are asleep. I'm about to finish Three Women by Lisa Taddeo.
Coffee and tea
Stopping and taking time out to have a coffee (I'm hooked on macadamia milk now!), a cup of peppermint tea, a chai, a turmeric latte (turmeric is the star ingredient in Clarins Double Serum) with or without my kids is heaven. We're always rushing somewhere so to actually stop, sit down and enjoy the moment is something we try and do a few mornings a week.
I went two years after the birth of my first daughter without exercising at all. I just didn't feel up to anything more than pushing a pram. My firstborn barely slept and my second arrived shortly after my first – she also missed the memo about "sleeping like a baby". I tried one of those exercise classes where you bring your baby and there's a nanny on hand to care for them, but Arabella cried the whole time. It didn't work. In fact, I didn't feel ready to exercise until the girls slept through the night – and they took a while.
Now, I can't function if I don't exercise. It's one of my favourite ways to zone out. I do a boot camp a couple of times a week at 545am and also have just started Pilates at Bodylove in Sydney's Woollahra. Pilates is fantastic for mums and a lot gentler on my body than the boot camp. It's also a super energetic workout! When you're ready, find something you love – Pilates, barre, walking, yoga, dance, anything – and prioritise it. For me, fitting in exercise means sacrificing an hour or two of sleep in the morning to get up and move. It's so worth it – exercise keeps me sane.
A weekly ritual which my mum and I do together is visit the flower markets with my girls. We've been doing it for years and it's always a special start to the weekend. A couple of times a year, we'll also get up super early and visit the big flower market, which we love doing.
We know we're not alone when we say we want mother of five, author and co-founder of Babyccino Courtney Adamo's thick, long hair. Given that's not going to happen anytime soon, we'll settle for her hair care secrets (read on: we've discovered the incredible new 3-step system every woman who has experienced signs of hair loss and thinning needs to use on her locks)...
"Five years ago, around the time that Marlo was born, I was in a salon in London and my hairdresser introduced me to a product, which he said I had to use. He told me I'd love it. It's the Aveda Brilliant Universal Styling Crème." The crème completely changed how Adamo cared for her hair. "Before I discovered this product, I didn't like the way my hair looked when it dried naturally – it was too big and frizzy, so I would blow dry it or just always wear it up. The Universal Styling Crème gives definition to my waves and keeps the frizz away, all the while looking natural and not like I have styling gel in my hair." She might have only discovered her most loved product five years ago, but the Byron-Bay based mother of five grew up with Aveda (she even remembers the products in her mother's shower). Recently, she started using the new Aveda Invati Advanced range, which first launched in 2012 and became a global bestseller. The new 'Advanced' range hit counters on January 1. It's a fantastic 3-step system, which after 12 weeks, will make your hair look and feel thicker and fuller (attention all new mothers who are dealing with hair thinning after birth – this is your new best friend). Ok, so let's talk you through how you use it. Step 1 is the 'Exfoliating Shampoo', which gently exfoliates, cleanses and renews the scalp. Step 2? The 'Thickening Conditioner', a gentle plant-derived conditioner which also helps nourish and detangle. Next comes our favourite part, which needs to be applied daily to wet or dry hair: the 'Scalp Revitalizer'. This star product reduces hair loss through an innovative blend of tangerine peel and Japanese knotweed, which penetrates to help support hair's natural keratin. Aveda's patented bio-fermented blend plus their Ayurvedic herb blend with ginseng and certified organic turmeric will also invigorate the scalp when massaged in. She's only weeks into using the product, but Adamo says: "It has given me the appearance of fuller hair, it adds more volume through the roots." Click on the video above to find out more about this incredible new system and also go behind the scenes on our recent shoot. We also talk to Adamo below about motherhood, moving countries and setting up a new life with her family, her career and how she looks after those beautiful locks. We'll be checking in with Adamo in a few weeks to see how the Aveda Invati Advanced range has changed her hair.
Courtney with her children Easton, Quin, Ivy, Marlow and Wilkie
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Happy, adventurous, thankful.
What has motherhood taught you so far?
Having come from a big family, the eldest of five children, there were not a lot of surprises that came with having children. Becoming a mother felt like a very natural step for me. In many ways, I had been 'mothering' all my life. But becoming a mother gave me such a deep appreciation for my own mother and her mother and the generations that have come before me. You realise how quickly time goes, how precious life is. It wasn't until I became pregnant with our first baby that I was struck by the enormity of it all. I guess it was that for the first time in my life I was not just living for myself; my life took on a new meaning and value. I was bringing a life into the world, becoming someone's mother, someday I would be someone's grandmother. Gosh, it's a big deal, isn't it?
One year in, does Byron Bay feel like home?
Yes, absolutely! It felt like home the minute we arrived here last year. It's the first place I've ever lived that truly feels like home to me. We've made such wonderful friends and really feel a strong connection to the community and the natural beauty of this area.
What’s your approach to health and wellbeing? Have you always had a good body image?
I think I used to care more about what I looked like before I had children, or at least I had more time to be concerned with it. Since having children something switched in my brain. After giving birth, I became so in awe of our bodies and what we are capable of doing. I became more concerned about my health and less concerned about what my body looked like. It's also important to me to maintain a positive body image in front of my children. No one is born with these self-doubts. We learn them and I don't want to pass on my bad habits. I spend so much time encouraging my children to find self-value in their kindness, their open-mindedness and their intellect. Inevitably positive and negative comments about appearance come their way but we try our best to devalue these. In terms of diet and exercise, we eat quite healthily and maintain a pretty active lifestyle. Michael and I both enjoy cooking and we eat mostly vegetarian in our home — often based on our finds at the local markets. Our kids are quite adventurous eaters, so we can be experimental in our cooking, which is quite fun.
Tell us about the new Aveda Invati Advanced range?
My hair is thick and wavy. Even thicker than it looks. I can't tell you the number of hairdressers who have commented on my hair after they've run their fingers through it. I usually only wash my hair once a week. I comb my hair out when it's wet and then run the Aveda Universal Styling Crème through my hair and let it dry naturally. Now that it's summer and I'm in the ocean every day, I've been washing my hair almost daily with the Invati Advanced range, which is great because it's plant-based and sulfate-free, meaning it doesn't over cleanse the hair or leave a build-up of product even though I'm washing more often than I normally do. I also like the way it leaves my hair feeling full without feeling heavy.
How does your hair change after you give birth?
I do notice that my hair starts to fall out around month two or three and that lasts for a few months. Because I have such thick hair, it's not something that really bothers me, but I do know the contrast between when your hair is full and then when you've had a baby and your hair starts to fall out and goes a little flat. Using this product has helped to give it that body it had when I was pregnant. It's a great range for mothers who are dealing with hair loss or that overall flat feeling in your hair, which you can get after you've had a baby. It's a wonderful range for all mums in general.
What are your earliest memories of Aveda?
I grew up in a small farming town halfway between Seattle and Vancouver, Canada. My mom used to drive an hour to Seattle to have her hair done (I think it was really just an excuse to go into the 'big city'), and she would come back home from the hairdresser with Aveda shampoo and conditioner. It's been a household name since I was little! I have always been a big fan of the Aveda plant-based hair products.
What are some of your favourite products?
I don't have a very complex beauty regime. I always feel a bit out of my league whenever this question comes up. For the past five years, I've been using the Aveda Brilliant Universal Styling Crème in my hair, and I swear that single product changed the way I wear my hair.
Can you talk us through your career path? Did you ever imagine Babyccino would be what it is today?
Blogging was a relatively new concept in Europe when we started Babyccino back in 2007. We really had no clue that our little parenting blog would ever become more than an online diary between friends. Esther, Emilie and I started Babyccino as a way to share our discoveries as new mothers – from cool new products to recipes we tried and craft projects the kids enjoyed, etc. As we started getting more and more readers, the blog evolved to become more commercial and to cater to a wider audience. Three years after starting the blog, we launched our shopping portal – an online directory of the very best children's shops. It was then that our business became less of a side project and more of a full-time job. It's funny because I never really set out to become a working mum. I was quite content staying at home with my kids. But as the blog grew and it required more of my time, I found myself being pulled in that direction. I'm so thankful it worked out this way. I am so proud of the business we've created and how much we've accomplished in the past ten years.
When do you write your stories? When are you your most creative?
Before Wilkie was born, I was able to get a lot of work done in the evenings after the children went to bed, but now that he's here I have to be productive in the mornings after the kids are off to school. Thankfully Wilkie takes a long nap in the mornings, so I'm usually typing away on my computer then.
What’s your advice for women wanting to launch their own business – what does it take to make it in media?
We never really set out to create a successful business – it all happened so organically and naturally. Looking back on it, perhaps this is why it became successful. We were doing what we loved and responding to different trends as they arose. I think in order to make it in media you have to have an authentic voice, you have to be genuine with your readers and I think it's important to find your niche and go with it.
What are the negatives of social media?
In general, I really love Instagram and the connections it has created for me. I've made so many wonderful friendships and can't imagine what our travels would have been like without Instagram to help us connect with locals and receive tips and recommendations for each of the places we visited. Saying this, I definitely go through phases where I find the whole social media thing a bit overwhelming and question why I share bits of my life with strangers. The obvious negative is putting myself out there for public scrutiny – occasionally some really hurtful things are said. I've learned to thicken my skin though and put things in perspective. 99% of the time Instagram is a wonderful, welcoming community.
How do you manage digital usage in your home with your children?
Apart from the occasional movie night, we watched very little TV in my childhood. As a result, my siblings and I played together creatively and imaginatively and never relied on the TV to do the entertaining. I've actually never been a TV person – I would rather read a book than sit down in front of a television. We don't have phones, video games or personal electronics for any of our kids. We don't even have a TV in our home. It's never been an issue for us and even now, with Easton being 12, no one has ever asked for one of these things. Occasionally we'll give the kids one of our laptops to watch a movie we've rented for them or to do a school assignment (more of their homework is on the computer than we'd like). When electronics aren't present, our kids find other more hands-on and imaginative things to do.
Who are your role models? Who do you admire?
Ina May Gaskin changed the way I viewed childbirth and I really credit her for the beautiful birth experiences I've had. What a wonderful woman she is to empower other women, to enable women to trust their intuitions and strength to achieve a beautiful birthing experience.
How do you juggle your children with work?
I just take it one step at a time and try to stay focused on each task. When I'm with my kids, I try not to look at my phone or get distracted by emails or deadlines; I try to devote 100% of my attention to them. When I'm working, I try to ensure I have at least a couple hours of uninterrupted time and I try to stay as focused as I can on my work and the tasks at hand. I've also learned the art of delegating. My bigger kids are such good helpers when prompted, especially with the baby. I joked the other day that I don't know how anyone has babies without older children to help hold them. Quin is also super helpful in the kitchen, Easton has mastered the art of hanging laundry on the line, I just taught the girls how to empty the dishwasher, and all of the kids make their own bed every morning. It also helps, of course, that Michael is incredibly hands-on. We'd completely fall apart without him.
Courtney applying the Aveda Invati Advanced Scalp Revitalizer, from $28
What makes you feel stressed?
A messy house! Weirdly not a messy car, messy garden or even a messy handbag, but if my house is cluttered then I'm a less happy person.
How would you describe your approach to parenting?
I think I'm equal parts strict AND relaxed. I grew up with a father who was really firm on discipline and a mum who was strict about manners. My siblings and I knew where the lines were drawn and we knew not to cross them. We were given chores and never questioned them. We knew to say 'please' and 'thank you', to look people in the eye when we spoke, and to sit with our napkin on our lap at meal times. At the same time, we were raised on a big farm and were given free reign to play and explore. My parents weren't hovering over us telling us what we could and could not do. We were allowed to be adventurous, even encouraged to do so. I think my parenting style is a product of my own upbringing. I'm strict in many ways, I'd even say I am the stricter parent of the two of us, but I'm also super relaxed. In terms of sibling rivalry, this is something I have always been very conscious of. My mom always said her biggest goal as a mother was to raise children who liked each other. And she succeeded! She has five children who all enjoy spending time together and who encourage and celebrate each other's success. I hope my five kids will be the same. How lucky they are to have each other!
What’s the most unexpected thing about you?
Gosh, this is a tricky one. I am such an open book in many ways, happy to chat about anything, nothing too intimate or personal. So I guess there aren't many surprises about me. Michael might say my hidden talents are table tennis and card games. Photography: Bridget Wood | Videographer: Grace Alyssa Kyo | Hair: Jodi from The Spa At Salt | Makeup: Phoebe Barrett | In association with Aveda