When London-based Laura Roso Vidrequin - a senior buyer at Harvey Nichols and mother to baby boy Albert – became a mother for the first time, she noticed that while there were changes in the adult market, the circular economy for children's garments remained largely the same...
She also noticed that second-hand clothes had been deemed as "dirty" for a long time. "Consumers are used to associating second-hand with thrift shops, that are not always taken care of and are often full of old, discarded items that have not been cleaned or organized," she says. It inspired her to launch Kids Oclock, a fashion resale platform where you'll find the best of pre-loved for your babies and toddlers (sizes go from newborn to three years old) and where you can sell, rent, or buy clothes. Because as Laura recently posted on her Instagram account @kids_oclock, there is no planet B.
Let’s start at the beginning – talk us through your career as a buyer and what are some of your favourite moments working for companies such as Net-A-Porter and Moda Operandi?<p>Let's start at the beginning –talk us through your career as a buyer and what are some of your favourite moments working for companies such as Net-A-Porter and Moda Operandi?<br> <br>Born in Paris and raised there, until I moved to NY for my first real job – which was on the other side of buying, I was a wholesale assistant for a French-owned NY-based showroom representing Joseph and Balmain at CDNetwork.<br> <br>To this day, I continue praising the importance of understanding sales before buying. I have joined then many different retail spaces, Moda Operandi, Ralph Lauren/Club Monaco, and more recently Net-a-Porter. I have learnt so much in each of these companies, thanks to the incredible bosses and women I was working with. <br> <br>Moda Operandi was known and built, at the time, 2013, on the trunkshow business mode. When I joined, Lauren Santo Domingo had decided to add the boutique or buy now wear now to the platform. We were a very small team dedicated to source, and purchase collection for that purpose. <br> <br>I am very thankful for all I learnt during my time there, we were a small team, very hands-on. Lauren Santo Domingo was always involved in all decisions which, for us, was an amazing way to learn. <br> <br>To this day, the original modettes are still my closest friends, is it because we all worked so closely and late together? Or is it because we were taught in the same school? Not sure. However, I know they are the most hardworking girls, with the best taste one could have. <br> <br>One of my favorite moments at <a href="https://www.modaoperandi.com/" target="_blank">Moda Operandi,</a> came from we were tasked with building a shop for the 2013 Met Gala, 'Punk: Chaos to Couture'. We had to source all sorts of punk-inspired products from all over the world; mostly from non-fashion vendors. This experience made me feel like a true buyer; we were sourcing unconventional products and displaying them in a way that made them desirable to the fashion community, as opposed to going into a showroom and picking pieces displayed right in front of us. <br> <br>Net-a-Porter on the other hand was already very established when I joined, the impression of building or creating something was a little bit more complicated to achieve. However, the team and Elizabeth (buying director) were amazing at trusting their juniors and let us lead our respected categories. I have learnt so much about communication, trades, and processes. Both experiences are absolutely perfect together, and to me, helped creating the yin and yang of a buyer. </p>
What changes have you seen over the last few years in the circular economy around children’s garments?<p>I don't believe there have been any changes regarding children's garments. I have seen strong brands promoting seasonless garments, or "organic" production. I don't think it is enough. I don't claim to be an expert on sustainability, I am just a buyer with 10 years experience and a mom living in a city where I am exposed to a lot of cool brands. And I think they should lead and give the example. They should be more proactive. </p><p> <br>I have seen many companies use greenwashing, organic, sustainable as a way to position themselves at the center of the environmental conversations within the fashion industry and think that we have to be cautious in the way we use those terms. A marketing tool should not be used by a brand/a retail unless it is an actual adjective of their mission.</p>
How will this pandemic change the fashion industry?<p>I think the fashion industry has already changed since the beginning of this pandemic. The way everyone is having to speak on the issue is great because it will be environmentally impactful and force everyone to take a look at their own habits and practices. <br> <br>The industry doesn't need six collections a year, and the impact that the preconceived need to fly out every buyer, model, and hair or makeup artist to every show in all major cities this many times a year does not help anything, whatsoever. I am in for creativity, conception, imagination, but not at any cost.<br> <br><a href="https://maisoncleo.com/" target="_blank">MaisonCléo</a> is mastering the local creativity. I hope the biggest player will begin to move towards more local resources, using talent around the shoot locations rather than flying in a huge team like we've seen before. <br> <br>It has to start somewhere, brands need to show the responsible way, but consumers should too. Refuse to purchase when there is a lack of transparency in the production chain, or focus their spending on something more sustainable. </p>
Why is there the belief that secondhand clothes, especially in the kids’ category, are dirty?<p>Second-hand has been deemed as "dirty" for a long time. Consumers are used to associating second-hand with thrift shops, that are not always taken care of and are often full of old, discarded items that have not been cleaned or organized. It doesn't have to be dirty, it is actually a mine of gold. There is also a distinction to be made between vintage and pre-loved/ second hand. Vintage falls into silhouettes from the past, items from previous decades. Pre-loved doesn't have to be vintage, while vintage is, by nature, pre-loved. <br> <br>Kids Oclock has been created on the basis that kids' clothes should be worn more than once, but also, built on a trustful community of mums, which, I hope will help eradicate the stigma.</p>
What are some tips for women wanting to make changes to become more sustainable?<p>I am not an expert, but I believe every tiny change can make a difference. When you go grocery shopping, bring your own bags, drink filter tap water if you need to, buy local as much as possible. In London, there are now a lot of local shops that deliver such as <a href="http://farmshop.london/" target="_blank">Farm Shop</a> for your proteins and <a href="https://www.oddbox.co.uk/" target="_blank">Oddbox</a> for your veggies. In regards to living towards a more sustainable closet, few rules. Don't be a keeper, (donate, refresh or sell) what you do not wear. I use<a href="https://www.vestiairecollective.com/" target="_blank"> Vestiaire Collective</a> a lot, whether as a seller, or as a buyer. It is simply a habit to get used to. Take care of your pieces, they will last longer.</p><p>I have three main tips for women who want to become more sustainable:</p><ol><li>Don't be a keeper – get rid of and donate the clothes that you or your children aren't wearing of or have grown out of</li><li>Only buy what you really need and think harder about buying the things that you really want, and be okay with the clothing movement – accepting that fast-fashion has detrimental effects on the industry and our environment</li><li>Start investing in pieces that are slightly more expensive, but made ethically.</li></ol>
What are your thoughts on fast fashion stores such as Zara and H&M?<p>Zara proves to be strong in terms of their imagery and online marketing of their products, but it's a shame that their inspiration derives from many small designers trying to build their brand and create recognition just to create excitement around new trends that are affordable and able to be produced what seems like almost immediately. They are absorbing small designer's creativity without recognizing how impactful it is on their businesses, and I believe they should be more transparent about the realities of production in emerging countries and should be creative when it comes to making real-life changes.</p>
Tell us about your Mums O’Clock category?<p>Mums O'Clock was created as a platform to showcase the women that are the foundation of our community. We post a handful of mothers per month, where they are able to show their lifestyle, with each question asked by us being tailored to their individuality. The goal being to feature their creative input, their lives as mothers, and come up with productive conversation. </p>
What’s life in London like right now?<p>We got extremely lucky during the pandemic as our neighbourhood feels like a village. We have a farmer market every weekend –with strong COVID health and safety guidance – our favourite local food shop remained open, and Hyde Park was open for us to go for a walk. The weather was stunning throughout the whole quarantine so we enjoyed the outdoors as much as possible, which never happens in London. </p>
What has been the most challenging stage of motherhood for you?<p>I think it was the transition from Albie being a newborn to being a baby, around 4 to 8 months. You are no longer a very young mum, so expected to have it together, and I didn't. I realise now I was quite tough with myself, wanting to have it all, a sleepy, yet dynamic baby. I wanted to have my 'me time' back, but would not miss a second of my day without him. I was completely torn all day long between being myself and looking at the situation, which taught me one thing. A baby will not want a perfect mum, but a happy one. I had to teach that concept to my husband too, Mr. Perfectionist, and to make him learn spontaneity and flexibility are keys in parenthood. He is now much more comfortable with the concept, but we had a tough year of learning. Each family gives birth and goes through the first year their own way, but I wish I had been given more warning.</p>
What are some practical tips you can share around time management?<p>I am an early riser, so I do get a lot done in the morning, which is a huge part of mumentreprenurship. I also have baby-proofed the house. 18 months is a challenging age for a baby to be around when launching a business at home. But I really am trusting we should give their responsibility as early as possible, granted there is no danger in the house. So I let Albert play and explore, I put some of his toys out for him to access and he usually can last an hour during the day.</p>
What has kept you sane during this pandemic and what lessons do you hope we will learn from it?<p>I now am sure I can live with my husband and baby, just the three of us, without anyone losing it completely ha. So many good lessons, first of all, I didn't realise I was living a memory until it became one, so will teach me to cherish more the present and the instant. Then I think a big part of this pandemic has been to learn how to let go, not be on top of them, myself nor the schedule… we were happy just going with the flow, but going with it is an art or a sport, and it has to be taught.</p><p>The last thing I learned, which was a big wake up call, is to care, every day, all the time, for others. Since slow life hit us, we're now much more capable of taking time to reflect, and to care for everyone around us – start with a smile, you'll realise how big an impact this has. Look around you, a charity, an elderly person in your building – the crisis has hit hard and every little bit counts.</p>
In a few minutes you can learn a lot from contemporary textile artist Nikita Sheth, namely the importance of quality family time. When she was just two year's old, her family home was burnt down.
Luckily, no one was hurt but it meant she was raised in a home where material possessions came secondary to family dinners and spending quality time with one another. She grew up in a home with "good food and laughs". While it took time for her to embrace her Indian heritage – her dad's family was one of the first Indian (Gujurati) to move from India in the 1950's – she later realised how lucky she was to have it.
Tell us about your childhood. What are some of your most vivid memories?<p>I grew up in a very wholesome, loving family. I'm the eldest of three girls — so there was always a lot of drama (my poor dad!). I was born in Sydney, and my dad's family was one of the first Indian (Gujurati) to move from India in the 1950s. Whereas my mum moved from Mumbai to Sydney after marrying my dad. So we grew up with a real mix of western and Indian culture. It took a while for me to embrace my Indian heritage, but now I realise how lucky I am to have it.</p><p>My family home burnt down when I was two years old. Luckily no one was hurt, but it meant that my family was never precious about "things/material" possessions. Instead, there was a lot of importance placed on family dinners and spending quality time with each other. I remember my childhood home always being filled with family and friends. My mum is a great cook and dad *thinks* he's a bit of a comedian. So it was a house filled with good food and laughs.</p>
Your mother is an artist. Do you think creativity is in your blood or was it something she actively nurtured in you?<p>I think it's something she definitely nurtured in me. From a very young age, she would always take my sisters and me to visit art galleries. Mum was always creating something — attending ceramics classes, painting tracksuit tops with puff paints (ha! So 90s), sewing. And then later she did her MFA at COFA. I think subconsciously I was always watching her…</p>
Tell us a little about your journey into weaving. How did you first pick it up? Was it love at first try?<p>Well, I had a bad break-up in my mid 20's and was looking for something positive to put my energy into. I remember coming across a frame loom on Etsy. I had no idea about weaving but for some reason purchased the loom. There were no YouTube videos or weaving tutorials at the time (it was before the reemergence of weaving). So I pretty much taught myself (with the help of a friend who had studied textiles). I fell in love immediately. I love the tactility of it. And the way it quietened my mind. When I was weaving I couldn't check my phone or do anything else with my hands. It offered me a pause in an emotionally turbulent time of my life. Sounds super cheesy, but I always say: "weaving found me". Since then, I've learned how to use a Japanese Saori loom, which has opened up a lot of creative possibilities as well.</p>
After you had started to teach yourself to weave, your grandfather told you that you are descended from a long line of weavers. Tell us about that?<p>Yes! It was so bizarre. One day my Papaji (my grandfather), came to my mum's house for dinner. I was sitting on the couch weaving. He sat down next to me and started rattling off facts about "patola" weaving (a double ikat woven sari, usually made from silk that originated from Gujarat, India). He then said, "you do know your ancestors were weavers, right?!". I had NO idea. It was a truly bizarre moment. But in a strange way, it also made sense… it perhaps explained why weaving feels so familiar to me. Maybe I did in a past life?</p>
What do you love about weaving?<p>The tactility. I feel like as humans, we're always tapping, swiping, clicking, pressing… it's almost like we're losing our sense of touch. I love the way the thread feels as it runs through my fingers. Or how the finished piece of cloth feels as I run my hands over it. My favourite tools are my hands. I also love how it quiets my mind. When I'm weaving, I can't do anything else with my hands.</p>
What's the most challenging part about it?<p>Time. Warping a loom takes a lot of time. Something which I don't have as much of as any more. It's a bit of an emotional and mental challenge. Last month I had to re-warp my loom three times… because I kept stuffing it up (mainly because I had to keep starting and stopping). It ended with a few (too many) tears of frustration.</p>
You have two young children - did you always know you wanted to be a mother?<p>Yes, I've always wanted to be a mother. I have a beautiful and very special relationship with my mother. And I've always wanted to create the same with my own children. My babies are my best creation. It's a privilege to be their mother. Something I don't take lightly. All I really want is to raise good humans.</p>
How did you find the transition into motherhood? What was the postpartum period like for you the first time?<p>Within 18 months — I was engaged, married, and pregnant with my daughter. She was a wedding night baby and we found out on our honeymoon when we were trekking in Patagonia. Turns out it *wasn't* a bad empanada, but actually morning sickness! I went from being footloose and (very) single to a wife and mum-to-be very quickly! The transition into motherhood went quite smoothly, but only because I have a great support network of family and friends. Adjusting to the new demands took a bit of time, but I quickly learnt that I can't do everything. During my postpartum period, I taught myself to rest. Something, which doesn't come naturally. I'm always doing 101 things at once. I also never read any pregnancy or baby books — so I really depended on my intuition to guide me. Allira was a very happy, easy-going baby too, so I think I got lucky there. </p>
How is life with two?<p>Well, we've actually just found out we're expecting another baby. So next year, I'll have three under 3.5 years. It was a "happy" surprise, very unexpected, and definitely NOT planned. But as my mum says: "this little soul is eager to join your family….". Life with two is a lot of fun but has been a real adjustment. The jump from one to two little people is a big one. I've always loved my "me time", something which is pretty non-existent these days. But, I'm lucky to have married a very domesticated man who is an absolutely amazing (and very present) dad. We're a good team. </p>
You often talk about snatching pockets of nap time to weave and be creative. How do you juggle your art with little ones under your feet? Do they like to try their hand at the loom?<p>I believe creativity is a muscle. One that you can train yourself to activate when needed. When I do get tiny moments, I launch into my creative zone. No time for procrastination. I always keep my weaving tools ready. So if I do find myself with some time during the day, I can get to work straight away. I've always been a morning person. But these days, my starts are getting earlier and earlier. I often jump on my loom at 4:45am. I love the darkness. The quiet. We live right on the bush, so it's quite magical watching the sunrise and the morning light come down on my loom.</p><p>I've also found a way to include Allira (2.5yrs) and Mason (1yr) into my creative process. We go on little bushwalks and make sculptural arrangements together or I cut up pieces of wool and let them play whilst I weave. One of the best parts of motherhood is watching how my kids see everything with a beginners mind. Their excitement. Awe. Curiosity. At the tiniest things. </p>
What role does your Indian heritage play in your approach to weaving? You work with a lot of sari fabric - is it purely aesthetic or do you like the metaphor of weaving culture into your work?<p>It's a bit of both, but primarily it's a symbolic nod to my maternal lineage, ancestors and culture.</p>
You also write poetry and bring textiles into your poems. Have you always been drawn to different mediums?<p>I've always loved writing. And one day it's my dream to bring both my poetry and artwork together. I'm not sure how yet. I'm fascinated by the way so much of our language is tied to textile metaphors. My poems are a way for me to communicate my ideas, stories and emotions. Often my poetry informs and is the starting point for my work.</p><p>This was especially true in my recent joint exhibition with my mum — "Storing & Remembering".</p>
We live in such a digital age. Do you think there's something special about preserving an ancient and very manual art like weaving?<p>Yes, completely. I love imperfections and celebrate flaws. Such imperfections embody the human hand. Something which I believe machines and technology can never truly replicate. </p>
What does an average day in your house look like?<p>Every day is different. But a common thread is it is total chaos. By the end of the day, it looks like someone has robbed our house. But my rule is, at night all toys are to be packed away (so they can't be seen). After 7:30 pm, I want an "adult-space" as it gives me mental space too!</p>
What's on your list of loves?<p><a href="https://books.google.com.au/books/about/A_Slow_Childhood.html?id=d3DLtAEACAAJ&redir_esc=y" target="_blank"><em>A Slow Childhood</em></a> by Helen Hayward (the only parenting book I've ever read and re-read. It is so honest, raw and powerful).<br><a href="https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/ladies-we-need-to-talk/id1277424411" target="_blank">Ladies, We Need To Talk (Podcast)</a><br><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8089592/" target="_blank">Little Fires Everywhere</a> (TV show – based on Celeste Ng's book)<br>Oatly milk (I'm obsessed) <br>Homemade hummus (I LOVE hummus… all day, every day)<br><a href="http://www.paulgraham.com/vb.html" target="_blank">This beautiful essay by Paul Graham</a><br><a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41552704-the-art-of-noticing" target="_blank">The Art of Noticing</a><br><a href="https://onbeing.org/series/podcast/" target="_blank">On Being with Krista Tippet</a> (Podcast)</p>
Ask any woman who has been through fertility treatments, and they will likely tell you that the hardest part is the waiting and the unknown...
Which is why any technology that can lessen that emotional load is welcomed with a huge sigh of relief. Case in point? Genea's world-leading IVF technology, which not only includes an embryo incubator (which has been proven to increase the number of high grade embryos created each cycle), but also contains time-lapse cameras, so Genea can capture photos and videos of each embryo as it develops. Sent directly to patients through the Grow by Genea app, it's a welcomed addition to many couples' fertility journey.
What have been your biggest learnings about fertility?<p>That it's never a one-way street and there are a lot of misconceptions out in the community regarding fertility. Fertility is also not just about one particular person or gamete, it's the culmination of many things such as lifestyle, health and genetics.</p>
What do you wish more women knew about fertility?<p>I definitely feel women need to be educated to be empowered regarding their fertility. Your current lifestyle and health not only impacts your gametes (eggs) but it also impacts those of your children and grandchildren. When it comes to fertility treatments like IVF, I'd like women to understand the fact that the number of eggs we retrieve does not equal the number of eggs we can freeze or the number of viable embryos.</p>
What lead you to become an embryologist?<p>I decided to take the Embryology path because I've always been fascinated by trying to understand the medicine and science relating to fertility and embryology. Knowing that my work in the lab every day is helping couples achieve their dream to become parents is the biggest thing that has driven me to be an embryologist.</p>
Can you talk us through what a day in your life looks like – what are the main tasks you work on each day?<p>My day can vary, every day is different. Some days it will be very patient facing with procedures such as egg collections and embryo transfers. Other days it's mostly spent in the lab looking after the embryos and making sure all the checks are complete for the day.</p>
Can you explain what is involved with ICSI?<p>ICSI stands for intra cytoplasmic sperm injection. It is an insemination method, usually for couples where the male partner has low sperm count, or where a straightforward IVF insemination has failed. We catch a single, normal-looking sperm to inject into each mature egg from the female partner. We do this by striking the sperm on the tail to stop it from moving, and then drawing it up into a fine injection needle and passing it into the egg to hopefully create an embryo.</p>
What is involved in embryo biopsy?<p>Embryo biopsy is a part of the pre-implantation genetic testing process for day 5 or 6 embryos. Once an embryo reaches day 5/6 it has over a hundred cells. The biopsy process itself involves safely removing 5-8 cells to run the genetic testing on. I like to call it a 'chromosomal health check' for the embryo.</p>
What is vitrification and why is it done?<p>Vitrification is the process used to freeze oocytes or embryos for later use. The embryo goes through a number of solutions for about 15 minutes to prepare it for the freeze and then it is placed in liquid nitrogen. It is an ultra-rapid process that transforms the cells into a 'glass like' state preventing ice crystal formation. By preventing ice crystal formation, we can protect the cells of the embryos to give them their best chance at survival and pregnancy later on.</p>
Talk us through the level of care that goes into patients’ embryos?<p>Patients' gamates and embryos are handled with the utmost care as we like to call ourselves the 'first babysitter'. At Genea we aim for uninterrupted culture using our Geri time lapse incubators. This means we leave the embryos undisturbed for as long as possible to give them the best chance to develop to maximise their outcome. Our staff are highly skilled and trained and are constantly participating in quality assurance schemes to ensure that we meet the requirements to handle and grade embryos. We always ensure all our equipment is tested routinely to ensure that patients' embryos can develop to their maximum potential.</p>
What interactions do you have with the patient?<p>We interact with our patients via face to face or phone conversations throughout their IVF journey. The first time we meet a patient is on the day of oocyte (egg) collection. We chat to them about our role in the procedure and how we will look after their embryos for the week. We then speak to them on day 1 and day 3 to update them on embryo development and we see them when they have an embryo transfer on day 5. I definitely enjoy interacting and passing my knowledge onto patients. It is important they have insight and understand what is happening in the lab and with their gametes.</p>
What is the most challenging part of your job?<p>The most challenging thing for me as an embryologist is delivering bad news or telling a patient that their cycle is over. No one wants to hear that their IVF journey has been unsuccessful whether it be a failed fertilisation or the news that there is nothing suitable to transfer or that we have not been able to find sperm for an insemination. Not knowing what has gone wrong for these patients is quite tricky and there is never a definite answer when it comes to science.</p>
And what is the most rewarding part of your job?<p>The most rewarding would be when a patient has had unsuccessful cycles where they have had no embryos to transfer and through our technology and scientific expertise we finally get them to a point where they can have a transfer and they end up having a baby. Giving patients the baby they have long awaited is by far the best thing about this job.</p>
Can you share a memorable experience since beginning with Genea?<p>It would have to be when a couple had a testicular sperm aspiration (TESA) to see whether we could retrieve sperm. For over five hours, it was all hands on deck with four scientists searching. We managed to inject most of the females eggs and she ended up having an embryo for transfer. She is currently pregnant and expecting a baby sometime this year.</p>
What are some of the biggest changes to the world of IVF since you began?<p>Time lapse technologies and the fact we can now assess embryos without disturbing them is one of the biggest changes. Having the footage of embryos as they develop to review and make assessments as to which ones are best to use has been amazing.</p>
Can you take us through the IVF technology developed at Genea and why it makes a difference? Why is it unique?<p>The introduction of Geri, Genea's inhouse developed time-lapse incubator has been amazing. As our Scientific Director says, it's closer than ever before to mimicking the undisturbed natural environment of a woman's body – where a human embryo would normally grow. The Geri incubation system has seen an increase of 46.7% in the number of high grade embryos per cycle when compared to the tradition incubator and culture medium system*, as well as a 24.3% increase in the number of pregnancies when compared to the traditional incubator and culture medium system**. In Geri, each patient has their own individually controlled incubation chamber with a time lapse camera to allow scientists to continuously monitor embryos without disturbing them. Giving patients access to these images and videos of their growing embryos has made a big difference to them. Grow by Genea is the only app of its kind in Australia, giving patients the chance to see and share these images during the five days they spend growing in an incubator in the embryology lab. <a href="https://www.genea.com.au/GEN/media/Genea/PDF/Genea-Grow-by-Genea-brochure.pdf" target="_blank">Grow by Genea™ </a>allows many patients to feel more connected and involved in the process. 94% of patients agree Grow by Genea™ improved their IVF experience***.</p>
How important is team work?<p>Team work is crucial to the day to day running of any business and by far the Embryology team at Genea is one of the best teams I have worked with. We work like a set of gears and we are always there for one another when we need assistance. When the team is effective and efficient we all work towards our ultimate goal: our patients.</p><p><em>Go to <a href="https://www.genea.com.au/" target="_blank">www.genea.com.au</a></em></p><p><em>* When compared to the traditional incubator and culture medium system. Study performed at Genea's flagship Kent Street, Sydney CBD laboratory. Data presented at Fertility Society of Australia Conference, October 2017. Adelaide.</em><br><em> ** Foetal heart pregnancies. Study performed in Genea's Canberra laboratory, 2015-2018.</em><br><em> *** Based on responses to Grow patient survey between May – October 2017 (91 patients). Data presented at Fertility Society of Australia Conference, October 2017. Adelaide.</em></p>
At some stage on a Sunday I like to take a moment to check over my calendar for the coming week and make sure I've got a plan for each of the days. I think about which mornings I can train, what I should wear each day and whether I have meetings for which I need to prepare. I'm not usually one for inspirational sayings but this one rings true for me: "A Sunday well spent brings a week of content"...
Many women with busy lives take a similar approach and when they start to learn about the process involved in fertility treatment, the biggest hurdle they face can be the lack of a set in stone schedule.
Enlist a buddy<p>Have you considered telling someone at work that you're about to undergo fertility treatment? To tell or not to tell is a very individual decision and you will need to weigh up the pros and cons.</p><p>If you have a good relationship, being honest and upfront with your boss could make life a great deal easier while you undergo treatment.</p><p>Letting your boss know will mean you don't need to be mysterious or makeup dentist appointments to cover your clinic visits and may help you avoid difficult work travel decisions in the middle of your treatment. If not your boss then a trusted colleague may be able to help cover for you and provide support. If you are hesitant to share, remember people can surprise you and understanding at work (where you spend a big chunk of your time) can be vital.</p><p>If you decide not to tell, perhaps workshop some ideas to explain any absences. Root canal therapy at the dentist is one we hear is quite effective.</p>
Technology is your friend<p>Most of us have access to work emails and even documents on our phones and tablets these days so take advantage of the free WiFi in the majority of Genea's waiting rooms to respond to emails on the go and get through simple admin tasks. You'll likely feel less resentful about waiting and your inbox will be less of a nightmare when you get back to the office.</p>
Work is not the enemy<p>While some people will take leave from work during their treatment, it's worth considering whether work might actually be a healthy distraction for you. "Not being at work and sitting at home worrying can be just as stressful as being at work," Genea's expert Fertility Counsellor Evelyn says. Being productive at work can give you a sense of achievement at a time when it seems like no matter how hard you try, your fertility is not something you can problem solve.</p>
Put yourself first - for a change<p>Many of us put work over our own needs, always answering that call or email and putting in extra hours. While you're having treatment it's the perfect time to make a change and put yourself first. You need to be healthy and fit to give yourself the best chance of having success. Ensure you eat well, get plenty of sleep, make time for exercise as well as carve out time for relaxation and fun with family and friends. You should consider making allowances for what you are going through. As Fertility Counsellor Evelyn says, be kind to yourself and schedule in some nurturing. "Cut back where you can on additional demands and try a little pampering – you're worth it!"</p><p><span></span>All of this advice is not intended to give you the impression that balancing work and IVF is impossible. It is not. There is no perfect formula but what is important though is to plan for what you can while it's happening. Looking after yourself and planning where you can will help you succeed in all areas of your life.</p><p><em>During your treatment, Genea's Fertility Counsellors are always available to help with advice. Your Nurses will also be able to talk to you about your schedule and which parts of treatment are flexible so don't hesitate to ask.</em></p><p><em>For more information, go to <a href="https://www.genea.com.au/" target="_blank"><strong>www.genea.com.au</strong></a></em></p>
“It really was my upbringing that fostered confidence and an open mind… I grew up in an entrepreneurial family” – Meet The Extraordinary Founder of A-ESQUE Amanda Briskin-Rettig
Back in 1996, Amanda Briskin-Rettig founded the legendary Australian accessories brand Mimco. She had $5000 in savings which she used to develop six handbag samples. And then in 2007, 11 years after she launched the brand, she sold it for a reported $45 million. To describe her as extraordinary is an understatement....
The launch of Mimco just so happened to coincide with the birth of her first son, Blake. "I was unpacking the truck with my first delivery of product when I was pregnant at 26," the Melbourne based Briskin-Rettig recalls. "My eldest son has been with me on the journey from starting the business in the very beginning. He joined me on my business trips and meetings – I would have him in a rocker at my feet in my first office."
The confidence to go out on her own, she credits to growing up in an entrepreneurial family. And as for navigating career and motherhood, that's an ongoing journey. But one thing she has learnt is not to seek approval from others. "The biggest adaptation has been working out my own identity as woman, mother, and partner, and keeping that balance so I don't sacrifice myself. Feeling satisfied is really important. I feel it has to be my own satisfaction though and not approval I seek from others. My husband, Andrew, has been the linchpin in helping me to confront these challenges and deal with them head-on."
Tell us about your childhood. What are some of your most vivid memories?<p>My childhood was filled with love, adventure and experience. My mother was young and curious and enjoyed exploring the world. We lived in Israel and London and were lucky enough to travel quite a bit. I have vivid memories of the fashion jewellery and flea markets. My grandparents were also very much involved in my life. Many of my childhood memories, I share with them. I would spend days getting dressed up in my grandmothers' wardrobe, especially her shoes and jewellery box. My father's love and our strong family bond hasn't changed, and I am lucky to still be enjoying experiences with my parents, and as grandparents with my children.</p>
You founded the legendary brand Mimco in 1996. What led you to that point in your career?<p>My career before Mimco was in Marketing and IT. When I finished uni at the time there weren't really any bags for women my age in the workforce. I would walk around department stores trying to find something I liked but nothing felt right. My parents had always encouraged me to try things and keep an open mind, so when I couldn't find anything I loved, I decided I would try to make something that I enjoyed wearing.</p>
What gave you the confidence to launch your own brand?<p>It really was my upbringing that fostered confidence and an open mind. I didn't overthink it and jumped in headfirst. Also, I grew up in an entrepreneurial family.</p>
As a mother and a business founder, what are your time management tips?<p>Routine is not my strong point. My days change constantly so I need to keep an open mind and follow my intuition, which inevitably comes back to my own wellbeing… health, exercise and headspace. If I am not looking after myself then my ability to focus on work and family slips. If I'm not nourishing my mind and body, I will lose my own compass. In a specific work sense, it comes down to being hands on. I'm much happier and creative when I am hands on. Also, being able to prioritise, remain flexible, and being a decision maker have all been important in time management for me.</p>
What's been the biggest challenge of motherhood?<p>The joys and challenges of motherhood are an ongoing life journey. Every day is different from the last and that presents new challenges and joys in so many different ways.</p><blockquote><em>" I think the biggest adaptation has been working out my own identity as woman, mother and partner, and keeping that balance so I don't sacrifice myself. Feeling satisfied is really important "</em></blockquote>
You sold Mimco in 2007. What brought you to that decision and was it an emotional one?<p>Mimco was an undeniably incredible experience both personally and professionally. It allowed me to be develop in so many ways. It was an incredible decision after so many years, but I also understood that the creative aspect of the business came from within me, so I knew that there were more opportunities and roads ahead.</p>
How different was your life post-Mimco?<p>Just like anybody, life is always changing and at the time I was naturally moving through the chapters. So, I think with or without Mimco my life was already changing. On reflection the move away from the scale, intensity and structure of the business was probably the biggest difference. Naturally, there was a change of pace. I jumped into projects and collaborations with other businesses, which I enjoyed equally and applied myself with gusto and passion. Work wise, my skills and creativity were harnessed when I took on a really great project with a large Australian heritage brand. I was tasked with developing a retail strategy for them including creative direction for stores in the Australian retail landscape.</p>
Tell us about A-ESQUE. What inspired you to launch it?<p>After some time consulting and collaborating with others, I was feeling creatively frustrated with not being able to make 'things happen'. I love the creative thinking around business and creative projects, but I do love the execution and the satisfaction of making things happen. I can take a long time to digest thoughts and get going, but once I do, the pace is fast. And I love that. That is something I was unable to do while I was consulting. Essentially the desire to execute is what propelled me into the next project.</p><p>Post Mimco, I was satisfied with the creative thinking around my new project, but missed the execution, so I started exploring that feeling. I didn't have a desire to go back to the manufacturing in the style I adopted with Mimco, which was solely focussed on manufacturing in Asia, working out of factories with minimum quantities, designing from a distance. Instead I was craving the creative output on a smaller, immediate scale. I wanted to be immersed in and production, I wanted to own the process of making. </p><p>I also felt that at the time of launching A-ESQUE the world didn't need any more 'stuff' and if I was going to add to that it needed to be in a more responsible way. Considered consumption was really important to me. I spent time exploring manufacturers and makers that were right on my doorstep and I met some great creatives. Along the way I set up a small atelier with second hand machines which were no longer needed by larger companies as more brands moved production off shore. Gradually, I set myself up for manufacturing in Melbourne, with a desire to be involved in the design and making every single day.</p>
What's different about A-ESQUE? Both in terms of the design, and in the way you're approaching the business?<p>A-ESQUE comes from the desire to share creative expression, to explore methods of making, and communicating and reflecting. Both brands I have started were similar in the sense that they were relevant at the time of inception.</p>
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?<p>Throughout my childhood I was encouraged to keep an open mind, not stand in judgement others, and to know myself. I also think its important to laugh at yourself, don't take yourself so seriously… something I wasn't so good at in my 20's, but improved on in my 30's and have started to perfect in my 40's! </p>
What does a day in your life look like?<p>Pre-Covid it would have involved coffee, kids, work, exercise, school run, work, school pick up, and family time. It's a little different with Covid-19, with the focus on home.</p>
What are you loving at the moment - anything from podcasts to books, fashion, food, anything!<ul><li><a href="https://www.timesensitive.fm/" target="_blank">Podcast: 'Time Sensitive'</a></li><li>Book: <a href="https://www.amazon.com.au/Who-Michael-Ovitz-Reflections-Hollywood/dp/1591845548" target="_blank"><em>Who is Michael Ovitz</em></a></li><li>Inspiration: Changing colours of the Autumn leaves</li><li>Food: Fresh</li><li>Nutrition: <a href="https://www.vitaleveryday.com/vital-all-in-one/" target="_blank">Vital All In One powder</a></li><li>Scent: <a href="https://www.mecca.com.au/maison-francis-kurkdjian/" target="_blank">Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris</a>, <a href="https://www.mecca.com.au/maison-francis-kurkdjian/lumiere-noire-pour-homme-edt/I-008393.html" target="_blank">Lumiere Noire</a></li><li>Health: Home Workouts</li><li>Work: Microsoft Teams</li></ul>
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.
"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
Naomi Newirth's life sounds like the plot of a film. The setting? Maui, Hawaii. Our heroine? A bikini designer, balancing creating her beautiful swimwear line with raising her two little island boys.
"We are outdoors all the time", she tells us of her idyllic life. "It is so special to see my son grow up on the beaches I grew up on. We are also fortunate to have family close by. We live on a two acre family compound full of fruit trees and vegetable gardens. He runs down to see his ama (grandma) every morning." Naomi's workdays are spent perfecting her collections, which have now expanded beyond swimwear to include resort and children's ranges, and running her flagship store. Time is punctuated by beach sunsets, horseback riding, and homemade veggie juices.
But before this all becomes too perfectly cinematic – even in paradise, the work/life balance conflict cannot be escaped. Acacia, the sustainable swimwear line Naomi began working on in high school, opened their first flagship store just two days after she gave birth to her second child. "It was so difficult, because I was so sick with hyperemesis gravidarum", she recalls. "There was so much I wanted to do, but just could not at the time with how severe my sickness was."