‘Working from home’ has laid claim to the acronym WFH, but after speaking with Camilla Freeman-Topper, we’re suggesting a change…
One half of the powerhouse brother-sister duo behind Australian luxury fashion brand Camilla and Marc, Camilla isn’t just working from home: she’s really making it Work For Her. With three children at home, a thriving business to remodel to “a virtual operating system almost overnight”, and an inspiringly philosophical take on this whole debacle, Camilla is managing this crisis in signature style. Wearing Camilla and Marc, of course.
When it comes to the future, Camilla is hopeful. “I can’t imagine we will ever go back to living in the same way”, she muses. “I feel the realisations made during this time will carry us through to a new way of being and I know in my heart humanity will shine like never before.”
Until then? WFH is really working for her. We spoke to the designer about how she’s structuring her days, her business, and the at-home workouts keeping her sane.
Main image: Camilla wears Logan Hoodie and trackpant
Shop Camilla’s WFH wardrobe at Camilla and Marc
What's been the biggest adjustment for you since WFH?
We are living in unprecedented times that none of us could have ever predicted. The biggest adjustment for me has been the steep learning curve that we’ve all had to adjust to, at lightning speed. Then there’s finding new pathways, new ways of being and living in these isolated times – we all crave connection and human touch, so that in itself has been a huge adjustment. But I take solace in the fact that adapting is what we do best as human beings, and if we can all dig deep enough to see that this is a great chance to reassess how we’re all living, then we can come out the other side far more connected than before.
Although we are all on this journey together, and none of us are perfect, I’ve found that being really gentle and loving with myself has helped immensely. Whilst scheduling is absolutely key when you have so many balls in the air, in many ways this is also an opportunity to nest, read, do that wardrobe clean out you have been planning for years, cook, and reconnect more deeply with the people you love.
How have you had to change the way your brand operates since you started working remotely?
We have switched to a virtual operating system almost overnight. In many ways, this crisis has made the need for change even more obvious and it’s accelerated plans we already had in place. Ultimately for us this is a time for innovation; it has forced us to think in new and creative ways about how we operate. Thankfully, we already had many systems in place that enabled us to pivot quickly so we can be ready when the market reopens.
What's been your biggest challenge so far?
The uncertainty, universally. Not knowing how long this is going to last is immensely challenging. I’m finding comfort in the love, kindness and care I’m seeing everywhere, and I hope that when we get to the other side of this, that remains and there is a deeper connection, a resilience and a newfound creativity that can help propel a new way of being.
Is there anything you're loving about WFH?
Being closer to my children. Beyond the challenges of homeschooling and balancing work, it’s beautiful to be with one another daily and re-connect to each other. Just being there throughout the little moments each day means so much to me, so I’m trying to appreciate that as much as possible.
You're making time for things like exercise and meditation. What's your go-to home workout?
I’ve really been enjoying Fluidform At Home pilates and Kayla Itsines BBG workouts. Whilst I’ve been trying to get outside and walk for at least 30 minutes each day, yesterday I didn’t quite get the chance so in the evening I decided to do a 30 minute BBG workout – if you’re up for high intensity workouts, I highly recommend it.
How are you managing the kids and their schedules? What's your philosophy on homeschooling?
The biggest tip I have is to not stress too much about rigorous schooling and learning right now. The world is a very intense place at the moment, so being together and trying to make sure my children don’t absorb too much of the craziness is as much a part of this as anything else.
My kids have been virtual schooling at home for a couple of weeks now and their schedule mirrors that of a typical day at school, including recess, lunch and time for sport, so they are busy and active from around 9-2pm. I adjust my schedule to mirror theirs, to ensure I’m being as productive as possible. This also means I can be there for them during break times.
We have a very pragmatic view when it comes to learning; outside of schooling, we teach life and my kids are getting involved in life on a very practical level including the day to day running of our household. I had been making meals most days, and I realised quickly I needed their input to help make sure everyone was pitching in equally. We sat together and assigned chores – myself and my husband included – from help with food preparation and cooking, to table setting and dishwashing. So far this has worked really well. It gives the kids a sense of empowerment, deepens our commitment to each other, and makes for a harmonious home.
What are you most looking forward to when lockdown ends?
Hugs with family and friends.
Is there anything you'll change about the way you work and live after this experience?
I can’t imagine we will ever go back to living in the same way. I feel the realisations made during this time will carry us through to a new way of being, and I know in my heart humanity will shine like never before.
What's been your WFH saviour with kids?
We’ve started dance activities as a family which has been super fun, lightened the mood, and kept us all active. My husband has also been orchestrating obstacle courses for us all to enjoy outdoors. We encourage a lot of reading as it gives everyone a bit of rest and down time. One of my favourite hacks is to put audiobooks on for the kids, and stream it to their headphones, providing a moment of quiet without having to resort to screen time.