Business Chicks exists to make the world better for women
I've been following Business Chicks on Instagram for a few months now, but I had no idea how vast their network was until this week. I attended their 2 day 9 to Thrive event in Sydney on the weekend, and boy did it blow me away.
On day 1, I grabbed my copy of Winging It (in the hopes of meeting Emma Isaacs), planned my route, packed the pram + nappy bag because I had to bring my daughter with me. I knew the schedule, roughly, and that was about it.
When I saw the venue from afar, I was shocked, it was next level big. I was pretty self-conscious about arriving with a bub, and sheepishly asked the hostesses if it was OK to bring the pram in. All the business chicks support staff were in Grease Lightening-esk pink jackets were so kind and welcoming. They assured me that it was fine and pointed me in the direction of the creche as well as the Thank You baby room (which was amazing)! Off to a fab start: no line; efficient sign in, warm welcome... what's next?
The Royal Hall of Industries is MASSIVE. Business Chicks was hosting a legit business expo with the top brands and companies in Sydney. There were banners with inspiring quotes on them, pink everywhere, gift bags and merch galore. There were over 100 exhibitors at the expo That's right, 100.
A few stand outs were:
Bumble Australia was offering free headshots (including hair and make up touch ups).
The Green Elephant Creche was so cute!
On the spot monograming of some fab leather pieces
1 on 1 financial consultations
I made my way to the main stage, and got a seat to see Roxy Jacenko's interview. There were thousands of people there. Some were engrossed in the panel discussions, others perusing the stalls, buying merch or signing up to become Business Chicks members.
There was such a buzz about the place, there is no other way to explain it. Girl bosses were everywhere drinking coffees, pink frośe, taking quirky photos, handing out business cards.... the place was pumping. Women from all walks of life were there just living their best lives. There were gals in ripped jeans, gals in fancy frocks, mums juggling bubs, girls in their early 20's, women in the 50's.... all there for different reasons, but sharing the common thread of wanting to make the world a better place for women.
I did get to meet the inspirational Emma Isaacs which was the highlight of my day, and such a treat given my earlier than planned departure because things didn't go as expected with my daughter.
I wanted to hear from these working mums about how they execute their days and managed to keep their shit together (on the outside at least).
The line up included:
Kemi Nekvapil, Melbourne based coach, and MC of the panel.
Sally Obermeder, media personality and owner of SWIISH
Rachael Finch, model and fitness guru + owner of Body by Finch
Emma Isaacs, founder and global CEO of Business Chicks, and mother of five
Antonia Kidman, Australian journalist, author and mother of six children
The women were all so natural and it seemed like they'd been friends for years. I was absorbed in the discussion, as you do when in a room of successful, hard- working mums telling you their secrets.
Kemi didn't pull punches, asking the tough stuff and sparking excellent, engaging conversations. One of my favourite quotes was a mantra that Sally shared, which had been passed on to her from her sister Maha Koraiem.
"Do only what you can do."
Only do what you can do, and that's it. No more, no less. If you can't do something, outsource it. Take immediate control of the things that you can do, and focus on them.
How bloody simple is that? Makes so much sense - it's actually infuriating.
Why do we feel the need as women to hustle ourselves into the ground like some kind of martyr? Is this some kind of self-inflicted torture? Do we all have imposter syndrome? I sure as hell don't have anything to prove to anyone, or to social media, but I'll be damned if I'm not happiest when I'm flat out busy or flogging myself, getting shit done and kicking goals. Sometime I need to scale back on what those goals actually are. On any given day, it might be that I simply got to brush my teeth before 2 pm, I'll have to chalk that up as a win.
That's the beauty of this journey. Life ebbs and flows, motherhood is the constant, and work is the delicious cherry on top.
How do we marry them all?
That's a damn good question.
The gals gave various pieces of advice, but a common denominator seemed to be self-care. There was also a large agreement to not let mum-guilt get to you because it doesn't serve you, your partner or your children. It just weighs you down and makes you doubt your capabilities, and that's the last thing you need when you're already trying to wear all the hats your family needs.
I also was lucky enough to catch the tail end of the "How to start a business online" talk and I really enjoyed the "Tech Talks" with three leading women who are making waves in the tech world.
Below were a few of my favourite nuggets from the day that are worth remembering, and sharing.
"I believe that my relationship with my husband is as important as my relationship with my children. They wouldn't exist if our relationship didn't exist."
"It's not easy and it's not seamless, and shit goes wrong every day."
"Mother guilt is a waste emotion."
"Being underestimated is a powerful position to be in. It gives you the opportunity to prove people wrong"
I highly recommend getting your friends together if you're in Melbourne or Brisbane. Or, go alone like I did on day 1. There are plenty of people to meet, conversation starters and lots of fun to be had.
Make sure you are following them on their socials and subscribe to their newsletter to see what exciting things they are to up to, who is speaking, and how to win tickets to their next event.
Want to know more?
Connect on Facebook or Twitter
Melbourne, August 24th - 25th (Click here to see the schedule)
Brisbane, October 19th - 20th (Schedule is not yet released)
A brief backstory for you all. I tried to eat a wide variety of healthy foods when I was pregnant because I wanted to give my daughter the best start at a diverse pallet, as well as excellent nutrition obviously! However, when the time came to introduce solids, I was so was incredibly anxious. I had no idea where to begin, what to start with, how much was too much food...? I found myself asking all my friends about it, and eventually my sweet friend Kyla gave me Annabel's Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner. I'll never forget opening her book, reading the introduction and feeling such an incredible wave of relief. I was instantly inspired, and felt my confidence building with each homemade meal I prepared from her book. I started to create my own recipes and my passion for eliminating the expression "kid food" in our home has been a huge success and quite an enjoyable challenge. Some of the most engaging posts on my Instagram are surrounding the meals I make for my daughter.
Annabel's story is complicated and beautiful, stemming from the loss of her first born daughter. Annabel wanted to create a legacy in her daughter's memory, and she has done that in spades. She is has pioneered the way babies and toddlers eat in the UK, and now you can find her products in countries all over the world as well.
So, without further adieu, let me introduce to you the one and only, Annabel Karmel.
WELCOME Annabel! Let's dive in, shall we:
Describe your personality in three words.
"Obsessed with Food!"
Your passion for cooking began when you were living in Holland. What was that experience like for you as an expat and a cooking novice?
A lot of people don’t know that I actually started working life as a musician. I was a talented harpist and studied classical music at the Conservatoire in the Hague, Holland. It was while I was living in Holland that I very quickly realised I had to fend for myself. Part of this meant that I had to figure out how to cook, and it was during this time that my love of cooking really began. Each week my mother would send me recipes which I would try out and by the time I returned home, cooking had become a real hobby of mine.
What is a day in the life of Annabel Karmel like?
No two days are the same! I definitely don’t ever sit still and I am extremely hands on. I like to be in the office as much as I can, so that's where you'll find me when I’m not out at various meetings with brands, retailers, suppliers, attending an event, filming or working on my next book! Our digital team, PR, marketing and sales departments are the eyes and ears of the business, so we regularly come together to discuss how we can continue to build the brand, act on our successes and share new ideas.
I still dedicate one day a week to developing new recipe ideas, so every Tuesday you’ll find me cooking up something new in my kitchen. I love having this day out of the office, away from my desk, to get creative and discover new foodie favourites – some of which can often spark the idea for a new book. I trial and tweak ingredients, texture and method until I’m happy.
I don’t ever want to stop this aspect of my job as it’s where it all began for me back in 1991 with the Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner. Evenings and weekends are all about family and friends and one of my greatest pleasures definitely has to be dinner with my three children – Nicholas, Lara and Scarlett. Now they are in their twenties! You really have to grab these opportunities when you can!
You have three beautiful children as you mentioned above. Were they picky eaters, and what did they teach you about motherhood?
Perseverance! Any parent out there with a fussy eater will appreciate the vulnerability and frustration you can feel.
When I started out, there were no recipe books out there that provided meals which tasted as good as the recipes I was preparing. My ingredient combinations were truly unique. Getting a child to eat well can be a real challenge (and utterly draining), but I kept at it, and it’s because of Nicholas’s fussiness that I am where I am today.
My children are now all grown up in their twenties, but if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have become such a celebrated author and a leading name in baby and children’s food. They are my daily motivation, and I couldn’t have taken on this journey without them. My passion for what I do seems to have caught on with my daughter Lara who joined the business in 2016.
What's the best piece of advice you could give to our postnatal readers?
If you’ve just welcomed a very special new member into the family, then – congratulations! It’s such an exciting time but your day-to-day is set to get a little bit more jam-packed! It’s important for you to continue to eat well both for you and for your baby.
Here are my top foodie tips for new mum "Kate" starting her incredible journey:
1. If breastfeeding, your fluid requirements increase dramatically so keep a close eye on your daily intake and remember to stay hydrated. Kate should be drinking lots of water, herbal teas or unsweetened fruit juices, and keep a bottle of water handy when she breastfeeds.
2. Try to up your all-important intake of calcium, iron and fibre-rich foods:
Fibre. Kate should aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and include plenty of fibre. She can get this much-needed dose from fruit and vegetables as well as wholemeal bread, pasta and whole grains. After childbirth, women can often suffer from constipation - soluble and insoluble fibre can help with this.
Iron. Red meat, dark green leafy vegetables and pulses such as lentils are all good sources of iron. If you’re a vegetarian then lentils are good, but should be consumed alongside a source of vitamin C which has been proven to help enhance iron absorption.
Calcium. Kate should be aiming for 4-5 servings of dairy or other calcium-rich foods each day. A great way to start the morning is with a bowl of granola topped with fruit and yoghurt or some delicious bircher muesli soaked in milk. Plus, it’s two for the price of one in the nutrition stakes - oats and bran are low GI foods, so they will help fuel your body through a busy morning.
We know that the healthy omega-3 fats contained in oily fish are important for your brain, nervous system and vision and they continue to be hugely important post-pregnancy. Try making my super simple Salmon Fishcakes to provide an important and delicious dose of the good stuff! Just remember that if breastfeeding, you should eat no more than two portions of oily fish a week.
What stars had to align for you to go from cookbook author to having your food stocked at Tesco, Morrisons, Woolworths and beyond?
I first gained the confidence to launch my own range of children’s food after learning about the retail sector when acting as an expert to retail giants Marks & Spencer and Boots in the UK. Marks & Spencer had wanted to launch a range of children’s food and, completely out of the blue, asked me to be their food consultant.
I spent nearly two years talking to focus groups and it was a complete education in building a food range from scratch: thinking about who the consumer was, working out the nutritional information, recipe choice, understanding packaging and the importance of pricing.
Three years later Boots asked me to work with them on a baby range that would be jointly branded Annabel Karmel and Boots. They wanted me to decide which products I thought would work in their stores. I designed a range called ‘Make It Easy’, which included both equipment and baby foods, and would be sold on the shelf alongside my books.
This experience was invaluable. Under the aegis of two major retailing companies, I was given the opportunity to listen, learn and become my own expert.
And it was during this time that I learned to tune in and listen to my own instinct. I knew I had it in me to produce my own food range under the Annabel Karmel brand – and it all stemmed from there.
A big part of my mission is to offer healthy meal solutions for busy families. So many parents want to cook healthy meals from scratch, but often hectic schedules get in the way. Busy days still deserve the best mealtimes, and that’s why I’ve created a special range of snap-frozen meals for babies and toddlers in Australia.
Babies will love my nutritiously balanced Peel & Pop Purees made with 100% real fruit and veggies which are snap-frozen to lock in the taste and goodness. I have also developed 15 delicious meals for children aged 1-4. A tasty way towards their 5-a-day, they make for the perfect freezer filler.
Best part about living in the UK is…
I love the food scene in the UK, particularly in London. Going out for dinner and catching up with friends and family over good food is one of life’s great pleasures. Since I love to cook, when I eat out, I want it to be special and food that I often wouldn’t cook myself at home. I adore Japanese food, and there are some incredible Japanese foodie spots here in London.
I also love the great British countryside. My dogs are a big part of my life, and spending time with them is incredibly therapeutic and important to me. If I’m in need of a boost, I’ll take Bono (American Cocker Spaniel), Hamilton (Samoyed) and Sabre (Golden Retriever) away for a weekend of long walks or off to the nearest park for a good dose of fresh air.
You’ve penned 44 cookbooks (and counting)! How do you keep inspired to keep creating year after year?
My vision today is the same as it was over 25 years ago. I set out on a mission to show the world that you can make tasty recipes for babies and children. I want to continue to empower and inspire mums across the world to give their families the best start in life and to raise their children on healthy, wholesome diets.
What, or who, inspires you above all else?
My three children are my inspiration and motivation – and Natasha. I started out on my food journey wanting to give some meaning to Natasha’s short life and my first book was a legacy to her. My passion to succeed continued to be fuelled by Natasha and my three children who are so supportive.
My mother is also a huge inspiration to me. She is a wonderful woman with an amazing work ethic. She is still busy working now as an architect and interior designer.
I absolutely love running my own business, and I still love what I do 26 years on!
What do you love about your work?
Everything! I always say that if you choose a job that you love you will never have to work a day in your life. What you do for yourself dies with you, but what you do for others lives on. I hope that my recipes and the work that I have done in the field of children will continue.
The knowledge in my books and food products makes it as if I'm there every stage of a child’s life, helping to look after them (and mum and dad too). Success in my eyes starts by eating well while pregnant to feeding babies, toddlers and families.
The most famous person I’ve ever cooked for is …
I have cooked for many celebrities and indeed chefs. Although I'm best known for baby & toddler food, I also make delicious food for adults. I'm especially pleased when cooking for well-known chefs as it's a challenge and I think they probably expect carrot puree... but get a gourmet meal that could stand up to a Master Chef grilling!
Your new book Real Food Kids Will Love has just been released! I love scratching the term “kid food,” and your book seems to do just that. What age do you think babies are ready to join their parents at meal time?
Home-cooked family meals are often the best meals. It’s not about spending hours slaving over the stove, it’s about finding solutions that work for your family, and often that means quick, balanced meals which are simple to prepare and taste delicious.
My advice is to try and introduce tasty, healthy alternatives early on. My new book Real Food Kids Will Love brings together delicious recipes for kids aged one to five. It includes all the things mums want such as 15 minute favourites, making your own healthy fast food, and one–pot batch cooking. There is also dairy free and egg free recipes, vegetarian and vegan recipes.... as well as a collection of dishes that young children can make themselves.
2018 / 2019 will be epic because…
I want to continue to innovate in the children’s food sector with even more flavour-fuelled, ready-to-go recipes based on my much-loved trusted cookbooks. We’ll also be working on making our products available for many more parents in even more territories.
We are also heavily investing in our digital channels, so we will be developing even more content and helpful advice for parents. We are also currently working on a number of exciting education initiatives which will equip parents with even more useful tools to be able to give their baby the very best start. Watch this space!
We sure will Annabel! x
If you have any particular questions for me, or about Annabel's books, comment below!
She is also the founder of Love Mae, which is one of my all time favourite brands that I came across as a new mum myself. As some of you may have seen on my Instagram, I adore their bio-degradable, non-toxic, plastic free, bamboo dinnerware which we use daily for my daughter. I didn't know that their range is actually a lot more broad, including; lunch boxes, stickers, wall decals and kid's room decorations.
I wanted to know more about this ambitious Mumprenuer in Byron Bay, and I want you to know more about her as well!
WELCOME Peta!!!!! SO happy to have you!
A lot of people might not know that you used to be a photographer and a chef before starting Love Mae in 2008. What did you learn most about yourself when you were in these professions?
I learned early on that you can do anything if someone gives you the chance…. and that I work well under pressure. The pressure makes me tap into this "can do" space in my brain and all the noise of failure and insecurity disappears. At that point I can just do what needs to be done. It’s such an empowering feeling, and these days I feel like I can tap into that space whenever I like. My brain is wired to achieve.... some days that is good…. and others it is just purely annoying! he he
What's your house like in Byron Bay? Is it as perfect and whimsical as your designs?
Actually I think I’m a little in between styles at the moment. We moved from our renovated hinterland cottage about three years ago and headed back to the beach… worst house, best location kinda situation. I live about 15 minutes north of Byron in an old holiday house, that is small and desperately in need of a makeover. I’m not too precious though and I can easily wait while we work on the plans. Meanwhile, we can hear the waves and we’ve made it comfortable with relaxed furniture and landscaped the backyard. We spend our time on our large back deck where there is a huge table for hanging out with friends, as well as a lounge area for lazing…. although being winter we spend more time around the fire pit than anywhere else.
My favourite restaurant in Byron is Folk. What's yours?
Oh I love Folk, I could live there… quite literally. It’s hard to talk favourites… do you mind if I give you my Top 5? For lunch, they would be 100 Mile Table (The Best!), The Farm, Luscious, Barrio and the pop up Japanese that you’ll find in a caravan Tuesday to Friday out the front of the surf shop. We are spoiled for choice and that is not even taking into account the cafes and restaurants in the town centre of Byron.
Why did you choose bamboo for the dinnerware range?
We originally used to make our dinnerware in melamine. It took a lot of time to allow myself to free the guilt from producing something so disastrous for the planet and it’s oceans. That stuff will never break down, and I still cringe a little that we did it. When I went looking for an alternative, bamboo was the one that stood out for us because it ticked all the right boxes. What a brilliant thing that these sets will not cause the troubles that melamine and other products do.
What's the very first thing you do every morning?
Meditate…. it’s the only way my brain won’t self destruct. ;-)
Childbirth: Traumatic, transformative or ___________?
Interesting… slightly questionable that it needs to be like that (he he)…. but in the end, amazing! Nothing beats that moment of the last push and the sound of your baby realising they are filling their lungs with air.
My favourite time of day is….
This is hard, I love so many parts of the day. At a push my favourite part is my swim in the ocean. I swim almost every day of the year… including winter. Nothing beats the rush in winter and in summer it’s just pure weightless bliss.
The best thing about being a small business owner…..
Giving a shit about everything… employees, customers, products… even the layout and look of the studio. It feels so good to care and to ride the ups and downs of your own decisions. It’s not like I ever feel in control, but if I lean enough in a certain direction it steers the ship and that feels great.
The worst thing about being a small business owner….
I find hiring and firing very painful. I get so nervous interviewing and need help throughout the whole process. I’m a bit awkward at the best of times and in that situation I’m a mess. As for firing…. no words needed! No one enjoys that process and I’m lucky it's so rare I don’t usually have to worry about it.
How do you practice self care?
Every morning I rise before anyone in my house and sit still for 15 - 20 minutes (meditate), then exercise and finish off with a swim. I’ve only just gotten back to the exercise bit, and I’ve sworn to my body to never give it up…. even when I get back to fitting into my clothes!
Recently I fell off the wagon and it wasn’t pretty. I now find the strength to get up every morning and show the body and mind complete respect.
What’s the best book you have have ever read?
Again I’m sorry…. it’s too much pressure for something I have such passion for… I LOVE reading! Here’s my Top 5.
Aztec, by Gary Jennings (History is so disturbing and intense and this is not for the feint hearted!)
Education of Little Tree, by Forrest Carter (my kind of bible)
The Signature of all Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert
Mallawindy, by Joy Dettman
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho.
I know that as soon as I press send I’ll think of another 5 books I wish I had of put here. I love books so much.
In your opinion, what determines success?
Perseverance and endurance. You need to wholeheartedly want to complete things no matter the odds. Admittedly, sometimes the stars need to align and I have all sorts of personal theories on that. The important things it to know how to get things done and keep at it no matter how rough the road may seem.
Your work culture at Love Mae is “Family First,” which I love. Over the last ten years, has it been difficult to put your family first juggling life, work and two daughters?
In all honesty, it is easy to create that ethos for everyone that works here, but for me it’s the hardest thing ever. The assembly performance coincides with deadlines for the new range, or the NY trade show falls on my husband's birthday, my girls are sick when I’ve got meetings that took months to get… the list goes on, but I just take each day as it comes. I hope that my girls have memories of my being there for them despite the fact that sometimes I cannot.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to our readers who are new to the War On Waste
This shit needs to be taken seriously….. start making changes! There is so much more we could be doing. And why isn’t unnecessary packaging controlled? Imagine how many plastic containers are being opened right now, whether it be toys or fruit and veg, that are immediately put in the landfill bin. It's insane!
As a mum to two girls, what are your aspirations for them as young women?
I’m not sure this is my biggest aspiration, but it’s a theme in our house at the moment.
We are working on taking responsibility for our own reactions as no-one can make you feel anything unless you give them permission. Sometimes a tilt of the head, a smile on your face and a feeling of curiosity can get you through the most hurtful situations. When people hurt others, it’s because they are hurting. We can help make them feel better if we just know how to forgive and not take things personally. Concentrate on the good of a person and hopefully they will give you that same grace when you are having a bad day. Anything can be turned into a positive if we just leave our defensive responses aside.
What exciting things can we anticipate for Love Mae in 2018/19?
All going well, new products! You’ve no idea how much I wish I could tell you more…. but I’m seriously very excited about the processes we are going through at the moment to make this happen.
Chey Birch is making waves in the natural beauty community.
Her journey began in 2000 when she started mixing essential oils and botanical extracts in a small bowl with a black chicken painted on it. Black Chicken was hence created, and with it, a philosophy that really stands out. They don't make skincare with the intent to make people look, smell or feel good. Their skincare line is actually created to nurture the whole person and make a difference on a physical, mental and emotional level.
It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Black Chicken. It holds a special place in my heart because it was my first deliberately handpicked non-toxic beauty item that started my family's transition to low-tox living. So, it goes without saying, that I'm also a huge fan of Chey.
Tell us, what was it like studying aromatherapy?
Life changing! I studied it as a hobby and when I learnt of the therapeutic properties of the oils I was hooked. I started making blends to every ailment I could think of! I remember sitting in class one day and the teacher said that Myrrh essential oil can eat puss!! Gross I know but also fascinating in healing wounds!
Who was your biggest supporter of Black Chicken in the early days?
It was actually a store in Jersey in the Chanel Islands in UK! Random I know but the owner of the store Emma absolutely loved everything I created and she sold so much it really helped me get started even before I was well known in Australia.
When did you make the transition to living a low-tox life and what was the catalyst for you to make the change?
It was around 2000. I’d been suffering with irritated skin and sinus problems for years and nothing I tried was helping. I went to see a naturopath and she suggested I take a look at all the toxins I might be unknowingly consuming. I began by looking at my soaps, cleansers, and scrubs. After a whole lot of research I was shocked to find that the ingredients in these household products were synthetic and borderline toxic. I had been covering myself top to toe with these chemicals every day, so of course my body had been trying to tell me something.
What is your most favourite Black Chicken product and why?
It’s a very tough question for me, but I’d probably have to say Cleanse My Face – it’s an oil cleanser that doesn’t strip your skin’s natural oils, it calms and balances your sebum production. Oil dissolves oil! Plus it smells amazing and after a hard day, massaging this into your face is just heaven!
What Black Chicken product was the most challenging to bring to fruition?
Both Axilla Deodorant Pastes took a lot of testing. It took a whole year of research and trialing different recipes before I came to the formula we have today. Then Barrier Booster was a whole other challenge. To create something without bicarb, that can be used on sensitive skin but still works just as well was no easy task.
Your Axilla deodorant paste has made waves in the holistic health community. Why did you choose a paste?
When I created Axilla it was perfect as a paste so I didn’t want to add anything to it to make it a roll on or a stick especially any chemicals so I left it as the most effective I could!
I’m currently working on a stick formula, but I certainly won’t be adding any nasty chemicals - all our products will always be 100% natural!
Essential oils are...
powerful remedial extracts from mother nature!
What's the very first thing you do in the morning and very last thing you do every night?
Haha good question – first thing I do is tongue clean with our copper tongue cleaner and oil pull with our oral swishing oil. The last thing I do is have a cup of sleepy time tea and a sniff of our Slumber nasalette!
Living in Sydney is wonderful because….
I love swimming and the ocean! I swim 1km every day and also paddle board on Sydney Harbour, so there really isn’t any other place like it for me. I have 2 Burmese cats who paddle board with me too sometimes! I know... crazy cat lady!!
One piece of advice for….
Our pregnant readers: There are a lot of fear around the use of essential oils in pregnancy however many can be so beneficial. All of our products are completely safe to use during pregnancy – all quantities of essential oils are way below required amounts deemed safe to use whilst pregnant. If in doubt ask the provider of your products about their essential oil dilutions and if in doubt avoid using them for the first trimester.
Our postnatal readers: Products rich in remedial oils are great to help relieve the skin caused by having a baby. The skin stretches and can also dry out especially as you aren’t the centre of your world any more. OurBalm of Ages is one product that is a multi purpose product. Use it on the baby for rashes and use it on your belly for stretch marks!
And the men and women still using “regular deodorant” : Aluminium is a common active ingredient in many antiperspirants, as it essentially plugs the sweat gland to minimise perspiration. Once in the body aluminium mimics the effects of oestrogen; a hormone that has been found in high concentrations in many breast cancers. Its not worth the risk.
Mon practices what she preaches and she's on a mission to spread the word that non-toxic, cruelty free beauty can be affordable and attainable for every woman. She blogs at the Beauty Journal, a platform I highly recommend if you're looking to make a transition to “cleaner" beauty.
So, without further adieu, let's hear more about this incredible gal... Welcome Mon!
What is your life philosophy in one sentence?
I have two deeply resonate life philosophies and they are –
“The relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship in your life”
“People can only meet you, as deep as they have met themselves”
You recently shared a post on Instagram which read "People should be counting calories less and chemicals more."
I'm obsessed with this quote! When did you start to make your own personal transition to clean beauty?
I started transitioning about 2 years ago. I was still working in the mainstream cosmetic industry at the time, but after some on-going health issues I started to research how the products I was using everyday could be stalling my healing journey.
What was your first non-toxic purchase, and what was the experience like using it for the first time?
Oh my gosh, it would have been about 5 years ago now! I tried “Living Luminiser” by RMS cosmetics and was instantly blown away by its luminous goodness. I remember I went through it so quickly! It has since been a makeup bag staple of mine ever since!
You started the Kind Beauty Movement with Natalie Sellers of Kindred in 2018. What was your initial goal starting this eco- body conscious empowerment movement and what are your goals over the next 6-8 months?
The idea was born over a lunch together about a year ago. Our initial ambition was to help women transition over to using natural beauty. With Nat’s phenomenal skin experience and my makeup artistry knowledge we thought what better way to empower women than to join forces and create a masterclass that includes self care and education all in one. It's only early days, but our goal is to reach more incredible women by running more workshops and even taking our classes interstate!
You have a beautiful and successful blog, but some people might not know that you're also a make up artist for hire in Brisbane. What's the best part about being hands on with clients, face to face?
Oh thank you so much. Yes, I've been a makeup artist for over 8 years now. There is so much I love about it. I do have a soft spot for weddings though. I’ve have had the privilege of doing over 100 brides/bridal parties. I always feel so honoured to share in what’s such an exciting and special day for my clients!
What is the most fascinating aspect of the mind gut connection in your experience?
I find the gut microbiome very fascinating! Knowing that we are all made up of around 2 kilos of bacteria is pretty interesting. Gut health affects SO many aspects of your overall health and I can’t wait to see how the research on the mind gut connection grows over the next 10 years or so.
Social media, friend or foe?
Both….I think social media is an incredible tool for connecting with friends and family, promoting businesses and spreading awareness for all sorts of important issues. I also think it can be a bit of a rabbit hole for self comparison and judgement. We are easily becoming stuck behind our phones, instead of getting out there and being in the moment!
Speaking of social media, your website and Instagram is so aesthetically pleasing to the eye! How do you get such great captures?
Thank you! Well a lot of it is my own makeup work which I just use my iphone for. I like to mix up my posts with a variety of education, product inspiration and makeup work!
I love yoga because...
It makes me feel open, connected, aligned and present.
My favorite yoga pose is...
Ohhh only one? I can’t choose haha! I love Upward Bow (Wheel) Pose and Half Pigeon pose! Oh, and of course savasana!
Essential oils are a key component to my life because they....
Can completely alter my mood, ground me, assist with healthy glowing skin. My essential oil collection is pretty much my medicine cabinet!! Haha!
You love to cook healthy, body nourishing food. Where do you source your produce from in Queensland, and do you think organic food is crucial when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle and looking after your skin?
I source my fresh produce from Home Fresh Organics, my meat from The Australian Natural Food Co and most of my pantry staples come from The Source Bulk Foods. I'm a huge believer that you are what you eat. Diet plays an integral role in the health of your mind, body and skin. Food really is medicine. In saying that though, I'm also relaxed in environments I can’t control. Whilst I try to eat as organic as possible and make sure that my meat is all sustainably sourced, grass fed etc, I also believe in balance and I remind myself that I'm doing the best I can.
What are your top five favourite podcasts?
I AM SAHARA ROSE
LOW TOW LIFE
DR STEPHEN CABRAL
Who is the Beauty Journal's biggest fan, and would you like to give them a shout out?
Definitely my Mum! Hahaha! Bless her.
Have you ever thought about starting your own cosmetic beauty line?
Its definitely crossed my mind. I would LOVE to formulate my own base products. I find that perfect Low-Tox foundation is the hardest thing for women to find when they transition over from mainstream beauty.
Give us your fast five:
I'm listening to... Brene Brown The Power Vulnerability
I'm reading... Gabrielle Bernstein – The Judgment Detox
I'm loving... Magnesium salt baths
I'm lusting over... My new crystal quartz facial roller by Krystle Night Jewellery
I'm inspired by... my brother who is currently overseas living his dream dancing!
Last month I received a sweet Facebook message from a follower that told me Bea Johnson was coming to Australia. I thought, "Oh yay!" Who is Bea Johnson...
Google Search... bam! Oh... neat, she is all about the War on Waste. She had started a Zero Waste movement that was growing fast. That's cool. I'm trying to learn more about that at the moment. I just so happened to get an email from my local Source Bulk Foods in Bulimba the following day announcing the early bird ticket sales. The event happened to be in Sydney at the Concourse in Chatswood. Hey I'm moving there, I think. It was going to a 2hr seminar, $15 and a 30 minute drive from our new home. I was keen as mustard.
* (I didn't know it when I booked, but The Source Bulk Foods gave everyone a reusable bag as well as a $20 voucher to use at their shop....so impressed).
I knew I would have only lived in Sydney for a few days by the time the event rolled around, so I booked immediately, hoping to go and make some friends, network and learn a bit.
Paul Medeiros the co-founder and owner of The Source Bulk Foods opened up the conversation before handing over the mic to Bea.
Let me be completely candid.
First thing that stuck out to me about her was how she looked.
I caught myself being superficial as I was looking at her thinking; great bod, fab outfit, nice hair ... she looks completely normal. Her clothes in particular stood out right away. "This woman is killing it. Her book has been published in 25 languages. Cha-ching! I bet that outfit cost a mint, she looks fabulous and professional," I thought.
Not long into her powerpoint Bea pointed out that she only shops second hand. Um, what? She added that her chambray top and crisp white skirt were both second hand and her designer (looking) black boots were a whopping $5. Gobsmacked.
Bea and her family moved into an apartment in California and needed to place about 80% of their belongings into storage. After the one year was up on their apartment, they visited their storage unit and quickly realized they had not missed much of anything stored there. They ended up selling most of their possessions and donated the rest. Her family of four (plus one adorable chihuahua), found that they were clutter free, a lot happier and more active. Something had switched, and Bea wanted more.
From there they started to be more aware of their water consumption, and then she proceeded to eliminate harmful toxins in their house, such as cleaning products and plastics. One thing Bea said which really stuck out in my mind was about household cleaning products. She said that these companies have tricked us all into believing that we need different cleaning products for different parts of the house. For example: a certain product to clean glass, another for grout, yet another for mould, another for the showers, bench tops etc. Bea simply uses vinegar and castle soap for all her home cleaning, and her space is spotless!
"Zero Waste helps me to invest in voluntary simplicity, so that my family can have a life based on experiences instead of things. A life based on being instead of having."
But, back to her story! Bea and her family moved again, but this time it was to a place that was more conducive to walking and riding their bikes around. Once again Bea felt inspired to live with even less.
She focused specifically on her family’s waste and here are her 5 R’s:
So to keep it simple, Bea and her family only put into the recycling bin what they cannot refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle or rot. Since plastic can't be reused more than once, (example plastic bottles converted into a park bench), Bea switched to items such as glass, metal, cardboard and wood. Her family of 4 fills ONE glass jar of trash a YEAR. Yes, you read that correctly, a year (see photo at the bottom of this article).
Bea became vigilant when it came to detail. A few things that stand out in my mind are:
All I could think of was:
How satisfying it must be to lead such a rewarding, low-tox, waste free life.
How I personally would find it hard not to buy brand new materialistic temptations.
How liberating it would be to live in a home without papers, clutter and unnecessary items.
And she must have known that most of us were thinking somewhat along these lines because she clued with this:
"Zero Waste helps me to invest in voluntary simplicity, so that my family can have a life based on experiences instead of things. A life based on being instead of having."
Cheers to that Bea!
I'm not a huge fan of water in winter, especially this year! It's been an absolute battle for me to get even half the recommended daily dose the last few weeks.
Can you relate to this? I've come up with 5 easy ways to help you ditch that dry habit and help your body, and skin, get the hydration it needs.
Hydration 101: As most of you know, your skin is the largest organ of the entire body. Interestingly enough, the skin is the last to receive moisture since the body prioritizes your vital organs (such as your heart, kidney and liver) to get hydrated first.
So if you're like me, you might not feel as thirsty in the winter, but for your skin's sake you actually need more hydration.
TIP: If you want to learn more about seasonal weather and skin, read this fantastic blog post by Chey, the owner of Black Chicken Remedies.
1. Start your morning with a nice long drink
All night long we dehydrate, so in the morning we often look, and feel, like a dry sponge! Start the day with a nice long drink to help you replenish what was lost over the last 8 hours of sleep.
2. Track your sips
Most devices have a way to track your water intake nowadays. Fit Bits are great, and you can also use your iPhone to track your daily pogress. If you're really bad at remembering, you can even set a silent alarm on the hour (or whenever you want) to vibrate on your wrist, gently reminding you when it's time for more H20.
3. Drink more tea
I know quite a few people who just really dislike drinking water. Period. This becomes even more difficult to conquer in winter in a cooler climate. Your first option is to switch to drinking room temperature water if you haven't already tried that. Drinking tepid water is better for you anyway. If that still sounds unappealing, try tea. Tea is always fantastic in winter, I mean, you can't beat a cuppa on a cold day. Remember tea has about 1/3 as much caffeine as coffee, so don't overdo it. Another delicious and healthy alternative is hot water/very warm water with the juice of half a lemon and raw honey. It's so delicious, good for gut and very invigorating.
4. Tantalize your tastebuds
If water doesn't sound good, try to take it up a notch. Flavoring your water with fruit and herbs is a deliciously easy way for you to make water more interesting.
My fav combos are:
Strawberry + basil
Cucumber + mint
Pineapple + mint
Cucumber, lemon + parsley
Lenanne Ward, The Fitness Dietitian, has just released some super nifty infusion bottles that have an inbuilt diffuser for your favourite fruit or herbs. They are BPA free, 950ml and only $22.
5. Eat foods with high water content
Ok, so this is doesn't really count as "drinking" your water, but it still works in my book. It's easy to forget that fruit and veggies have a ton of water in them too. Try eating lots of fibre as well a foods with high water content as this will help to keep your body nourished. Not sure where to start? Some foods with high water content are: grapefruit, watermelon, cherries, grapes, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, and celery.
Do you always drink like a fish, or have you noticed a drop in your water intake this winter?
She has worked tirelessly on herself to maintain a level of fitness most could only dream of, while running her household and multiple business. She's a serious go-getter and I'm always in awe of women who are killing it in their fields while also being a MUM.
While a lot of her IG page is super glam and all about being a #fitmum, her Instagram stories are so down to earth and raw. Picture hilarious snaps of potty training 2.5 year old twin girls and being peed on, a lot. She puts it all out there, which I love and appreciate as a mum myself. I don't always want to see the mums with the perfect hair, immaculate face of make up, in an insanely styled and expensive outfit (they got for free) in a picture taken by a professional photographer. Sophie is continually sharing both sides of the coin, while showing others how they too can be better versions of themselves by eating better and training mindfully.
Let's dive in!
Many people might assume that you've been fit and fabulous your entire life and that you've been blessed with incredible genes. What message would you like to share with our readers who might not have witnessed your incredible body evolution?
Oh my goodness no! Hahaha I actually had never stepped foot in a gym until after my two sons were born. I feel like it is never too late and I truly never thought I could change my body so dramatically! I was left 30 kilos heavier after having my sons and really wanted to feel good. I wanted to feel fit, healthy and energetic. It's amazing what exercise can do to your body!
Childbirth: Traumatic or transformative?
A bit of both- all mixed into one! I have had almost 'every' experience! My first son's birth was (in reflection) an incredibly traumatic experience- every interference you could possibly imagine happened. I wanted my second son's birth to be different and it was, I walked throughout my pregnancy with him to try and remain stronger in the legs to prepare for birth and it was a beautiful birth. The twins were both breech and born via c-section- so quite a mixture in there!
What’s the single best piece of advice you could give to all our postnatal mums reading this?
There is no wrong or right way to parent. Only take on board advice that works for you.
Sum up Mum life in 3 words:
Tiring, rewarding, purposeful.
As an insanely busy mum of four, juggling multiple business, how do keep the foundations of your marriage so strong?
Our kids all go to bed at 7pm, so we have the nights to spend together. Our marriage is surprisingly great. We work so well together and we run a very chaotic organised mess of a life! LOL We have a family diary and everything is planned out so we know what is happening everyday, who is at home, who is at work, who is doing pick up and who is cooking. No relationship is perfect, but I feel blessed that our biggest issues are that my husband works out too much and that he gets angry that I don't pick my clothes up off the floor. We argue about petty things like whether the heater is safe to be left on at night time and if we baby the twins too much. Overall it just 'works'. We enjoy our routine life and love nothing more than a weekend at home!
I’ve been teaching yoga for over five years now, and I find that yoga helps me to be more mindful about how I treat my body and what I put in it. Are cardio and weight training what you use to stay grounded and focused, or do you have other go-tos?
Oh yes! Weight training is like my therapy! I feel it allows me an hour to myself and not chasing after the kids! It keeps me sane!
If you could only do ONE exercise for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Squats! I just find they work every muscle, leave me feeling exhausted, there are so many variations and it is something you can really progress in!
Social media: friend or foe?
Hmmmm a very hard one! I love social media for the reason I can reach so many more women at once, I dislike it for the fact you can hide behind a screen. Things that are said to me online would never be said to my face and I feel people are disconnected with the sense that online is the same as face to face- everyone still has feelings and emotions.
How do you practice self care?
I must admit I am always on the go, making promises to slow down, it just never really happens- however some of my key things I do give in to myself are:
My weight sessions 3-4 times a week
My blow wave once a week (time saver times 10xxxx for curly haired mums!) must do!
Early nights- gosh I love sleep and when you're awake at 4am, this is key!
Give us your fast 10!
Right now I’m:
Reading… Those Other Women
Cooking… Butter chicken
Drinking… Sparkling water
Dreaming of… school holidays!
Loving… my girl's age, they're so funny and have so much personality coming! (age 2.5)
Buying… nothing! It's end of financial year so I am being conscious of the extra expenses!
Watching… 13 Reasons Why
Snacking on… yoghurt. I'm obsessed at the moment! My hubby jokes that I am on the yoghurt diet!
Listening… One Kiss, Calvin Harris
Who inspires you to keep fit and healthy for you family?
Still wanna know more?
You can follow Import Ants on Instagram
or on Facebook
Check out Strass & Co 's beautiful line of plastic free beauty
They are on Facebook and Instagram too
Still unsure about what to do?
Watch this video about how to dry brush
Leah makes the most stylish drool bibs, tethers and baby accessories for the munchkins in your life. She has accessorized A-list celebrity's kids (even Tori Spelling is a fan!) and she is stocked across various shops across the US and now Australia as well!
Come learn more about this driven #MomBoss with the biggest heart I know.
You’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and have started multiple businesses in California. Can you tell us about the genesis of grey + gingham in particular?
My husband travels a lot for work so when we got married I stopped working so I could take a year and travel with him. I found that when we were at home I was looking for something creative to do with my time. I came up with a fashion blog, grey + gingham. I would create pieces of clothing and then style them in outfits and blog about it.
While doing that, I was getting my hair done and my stylist was talking about needing bandana bibs for her teething son. I told her I would design something and bring it to her. The day I brought them to her salon I walked out with 4 orders from other moms who were interested as well! From there grey + gingham went from a fashion blog to a children's brand!
You taught yourself how to sew watching YouTube (remarkable), and you still create each Bandie lovingly by hand. What is something else we might not know about
I pride myself in the quality of the products I sell. Since g+g was launched, I have never once had someone try and return or complain about the quality of their Bandie! This means everything to me!
Tell us about your creative process picking fabrics
I'm really, really picky when it comes to choosing fabrics. I try and set myself apart from other brands by choosing prints that are fashionable. When making children's products it's easy to choose the "kiddie" colors and designs. I always ask myself....would I wear that print?
I usually have two collections a year...Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. These two collections have at least 12 Bandies divided between more feminine, masculine, and gender neutral styles. I like the prints within each collection to match.
I use Pinterest to organize the fabrics I like. Once I have a bunch of ideas I lay them out on my computer desktop and see how they all look together. This process usually takes me a few months
Social media: friend or foe?
Friend!!! My business has been built from my Instagram. I would say 95% of all my sales are from my Instagram followers. I love the community I have built and follow on IG.
I wish I was better with Instastories! Really trying to get better at that!
Speaking of social media, what are your FOUR favourite Instagram accounts? Other than @ohmmyyoga of course ;-)
What's the most challenging part of being a small business owner?
Balancing life alongside your business. Small businesses need time and attention to nurture and grow. I feel that it can become difficult to have a work/life balance. I find that it's challenging to give g+g 100% of what it needs all the time.
Who is the most famous kid to wear your Bandie?
My husband is a Hollywood film producer and did a movie with Alec Baldwin a few years ago. We gifted Alec some Bandies for his son!
What's your life mantra in one sentence?
"It is all going to be ok!"
How has motherhood changed your perspective on life as a woman and a business owner?
I have to admit that after having both my children I have had moments where owning a business has not seemed as important as it once did. Then I start to miss the creativity and achievement that owning a business creates and I get re-inspired all over again!
While I sew my 2 year old daughter sits and colors in her coloring book. She calls this her "work." I love that my daughters will grow up watching me work hard to build something I am passionate about! I want them both to see that when you work hard anything is possible!
Give us your fast five:
I’m listening to….Glorious (feat. Skylar Grey) by Macklemore
I’m reading…. 123 Magic - 3 Step Discipline for Calm, Effective, and Happy Parenting
I’m loving….fresh flowers in my kitchen.
I’m lusting over…my new house!! We just bought our first house and I'm obsessed!
I’m inspired by…. working mamas who are building businesses!
What exciting things are in store for g+g in 2018/2019?
I have some ideas for a few new products!! I'm hoping to start developing them soon!
What's your favourite baby accessories you've found? Tell me in the comments below!
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