Spiritually tuned in.
Ayda had to create her own empire, single handedly. She wasn't a trust fund baby, and she wasn't handed the reins to any of her companies through nepotism. From a very young age Ayda learned that hard work was a necessity if you wanted to have financial freedom.
Ayda's family left the revolution in Iran to seek a better life in Australia where they were granted residency through her father's skilled working visa as a successful engineer. Ayda was only 4 years old when she landed Down Under and didn't speak a lick of English. Ayda distinctly remembers the routine of boarding the bus with her mother weekly to attend English classes in the CBD. One particular memory that has seared into Ayda's memory is witnessing her mother's helplessness due to her lack of an education. Yet, her mother persisted and continued to board their bus, with a prejudice bus driver no less, in an attempt to make Ayda's life better.
Ayda gets goosebumps sharing this story to this day. It most definitely fueled the fire in her belly to be hungry for knowledge, and subsequent freedom to be given the opportunity to do whatever she set her mind to.
The adversity didn't stop there though, as Ayda found herself treading though her tumultuous teenage years where she lacked the stability of a steady home life. When many others would have succumb to complacency, Ayda decided to carve a path for her future, and she landed her first job at Hungry Jacks (Burger King) making $7.50 a hour. This job allowed Ayda to move out of home at the age of 16 years old where she became entirely self-sufficient and started saving her cash. Keeping her nose to the grindstone, and deep in her school books, meant that Ayda was able to purchase her first property at the ripe age of 18!
Ayda has been working in property ever since and has founded multiple seven figure companies and boasts a property portfolio worth over 10 million dollars. She's ambitious, determined and passionate about making other GenY men and women property owners too.
In order to help facilitate this, Ayda has co-founded a company called Grow Group. Their aim is to help clients from all walks of life source and purchase property easily. All the consultants own property and are successful investors in their own right, so you know you're in good hands. In order to introduce more people to the road to property ownership, Ayda and her team host an introductory workshop via Grow Group, and I had the pleasure of attending one of their events last week. The evening was hosted at their swanky office in Pyrmont and included bubbles, food and an opportunity to mix socially with the other guests. The workshop itself was fascinating with a lovely introduction from Ayda and an easy to understand powerpoint presentation plus a complimentary learn as you go notebook to help you answer some important questions. There were loads of boogie breaks to dance out any restless legs and the team were such gracious hosts. I highly recommend attending a workshop in person if you can. Keep your eyes peeled because they are available in Brisbane, Sydney AND Melbourne!
But, now I want to share more about the woman behind all the magic! So thrilled to have you on today sharing with our readers Ayda!
Let's dive in:
If there was only one thing that you could share with those who aren't familiar with who Ayda Shabanz is, what would that be?
Mmmm. I'm not sure I understand this question, but I would probably say:
Looks can be deceiving. I've been judged on who I am my whole life because of how I look, but that doesn't define who I am.
I am Strong. I am independent. I am wild and free spirited. I am down to earth. I am adventurous. I am courageous.
I've been through many struggles, and I'm sure there are more to come.
I believe that my life has unfolded in such a way so that I can understand and empower people to show the world what we are capable of.
(Oh wow, that was uplifting. I almost stood up off my chair with my fist to the sky - ha ha!)
You talked a lot about your WHY during the workshop; (the motivating factor that propelled you into this line of work and property ownership). How crucial is this step of carving out a WHY if a client wants to achieve financial success and freedom?
I feel like the journey through life is a constant search for meaning after meaning. You don't have to know the reason for life today, I just want to stress that point. Many people struggle with this idea and it creates a lot of stress. Your WHY is more in relation to having a clear picture of what you want your life to look like in 5 years to 10 years. If you can't define that clearly, your basically walking through life blindfolded with no real idea where you're headed. So many people don't spend enough time with themselves to figure this part out for themselves.
In terms of investing, it's critical because having an idea of where you want to be allows you to make proper decisions on what type of investment or investing can help achieve your goals. For example, you'd need to know how much money to save, how much you'd need to earn and what types of investments are available to you. So many people get this part wrong or leave it out!
Also, it's OK if it things change along the way - hence why you review your plans annually.
Some people may not know that you are also a successful business coach. What does a business coach do exactly, and when should a business owner take the step to recruit one themselves?
I love helping other business people. It's all about making better decisions and getting faster results.
There are many different types of coaches and their ultimate goal is to help you get a better result to achieve your aspirations. In terms of business coaching, this is in relation to one's specific business. A business coach will keep you accountable and help you formulate your goals into a set strategy and implement them into results. They should provide experience and insight in business areas beyond your level of experience. Business coaches also act as a sounding board around questions and/or decision making as well as opening you up to a network of people that can help you achieve your goals.
I have, and continue to have, all types of coaches in my life (business, life and spiritual), and in my opinion everyone should have one. Especially if your business is slowing your own growth because you're trying to do it all on your own. In a start-up phase it's even more crucial to do it right and get the correct guidance.
Did you know that your Persian derived name, Ayda, means, “Visitor, returning, inside the moon, happy, angel of love?"
Yeah, it has lots of meanings which are all amazing and around bright light. I do believe I have a big purpose here. x
The different meanings of the name Aida are:
Arabic meaning: visitor, returning.
Swahili meaning: advantage, reward.
Persian meaning: shining like a moon or beautiful as a moon.
Turkish meaning: a special flower that grows beside the river.
You shared an outstanding quote during the workshop from Warren Buffet, which reads, "Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful."
Can you tell us about a time in your last 16 years of business that this rang true for you?
I've seen this many times in my 16 years, but more specifically in terms of GFC or times of financial crisis. I've seen many people ready to benefit when times are down and many people make fearful mistakes.
For example, we purchased loads of property for clients in 2003-2008 in Sydney when the market was so flat people thought it would never recover. So, we took the opportunity, and as a result, our clients reaped the benefits when the market boomed. It's all cycles, you just have to trust your own numbers and hold on for the ride.
What is it about Gen Y that makes them an ideal target audience for Grow Consulting Group?
I'm a Gen Y gal and I've been in business for 16 years. I've seen so many people do it wrong, and I want to help everyone. But now, more then ever, I want to help my generation because I understand what we've been through (and are going through).
Work/life balance is: possible, or a myth?
It's always a matter of priority. I think balance is possible, but that comes with making tough choices. For example, saying no to certain things you want so that you can give yourself the things you need, or saying no to watching TV because you want to exercise. These kinds of choices can make having a reasonable balance possible.
Finish this sentence: Social media is...
an opportunity to reach and help more people if you are authentic and real.
Owning multiple properties has allowed me to ___________________, which has changed my life for the better because _______________________ .
Owning multiple properties has allowed me to have choices, which has changed my life for the better because now I have the opportunities to grow myself, my business, and do more of the things that I love.
What is your definition of success?
Loving who you are, loving what you do with your time and making a positive impact on the people you touch and the world.
... ALL with a big smile on your face, and light flashing off your aura (I know I'm strange).
What is the first thing you do every single morning?
I make my bed, then make a tea or celery juice, light a candle and meditate.
At a few of your speaking engagements I've heard you discuss the importance of meditation. How does this mindfulness practice enhance your day to day life?
It helps me to reconnect with myself and my purpose. Busy lives make us disconnect from our spirit.
As a busy business woman with a hectic schedule, how do you practice self-care? Or, is this an unnecessary indulgence in your opinion?
Self-care is putting yourself first when you need to. I totally have to do this because I give a lot of energy every day to my work, meetings and staff. I practice self-care a few different ways:
meditation, walking outdoors, cooking, reading and sleeping when I need to. Oh, and listening to beautiful music as well.
What is your 2019 forecast for the Australian property market?
I see opportunity for those willing to not get sucked into the negative talk.
What do you do to get the creative juices flowing?
Listen to music. I prefer jazz or classical tunes.
Getting outdoors and exploring nature.
Getting out of the city and working in creative places.
Listening to uplifting YouTube videos.
Who is your greatest inspiration and why?
Oprah. She fought many obstacles in her life, but she's a resilient and empowered black women who accomplished things people couldn't even begin to imagine. She has stayed true to her values, who she is and has never changed. She inspires so many people from her life and her struggles. Recently, I also love Lady Gaga.
Give us your fast five:
I'm listening to: Jay Shetty.
I'm loving: exploring new walking tracks.
I'm reading: Ray Dalio, The Principals.
I'm eating: I'm always cooking new things. Currently I'm eating a lot of homemade, organic paleo based food.
I'm loathing: the businesses that serve no purpose in Sydney.
Laura, or LTT as she is affectionally called in the yoga community, embodies beauty and grace. As a dancer and yogi aficionado, her knowledge about the human body, (in particular the spine), is undeniable. I found LTT on social media, discovered that we had a lot in common and struck up a conversation. As a yoga teacher myself, I wanted to learn more about this red-haired beauty who was always sharing uplifting content, inspiring yoga pictures and educational videos. Her authenticity was undeniable, which is a rarity these days.
Welcome LTT! So happy to have you here today. Let's dive in, shall we?
My life philosophy in one sentence is:
“You already know the answer.”
You are a school teacher, as well as a yoga teacher. Which is more challenging and why?
They are challenging and rewarding professions in their own ways. I love the teaching aspects of both – I feel like my biggest calling in life is to teach and support learning. I would say that teaching at school is more challenging because there’s way more administration, you have multiple audiences that you engage with in slightly different ways (children, parents, colleagues, management) and you have to manage behaviour while delivering curriculum and personal growth content.
If you could give three pieces of advice to someone who is new to yoga, what would they be?
I would give advice from my teacher, Simon Borg-Olivier:
1. Tense less
2. Stretch less
3. Think less
Dancing makes me feel ________________ .
.... expressive and embodied.
How important is yoga philosophy in leading your everyday life as a human and a teacher of yoga?
There are so many elements of yoga philosophy that are present in my life every day and it’s a
framework that is effective in conveying many universal messages. Yoga really reawakened my
spiritual life, after it being sort of ‘dormant’ between the ages of 13 and 23. The key message of approaching everything and everyone from a place of love is something that I try to live out every day – the heart tattoos on my wrists are reminders of this goal. Also, I’m always thinking about the balance of effort and ease – I tend to lean toward the ‘ease’ side of life, so the reminder that it’s ok (necessary!) to have elements of life that require work, effort and consistency is helpful for me.
How do you like to prepare to teach / sequence your classes?
I always have a lesson plan and I pretty much follow the same framework/outline in every class. I might start with a particular muscle group, movement or pose as the base or inspiration for the class and then I work out from there. I’ll break the movement/pose into its component parts and see how we can approach those parts in different ways and orientations. I try to sequence movements/poses in a way that sets the body up for success and ease as we move through the practice. The over-arching goals of all my classes are pelvic stability and spinal mobility because I believe those are the things that support people most in their everyday life – I hope that my teaching helps people move and feel better in everything they do, not just in their yoga classes.
What's the most challenging aspect of being a yoga teacher?
For me, the most challenging aspect is always feeling like I need to know more and do more training. I also wish I had a better memory for my class plans so I didn’t have to take my notebook or iPad in with me!
What is your favourite yoga pose and why does it speak to you?
I love teaching and practicing restorative yoga, so my favourite is a restorative pose that I call
“Fish/Butterfly” – which essentially is Supta Baddha Konasana with a bolster under your spine and another bolster under your knees. I love this pose because it’s a fully supported opening – it’s a very vulnerable position, so I think that being able to be relaxed in that position indicates that you feel held and safe in your space. My favourite non-restorative pose is Ardha Chandrasana – again, it’s very open and expansive. I love to practice it with my bottom hand off the ground to keep it strong and active!
Social media, friend or foe?
It’s definitely a combination for me and there are so many ways I could answer this question – I’ll try to hit all my points but keep it short! I love social media for the connections and friendships it has facilitated for me and allowed me to maintain, particularly after moving away from Melbourne – it’s SO wonderful to be able to get in touch with almost anyone, share and be inspired. On the other hand, I am careful with who I follow – individuals and brands – because I’m very aware that Instagram is a huge marketing platform now and I don’t want to fall into the trap of being sold to or marketed to without realising it, especially when I’m on it so much! I’m also very conscious of whose ‘influence’ I allow into my life, and if their values and choices align with mine.
You recently taught a Mandala Workshop Master Class. How did you personally find mandala art and
what are the benefits of this practice in your opinion?
The workshops were so much fun! I loved sharing this practice. My sister and I found mandala art about 5 or 6 years ago through one Melbourne artist on Instagram, and I’ve been drawing them with her method ever since. I love the way that they grow out from the centre and you never know what it’s going to look like at the end or where your ideas will take you. The fact that every single one is different also appeals to me. I also find the actual practice of drawing very meditative and it’s one of the few activities where I can really get ‘in the zone’ or find my ‘flow state’.
What are your favourite yoga studios in the following cities:
Melbourne – Ihana Yoga, where I teach! (St Kilda), Here Yoga (Malvern), Happy Melon (Armadale), Body Flow (Windsor), Warrior One (Brighton), One Hot Yoga (South Yarra), Power Living (Fitzroy)
Gold Coast – Essence of Living (Mermaid Beach), Soul Centre (Southport), Ritual (Palm Beach), Creature Yoga (Byron Bay)
Brisbane – Queensland Ballet (West End)
Sydney – Yoga Synergy (Bondi Junction), Power Living (Bondi Beach), One Hot Yoga (Potts Point)
What is the one thing you would like to be remembered for once you leave this earth?
I would love to be remembered for being supportive and generous. And for how much I love Disney, Harry Potter and Collingwood!
Jackie's passion doesn't stop there though, as she has also just launched a brand new business venture, Eunoia Soul Rituals, which is officially open for business as of today! They combine holistic skin care with soul rituals. What does that mean exactly? Each month has it's own theme which has been curated and handpicked, featuring a box with a collaborative product from an Australian small business, an e-ritual, and other precious goodies. Their first month kicks off with the always welcomed, Self Love.
Welcome Jackie! So happy to chat with you today. Let's dive in.
What is the first thing you do every morning, and the very last thing you do every night?
As a pilates instructor, I have some very early mornings so I can't always complete my full routine each day. But most days I do love to wake up naturally, make myself a tea or coffee and sit on my rocking chair outside and read. It is my absolute favourite way to start the day. I love to pull an oracle card or two as well just to get a little clarity on my day ahead.
The last thing I do each night before bed is a meditation. I use the insight app and it's been my favourite way to wind down at night. I try to do two meditations a day for at least 10 minutes each time. It really helps me to stay calm and grounded and I love that time alone with myself.
Give us your life motto in one sentence.
Follow your bliss and the Universe will open doors when there were once only walls.
Can you tell us a little about how your love of food came about, and why you decided to get your Bachelor of Health Science?
Growing up, my mum and Nana instilled a love of food and cooking in me. My mum would make incredible meals every single night and I would always have a lunchbox packed with fresh, healthy food at school. It was my mum who taught be how to cook and really showed me how fun and creative cooking can be. I'm a very creative person, so making up new recipes and finding new ways of using healthy ingredients is a passion of mine. I decided to get my Bachelors for a few reasons. It was definitely because of my love of cooking and food, but I think it was also because my father had some health issues and turned to natural medicine for help. That particularly inspired me to look into getting a degree in natural health.
"Keto" has been thrown around the news and we hear so many podcasts talking about it lately. Can you explain the Ketogenic diet in layman's terms for us?
Yes, it does seem to be very publicised lately. I specialise in the high fat, low carb diet in my clinical practice which has been tricky. I think generally people have the wrong idea about what a ketogenic diet looks like. It's not lashings of butter and fat, and it's certainly not all meat and no veggies. I see people recommending that way of eating on social media and it makes me so upset! A proper ketogenic diet contains veggies, meats and fats, but not in extremes. It is higher in fat than the average Australian diet, but only slightly.
A ketogenic diet induces the process of ketosis in the body, whereby the body burns fat as fuel. What's so cool about the human body is that we can change it's fuel source. Most people's metabolism runs off carbs or glycogen as fuel, but when it's depleted and we add in extra fat, we use that fat as our fuel instead. That's ketosis in a nutshell.
Natural medicine is _________________
... preventative medicine. We aim to prevent disease by changing your diet and lifestyle and also to treat the cause of disease, not just the symptoms.
I loved this blog post of yours about the importance of reading food labels. What's one piece of advice that you would give to the average Australian who isn’t reading nutritional food labels?
Thank you! The one piece of advice I would give that's really easy to remember is that the ingredients on your food labels are listed by quantity. Which means the first ingredient listed is what makes up the majority of the product. So what I say to my clients is that if you see sugar in any form in the first 4 ingredients of your food label, don't buy it, because sugar makes up the foundation of that product.
How did you come to find your personal pilates practice, and what's the best part of being a pilates instructor?
I have practiced pilates for a few years now, but I think I really came to love it when I began practicing reformer pilates. It's so hard, but fun, and every session is different - which I love! Pilates is incredibly challenging, but it's easy on your joints. Before I started pilates, I was a runner and I would always have sore knees and ankles, and I'm only 23! Now, I'm so much stronger and more fit, but I never feel like I'm injured. There are many things I love about being an instructor. It's so social and I enjoy watching people progress, but I think my favourite thing is that I get to wear UGG boots and leggings to work every day!!
You recently found Sustomi's incredible range of beeswax food wraps, (which I'm obsessed with too)!
What are two other ways you have become mindful and responsible in reducing your waste?
They have been life changing! There's a few things that I'm doing, and these are just some small changes that anyone can make. I use a glass water bottle, I have a keep cup for my coffee/tea, I use glass Tupperware, I rinse out all of my jars (like peanut butter jars) and use them to store nuts, seeds or meals and I bought a soda stream instead of constantly buying new plastic packaged sparkling water.
Even with starting my new business, Eunoia, I've been really mindful about what packaging we're using. All of our products are in glass instead of plastic and we've used recyclable cardboard for our boxes. Just small, easy things that make a big difference.
Speaking of Eunoia Soul Rituals, you've officially launched today, congratulations! How did you come up with the name Eunoia and what was your inspiration?
Thank you!! I first stumbled across the word ‘Eunoia’ on a tumblr account, late at night no doubt, when I was a teen. Although I had no idea why at the time, the word Eunoia and it’s meaning ‘beautiful thinking, a well mind’, resonated with me deeply. It stuck with me for years and the words have become my screen saver through many a difficult time as a little reminder to evoke my own ‘beautiful thinking’.
I came up with the idea of ritual based skincare while I was traveling across Europe last year. In my time away, I spent so many days sitting in parks and coffee shops reading books on spirituality, manifesting, gratitude, abundance - you name it. Just reading about and applying those spiritual practices to my life really changed me and I knew I had to teach these concepts in a more accessible way to women. And what's more accessible that skincare which is a ritual we are already partaking in each day.
What personal passions of yours are found in the essence of Eunoia?
So many! Natural, beautiful skincare, spirituality, rituals and mantras, crystals. Really everything about it is my passion and that's why it's so exciting for me.
What is your favourite crystal and how does it speak to you?
My favourite crystal is probably my smokey quartz. I used it as my gratitude rock - a rock that I hold on to every night before bed while I list off the many things I'm grateful for. I think it's my favourite because it contains so much positive energy from all of my gratitude practices. So many nights I fall asleep with it in my hand just listing off all of the things that make me happy.
Give us your fast five:
I'm reading.... Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
I'm listening to.... One of Lewis Howes's School of Greatness podcasts called 'Your thoughts will heal you or kill you' with Marisa Peer on repeat! Amazing!
I'm lusting after... I'm pretty content right now actually.
I'm watching.... Marcella - a crime series. It's great.
I'm asking the universe for... Eunoia to change lives and to help women get in touch with their spirituality.
Successful business aside, she lives with such intent, focus and love - she just radiates honesty and positivity. Hanging out with Rhi always leaves me feeling inspired, knowledgable and hungry for more discussions around yoga, wellness and family.
As a mindful working mama of two boys, I wanted to learn her secrets... let's hear it from our woman of the hour, Rhiannon.
Give us one sentence to sum up what motherhood means to you.
The greatest gift.
Childbirth was the ___________ because it ____________ .
Childbirth was incredible because it was the most empowering experience of my life, albeit, equally the most painful. My mum always spoke fondly of her 3 birth stories which I believe ignited my strong interest and passion for birth since a really young age. The magic of conception, pregnancy and birth blows my mind. I came to my births full of excitement, and in acceptance of whatever my birth journey would be. Knowledge is power. So, I educated myself on the science of the psychological and physical birth process, and felt armed with understanding, options, and a team of midwives I trusted immensely. I did a lot of birth preparation; from acupuncture, engaging a doula, cranial osteopathy, many herbal teas, eating a (mostly!) good diet, perennial massage, body massage, essential oils, positive affirmations etc. So, when it came to the birth, I surrendered to the experience and trusted that my body would know what to do. And it did. And it was incredible.
Have you always wanted to be an interior designer?
I grew up always wanting to be an Interior Designer or a midwife. While my passion for creating beautiful and functional spaces is still strong, so is my yearning for supporting women through their birthing experience. I have intentions to sit my Doula training in the coming years, so then I can do both!
What has been the hardest lesson to learn as a new mum running her own family design business?
Managing my time and lowering my expectations of my time.
Actively being mindful when I'm in working mode, and equally mindful with my mothering. It's easy to fall into the trap of being on a work call while making dinner with kids hanging off your legs, and getting on top of mothering/household duties when the kids are in care.
I'm constantly working on lowering my expectations of my time, knowing that there is rarely a day or week that all the ‘to do’ boxes are ticked. And that is ok. (I think???!!!)
Speaking of your family business, what’s it like living with AND working with your husband daily?
How do you keep that so called “work life balance” steady?
We never feel as though we are ‘working together’ as our jobs and days are so different. Sometimes we might be working on different projects for weeks or months where our only cross over is ‘on the business’ with bookkeeping etc. Our preferred projects, are the ones where we are engaged from design through to construction, and even then we work in a totally different capacity and different stages throughout the project. We joke that having a company together is probably our saving grace, as we have a greater understanding and tolerance for each other with the long days and late nights. Lastly, and probably most importantly, our success in renovating our own houses and working on projects together comes from a huge respect that we have for each other’s skill set. Matt doesn’t question my design decisions, and I never tell him how to build!
What determines success in your eyes?
Being in a place of absolute happiness and inner peace, regardless of the external situations surrounding you.
Brené Brown says "Unused creativity doesn’t just disappear. It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear.”
What are your thoughts on this?
When I first heard this I instantly had a pit in my belly. That told me I was guilty of not fulfilling my creativity. I don’t find myself having blocks of time in my daily/weekly agenda to indulge in creative activity, as I wish I could. (I dream of one day having a sun-drenched studio space where I can paint uninterrupted for days on end!!)
I try to increase my ‘creativity’ in my everyday tasks. I take that little bit of extra time to wrap a gift to my liking, rather than quickly throwing some wrapping paper over it. I try to cook at least one meal a week that allows me to explore a new recipe and spend some time enjoying the process rather than rushing through it. Or something as simple as after cleaning the house, picking some flowers from the garden to sit in a vase on the table.
As my girlfriends would know, I hate ironing! I wait until the pile is huge and then listen to a good podcast while I work my way through it, which has now turned into a task I hilariously love! I try to make the otherwise mundane tasks seem somewhat more enjoyable and creative.
How talented is she?!?
If you could live anywhere in Australia where would you choose and why?
We’ve recently relocated to the Mornington Peninsula and we are absolutely loving the slower paced beach lifestyle. If I could bring the Queensland weather down permanently, this place would be flawless. I hate the cold! So Queensland would be my pick, if I could just convince Matt.
I love yoga because...
I feel my body and mind strengthen in every practice. Like meditating, it’s the only real time I tap into my body, and all the other noises and distractions fade away.
You are an avid vedic meditator? Can you tell us a bit more about what that journey was like, and why it resonates so deeply with you and your family?
Both Matt and I started mediating in a state of desperate need to change our situation with daily stress and anxiety. We both found some relief once we started practicing, but it was only when we fell off the band wagon some 6 months later that we realized the positive impact it had made on our lives. Without the daily practice, our heads spun back into chaos and mess, a place that had felt normal for so many years, yet suddenly looked like absolute insanity!
So, we committed to our practice again, and haven’t looked back. We don’t always manage to get in the 2 x 20 minute daily sessions, but our early morning sessions are non-negotiable. Our boys are very aware of our meditation practice, and Bobby will be able to learn it soon once he turns 5. They will have the greatest kick start being able to incorporate meditation into their lives from such a young and moldable age. As the Dalai Lama said; “If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”
Your recommendations got me onto some of my all time favourite brands like Peace Love and Vegetables, Dr Bronner's and Love Tea
What are your 5 top, non-negotiable MUST HAVES at home?
That’s a hard question because I'm so passionate about mindfully choosing ALL things that we surround ourselves with!
Southern Cross Pottery water filter for our clean water.
Abode for ALL our cleaning and washing products.
InBed bed pure linen bedding.
Pana Chocolate OR Alter Eco chocolate.
For energy & space clearing consultation you can’t go past Leanne Dawson in Melbourne.
Give us your fast five:
I’m reading… Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Joe Despenza.
I’m listening to… a Classic Acoustic playlist on Spotify.
I’m loving… My early morning routine.
I’m loathing… the Melbourne cold.
I’m lusting after… The Leeroy sofa by Grazia.
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!
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?
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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