Managing The Work/Life Balance with Abbey Cooke from She Means Business Events

‘GOOD stories get read, then get archived or used once, but more than likely they often get forgotten about…GREAT stories last a lifetime- any story, even an event, no matter how big or small should always take your guests on a journey’.

  1. What made you decide to start your own business?

I studied a Bachelor of Business majoring in Marketing and Human Resources at University for 4 years, and studied an Executive Certificate in Event Management.

I then established myself in the financial industry in a global role for 6 years, which is where I realised my passion and enthusiasm for event management.  I have managed complex logistical events spanning both the international and domestic market, across a variety of industries, which have showcased my superior event management skills and professional execution of events.

She Means Business Events (SMBE ~ officially launching in May 2017) was born from my desire to spend more time in South Australia, and my passion and love of bringing people together in the one space and creating memories!

 I have a keen eye for detail, complemented with perfectionism, which ensures a uniquely created SMBE event.  SMBE adds a modern and trendy spin on events for both our corporate and private clients which are flawlessly executed.

abbey
Abbey Cooke, Owner/Director ~ She Means Business Events

2. What/Who inspires you in life and work?

I have to admit I find it very hard to answer this question.  Inspiration is stimulation for the human mind to learn, create, achieve, and to give. I believe that all great accomplishments are a result of motivation, encouragement and are spawned by inspiration.

So, what inspires me to be successful, and why am I inspired? For some time, I’ve been following inspiring leaders, entrepreneurs, and business movers-and-shakers, and I’m still awed and amazed at how much there is out in the world to be inspired by! I’m happy to say that I am now constantly inspired by men and women who are 100 steps ahead of me, doing what I long to, in the way I long to do it, with authenticity, clarity, grace and power.

I am fortunate enough that I have been inspired and mentored by some wonderful people both domestically and internationally, the most influential and inspiring motto coming from my Adelaide based mentor which SMBE currently lives by…

Bite off more than you can chew, and then chew like buggery!”

3. How do you find the work/life balance and your Top 3 tips for balancing life and work?

If you’ve been sitting at your desk reading about SMBE, daydreaming about the glamorous life of owning your own events company, it’s time to wake up! Starting up any business can be brutal in this socioeconomic climate and to be successful you have to face reality – hard work, long days (and nights), and a whole lot of coffee and networking!

It’s not all doom and gloom though, once you’ve taken the leap and decided to start! Here are a few of my tips for managing and maintaining a healthy work/life balance.

  • Step away from the email

At some point, almost everyone becomes addicted! For me, it started when I starting working for a global company. I wanted to be available 24/7 to my team who were located in multiple locations around the world.  My ‘new email’ alert would constantly sound throughout the day/night and my Inbox began to control my life. It wasn’t until a good friend of mine would confiscate my phone during our catch ups, that I truly realised that I was in fact an addict, and how much I was missing out on around me,

Would you believe that scientists have actually established a clear link between spending time on email and stress?  In other words, the more frequently we check our email, the more frazzled we feel!

  •  Just say ‘NO’!

In today’s fast-paced and caffeine-driven world, it seems like the need to say no is absent in most people. You can’t say no because you feel guilty, or people will judge you.

I understand your situation completely. Confession time? I used to say yes, all the time too because the thought of saying no literally crippled me.

Now, though, I regret the times when I failed to say no! Let’s face it saying yes to everyone is stressful, and it’s definitely not good for your mental, physical and spiritual health!

  •  Work smarter, not harder

There is a body of opinion that you should work more and sleep less. It often takes Margaret Thatcher as a role model: she only needed four hours sleep and look what she did to the country! These days they call it sleep hacking- training your mind and body to need less sleep. But that trend is all wrong!

Essentially, working smart means figuring out what your strengths are and building a network around you to build upon those, in order to reach goals in the quickest and most efficient way possible.

The more self-awareness you gain about your work strengths the more you find ways to work smarter, not harder and finally achieve the work /life balance you desire.

She Means Business Events

Q&A with Rebecca Minervini: Of Dreamers and Dancers

 In celebration of the launch of new jewellery brand ‘Of Dreamers and Dancers’, I did a Q&A with designer,  Rebecca Minervini, touching on all things work, life and chasing dreams….

“Dream and take chances, dance through life enthusiastically because, as I found out, you never know where seizing opportunities and thinking outside the box can take you.” 
Rebecca Minervini
 

What made you decide to start your own business?

I have a background in graphic design, particularly branding. Whilst I love graphic design, to have my own brand and something I would have creative control over was an ultimate dream. It wasn’t a case of waking up one day and thinking, I’m going to build a brand. Whilst I actively had to pursue getting my designs created and sculpting the business, what it took to get to this point developed quite organically, tapping into my passions and design experience.

Who and what inspires you and your business and do you have a mentor?

I am inspired by strong women who have accomplished big dreams but still stay grounded. Samantha Wills and Lisa Messenger are two women I look up to who definitely fit this mould. I relate to their passion and creativity for what they do and their constant development of their businesses.

My business is a lifestyle brand and it’s message is inspired by the brand name. From the challenges I have been through, to turn my dreams into reality, I very much want to instill in my customer to be a dreamer and dancer too. Dream and take chances, dance through life enthusiastically because, as I found out, you never know where seizing opportunities and thinking outside the box can take you. What started as a whimsical name very quickly became the core of the brand’s identity.

My designs themselves are inspired by an affection for love, life and travel…the pieces are very much for the wanderlust spirited and will connect to a customer who shares these same ideals. She is the modern bohemian and the pieces I design for her reflect her wild hearted nature while also taking into account that she lives in a modern world and so the designs can be easily incorporated into her everyday style.

From a business perspective my mentor is 100% my Dad. He helped me to realise my dream could become a reality if I was prepared to work hard for it. He has been in business himself for over 30 years so teaches me everything I know from a business sense. I don’t have a mentor for the design aspect of the business. This is very much driven by me, my design experience and creativity. I live and breathe creativity! I like to push myself and I am always learning. Working out how to translate my graphic design expertise into jewellery manufacturing was definitely a huge learning curve but I enjoy it and it’s great to continually grow creatively.

 

How do you balance running you’re own business with everyday life?

It’s hard to switch off that’s for sure but I think because I love what I do so much it doesn’t seem like I need to find a balance. If I have to work after hours, I will. I do what it takes. Of course, I take time out for family and to have a social life, that’s important too, but living a dream is definitely not a 9-5 job and that’s just something you have to accept.

 

Where do you hope to see yourself and your business in 5 years?

Well it’s early days for me. I would love at this stage to just be able to do a second collection but I do have big dreams. In 5 years time I would like to have established myself as a known and respected luxury costume jewellery brand in Australia. I would love be a go-to brand with an established loyal customer base and be recognised for unique quality pieces that are affordable. I would also like to grow internationally and potentially branch out into other lifestyle areas. I may need a little more time for that but you never know! I love the idea of collaborative projects to branch into new areas too so I‘d like to explore this avenue more also.

 

What are your top tips for staying motivated?

The number one tip I can give for staying motivated is to be passionate about what you do. With passion nothing will be a chore and it will definitely keep you going even when times are tough. Beyond passion and on a more daily basis, I really love reading quotes to kick start my attitude if I am ever questioning  what I am doing or are finding it hard to find the get up and go, we all have our moments! I mainly find these quotes on Instagram (I love Instagram!) and I always post one every Monday to set a positive tone for the week. Reading biographies about entrepreneurs and the magazine the Renegade Collective really motivates me too. Finally, making sure you do have some occasional time for yourself does help in keeping you happy and motivated too, everyone needs moments to zone out every now and then.

 

Of Dreamers and Dancers

Emma Hack: Artist

Emma Hack is an Adelaide based, internationally known artist, who is known for her skill in the art of body painting, having painted celebrities, including singer; Gotye in his video for ‘Somebody that I used to know’, she is a truly talented artist. I had the pleasure of chatting with her in her newly renovated gallery, located on O’Connell street, here is what she shared with me:

What made you choose to become an artist?

I’ve always felt like an artist. But I ended up getting trained in hair and make-up. I was doing hair and makeup to earn a living, although I was using my artistic skills whenever possible, I have been body painting for 25 years. It wasn’t until 2002, which is when I had my first exhibition. I just decided that if I focused on my art I would be able to create what I wanted to create.

What inspires you and your art?

- Vintage fashion
– Nature
– Different cultures
– Other artists coming up with new ways of doing things
– Mixed mediums
– Different textures
– Techniques I used as a child (eg. pin pricking in year 2)

What are some of your stand-out career moments?

Stand-out career moments include; doing my first calender, my first exhibition, the moment I realised that I could actually sell my work; I had a stall at an art fair in 2008 and we had a line of people waiting to purchase a piece of my art (it was so humbling), creating the ‘crash car’ by painting 17 people and positioning them in a way to look like a car, having Joanne Gair, who painted Demi Moore for Vanity Fair, come to see my exhibition, and finally my having first exhibition in New York.

Advice for up and coming Artists?

- Practice as much as you can.

- Always be true to yourself and your vision.

- Have strong morals and ethics in the way you treat people.

- A successful career does not happen overnight!

- Stick with what you know and refine it.

- My Dad’s advice: Plan your work and work your plan (plan, assess, then go and do)

For more on Emma Hack click here

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Cathy McHugh: Gray Management Group

How long have you been in pr and when/why did you start Grays Management?

I have been in PR pretty much my whole working life in some capacity.

I’ve had at Grays Management for 13 years.

I remember when I was at high school and we had a questionnaire go around to determine what type of job you would suit.  I ticked off all of the things I liked, was good at and enjoyed and low and behold – my best suited job was PR.  The only catch was I didn’t want to go to Uni – I wasn’t a great student so I went straight into the workforce.  And fortunately for me I fell into opportunities and jobs in the media that led me to Grays – so I think to be honest I have always been destined for this type of work.  I just didn’t go about it the more traditional way.

I started Grays after having my first child – and it was all by accident to be honest.  My first job was working on McLeod’s Daughters as publicist which I did for around 7 years.  And during that time there were a lot of other opportunities in the market.

What keeps you motivated in the PR industry?

My motivation is determined by lots of different things at times.  The market is hugely different to what it was a few years ago even, so we are always changing.  Being smaller means being adaptable and responsive to the market and opportunities.

I really love who I work with.  Being older and somewhat wiser, I have made the conscious choice to work like an absolute dog for people or businesses that I believe in and genuinely want to see them succeed.  It’s a 24hour job at times and there is also a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to see a result – so you have got to genuinely love it.

What did your 20 year old self dream of doing in the future?  

The one thing I am disappointed with my 20 year old self was that I didn’t really have a dream.  I didn’t really pin point an idea, a thought and I didn’t have any concrete ambitions – not even to buy a car.  My life was one day at a time, leading into fun and adventure. However, I had a really good work ethic, I learnt on the job that I loved to work hard and I was good at what I was doing.  I also worked with a lady; Nicola Mills who really changed the way I worked and the way I thought about myself in business.  She was probably the first ‘business woman I had met.  She was ambitious, strong, worked hard in a “mans world” and was incredibly supportive and motivating.  She was really the one point in time that I stopped and thought – I could do this …

What is the most exciting experience/opportunity that has come your way within your business?

Running a business is probably the most exciting experience to be honest.  There have been a lot of changes and challenges.  Managing your personal life and children with a job that requires a lot of effort and commitment is a challenge also.  Although I think this is the first time I’ve found that balancing point and can genuinely say that the balance is working and I’m really energised by our clients and the opportunities we create with them.  Granted we’ve had some incredible jobs – working on a Bollywood Movie, Presenting and speaking in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore, meeting and knowing some incredible people and being able to weave in and out of our work lives at different points to work together again.

Best piece of advice for anyone wanting to get into public relations?

We have a lot of interns and work experience people come through our business.   Mostly because I like to genuinely give people an opportunity to really see what it’s like.  The perception of what PR is and the reality is often times very different.  PR is not as easy as giving away food, or ticking a box for a client with bloggers, or getting a piece in the paper – and anyone who wants to do that will have a short lifespan.  Because at the end of the day you need to provide results for your clients, be cost effective and show a return on investment.  So I think the one piece of advice would be – don’t put too much value on the input, don’t make yourself so busy and with so many pieces of paper that you are busy being busy – it’s the output that counts and it has to give a return to your client.  Turn your way of thinking on PR upside down and work backwards….

Jodi Nash: South Australian Style Magazine

I recently did a Q&A with South Australian Style Magazine Editor; Jodi Nash, her story is one worth hearing and she is a testament to hard work equals success
 
What made you decide to start a magazine?
Coming from a freelance makeup, styling and photography background a opportunity came up to rebrand a magazine that I was freelancing for.I decided to give it a go and see what happened, it took off from there. There was also a huge gap in the market for a women’s publication in Adelaide. 
I was frustrated that I couldn’t visit the fashion stores that were promoted in the nationals so I made my own just for the local girls.
 
How did you get to where you are  now in your career? 
A lot of hard work starting with a great education. Working in Canada and America helped with experience on an international stage.
I studied visual art, photography, makeup and hair artistry straight from high school. I went to Uni during the day and did makeup classes at night. I worked for free for photographers for years assisting on set. I also taught modelling, catwalk and deportment. I got into fashion styling after Uni and coordinated and art directed a lot of catwalk shows over the years, even helping to launch the first Adelaide Fashion Festival in 2001.
I helped create a professional makeup school for budding makeup artists called Paint in 2004. 
I have always worked for myself as a freelancer or a consultant and found having a good skill set helped to gain lots of employment opportunities in all fashion fields.
 
What are the opportunities that have opened up for you as the editor of SA Style?
Meeting great people, working with celebrities and having fun putting fashion shoots together. 
 
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced within your career?
The publishing industry is full of deadlines and time constraints. I find that the hardest thing.
 
Any exciting plans ahead for you and/or SA Style?
It’s our 20th birthday next issue (December release) little did I know 5 years ago when I was planning the first issue on my kitchen table that we would be doing our 20th edition! 
 
What advice do you have or can you give to anyone wanting to get into a position similar to yours?
1) Up skill all the time and get jobs in the fashion industry wherever you can, even starting in a fashion retail store is great experience.
2) Build a solid skill set. The more strings to your bow the more employable you will be.
3) Work for people you are inspired by, and be loyal to those who gave you a start in the industry.
4) Professionalism, being polite and friendly, showing up, standing out from the crowd, dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s, will get you more places than an emailed resume ever will. 
5) The people you stomp on, on your way up will be the same people you meet on your way down, so don’t burn bridges.
6) Use your gut and do things you believe in. Be original and go your own way.
7) Success won’t happen overnight, but if you never take no for an answer, it will happen eventually. 
8) I have never given up an any project I started, see everything through to the end, it is an invaluable lesson.

Maree Stoubos: Girl About Town PR

maree

What made you decide that public relations (PR) was what you wanted to do as a career? 

I graduated from Uni SA with a degree in marketing, and as I was looking at employment opportunities in the communications field I was encouraged to undertake work experience and internships first. I wanted to stand out from the rest of the graduates so I thought, why not go to New York and do an internship there! I was lucky enough to know someone who knew someone who secured an interview for me with a high end fashion label – Brian Reyes – in the PR, sales and marketing department, and I was lucky enough to land the job. After spending three months in New York during New York Fashion Week doing the internship, I learnt the key principals of fashion PR, sales and marketing, and it was then that I knew I was destined for a career in PR.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

Career wise, I look up to people like Kelly Cutrone and Roxy Jacenko – both of whom went out on their own and started their own PR agencies. They are now known for being the most successful women in PR in America and Australia, and represent a number of amazing clients. They are the go to women for PR.

What has been the biggest opportunity that has come your way because of your work?

The fact that I get to work with a range of different clients from different industries allows me to develop my networks, skills, contacts, relationships and experience. I have been able to travel interstate as well as internationally because of the clients I represent and this has opened a number of doors for me. But the biggest opportunity is that after five years of working successfully in PR in Adelaide, I was able to go out on my own and launch Girl About Town.

Where do you (want to) see your career in 5 years?

I would love to see Girl About Town being the go to lifestyle PR Agency in Adelaide.

Sarah Abbott: Sassafras Public Relations

What is your current position/job description?

Director at Sassafras Public Relations

 How did you get to the position you are in now?

I completed  a bachelor in Communications Studies and studied public relations at Tafe. I worked as an Account Director at Michels Warren and I was the Global PR Manager at Imagination Entertainment. I now run my own freelance PR Consultancy called; Sassafras PR.

 What are the opportunities that have opened up for you within this position?

 Opportunities are endless!  The chance to meet people running exciting businesses and launching sensational products is an adrenalin rush for me and then showcasing these brands to the world is my passion. Working with media is energising and exciting and there is never a dull moment!

 What advice do you have or can you give to young people who want to get into a position similar to yours?

Just simply; do as much work experience as you can!

Gretel Scarlett: The Life of an Actress

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Australian actress; Gretel Scarlett

Here’s what she shared with me…..

What is your current role?

I play Sandy in the Australian Tour of Grease the Musical.

It has been really fun. We get to perform to a different audience every time. The current musical is great because it is a mix between the movie and original stage show, and all the songs from the movie are included.

What made you get into acting?

I was really into performing as a young girl and my parents saw this in me and decided to nurture it by providing me with opportunities where I could do what I enjoyed.

I remember when I was 12 years old someone asked me what I wanted to do with my life, and I answered “I want to go to WAAPA”, they were like, “what is that, a burger from hungry jacks?”. It is the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. I was a research queen when I was young, so I had looked this place up and I knew that, that was where I wanted to go.

I ended up going on to attend WAAPA and completing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Musical Theater. I was one of only 18 people that they take in each year. The course went for 3 years, it was intense, we are basically locked away for 3 years and are trained in all areas of performance from acting, to dancing and singing.

What are the opportunities that have opened up for you so far? 

I feel that my career is not based on luck, rather it is accountable to a lot of hard work. After graduating I got a role in Breast wishes, Mama Mia, and Wicked. These were great experiences. I was then asked if I wanted to renew my contract with Wicked, which I decided not to, I thought I would take a risk and see what else was out there. The risk really paid of because I then landed the role of Sandy in Grease the Musical. Before this role, I had mainly only had small supporting or ensemble parts, so this was my time to step out into a lead role.

Gretel performing in Grease the Musical

Throughout my career I have traveled all around Australia and parts of Asia, including Singapore and South Korea. It’s so nice getting to perform to so many different audiences.

I’ve met a few famous faces along the way including Hugh Jackman (he was so grounded!), Burt Newton, and Todd McKenney. It’s been so great to meet industry professionals and talk about their lives as performers and hear about all of their experiences. I was having a chat with Burt Newton (who is also performing in Grease) and he was telling me about when he was on TV before colour TV was introduced!

Who and/or what inspires you?

Professional life wise; Burt Newton, he is a theatrical legend, he has so much history, he’s such a lovely man, he loves his work and he is always on his A game, this is the 3rd year I have worked with him and he is so inspiring.

Personal life wise; I am really into sharing the message of living a healthy lifestyle and supporting women’s rights, so I am inspired by people on Instagram who also share this message, an example would be Jessica Smith (she is a Para-Olympian who is behind ‘join the revolution’ promoting positive body image) also Jennifer Hawkins who works hard sticking up for women’s rights

I am an avid user of Instagram and twitter, and it is inspiring to me to be able to share my life with my audience, as well as get inspired by others doing great things.

What beauty products can you not live without? 

One product I love is the Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Foundation Pen. It can be used as a foundation, concealer and/or highlighter. It’s great for getting rid of puffy eyes, because Sandy can not look like she had a late night! I also can’t live without the they’re real mascara by Benefit, it’s great for day and night!

What is you current beauty regime?

I have very sensitive skin so less is more for me. In the morning I wash my face with the Cetaphil gentle skin cleanser and mosturise with an organic baby moisturiser, which has manuca honey in it (I found it in a little organic shop). In the night, I remove my make-up with the Derma Blend make-up remover, cleanse with the Cetaphil cleanser and mosturise with the same baby moisturiser.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

At the moment I want to build my profile in Australia or go to the West End in London. I would love to get another lead role. And it would be great to get in film and TV.

What advice do you have for aspiring actors and actresses?

Work hard, keep practicing don’t be critical of others make sure your critical of yourself, people criticize others but don’t look at their own self, be open to taking on criticism about yourself, because it can really help.

It is also important to understand that judgments will be made purely based on physical looks when it comes to whether or not a person is chosen for a role. Even though the talents is there, the look may not be right. Do not take it personally, just always understand that this is how the industry works!

Gretel mentioned that audiences have been enjoying Grease so much and that the show opens in Adelaide on the 3rd of August and ends on the 31st of August with 8 shows a week from Wednesday to Sunday. Tickets can be purchased at BASS. Gretel also has an album coming out soon….so follow ‘Gretel Scarlett’ on Instagram to find out more details!

I finished the interview of by asking Gretel what she was looking forward to getting up to when she gets to Adelaide. Apart from doing the show, she said that she Love’s coming to Adelaide, and can’t wait to visit goodies and grains at the Central Market, Haigh’s, and Glenelg. 

Sarah-Jane Hook: The life of a Marketing Manager

What is your role?

I am the Marketing Manager for The Myer Centre AdelaideI provide an integrated and strategic approach to the Myer Centre’s marketing to drive customer traffic and sales for the retailers within the shopping centre.  This includes being responsible for all customer facing communication channels in the local market and rolling out targeted promotions to drive sales for key categories. Eg, fashion.

What would your average working day look like?

7am, alarm goes off, hit snooze. Sometime between 7am – 8.30am work out what to wear with the added challenge these days of a) styling a fashionable outfit and b) what will work cycling to work without requiring a drastic wardrobe change. 8.30am cycle to work and park bicycle in the Myer Centre’s Pedal, Prep and Go storage room. 9am, coffee time! I always start my day with a quality coffee.  9.30am, attend to emails, review overnight communications on the centre’s social channels and review the day’s schedule.10am management team meeting communicating workflow of other departments amongst team heads. 10.30am on site meeting with event suppliers – stylist, audio visual technician and equipment hire specialist to discuss logistical requirements for upcoming fashion parade.  12pm work in progress meeting with Visual Merchandiser/Social Media coordinator, going over strategy for digital content creation and briefing in centre presentation projects. 1pm (if schedule permits) head to the gym for a quick lunchtime workout. 2pm conference call with creative agencies (media buyer, advertising agency, PR agency) directing a briefing on upcoming targeted promotions. 2.30pm following up on conference call with submission of briefing documents with action deadlines and budget allocations. 3pm catch up on emails and reading of industry trends / case studies / news. 3.30pm analyse results from previous targeted promotion / last month / last period and prepare post campaign debrief reports and presentations. 5pm prepare briefing memo and distribute to centre retailers on an upcoming promotional opportunity relevant to their business.  6pm head off to the Nike Run Club before cycling home or cycle home and head to a Bikram Yoga class to switch off and sweat out the day. Once home find something to eat. 10pm check activity on the centre’s social channels before catching up on reading and heading to bed.

How did you get to your position of being a Marketing Manager?

I started my career working in real estate in a marketing support function. I realized it was the marketing aspect of the industry that really interested me and began to research how to progress with a career in Marketing. I completed a Bachelor of Management (Marketing) while working part time in the real estate industry continuously.  This was invaluable as by the time I graduated from my degree I had six years marketing experience behind me.  I then moved on to a marketing assistant role on a large residential land release.  An opportunity came up with a maternity leave contract as Marketing Manager at Harbour Town (a brand direct outlet shopping centre) and this was my stepping stone into the retail / shopping centre industry. I have since honed my experiences within the industry with marketing roles for Westfield and now in my current role as Marketing Manager for the Myer Centre Adelaide.

Have you always wanted to work in the Marketing area?

Yes, consumer behaviour theories fascinate me as well as blending a love of visual communication and creativity with numbers and statistics.  Marketing is a social science.

What do you love about your role? 

I love that no two days are the same.  The marketing of a physical location which is a busy, public place results in working amongst a dynamic environment with many, many stakeholders.

In your current role, what has been your biggest achievement?

 I’m pleased to have rolled out a rebranding project and multiple launch projects with the centre as well as receiving industry recognition awards for several tactical promotions.

Over your career, what has been your ‘love this’ moment? 

 I love that a career in retail marketing enables you to work in a sphere with very talented and creative people.  The styling advice and exposure to a myriad of fashion can be a girl’s dream!

Any advice for anyone aspiring to work in the Marketing / Fashion industry?

Never lose sight of return on investment and always focus on surprising and delighting the customer.