Balancing the Grind with David Zwier, Founder of Bonny

David Zwier is an entrepreneur, expert marketer and the founder of Bonny; the Melbourne-based, ethically-certified, value-driven brand that is disrupting the snoozy doona industry with its revolutionary bedding. 

Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

I launched into my professional career quite early, landing in the 9-5 grind when I was just 21 years old! I was studying for an Applied Bachelor of Marketing degree at RMIT, and as part of my third year (out of a four-year course), I was required to complete an 8-12 month full-time, paid internship. After an extensive search, I managed to secure a position as a marketing coordinator at Moose Toys.

At the end of my contract (end of 2016), I was offered a permanent position. Though I was keen on taking up the offer, a part of me also wanted to live the student life, just like my friends. So, during the negotiation, I requested the entire January off, and Moose Toys agreed without a second thought. (And, I had the best trip with friends to Japan and Canada!)

In 2017 and the first half of 2018, I had to balance full time work with (almost) full time studies. I completed 10 units in 3 semesters while working full time. 

By the time 2019 rolled around, I had a couple promotions and held the title of Global Brand Manager. The role placed me in charge of global marketing for some of Moose’s most successful brands and products. It gave me the opportunity to travel the globe, pitching toys to the biggest global retailers in locations as diverse as Hong Kong, New York, Toronto and LA. 

But by 2021, I felt I was ready for the next challenge – something that felt new and different. I was open and transparent about my feelings, and Moose did their best to explore all possible options. But, after a lot of consideration, I concluded that it was time for me to take some time off and explore new options. Keen to ensure a smooth transition, I provided an extended notice period ensuring a seamless handover.

My final day at Moose Toys happened to be a Friday, and by a cruel twist of fate, Melbourne plunged into another lockdown the previous day. Luckily, I managed to make a quick escape to Mt Buller, where I ended up spending most of August. I made a promise to myself to use this time productively and to simply follow my curiosity compass. This downtime was filled with zoom calls and conversations.

After much consideration, I decided to carve my own path and start a business. Based on my existing skill set, I was drawn to creating a direct-to-consumer product-based venture. This led me to establish Bonny! Bonny is all about disrupting the snoozy doona industry with responsibly sourced, value-driven, and innovative bedding. Since its launch in mid-2022, Bonny has been my primary focus and full-time job. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, but one I wouldn’t change for anything!

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

Once I started Bonny, I realised pretty quickly that it’s important to incorporate structure and routine into my day. I was no longer bound by office hours or a manager, so discipline became much more important.

I strive to reach the office around the same time each day and ensure I squeeze in some physical activity at least four times a week. 

I’m not much of a morning person, so I generally wake up around 7:30 am and take some time to ease into the day.

By 8:30 am, I’m attending to my inbox, tackling any urgent overnight work, typically with a bowl of porridge.

Around 9:00 am, I head out for a quick grocery run, planning for the evening’s dinner.

By 10:00 am, I’m at my office in Cremorne, ready to dive into the day.

I always make a point to step away from my desk for lunch around 12:30 pm. It’s essential for me to have a mental break, so I take this time to recharge. 

Post-lunch, around 1:30 pm, I head to our warehouse which is just a five-minute walk from the office. I handle all our order fulfilment, so this is a regular part of my day.

I normally sneak in an afternoon hot chocolate from Tarts Anon. They may be famous for their tarts, but their hot chocolates are seriously next level!

I typically wrap up work and head home around 6 pm.

At 6:30 pm, it’s time for a home-cooked dinner with my fiance – we tend to take turns cooking but sometimes it’s a team effort.

By 8:00 pm, I switched gears and played indoor soccer with my friends. I find team sports allow me to completely decompress from a work day.

I am usually asleep around 11:00 pm, aiming for 8 hours sleep!

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

For me, the essential pillars of well-being include work, physical activity, sleep, and social interactions. As I’ve navigated through my twenties, I’ve discovered that maintaining a balance across these elements significantly improves my overall performance. A good night’s sleep enhances my work efficiency, regular exercise contributes to better sleep, and fulfilling social engagements keep me focused and driven.

To optimise my work output, I maintain strict boundaries. When I’m working, I’m fully invested in the task at hand, avoiding distractions like scrolling on my phone. If I’m not fully engaged, I prefer to take a break and genuinely unwind. I’ve also found it useful to separate my work and home environments – the office is for focused work, while home is primarily for relaxation. That being said, in managing my own business, there are inevitably urgent tasks that arise, and these I do address from home when necessary.

Exercise is a non-negotiable part of my schedule. I play team sports three times a week and go to the gym once a week with my fiancé. This commitment not only ensures that I keep moving but also provides a welcome break, even on particularly busy days.

To satisfy my need for social interaction, I’ve tried to incorporate social elements into my work and exercise routines. I enjoy sports with friends and have recently moved to a co-working space to encourage more interaction. I often invite friends or colleagues to join me at the office.

Sleep, for me, is the most challenging pillar to manage. I know I work best when I’m well-rested. My body clock tends to wake me up around 7 am, so I aim to be in bed by 11 pm to ensure adequate rest. This requires a lot of discipline, but when all the other elements are in place, I’m usually ready for bed by then.

Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

The biggest lifestyle change I made was transitioning out of my 9-5 job. I wear an Apple Watch and track my steps and the evidence doesn’t lie. When I was working full time I averaged 6k steps a day, but for the last 18 months, I have consistently averaged 9k-10k steps a day. I am so much more active than I used to be and I feel better and I am healthier for it!

We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?

Bonny is currently growing and I am now required to take on the role of manager. My next objective is to ensure that my employees find fulfilment and balance in their roles. A recent read that has been instrumental in shaping this goal is The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo. It’s an excellent guide that I highly recommend to any existing or aspiring manager.

Additionally, I’ve re-read the classic novel, The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho. Despite being a work of fiction, it is a truly inspiring story. For me, it reinforces why I started Bonny and it inspires me to tackle all the challenges ahead. As Coelho eloquently puts it, “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Life is a journey and I am a big believer that everything happens for a reason. With the benefit of hindsight, even the most challenging times have a silver lining. So whether you’re loving work or struggling with discontent, if you follow your heart and listen to your curiosity compass, I truly believe you will find what sparks your soul.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.