Alice Fitch is the founder & CEO of Whola, an online fashion wholesale platform that is proving transformative for retailers in the industry.
Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?
I’m the founder & CEO of Whola, Australia’s leading fashion wholesale platform. For 10 years before that I owned a small chain of bricks & mortar fashion agencies. Through that experience I saw so many female-led businesses fold under the pressure of the old wholesale model.
Buyers were forced to forecast their stock needs 6 to 12 months in advance which is a really difficult and complex thing to do.
So, somewhat disillusioned, I sold one branch of that business and dialled back my work commitments. I was also a single parent to an 18 month old baby, so I took some time to enjoy that. Then the idea for Whola hit me and I started researching and building the platform.
My foray into fashion was not a planned career move. I had worked in advertising and marketing and ended up with a lot of fashion clients who also needed distribution services, so my business was built on that demand.
I originally trained to be a journalist. I can write a killer email, but my passion for writing just wasn’t there!
We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?
My day starts with a morning meditation session and yoga before my son wakes up. This sets me up to be in a great mood for my son and handle the fast pace of my day.
Once I get to work I deliberately make 1 meaningful step towards completing a major project. At the moment that’s delivery of our new platform. I find completing a major task first makes me feel powerful and if the rest of my day goes off plan, I’ve done the most important thing.
Then it’s team huddle time where we align as a business to ensure we’re across any updates, marketing campaigns and we’re all focused on achieving our set outcomes for the week.
The rest of my day is then split between working with our fashion brands to deliver the best experience to retailers, supporting my team and making progress on projects that drive the business forward.
The day ends with a review of our lead and lag indicators and then I check my emails. I try to only do this after a huddle, at lunch and at the end of the day. Otherwise I could have a full time job just answering emails.
Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?
Life seems like a constant endeavour to get this right – I’m checking in and adjusting it all the time.
The important touchstones for me are yoga and meditation to keep my health and spirit aligned. And time with my son, giving him the love and attention he needs to thrive. I try not to work on the business while he’s awake.
My mum is a critical part of making my balance work. She’s just amazing and looks after my son so I can do hot yoga each week and have a social life as well.
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?
I started journaling. It’s very simple but is basically a review of where I landed at the end of the day in comparison to my core values. If I fall short I look at where I can improve tomorrow.
I’m also sleeping more. When I started Whola I was sleeping 4-5 hours a night which was mental and not sustainable.
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?
Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life was fabulous. It studies the lifestyle of longevity and really made me think about my life in the future. Running a startup can be crazy so small reminders that life is a marathon and not a sprint can put the day to day in perspective.
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?
No one gets it right all the time – what balance means to you will change over time. And my favourite quote is “Comparison is the thief of joy”. What’s right for another may not be right for you.
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