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Balancing the Grind with Alicia Holmquest, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of WIRL

Alicia Holmquest is the co-founder and co-CEO of WIRL, the world’s first mental wellbeing app fuelled by food and driven by the gut-brain axis.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I’m a food & mood expert and Co-Founder of the VC backed start-up WIRL: the world’s first mental wellbeing app fuelled by food and driven by the gut-brain axis. I don’t have a title per se, but I do have a clearly defined role within WIRL and that’s product design, content, community and marketing management.

I happen to have a degree in nutrition & dietetics (aka I’m a dietitian) with over 10 years’ experience working in the field of FMCG marketing and innovation within food & mental wellbeing. I’ve launched and worked within some of the biggest household food brands (there’s probably something I worked on in your fridge or pantry RN).

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Some of my really fun work days include:

  • Interviews with users of the WIRL platform
  • Insights gathering and app testing
  • Product design (design sprints and sketches then putting these into high fidelity screens)
  • Community building & engagement (digital marketing)
  • Regular walks outside to move my body and inspire new thinking
  • Yummy food breaks to fuel my brain and body (seems fitting right?)

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine? 

100% it does, we work from home most of the time and out of a shared office space together once a week. If we could afford an office space more than one day we would probably opt to work together in person more often but our current setup suits our working styles and routines.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

This is such a hard one to practice and I say practice as it’s ever evolving work! We are completely flexible with our working days- no two days are the same.

We are committed to fostering a workplace that encourages work-life balance and regularly do things that make us feel awesome during the workday- we go for ocean swims when we work together!

We try to ensure we’re holding each other accountable, not working wild hours all the time and taking *actual* breaks as there’s no WAY we would get the most out of each other and bring our best selves to work without them!

We regularly check each other on truly living by our values, as if we want to improve the mental health of young women everywhere, we need to practice what we preach.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life? 

Started: swimming more, especially during the warming months- something I haven’t done in years! 

Stopped: (at least trying to) not to work late into the night as it f*cks with my sleep.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

Newsletters: 

  • What the Health?! (health tech dah!)
  • Luna (start-up goss)
  • Girlboss (they’re so sassy)

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Day-to-day I use so many tools that genuinely support our biz, to name a few:

  • Trello (I wrote these answers on a card on Trello btw)
  • Figma (designing our app)
  • Canva (designing content)
  • Mailchimp (eDM)
  • Instagram (community building)
  • Xero (all things accounting)
  • Notion (communication tool)
  • Calandly (what a tool hey?? All the meetings booked seamlessly!)

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?   

Amy Thunig – a Gamilaroi yinarr (woman) and researcher of the intersection of Indigenous knowledge, sovereignty, and formal education systems. It would be incredible to hear how she balances it all!

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

If you have the means and access to do so: find a job/biz that meets your needs and matches your values. We spend too much time working to allow shite house businesses to take more of our time and energy for their gain. You are worth so much more and life is too damn short to put up with organisations that don’t give a sh*t about their people and their values.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.