Balancing the Grind with Ann Pilley, Director at Zecca Cosmedical

Ann Pilley is a registered nurse with over 30 years experience, and is the Director of Zecca Cosmedical, a non surgical cosmetic clinic based in Alexandria.

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

My career started at the age of 13, doing a paper run with my brother. I always wanted to be an Olympic athlete but soon realised that my enthusiasm for sport didn’t match my actual abilities, so that dream soon got shelved.

By the age of 17, I started my nursing career at Concord Hospital as an Enrolled Nurse. I was hedging my bets and only wanted to do a short course in case I hated it and would try for the police force instead.

However, after the year I realised that I had found something I enjoyed and was good at. I then attended university as the second group of university trained nurses. Concord soon enticed me back and I maintained the title “bum and bowel queen” until 2005 (23 years).

My career in cosmetic medicine commenced in 2004 when I started my own business. This was a move that surprised many as I was more of a hands on colostomy bag changing kinda nurse.

It wasn’t an area I was particularly interested in but I loved the idea of working in my own business. I had always maintained both management and clinical skills in my nursing career, from managing a ward to a Nurse Consultant in stomal therapy. This really gave me the skills for my new found love.

At first I did find it difficult transitioning from a hospital to a private clinic and from colostomies to wrinkles. I was slightly amused at the need for people to be wrinkle free when I had left people who were seriously sick.

But once I realised how important wellness medicine was, I really started to get stuck into it and learned the ropes of running a business and developing new clinician skills.

Since 2011, I’ve been in business with two amazing business partners at Zecca Cosmedical. We all bring different strengths to our business which from day one have been celebrated and respected. Very early on we decided that we would always be supportive of one another as business partners and are blessed to maintain this respect and support.

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

I’m lucky that I have typical days in both the city and in remote and regional country towns including Broken Hill, Orange and Parkes. The people I meet are vast and varied which makes this job a dream. Most days feel like I’m seeing my mates all day.

  • I wake up early but stay in bed until the very last minute. Once I’m up I roll slowly as I’m not exactly a morning person. I’m also not a girlie girl so I’m ready in a flash. Once showered, my Zecca Zinc is applied and dressed, I match a pair of sneakers (one of my passions) with my outfit. Then I’m out the door
  • Every morning I go to the same cafe and order the same beverages, a long black (for my partner) and a cup of EBT and a half full cap. I’m loyal and predictable, once I like something I’m like a Labrador, I’m there with my tail wagging.
  • I get to work and I start, the best thing about my day is how varied it is. Our business philosophy is to keep things real. We are about a natural aesthetic with an emphasis on skin and natural volumisation. Gone are the days of massive overdone features. There is a real movement towards a natural look which is what we endorse. If you see lips or cheeks walking your way, they aren’t great lips or cheeks.
  • My day is driven by a schedule of appointments. I could be injecting filler or anti-wrinkle injections or using my trusty clear and brilliant laser to treat skin. Nothing I do sounds pleasant, I stab and burn people all day. But I am happy to say that for both parties it is amazingly a pleasant experience.
  • I leave work, come home and sort out dinner and crack a bottle of wine (my other passion) and watch mindless TV from my 360 channels of paid viewing pleasure until I hear the call of my bed.

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

Our business is driven by the appointment book. Our year is mapped out from the 1st January to the 25th December. Our business is all hands on and our relationships are built on a foundation of trust. What we do is intimate in many ways and requires trust and faith that our aesthetic goals and personalities align.

Our work is remote but not in a COVID safe remote zoom kinda way. Our version is remote is flying to clinics in Broken Hill, Parkes and Orange in a tin can with wings.

It fits into my life as I have my partner in tow as she is also my business partner.

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

To tell you the truth, I had no work life balance. Many businesses don’t make it past five years. That milestone came and went and we didn’t take the pedal off the metal and it just became this crazy no work life balance. I think when you open a business it’s all consuming, for me failure was not an option and my drive to be successful was strong.

Whilst I intensely dislike 2020 due to the uncertainty of COVID, I’m also thankful for the closure of our business for 6 weeks. It gave me time to re-evaluate the importance of balance in my life, especially when so many lives had been altered in so many ways.

We have been lucky enough to have always managed our accounts for a rainy day hoping it would never come. Well that rainy day came in May 2020 when we closed our business due to COVID.

Once we reopened, I decided I was going to work four days and have three days off. So far so good. One day to be active, one day for chores and one day to look after our little nephews and take them on adventures. This makes me hugely happy.

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

Yes, as mentioned above, work less and enjoy life more.

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

My favourite book of 2020 is Where the Crawdads Sing by Della Owen. My guilty pleasure is reading Sapphic Mills and Boon. One of my favourite podcasts is S-Town, a story about John B Mac Lamore in shit town Alabama. I’m also a sucker for a good crime.

Newsletters, generally related to wine and food and the monthly Zecca newsletter of course.

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

I can’t live without my wine devices, my gas wine cork ejector and my cellar tracker app.

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

I’m in a very lucky position of meeting the most extraordinary people everyday. I much prefer to talk to people than read about them. The people I admire the most are really driven passionate people.

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

Some days you eat salad and go to the gym, and other days you eat cupcakes and refuse to get out of your PJ’s. It’s called balance!

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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.