Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Ashley Hanger, Founder of Stripped Supply

Ashley Hanger is the founder at Stripped Supply, Australia’s first diabetes subscription box.

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

I’m the founder and director of health tech startup Stripped Supply. We’re Australia’s first diabetes subscription box, taking the hassle out of going to the pharmacy by automatically delivering medical products to diabetes patients. I’ve been working on Stripped Supply for over 2 years now, but my background is definitely not in business or in healthcare!

I started my career in journalism, as a magazine editor at a Brisbane publishing house. I then moved to marketing at a local university, specialising in social media and content creation. I have a knack for storytelling, and that’s what’s really helped me navigate this new world of business.

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

There’s no way to answer this question, because I’ve never had two days the same! But I’ll take you through a dream day, shall I?

I usually start the day in my email inbox – I know everyone tells you not to, but I find a clear inbox sets me up for the day ahead. I then check all my other ‘inboxes’ on our Stripped Supply social media channels, replying to customer enquiries or questions that have come in overnight, and I check on unfulfilled customer orders to ensure our fulfilment centre is running smoothly. 

After a couple of hours of work (usually with a steaming hot coffee by my side) I’ll take my dog for a walk and head to the gym for around an hour. I turn all my electronics on ‘do not disturb’ during this time, something I can only do when I know I’m up-to-date on all my communication channels. This is the only time I’m not contactable (aside from when I’m asleep!), so it’s an hour or two of bliss before my proper work day begins.

I’m usually seated at a desk (this could be at my home office, at a co-working space in the city, or at a cafe) by 10am, where I kick off a day that usually consists of meeting with clinicians, catching up with team members, following up partnerships or chatting to mentors.

I try to limit myself to tackling one project each day, otherwise I find myself neck-deep in a never-ending to-do list. Throughout the day I’ll brain dump my thoughts into a notebook constantly, to try and keep my mind clear to focus on that one task!

I wrap up the day back in my inbox, and try to leave my digital workspace shut down – that is, clear inboxes, no tabs open and computer switched off. Not leaving any tasks or windows ‘open’ is a non-negotiable for me, because otherwise I end up never finishing anything!

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

I have a love/hate relationship with work-life balance – to me, it’s setting myself up for almost-certain failure. It’s an unattainable goal, and when I don’t “achieve it” I end up feeling like I’m not being productive, or I’m not efficient enough, or a myriad of other ’I’m not enoughs’. Aspiring for work-life balance on the daily feels like a goal I’ll never achieve. 

Instead, I choose to live in the seasons. Some weeks, I’m all about work, with my head in the computer long into the night while my washing basket piles up and my friend’s messages go unanswered. Other weeks, I do just enough in the business to keep it chugging along at a healthy rate, while I catch up on my personal admin, spend time being a tourist in my home town and share a bottle of wine with my mates. 

I see living in ’seasons’ similar to ‘batching tasks’ – instead of shifting between business and personal mindsets on a daily basis, I shift between these mindsets on more of a weekly basis. I sit in my business brain for one or two weeks at a time, then shift to my personal brain. It might sound like madness, but it works for me!

In essence, I believe balance is fluid. Not every single day needs to be balanced, for me to have balance in my life.

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

I found the move from working full-time in a corporate position to being a full-time founder really tough. I had to learn how to structure my days when there was no structure – mainly because my calendar was no longer full of as many meetings!

I suddenly had this great expanse of time before me to just … work. And this great expanse of time can quickly shrink if you haven’t set yourself routines to keep productive and on-task, and when you’re not sitting in an office environment surrounded by team members keeping you on track. 

So now, I have workday startup and shutdown rituals that ensure I bookend my days with productivity. Kind of like how making the bed in the morning makes it easier to get on with the next task, mentally I find it easy to open my inbox and action messages or emails. This gets the ball rolling for the day, and that momentum usually pushes me into my next task that might take a bit more brain power.

I’ve also become a lot stricter with myself about my daily step count, and getting outside. I could easily not walk very far in the day, if I didn’t force myself to reach that 10,000 step goal! Walking, and exercising, is not only good for your health (we all know that) but it also ensures I use up enough energy throughout the day that I can get a good night’s sleep. If I haven’t moved enough, I’m too restless to go to bed early, and a bad sleep sets me up for a cranky, tired Ashley the next day!

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

I love learning, and I inhale any self-development that pertains to social media. If you have a customer-facing business, has an excellent email newsletter filled with some of the best social media marketing resources you’ll find.

Pop culture is my guilty pleasure, so my favourite podcasts are sugary escapes from anything business or self-development related. Think Shameless, Office Ladies, Culture Vulture, The Shit Show and You’re Wrong About. 

In terms of reading, I love anything by Taylor Jenkins Reid and I also love biographies – Shoe Dog, The Girl Who Fell From The Sky, Educated, I Am Malala and This Is Going To Hurt are some of my all-time favourites that deserve a read. 

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

Presidents, celebrity clans, business moguls – I’m fascinated by high-profile individuals who are juggling multiple balls all at once. But more specifically, I’m interested in how they got there.

I would love to read an interview – or jump back in time to ask in-person – about how Barack Obama, Jennifer Lopez and Richard Branson (for example) spent their time in the early days to build the foundations of their empires.

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

Social media is a powerful tool in business, but it can be as harmful as it is valuable. When it comes to balancing our work with life, I think what’s most important is that we don’t compare the lives we’re building to anyone else’s. Every journey has a beginning, but there isn’t an end – we’re always growing, and we can’t compare someone else’s day 100 to our day 1!

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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.