Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Christopher Magick, Founder of Sustainable Valley

Christopher Magick is a designer and business owner with a strong focus on sustainable and responsible business practices.

As the Founder of Sustainable Valley, a co-working space and integrated creative agency in Byron Bay, Christopher is well versed in balancing the business and the art in his life.

Balance the Grind spoke to Christopher about his journey from studying Marine Science to founding Sustainable Valley, giving up coffee, sugar and alcohol, drawing the lines between home and work and plenty more.

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

I started out doing Marine Science actually, but my lecturer at university told us in the last year of study that nearly all of us would be employed by the oil and gas companies. So I quit the next day and enrolled in a graphic design course.

After finishing the course, I began working for a label called Saviour, which led to me freelancing and developing artworks for labels like Marshall Artist, Insight and a plethora of other fashion labels.

After this I began working as a footwear designer, developing shoes for an agency that created shoes for some of the biggest retail chains in Australia such as Marcs and Industrie plus a heap of other major brands.

After my foray into fashion design I moved into advertising and freelanced for a range of agencies and clients. I worked for Airtasker a start-up that began in Sydney as the brand manager and one of their first employees.

Now I am the Founder and Director of Sustainable Valley a coworking space in Byron Bay.

2) What is your current role and what does it entail on a day to day basis?

I am currently the director and founder of Sustainable Valley and Sustainable Agency the digital services and production agency I also run.

I get into work and check my emails, and calendar for the day. I then usually have a briefing with the marketing and production team and check in with the community manager for the coworking space.

I have been doing quite a few UX/UI projects lately also which I have been enjoying so I generally spend a couple of hours in the middle of the day designing. Either workshops or other client meetings make up a big part of my day too.

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

Today, I woke up at 5.30 am, played with my son, made breakfast granola with goats milk, and was on my way into the office by 7.30am.

I arrived at the coworking space and wrote out my goals and things that I needed to do in my notebook. I then had a meeting with my team to chat about what we have on for the week and how everything is tracking from last week.

By 9am I have usually caught up on any emails that I need to send from the day/evening before.

I then often spend an hour on just wandering on the internet, letting myself be led by curiosity or a topic I have been researching or trying to find more information about.

Today I read an article about Russia developing sci-fi like laser guns so I went on a 30minute search trying to find footage or photos of them being tested.

I often have at least one client meeting in the morning, today it was with a new bathroom hygiene brand.

I am in the middle of developing a campaign for the launch of a product, so we went over the concepts and discussed the details of a photoshoot that we have booked to do at Sustainable Valley later this week.

Lunch break: fish curry.

Sustainable Valley has daily meditation today Emily Toner was taking the class, so from 2pm-2.30pm I did a meditation.

Now I am answering this questionnaire for Balance the Grind which I promised to do last week.

Then I have to work on an animation project that needs the storyline adjusted after the regulations department came back and asked us to change some of the messaging.

Then I will be working on Sustainable Valley from approx. 4-5pm, currently I need to plan out our incubator activities for the next 12 months.

I will head off around 5pm, play with my son for an hour, help with dinner then hang out with my partner. Watch Game of Thrones then be in bed by 9.30pm.

4) In between everything you do and all your responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?

It’s not easy. In fact I would have to say for most of the last two years I haven’t had balance. It has only been in the last two months that I have really started getting balance back.

I put a lot of weight on when I started the business, and my eating habits were terrible. But I have recently given up coffee, sugar, alcohol and bread and am feeling so much better.

I now drink a lot of Tulsi tea and am absolutely loving it. So I feel I am getting back on track with my diet. Fitness wise, my partner and myself share days, so some mornings I go for a run some mornings she will do yoga or a class.

The biggest thing I have learnt is to not have a laptop, have a place to work. So you can’t bring it home with you every night. So go join a coworking space and get a desktop computer.

If you have to travel for work then use your phone or if you have a tablet at home take that.

5) What are some of the things you do to take time out and recharge?

Bushwalking, surfing, picnics, swimming in waterholes and under waterfalls, camping.

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

A speargun for fish, knife, shovel, hammer, nails, axe and a pen.

7) Do you have any books that you love and would like to recommend?

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?


If you’d like to have a conversation with us about how you balance the grind, get in touch with us!

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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.