Creative Directors / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Christina Exie, Founder & Creative Director of Exie

Designer, entrepreneur and 2012 Project Runway Australia winner, Christina is the founder and creative director of Australian athleisure wear brand Exie.

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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 a long while back. Since I can remember I wanted to be a fashion designer. In year 10 I did work experience at Christopher Chronus, which was an evening wear and suiting brand based in Melbourne. The positive response to my hard work and dedication during my time there had a powerful impact on me wanting to continue in the industry.

I was offered a full time apprenticeship then and left school to take that on. Unfortunately, it fell through and I didn’t have a choice but to go back to a different high school and study to get into RMIT’s Bachelor of Design, which back then was a 4-year honours degree, part of the School of Architecture & Design.

After my degree I was scouted to audition for Project Runway Season 4. I won the competition, and that spring boarded my career by allowing me to show my first collection at Australian Fashion Week.

After that I scaled my namesake brand, Christina Exie to international wholesale. After a few years I decided to put my brand into hiatus and work as a designer for Australian and international brands’ for the next 7 years.

At the beginning of 2020 I was made redundant from my fulltime design role due to Covid Lockdown and I had no choice but to work on the brand I had just launched full time. I worked incredibly hard during lockdown and within 12 months after launching partnered with Accent Group.

Currently I work as the creative director and designer for EXIE, setting the brand strategy and designing all items you see released, from apparel to accessories. Anything you see of the EXIE brand I have touched.

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

I wake up at about 7am and drink lemon/ginger/honey water before I consume anything else. After that I put on my EXIE activewear and take my dog for a walk with my long-term boyfriend.

We use this time to get some exercise and talk about the day ahead with a coffee in hand. It’s such a nice start to the day and allows us all to spend quality time together as the evenings can get busy.

Work is close by, so I leave my place about 8.00am and get to the office before anyone else to set myself up for the day. I love quiet time to do planning and get my day in order, so I use this time to check my emails and organise the day ahead.

Generally, I block out important tasks around meetings so I can either chip away at a bigger project, or complete smaller projects. If I don’t have my hours blocked out, I find it harder for me to achieve goals.

Depending on what day it is, I might workout at lunch time or after work. If I exercise after work, I’ll try to catch up for a lunch date, or power through key tasks. When I get home I cook dinner, clean, and walk my dog. The rest of the night is personal admin and social media posting. If I’ve been productive, I can usually get 20 mins of reading in before bed.

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

Working my own hours to me is the perfect kind of work-life balance. Sometimes I’m more productive in the late hours of the night, early mornings or on the weekend, and not as productive between 9-5.

I want to have the time during the day to do things I need to do, like a doctor’s appointment, doing a yoga class, whatever it may be. In other words, being in the office does not always equal productivity.

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

Over the last few months, I’ve been really bored at the gym as I was doing the same classes each week and it was feeling a bit stale. I decided to maintain my routine in terms of timing but swap out the mundane gym routine for dancing classes and Lagree.

This brought some new positive challenges into my life, allowing me to use different parts of my brain and body whilst getting a workout. It’s been really fun and I look forward to working out now.

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

I’ve listened to so many podcasts but really struggle to complete the books I’m reading. My favourite podcast is Do You F*cking Mind by Neuroscientist Alexis Fernandez. She is incredibly intelligent and entertaining, providing hacks to help you understand yourself and others better.

My favourite book I’m reading now is Atlas of The Heart by Brené Brown, which is a book about human emotion and provides great tools on how to understand and navigate them. Obviously, I’m a bit obsessed with personal development topics.

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

Jennifer Lopez, as she talks about how much she works and yet seems to have strong relationships in her life, which I suspect would take time to maintain.

It would be an honour to pick her brain about how she got to where she is, how much she worked and what she prioritised to ensure she and her loved ones were and are nurtured along the way. 

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

For me the key is to not be so hard on myself. If I plan to take a break, somehow, I end up working or studying, but never actually take a break at all. So my goal is to take small breaks when I can and not feel guilty about it.

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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.