Elizabeth Barbalich is the founder and CEO of Antipodes Scientific Green Beauty, a plant-powered beauty and certified organic skincare company based in New Zealand.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m Elizabeth Barbalich, mother, founder and CEO of Antipodes Scientific Green Beauty. Science has always featured significantly in my life. Before embarking on an MBA, I studied for a biology degree.
After graduating, I won a highly competitive role with a US-based international surgical corporation which pioneered technology for laparoscopic surgery.
I trained in New York on ground-breaking equipment and became the sole representative for New Zealand and Australia, training surgeons and registrars to use the highly specialised equipment in keyhole surgery.
My husband Zoran introduced me to a more holistic and natural way of living. After becoming a mother, I welcomed his interest in raw juices, supplements and alternative medicines. With three children under four, I felt healthier and more energized than ever.
Antipodes started when I realised my conventional skincare routine didn’t meet the standards I had for the clean and natural supplements I used and the health regime I followed.
I scoured the world’s skincare for an all-natural skincare regime that performed as well as the conventional brands I was using. I found nothing and quickly saw the need to elevate natural skincare to the next level with efficacious formulations infused with New Zealand ingredients, backed by science.
For the past 15 years I’ve combined my love of science, beauty and a clean lifestyle. Antipodes can be found in 30 countries globally and adorns the cabinets of celebrities and clever consumers who value authenticity, sustainable ingredients and quality formulations.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Starting at 5am I like to wake and exercise. I have always made time for exercise as it energises me for day ahead. I’ll jump on the exercycle at home or head to the gym for some weights training.
Breakfast will be something quick, clean, simple and plant-based – either at home or a local café. I do like to start the day at a local café and support those businesses as much as possible.
The energy of those places is great to be around: Floridita’s or Prefab and Wellington are delicious ways to start the day. I clear emails and review my schedule for the day.
When I arrive at our HQ in Wellington it’s usually straight into meetings with my team. Our meetings are agenda-led and we’re always very solution and action focused. The mornings are a great time to tackle any pressing or urgent issues – while heads are fresh.
We’re currently entering a lot of new markets – the USA being one of them. This has seen me doing a lot of virtual deskside meetings and interviews with beauty editors.
COVID has completely changed the way we present ourselves internationally as a brand – I’m jumping in front of the camera more and presenting or filming videos for our external partners to push.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
I’m a very hands-on founder so whilst (pre-COVID) I was able to work remotely from Bali a couple times of the year – and was overseas a lot – I do prefer to be back in HQ with the team.
I think it’s very hard to replicate the energy you get in a workshop with the team, remotely. Technology is fantastic that it allows us to work remotely when needed but I believe you can get work done faster in-person.
With our fast growth, we have formed cross functional teams, which moves things along quickly and ensures participants are accountable- this is not possible remotely in my view.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work-life balance for me is being present in whatever you are doing. When I’m working I’m present, focused and giving the task at hand everything I’ve got. When I’m at home or around family and friends I’m fully there.
I believe it’s the only way to achieve a sense of balance in life – without feeling as though you’re compromising one thing for another. I’ve had to train myself into this balance – as with three kids and lots of people around me, I am an expert multitasker!
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I’ve always been driven by my gut and worked intuitively. In this business it’s so easy to be swayed by trends and stifled by data – which results in a product looking like everything else.
These past 12 months I’ve worked on backing myself and trusting my team to do things the Antipodes’ way – for example we didn’t allow COVID to slow us down as a business, if anything we have accelerated.
I accept that it may not be the way other businesses work – but it works for us, and is creating exciting energy in the workplace – everyone is part of the success of pushing the business through a global crisis.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
- To Kill a Mockingbird– I love the old-style language and the depth of characters.
- Barbarians at the Gate – an excellent novel, based on a true story of the leveraged buyout of RJR
- Nabisco (Oreo Cookies) – fascinating and high paced book which has all the thrills and excess of the 1980s – hard to put down as you keep going back for more.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
- Hello Fresh – quick easy meals to prepare when home. It takes the thinking out of dinner.
- Exercise bike, running shoes, and a set of hand weights.
- Pool table at work – allows me to just take my mind off things momentarily.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Victoria Beckham. I admire her tenaciousness, humour and style. Four kids and a business, plus being “on” for every aspect of her life – wow!
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I think there’s a lot of guilt around the idea of work-life balance. The truth is – people are doing their best with what they have. You have days where there’s balance and day’s where nothing goes to plan. That’s life.
You must be compassionate with yourself and listen to yourself. Sometimes trying to be perfect only makes us unhappier. Slow down or speed up when you feel like it – that’s what balance is. Giving yourself the permission to choose.
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