Grace Back is the Managing Editor at Her Black Book, an app for women who love to shop, featuring exclusive discounts, promotions and cashback.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I was pretty lucky that right after finishing my degree in Journalism at UTS, I was offered a role in digital publishing — working at weekly titles New Idea and WHO, which eventually led me to my role at marie claire and InStyle and then eventually to Elle and Harper’s Bazaar too, working as a Digital Editor.
After a few years working for those titles, I started to look for roles that would use the expertise I’d learnt in publishing, but also allow me to pick up some new skills too. I found that when offered the role of Managing Editor at tech startup Her Black Book, a shopping app that curates premium promotions and coupons.
While it’s a shopping platform, our founders — who were behind activewear giant Stylerunner, Sali Sasi and Julie Stevanja — thought it was important to create an entirely immersive experience for the consumer, so they brought me on board to help launch the platform’s in-app digital magazine.
It’s something that we’re incredibly proud of, covering everything from fashion, beauty and lifestyle to business and finance. I’ve also been fortunate in this role to profile some incredibly inspiring women — my favourite series we’ve done so far is our ‘Up Close’, which gives each woman featured the opportunity to donate $500 to a charity of their choice on behalf of Her Black Book, as a means of giving back to the community.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
What I didn’t know prior to jumping into startup life is that your days are completely unpredictable — which is something that I’ve actually found to be one of my favourite aspects of it all.
My day-to-day usually includes writing, editing and interviewing for the magazine, as well as curating shopping edits, but also stretches into all other aspects of the business (another fun perk of startup life!).
That can include creating, designing and scheduling social assets to meet with brands to see how they can be involved in the platform. On our really crazy weeks, it can also mean dropping everything on your schedule to hire a van last minute to make sure all our gift bags make it to an event space on time.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
When I first started my role at Her Black Book, our founder Sali was living in Adelaide while I was in Sydney, so it was all flexible, remote working until she relocated (fun fact, we’d only met once before during the job interview, every other form of communication was via Zoom!).
We would work from cafes, libraries, and of course, home until we recently moved into a co-working space as the team has grown.
Besides our team WIPs which are incredibly important when the team is so small and we’re growing so rapidly, we have flexibility and Sali and Julie are great at understanding that people work differently — as long as your output is up to scratch, it’s really quite flexible.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Admittedly finding work-life balance has always been a tricky thing for me, because I’ve always found myself in roles that are very much ingrained into who I am.
Thankfully, unlike other startup experiences I’d been warned about, Sali and Julie know that the best work comes when we have the time to reset and recharge.
That being said, we do work in the tech and digital space, which means we’re always working on a 24-hour clock, so when things do go wrong after hours it’s part of your responsibilities to be able to take care of it. So, basically, finding that balance is still a work in progress!
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Late last year I started the Keep It Cleaner running program, which has been one of the best new habits I’ve ever added into my routine. When I complete a run, I know that my day is going to go a lot more smoothly and tasks get done so much more efficiently for me.
Also, since joining Her Black Book, I was introduced to a few new practices of mindfulness (something that was entirely new to me), including Manifestation challenges — the most recent one I did was Deepak Chopra’s 21 Days of Abundance. It’s a great means of reevaluating what’s important and giving a really meaningful start to your working day.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Our office has started something of a book club this year, where we each pass around a business or entrepreneurial themed book and share some thoughts — right now it’s Start With Why by Simon Sinek.
Some other great resources are the Future Narrative newsletter by journalist and futurist Petah Marian (who helped us in the early days of strategising for Her Black Book) and the newly-launched podcast Left Right Out, a great resource for those wanting to feel prepared and informed for the upcoming election.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Obviously, I can’t live without the Her Black Book app, I can buy anything online without checking it! It’ll completely transform the way you shop.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Any woman who is juggling a family alongside running a business — I find them the most inspirational women in the world! Luckily, I get to see firsthand some pretty inspirational business women in my current role.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Your work will still be there — so remember to always take time to reset if you need it! That’s something I’ve slowly been teaching myself when working in such demanding roles.
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