Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Henrietta Lau, Founder of Cider & Basil

Henrietta Lau is the Founder of lifestyle & pet brand Cider & Basil. She launched the all-natural sustainable pet care range with no nasties in 2016.

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

When I first graduated (I have a background in Psychology and Business Marketing), I started a Sleepwear Fashion label. I did seasonal pop-up shops in shopping malls and markets and ran an online store.

I also participated in Melbourne Fashion Weeks and hosted a runway to help raise funds for animal shelters with our Winter Animal Sleepwear Collection. I worked in the bar industry (as most teenagers do) part time to feed my passion.

Few years later, I started a second business. It was a Pet Lifestyle Brand called Cider & Basil. That was a little tricky as I had to adjust to industry trends and had to do some rebranding.

Taking time off to rebrand, I feel like we came back stronger and better. I eventually closed the Sleepwear business and decided to focus solely on Cider & Basil. It is where my passion lies and what I am currently working on.

I am very lucky to be able to incorporate some of who I am into the business, we are proudly eco-friendly, sustainable and only sell good natural products for both dogs and their humans.

It only makes sense since we are already doing recycling at home, reducing the usage of plastic use in our home and buying groceries from local sources to support local small businesses.

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

A recent workday would involve waking up around 8am. I like to start my day with a warm cup of tea to hydrate myself and start to make some breakfast, normally some porridge with blueberries or a toast followed by a nice cup of coffee for a caffeine hit to start my day.

I would spend the next few hours going through emails, getting some work done, taking a break for lunch and definitely another coffee. Then I start packing some orders just to get off my seat and move a bit, head to the post office with the dogs for a walk and deliveries.

Then back to replying emails and more work. If the day allows, I like to fit in an hour of learning new online courses. Lately I have been taking a Photoshop class. Its 81 hours, and I’m trying to get through that.

Around 6pm I will bring the dogs for a nice long walk, this is important because this is when I get to relax, and I review the business, what the next steps are and sometimes get inspired and come up with new ideas.

I normally save a voice message on possible new ideas so when I’m back I put them into writing. Then I get dinner ready (I’m a chef by trade so I cook a lot at home) watch some tv and print out orders that need to be fulfilled by the next day.

I let the dogs out for some fresh air and to do their business, and finally I squeeze in a session of hot yoga, shower and then bed.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Yes, definitely. Because of the strange year we have had, I do not work as a chef anymore. I worked because it is a passion of mine but also for the extra income and to feed my dog hah (my dog eats way more than I do, she’s about 55kg).

Now I work solely on the business. It’s been good because it allows me to tackle the never-ending to-do list which I’m sure some of us can relate to.

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

Work-life balance is important to me. I try to balance it in my everyday routine. Working in the morning and throughout the day, time with the dogs and dinner with the boyfriend and our evening walks with the dogs to let them out to do their business, an hour of exercise/yoga and bed.

I think especially as a business owner, being able to take time out to do the little things like a walk or yoga, any form of exercise helps to refresh the mind and body. It allows us to be able to work better, work more productively and also enables us to look at things from a healthier perspective.

Making sure I put my phone down and not work continuously throughout the day to night makes a huge difference. Because I do not work 9-5, there is not real start and end to working. It’s important to set a time to stop. This reduces stress and prevents burnout.

Before going to bed, I write a checklist of tomorrow’s work I need to tackle so that I go to bed with a clear mind. This allows me to go to bed without stressing on tomorrows to do list.

Socially, I try to make sure I catch up with my good friends once a week or sometimes once a fortnight. I also try to arrange drive out dog dates with good friends to get some fresh air and have a nice walk.

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

I start the day much better now, I use to just have a coffee, no breakfast and power through the day till around 3 or 4pm for a snack. Now I start the day with a cup of tea, some porridge and fruits then a coffee before tackling the day. I take better care of my body now.

I also stopped sleeping late. I loved to work till 3am because I found that I worked better and faster at night but then my mornings on the following days were always very slow.

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

I am a little weird, I love reading business books and cookbooks. Favourite books is a tough one. I would say I like all the books from Malcolm Gladwell and Zero to One by Peter Thiel.

As for podcasts, lately I have been listening to The Social Media Marketer as I take walks or just waiting In between errands.

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

I probably cannot live without coffee, moisturisers, my Sony camera, my mobile and my laptop because its where I do all my work.

Apps I would say social media apps like Instagram and Facebook, Shopify app, Snapseed app, banking apps because they make life so much easier and are necessities for my work.

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

I am sure most people who have successfully run businesses would have at some point of time been interviewed but if I could name a few, I would love to ask Richard Branson how he tries to maintain a work-life balance with the multiple businesses he runs.

I would love to ask everyone on the Shark Tank panel what their secret is to work-life balance, and mums like Jessica Alba (Honest Company) and Jennifer Garner (Once Upon a Farm) on how they juggle having a company, having kids, being famous and still trying to be healthy and balanced.

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

It is an important part of our lives that a lot of people tend to overlook and end up realising the detrimental effects it has on our physical and mental health many years later. The initial bit may take a bit of conscious effort and discipline but once you get into it, it becomes a routine and will become part of your life. Trust me, it makes a big difference.

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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.