CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Irene Falcone, Founder & CEO of Sans Drinks

Irene Falcone is the founder & CEO of Sans Drinks, Australia’s first physical alcohol-free bottle shop.

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

I’m the founder of Sans Drinks, Australia’s first physical alcohol-free bottle shop. I’m here to disrupt the liquor industry and to help people find and fall in love with non-alcohol drinks.

Sans Drinks is not my first business though, I founded Nourished Life in 2012 to disrupt the mainstream beauty industry and prove that natural, organic and sustainable products were the future (which seemed like an insurmountable challenge at the time).

I started Nourished Life with only $100 and grew it to a $20m annual turnover in 5 years. I sold Nourished Life to the ASX listed company BWX Limited in 2017 but I am still passionately involved in the company.

A bit about my background? Before I realised corporate was not my game, I slogged it out for 15 years in advertising and digital marketing, working on the Yahoo!, Revlon, Nine Network and Unilever accounts. I was also the National Advertising & Digital Marketing Manager for Universal Pictures where I got to launch over 100 blockbusters!

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

Providing exceptional customer service is at the heart of my working day. At the moment that means that I am spending a huge amount of time at my shop. I love meeting customers, making recommendations and pouring out different drinks for people to try.

Of course, there is much more to running a business, so I always have my laptop and phone on me and between serving customers I am busy overseeing everything from website orders to social media.

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

At the moment it’s really important to me to be available to my customers so I’m spending a lot of time at my shop. At other times I have been a big fan of remote working, I have had some of my best ideas while working from my kitchen table.

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

I know that this sounds like a massive cliché, but I genuinely love what I do, which makes it hard to distinguish between work and life. Having said that, I make sure that I have uninterrupted time with my family every day. I also have a phone/laptop curfew so that I have a couple of work-free hours before bed. 

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

When I gave up alcohol (just over two years ago) I realised that having a glass of wine after work had become a bit of a ritual. I started having an evening bath instead – now that I’ve discovered alc-free wine I sometimes have a glass of alc-free wine in the bath – it’s the best way to unwind and a signal to my body to relax.  

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

I love to start my day with The Squiz – a daily email of Australian and International news. 

I love to listen to podcasts on my way to the shop, I have a few favourites such Mamamia’s Lady Startup Stories, Ladies we need to talk and Very Excellent Habits.

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

My phone and laptop! 

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

I’m really inspired by Reese Witherspoon – she was on the cover of TIME magazine recently and it really highlighted what a trailblazer she has become. I love the fact that she has found so much success and that her mission is to amplify the voices of women.  

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

I’d love to give a little plug for mindful drinking – since giving up alcohol my health, fitness and quality of sleep have all improved. The knock-on effect has been clearer thinking, more ideas and an abundance of energy – all of which have been invaluable. My top recommendations for alc-free drinks are Noughty organic sparkling Chardonnay and Wild Life Blush.

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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.