Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Jaz Wearin, Founder of NORT

Jaz Wearin is the founder of Australia’s leading non-alcoholic beer brand, NORT, and co-founder of Modus Operandi Brewing, one of the most awarded breweries in the country.

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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 NORT, Australia’s leading non-alcoholic beer brand and the co-founder, along with my husband Grant, of Modus Operandi Brewing, one of the most awarded breweries in Australia. My background comes from finance, admin and hospitality.

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

After a night tic tacking between my own bed and my almost three year old’s I wake up at 5.45am for a 6am pilates class, home for my habitual egg on toast with my little and big man, kiss and cuddles goodbye.

I walk into work with my husband, swinging past for a large coffee where we discuss the day ahead and projects, sign into the construction site office where we are currently building our second brewery and headquarters in the lovely sunny suburb of Merewether in Newcastle.

Big good mornings to the team (we managed to get our offices finished first so we can all work together and enjoy watching the build of our dream brewery), then internal back to back meetings from morning through to mid afternoon with marketing, sales, finance and commercial, venue, marketing agencies, construction, production, etc.

My day is varied which I really enjoy but it’s not for everyone! I then get a few hours in the afternoon to attend to emails, call key accounts and get onto my ever growing to-do list or I spend the afternoon travelling between Merewether to Mona Vale (and vice versa) to set myself up for the following day at the other brewery .

I usually race home to see my little man at 6pm so I can spend an hour with him before bed, read some stories until he falls asleep, sit at the table (or in front of the TV, let’s be honest!) with my husband for dinner (also not going to lie – Dinner Ladies has saved our lives) and try to not bring work home to the table.

Then a few nights a week I spend a few hours catching up on more emails or hankering down into a good Netflix series. Always in bed before 10pm because I am a nana!

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

Being a multifaceted business (manufacturing, hospitality, wholesale) my team and I really need to be onsite most days. We were fortunate during COVID that because we were a smaller team and based outside of the CBD we were all able to continue coming into work.

It really helped the morale for all of us to be together in such uncertain times and with so much pivoting going on, being able to work together and collaborate there and then made us very agile.

I occasionally work from home if I really need to power through work, however most days I like to be in the office so I am there for my team if they need me and also if I need them! I love and use all the technology out there such as Google Meet, Google Docs, Asana, etc. to assist with remote efficiency however a meeting in person still does it for me. I think it helps that we work in a brewery if I am going to be honest!

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

I am not always a good student in work-life balance but considering the pressure of running a small-medium business I think I give it a good crack. I think exercise is so important. When you have a family, exercise is really the only time you get you time and it’s so good for the soul.

If I start my day that way, I am much better for it. I miss my little boy during the week because I work full time, however the joy of running your own business is that I can sneak out to one of his little classes and watch him run around like a lunatic.

Like every mum, I feel guilty that I am missing out on watching him grow up, but little things like this through the week really help me shrug off that guilt.

When we first started the business (Modus Operandi Brewing) we also had a brew-pub. We would work all day in the brewery and then all night and weekend at the bar. We had to do that out of necessity because we literally had $7 in the bank account.

It was hard yakka and we knew we could only do it for so long. I am happy to report seven years into the business and with a trusted team in place our weekends are now sacred with our little family, enjoying time with mates and family down at the beach attempting to surf.

I don’t regret working all those hours at the start of getting our business up and running, but it’s not achievable long term. You need to take the time out to reset every week so you can kill it the next week (or put fires out – ha!).

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

The biggest change in my life in the last 12 months has been the introduction of non-alcoholics into my life and the people around me.

I founded NORT in September last year among the chaos of COVID where I could see a society and my own inner circle struggling with the uncertainty of what lay ahead and relying on alcohol to switch off from the pressures of homeschooling kids, job and business uncertainty and general fear of what was happening in the world.

We started introducing NORTs into our everyday lives and we couldn’t believe the impact it had. Life is busy with careers, social commitments, family, hobbies and hangovers can really get in the way of these things. I was getting really sick of waking up most days with a slight fuzz and would feel tired and irritable.

I now have a few days during the week where I enjoy a beer, a gin or a wine, but they are non-alcoholic and totally scratch my itch. Then as the week closes out I do have a few alcoholic Modus beers but then I flip to a NORT and it’s a game changer.

I don’t feel like I am missing out and am really enjoying this new balance. I receive an email almost every day to this same effect from NORT consumers and it makes my heart smile.

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

I have just started Reboot by Jodie Fox (co-founder of Shoes of Prey) and I am loving her honest account of a fast growing business, the successes, where it went wrong and the lessons in that. Not many people talk about the failures, but every week we all make mistakes, it’s how we learn from them.

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

Sometimes if I am feeling burned out, overwhelmed or manage to have some time to myself on the weekend I absolutely love the app called Yoga Nidra – Relaxation Lite. It’s a guided meditation that keeps you focused on deep relaxation without letting your mind wonder.

You can select 10, 20 or 30 minutes and I have been known to grab a quick 10 minute session under my desk. It can turn the day around!

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

I have a bit of a girl crush on Zoe Foster Blake. She is running one hell of an empire, has two kids, a large social media following, engaged by Tourism Australia, all while looking fabulous. What are your secrets Zoe!

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

Balance is key, whether it’s in work and life or beer!

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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.