Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Kait Tregenza, Founder & Director of The Love Company

Kait Tregenza is the Founder and one of the directors of The Love Company, a venture agency helping female founders to scale their femtech and digital healthtech businesses to ten figures and beyond.

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Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

My background has been as a founder and in venture capital. Basically, I have spent a career finding solutions to people’s problems. The more problems I solve or the bigger the problem, the more exciting that is for me. I am definitely someone who wants to be paid in the impact made. Finding a problem that affects enough people who want it solved is really how I’ve lived my life and shaped my career.

I moved to Europe when I was 18-23 and then to China when I was 24 -28, so I had to become comfortable outside of my comfort zone, and I had to get good at working out how a system or a country works in order to be able to thrive in it. While living in China I worked on a project that vacuumed the air to make bricks for houses. I became obsessed with rebranding “pollution” or what we then started calling CO2 into building blocks – literally and metaphorically.

I spent 5 years as a climate founder and another 5 years as a Climate focussed VC in both Australia and the US. I spent several years as an angel investor in femtech before dedicating my entire life and career to female founders and femtech companies. 

I am the founder and director of The Love Company. The Love Company is guided by one simple belief: women will build the companies of tomorrow. We believe that the best solutions to broken systems will emerge from a more diverse founder ecosystem, deeper conversations, and new perspectives.  We work with unconventional female founders who are solving problems they know intimately, that they’ve dedicated their life to changing.

The Love Company has built a different model of creation, founded in Love. This is a new model for growing valuable female-led companies solving previously unresearched or ignored female health problems for female customers and backed by female investors in a way that women don’t self-censor, feel comfortable, have their needs met and expand to extraordinary new heights without apology or prejudice.

The way that accelerators and incubators have been formed caters to a male-centric audience with the emphasis on hustle culture and speed. They don’t take into account how women work, create or grow through partnership, collaboration and relationships, which traditionally take a longer term approach. Moreover, if that woman has childcare or other care requirements, there is no flexibility because there is no balance. But we have all been convinced for such a long time that the Silicon Valley model is the only way, where a 12 week accelerator leads into a venture round and an exit within 5-7 years.

The Love Company works on a model of creation and scaling that suits the founder and their goals, and timeline which can be as varied as the founder herself. There is no one size fits all, and we need to formulate a model that works for women and their styles and their desired outcomes for longterm, intergenerational and wider community benefit – and celebrate that more than we celebrate hustle and burnout.

The Love Company also has a venture studio where we create, incubate and take companies to market. Our first company to recently come out of stealth is PhenXX. PhenXX is a company that creates health and wellness products for people with XX chromosomes. At PhenXX, we fuse love, science and technology to develop products from a womb-need and female first perspective. We’re an answer to unspoken concerns, a companion to healing, an invitation to discover new ways of living that enhance quality of life for women and their closest connections.

Everything we’ve developed and invented positively aids women to gain more peace of mind, comfort, ease and harmony during any time of their natural cycles and desires. We are purpose-driven, and prioritise first-of-its-kind scientific research that nods to our natural affinity with nature and places women in the spotlight. We exist to reimagine the world from a place of emotional freedom and self love, where women are supported in living joyously and freely at any time during their cycle.

To democratise menstrual cycles, womb health and pleasurable living for all, across all genders. We are working towards a world where there is welcome conversation and knowledge about the magic of having XX chromosomes and that natural, bespoke options that support womb needs are championed and commonplace.

The Love Company also enables expansion into APAC. One such example is our partnership with Aura Fertility to enter the Australian market. Aura is a wrap-around 24/7 psychosocial support tool for patients undertaking IVF and a clinic companion tool to support them to make patient centric decisions that would grow their bottom line while also servicing their patients better.

I am an advisor to Emmeline Ventures, a new US fund steadfastly committed to investing in and serving as catalysts for new, emerging founders & businesses. We invest in female founders building game-changing businesses which empower women, in particular, to manage their health, build their wealth, and live in a cleaner, safer world. The partners at Emmeline are true champions of minority women and equaling the playing field for all women irrespective of background.

Covid was such a huge catalyst for me, as it was for many people. I had a chance to slow down, stop travelling to the US as frequently and rest. Within that restful pause, I could ask really pertinent questions about the rest of my life and I had the time to hear the answers and how to answer what I consider a much bigger calling. 

Even though I always considered myself a big picture person, really redefining what I wanted my legacy to be and writing out my own eulogy was a priceless activity that helped me to define what I want to leave behind, and how I wish to shape the world. For me, this was dedicating myself to building a world that would be far better for my daughter to live in and for me the answer to that was female founders and female focussed businesses.

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

I was blessed with a new baby in September 2022 so everything is now run around this little person. With a newborn there is no such thing as a typical work day anymore. The baby schedule changes regularly as they grow, so nimble and agile work styles are a must.

I start the day by writing down the one or two thing/s that need to be done that day that I know will move the business forward. Any fluff or anything that doesn’t need to be done – gets scrapped and forgotten. This has been a hugely positive addition to my work and time management, where I used to spend too much time sending lengthy ‘rejection’ emails with all the free coaching and advice I would have offered, that no longer happens. 

Also, as newborns become infants, there is less sleeping and feeding and the days are constantly changing on you as you respond to the baby at that new age. That is the same as business. The market is always moving and we need to take stock of the actual world outside and not get so stuck in our day to day routines without looking up. That old adage that most people have 1 year of experience they repeat for 40 years.

We train our founders to be dynamic. A baby has made me more dynamic than I ever was. It has been a big experiment to balance work and baby as both are important to me, although I can never be replaced as her mother and I always make her my priority. I am lucky that my schedule allows me to be flexible to be able to manage both.

Even with the hours of playing and feeding I do per day, I would still be able to complete a full day of work each day, but it is split up and disjointed which took a lot to get used to. I really had to overcome and work through my own guilt around not working enough or working too much. I think this is something that every working mother goes through and it is hugely challenging to let go of. 

The thing that helped me more than anything else was realising that I had a very narrow definition of work, like so many of us do. Sitting at a computer answering other people’s emails and demands is not my job. I had to rise up higher in my skill set and delineate and delegate. As a result I now do the right work and have eliminated all the wrong work.

I have increased my team of people around me personally and professionally and learned to ask for help. Asking for help has not been a talent of mine in my life and I realised that this is a very valuable skill that has helped me grow in all aspects. It is now one of the first things that we help female founders to do – recruit a team around them!

By redefining work and only looking at outcomes instead of hours spent on something, I really found that time spent breastfeeding or playing or walking in the park have been monumentally important to the growth of the company and the vision. Getting out and filling with oxytocin, serotonin, vitamin d and laughing and playing and singing are some of the greatest creativity stimulators there are.

In 2017-18 I spent some time living in India and became a laughter yoga teacher. I practise laughter yoga myself and also instruct others, and I used to tell my participants that children naturally laugh about 450 times more than adults every day. Now I have a true experience of that. The daily laughter and love I have with my child has done more for my business, productivity and overall motivation than a hustle or ‘grinding it out’ and sitting at a computer for hours on end as I had done up until now in my career.

That is why I am convinced that the way we are shifting the culture around growing meaningful impact businesses is definitely more loving, more joyful and more meaningful than the typical startup model of hustle and grind.

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

I think balance is a hard word to define as everyone will see balance as different. For example, I cannot balance a ‘normal’ 10+  hour work day that I used to work with a baby and nor would I want to. It is about defining your boundaries and priorities and sticking to that. Knowing your priorities liberates you. 

I had an unmedicated and unassisted home birth, and once I reached the transition point after about 36 hours of labour, I hit a block that my baby and I had to work through together. I vowed to myself and my baby at that moment that she is and always would be my priority. After this declaration, I pulled her out and into my arms 20 minutes later.

For me, my priority will always be very clear.  I can be replaced at everything else I do – but I can never be replaced or find equal substitution for being the guiding love, security, safety and home that I am to her as when I am her mother. If I truly believe in making the world a better place for women and girls, I will start the most important experiment the world needs right now; what happens to little girls who are completely loved for all they be, and feel safe & supported? Who do they become when they have someone who believes in them no matter what they do, just for who they are.

That is the world I would love to create for my daughter outside our house, so my priority is to make that a reality inside our house too. Feeling passionately about your priorities and boundaries helps to maintain them and celebrate them. Before I had a baby, I had no boundaries and worked constantly on someone else’s dream literally any hour of the day or night, convincing myself it was my dream too. 

So having a clear definition of my own dream and vision for my life and business makes maintaining balance easy. I knew I wanted to breastfeed for as long as my child wanted to feed, even if that was over 2 years and I made that commitment right at the start. Although I bought a pump, I found that I loved breastfeeding and the time we had together.

When I am breastfeeding the entire world stops and it is just me and my baby. Yes, it is a huge time commitment, especially in the first 6 months, and it is a massive drain on time and energy and means you will never sleep through the night or be able to be too far from your baby. In making that decision, everything else – work, meetings, even my marriage needed to be shifted and moved around and take a new form.

My husband and I found a new rhythm and so did my work. I had to change where and how I live, where and how I work, what projects I do, how to take calls/meetings, and how I would balance my work load and how to prioritise. I found however in the process that the combination of oxytocin, serotonin and quiet time in deep love bond with my baby several times a day that I become more creative, more visionary, more adept at solving problems and seeing the bigger picture.

I couldn’t rush off prematurely to a solution or to send off an email or act on that idea in any way because I was feeding a baby, so I was forced to sit with it longer, see it through a few extra steps and run the idea through to the end. I got to rinse it around a few times before voicing it out loud and I was able to step out of that “go go go” mentality that so many of us get caught up in trying to do so much every day. 

I found that having about 10 breastfeeding sessions that last up to 60 minutes forced blocks of silence and stillness into my life. These blocks became one of the greatest assets to my life, my business and my creativity. From a personal perspective those interactions between my baby and me while feeding are deeply implanted into my mind and memory as the best times of my life. Having a person (that you made with your body) stare into your eyes with pure unbreakable love is so life changing that it forces you to become bigger, to step beyond what you think your limits are and to find a higher version of yourself that you step into and embody. I could now produce far more, and do far less.

I had better formed ideas and I had better considered pathways to get to those end goals. It also forced me out of daily task execution and into delegating to a larger team and empowering them to complete the work to get to the outcomes however they saw best – and I had zero time to micromanage or hover. I gave myself permission to enjoy my child as much as I wanted and to be present in those baby moments.

Being present there helped me be present everywhere. Realising the value of a moment in a way none of my 20 years of meditation or retreats ever could. This was visceral and biological. Time slowed to a stop and I was just who I was in all that I was. It didn’t matter how many deals or clients or money or contacts or anything I had or didn’t have. All that mattered was that I was present with this being and gave her all of my heart.

When she slept or was in another’s care, it meant that I enjoyed my work even more because I was making an active choice to spend my time there. I bring my baby to work every day because I work from a home office, and I schedule meetings at times that work for my baby’s sleep schedule. I took more meetings off camera so I could walk with a pram, carrier – meaning I got more exercise and spent more time outdoors.

I thought it would be an issue until I realised people didn’t mind at all. Now I send through an email letting them know I will be going for a walk for our call and invite them to walk too if it suits them, and I find the energy flowing makes for better interactions, ideas and valuable relationships because I have gifted them some respite. I normalised my baby being on calls when there was video, working in the industry that I do makes that easier and normal. Furthermore, I am a leader in Femtech, and it is an important stance on women being carers AND creators simultaneously. 

The truth is I had to throw out the old way and reinvent a new way, but in the process found a far superior way of working or maybe my baby taught me a better way of working and living if not in balance then in harmony, one that was far more fuelled by the right motivations and reasons and honestly, I wish I knew what I know now before I had children and had been working this way for decades.

Which is ultimately why I talk about this so openly so that women can take what they can from a more feminine work style and adopt what might suit them whether they have children or not.

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We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?

Surprisingly since having a baby I have read two business books – Limitless by Jim Kwik and The New Hustle by Emma Isaacs and both definitely help with a new way of being and doing more with less. The other book for mums that I recommend is Save Our Sleep by Tizzie Hall.

Before we wrap up, do you have any advice for other women to balance their work with family life?

My advice in life is never take other people’s advice, and listen to your own heart about what is right for you. If you are a working mother and looking for advice on doing that – then the same applies. This is a contentious issue and it is so personal. What you do for your baby will always be the best you can do, trust in that and find your own relationship with your baby and work that works for you.

But if I had to give advice, then I think the best advice is to listen to your baby and find what works between you two. And the next piece of advice is that guilt serves no one and nothing – don’t give it airtime. That is easier said than done, so design a life and a schedule that works for you and eliminates guilt at the core.

If you cannot do this alone, seek professional help to move beyond your guilt because it will ruin you very quickly if not.  You and your baby are on a team and you need to get this team right before anything else is possible. You can read all the books in the world, but your baby will tell you what they want and need and once those things are provided in love and safety, you have an enormous amount of freedom beyond your baby.

That mother-baby bond is strong and telepathy and intuition is strong between you – trust it and trust yourself. The advice I needed to take for myself is asking for help and accepting help. Letting go of superwoman was important for me to feel like I can achieve what I wanted and needed. Then I made sure that my list of things to do was only full of incredibly important things that would move the business forward in a meaningful way. No more fluff on my schedule- at all.

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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.