Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Kayla Houlihan, Founder of Tribe Skincare

Kayla Houlihan is the Founder and Brand Manager of Tribe Skincare, which can be summed up in 4 words – skincare for sensitive skin.

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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 career in the beauty industry is coming up to a decade. After working for Endota (the world’s biggest day spa franchise) and discovering my love for natural products, I soon opened my own skin clinic. Focused on results-driven facial treatments and at-home skin routines, we worked with cosmeceutical skincare products.

Which was amazing for a lot of our clients’ skin, but some of our customers with sensitive skin would have adverse reactions to these strong products. This is when I saw a gap in the market for all-natural, gentle products that were suitable for sensitive skin, but still packed with ‘actives’ to ensure amazing results. Tribe Skincare is completely centred around the four words “skincare for sensitive skin”.

Those words shape our purpose, target customer, point of difference and product range. The brand is 5 years old now and while it’s mainly ecommerce (selling within Australia, New Zealand and USA) we are also stocked in skin clinics and beauty salons, which really feels like my career path has gone full-circle. 

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

Some days, I am out of the office doing activations/pop-ups or participating in different marketing opportunities like recording podcasts, but the majority of my days at work are spent in the office. That’s honestly what I prefer too. I love routine and structure and have created a nice environment that I love working in.

Our warehouse, offices and flagship store are all joined together and being a small business, we all help each other out and have multiple roles within the team. My actual job description is Brand Manager/Product Development so I work on the strategy of the brand, keeping everything consistent, product development (current and future) and improving procedures and processes.

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

I’ve been through stages when I have had absolutely no balance and at other times, feel like I have great balance. Removing work emails from my phone in the early days was a real game-changer and I stick to strict work hours.

When I feel burnt out or stressed from the business, I begin to resent it and then the business suffers. I need to ensure I have positive feelings towards the brand and love it, because the staff and even customers can pick up on that energy. 

Even though I’m the founder, I think of myself as a staff member at Tribe Skincare and I don’t expect my staff to do overtime ever so why should I expect that of myself? We finish at 4pm and are all out the door by 4:01pm. It’s really important to have a clear line between work and life outside of it. 

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Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

At the start of 2022, I decided to try out the 4-day work week. 15 months later, I am still squeezing my role into Monday – Thursday and while it’s busy, every weekend is a 3-day weekend now and my work all still gets done. It’s really improved my motivation for the days I am at work and I feel like it’s the perfect balance. I am less stressed and a better business owner for it! 

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?

Podcasts are my go-to resource for business ideas and inspiration. Listening to other founder’s journeys and advice is something I have done for the entire five years of having Tribe Skincare and it’s made me feel less alone in business. Lady Brains and Female Startup Club are my 2 favourite Australian ones. Something else that changed the game for me was getting a business coach. Being a solo founder, I love having someone to bounce ideas off and hold me accountable.

Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Focus on your journey and be proud of your achievements. One of my early anxieties with the business was whether I was doing ‘enough’ and I got caught up in comparing my brand to others that started at a similar time or were in similar markets.

While it’s good to have goals and benchmarks, I really focus on appreciating the business now and all the opportunities it has given me. If myself, the staff, the stockists and the customers are all happy, then that’s all I really need the business to achieve, rather than focusing on revenue figures and ‘achievements’.

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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.