Balancing the Grind with Kaylee Lieffers, Founder & CEO of Blanka

In this conversation, Kaylee gives us a glimpse into her journey from management consulting to launching a cutting-edge beauty brand platform.

Sharing her experiences with the challenges of entrepreneurship and the beauty industry, Kaylee delves into her daily routines, emphasising the significance of morning workouts and the quest for work-life balance in the whirlwind of startup life.

She opens up about her recent lifestyle adjustments aimed at stress management and the profound impact of journaling and gratitude practices on her well-being. 

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

My career started in a very corporate setting as a management consultant. It was a great starting point for me, teaching me how to break down problems and communicate long term strategies. But after a couple of years in consulting, I realised it wasn’t going to be a long term fit for me.

I was always super excited about entrepreneurship and start-ups, but I had decided to go into consulting first because I had convinced myself that I needed to have enough experience before I could add value to an early stage company (which obviously isn’t true and something I have since learned!)

After joining my first start-up, I never looked back! Today, I’m the Co-Founder & CEO of Blanka, a platform that automates the process of launching a branded beauty line. With high quality products sourced from North America and with no minimums, we take care of product procurement, branding and fulfilment all through technology.

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

My days feel like organised chaos. I really appreciate having routine, but at the same time, when you’re running a start-up, routine isn’t always possible. The one routine I will not skip is my morning workout. I’m always up by 6:30 and I start my day with a spin class, gym workout or pilates class.

As Blanka has grown, my workday is less about being an individual contributor and getting work done, and more about having a lot of meetings, both with team members internally, as well as with external partners, customers, and investors.

The one thing I’m trying to get better at is how to block out time for catching up on emails and Slack – right now it feels like I’m constantly trying to get to Inbox Zero, but I think my days would be more efficient if I set aside dedicated time to tackle all my emails versus constantly doing them throughout the day.

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

When you’re running (or working in) a fast growing startup, I don’t think that there are necessarily black and white lines defining work life balance. For example, at Blanka, there are no standard 9-5 work hours, but rather we are a results driven organisation.

Similarly, we don’t have a set number of vacation days, we just encourage our team to take whatever they need. Finally, we have a very hybrid working style, and the team works from where they want. My point is, everyone needs something different to feel balanced. For me, in addition to my regular fitness routine, I love cooking meals throughout the week and spending time with family and friends. 

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?

Yes! A couple things I’ve been very intentional about this year: (1) I’m no longer going to allow stress into my life. I have consciously made the decision that I just simply will not be stressed. It sounds a bit ridiculous, but giving myself that control has actually made a huge difference in my day to day, (2) I am saying “no ” more often.

This one is a bit cliche, everyone says it, but I am finally learning how to practise the art of saying “no ”! and (3) I have begun an incredible practice of journaling multiple times per week. In addition to that, I have a really powerful manifestation and gratitude practice that has changed my life.

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?

Absolutely. One of my favourite podcasts that really helps bring balance to my life is The Expanded Podcast by Lacy Phillips.

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?

Ultimately, everyone defines balance differently and everyone needs different things. It’s super important to listen to your body, mind and gut and take care of yourself. Especially when you’re in the rollercoaster of being an entrepreneur, it’s so important to take a step back and realise that if you’re not taking care of yourself, ultimately the business will suffer.

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.