Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Kelly McDaid, Co-Founder & COO at Unhidden Beauty

Kelly McDaid is the Co-Founder & COO at Unhidden Beauty, a venture backed beauty business creating fully customisable eyeshadow palettes.

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

I started off in PR, working with various consumer clients at an agency based across Bristol and London. Starting my career at an agency has proved invaluable – it really instils you with a good work ethic, plus organisation and communication skills as you’re constantly having to meet the needs of both clients and your internal teams (of which there are sometimes many!)

I then moved in-house to run PR for a voucher business which was subsequently bought by Groupon. This allowed me to get a taste of both the startup and corporate life, and really broadened my role beyond PR. I launched and operationalised a new area of the business and really enjoyed using a broader set of skills and working outside of a niche. 

I then spent a stint running operations at a venture capital fund, which I loved. The team was fantastic and it was a pleasure to get to speak to so many interesting founders, although I found myself wanting to do it myself! That’s when the team at the fund introduced me to one of their portfolio companies – now Unhidden Beauty, which is where I work as COO today!

We sell fully customisable eyeshadow palettes and a range of vegan, cruelty free and paraben free shades. Our reason for being is that we believe in delivering personalised beauty for every person – whatever their needs, skill level, complexion, skin type, age, gender etc. 

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

I’m sure everyone says this, but it really is varied! We are a full time team of six, and our site officially launched earlier this year. At the moment, I’m working on materials that will help us to partner with others and broaden our reach – both through affiliates and PR.

We are also working to deliver the best experience for customers, so spending time in customer service, speaking to customers, looking over their orders, asking for feedback etc. (this is alongside more traditional operational tasks).

Right now all of our roles are relatively broad due to the nature of a startup, and I love that. It means we can get involved in so many areas of the business.

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

Looking back I have pretty much always worked in businesses where there are multiple offices and an element of travel. This is the same with Unhidden Beauty – I am based in Bristol and London (around half each).

All of our team are able to work from home, although we find that most people choose to spend a lot of time in the office and it’s definitely something we find valuable as a small team and a startup.

I’d say that we are very flexible by nature, which ultimately gets the most out of people I think – allowing them to work when they are really at their best and fit in with other things that are important to them. 

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

To me, work life balance means filling your life with things that are important to you and having the time and flexibility to do so. For many (including me!) an element of that is obviously work but there are other things. Getting to spend time with friends and family, going to the gym etc. all make me feel fulfilled and I believe make me a better person to work with.

I think it’s about being communicative with the people you work alongside – working hard but also allowing room for things that are important to you and being honest about that.

There may be days where you are in the flow and work long hours, and days where you get what you need to do and not much beyond it. It all balances out and we should try and give ourselves permission for that.

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

I have started to listen to podcasts more avidly in the last 12 months, and they have proved invaluable in sharing lots of useful insights as well as just generally being enjoyable to listen to. I’ve also started to enjoy cooking a lot more, which is great for switching off and helps create a distinction between working and the evening (which can be quite hard to get when working from home in the kitchen!)

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

There are some amazing episodes in the Stephen Bartlett, Diary of a CEO podcast (I especially liked the Karren Brady episode) and I am a huge fan of Law of Attraction Changed my Life by Francesca Amber. It’s not a business podcast, but talks about putting positive practices in place in your life which ultimately impact your working life (as it’s really all the same thing!) 

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

The only thing I can really think of is my phone! It’s sad to say but it gives me access to so many of the things I couldn’t live without – friends and family, but also podcasts which I’d say I pretty much listen to daily! 

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

Probably Michelle Obama. I read and really enjoyed her autobiography, so a lot of that came through there but I’d be interested in how she manages this in a more ‘normal’ setting. I think she talks about it in her podcast, so that might be my next listen! 

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

I think it’s something that everyone struggles with from time to time, but I really try to think of work / life as just life. There isn’t a distinction – it’s all the same thing. I try to make sure I spend enough time doing the things that ‘top me up’ and make me feel good, and remain aware of how I am feeling day to day.

For example, I noticed a huge shift in my productivity when we launched our website – I realised I needed to be in the thick of it and have very tangible tasks to work on, rather than planning. This is something I can really bear in mind moving forward.

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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.