Balancing the Grind with Phoebe Simmonds, Founder of The Blow Australia

Phoebe Simmonds is the founder of The Blow Australia, a premium blow dry experience company, and the co-founder of online baby retailer the memo.

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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 The BLOW and co-founder of the memo.

After completing a Commerce degree at Melbourne Uni, I moved to London in 2009 and had the incredible experience of working as the Marketing Manager for Nude Skincare which was part-owned by Bono’s wife Ali before it was acquired by LVMH and came under the tutelage of Parfums Christian Dior.

It was here I was educated in the world of brand management, from the power of heritage, to defining a unique DNA and an irreverent tone of voice. I fell in love with Benefit Cosmetics (also part of the LVMH stable), which more than any other brand I had seen was expressing their brand with real passion and purpose.

I moved into their team first in Singapore, expanding their brand and retail presence across Sephora in Southeast Asia, before settling back in Sydney as the Marketing Director for Australia.

The idea of The BLOW came to me when I was traveling to the US for work with Benefit. I noticed that many professional American women get weekly Blow Drys, they see it as a professional need and an event necessity.

As someone with really frizzy, curly hair I came to feel the same way- I had a big job and wanted to feel my best- but in Australia there was nowhere that met my needs: a Blow Dry boutique that served up a consistent service in a convenient location at a competitive price with an aesthetic that smart, stylish women have come to expect.

It was at this time that I noticed that other beauty services from the States had caught on in Australia- manicures and brow shaping had evolved into an essential part of many women’s routines- but hair hadn’t yet made it down here in the same way.

I opened The BLOW in September 2018, with our first boutique in Little Collins St. We have since expanded into Sephora Pitt St with a dry style boutique service.

In addition to managing this business, I also work with my Kate Casey to run the memo, a business we founded in 2019, an online retail destination for everything smart, expecting parents need to settle into a happy home life with their newborn. Think the best in baby, but just what you need, no fuss, all feel good.

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

Very different in 2020 to what it looked like in 2019! At the moment I split my time between running my two businesses, The BLOW and the memo. I like to do exercise first thing in the morning, usually it’s a Centr workout, a run around Carlton or yoga by Jennalea McInnes.

Then it’s straight into working from my laptop at home, calls and anything creative ideally in the afternoon after I’ve cleared through my to-do list and inbox in the morning.

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

Yes absolutely, both businesses I can run from my phone and as a business owner I’ve always worked from home and just ducked into the salons/ the warehouse when I needed to.

At the moment I can’t host any events or do any of the face-to-face coffee catch ups that really dominated my daily work life pre-covid, so I’ve got more time to sit and strategise and get creative from home as opposed to working on the fly.

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

Freedom to be able to say yes and no to whatever suits me, my values and my lifestyle. Not getting caught up in the small stuff but keeping my eyes on the bigger picture.

When I first started The BLOW, I had to work really hard on my resilience so I could sustain a lot of pressure, and also to not take things too personally. It’s an acquired skill that gets easier by the day!

I always like to tune out of work mode on weekends. While I can’t log off completely, I need time away from my phone and all the socials, DM’s never sleep!

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

Despite the huge changes to my business rhythms from Covid, I’ve still been able to be consistent with my daily rituals. I workout and journal every morning.

This is the only time of the day that I get to myself, it helps to centre me and stay present and focused for the day ahead. The new thing I’ve been doing is to have a tech free bedroom so my phone stays in my kitchen when I sleep. I think that’s helped me sleep deeper most nights.

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

The best book I’ve read in the last year is Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino, it’s essays on feminism and self perception and I will never stop thinking about it. I’d recommend it to any millennial woman.

For podcasts I love Desert Island Discs, Conversations, The High Low, and Who Weekly for culture. Lady Brains and How I Built This for business, and The Daily and Inside The Hive for politics.

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

I’m obsessed with my AirPods, I legitimately can’t imagine running my life without them now. As for apps, I’m really stuck in my old school ways and am very resistant to using any new apps regardless of whether they might improve other people’s work-life.

For example, I tend to draft instagram posts and save them to instagram rather than using an app like Plann and I’d always prefer using an old fashioned notebook to write a to-do list or google docs to an online task manager.

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

Journalists always fascinate me because so much of their life is to deadline. I loved the documentary The Fourth Estate behind a team of journalists at The New York Times. They live for work and for the rush of the scoop, making and breaking history.

I also really loved reading Tina Brown’s Vanity Fair Diaries from the 1980s so I’d love to read her day in the life now, and how she manages huge responsibility and big conversations while keeping creating boundaries for what her family and doing what she loves.

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

  1. Make time for exercise to start or end your day on your terms.
  2. Never underestimate how good a clear inbox will make you feel.
  3. And don’t stew on it, pick up the phone, it will get to the heart of what ten emails couldn’t do.

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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.