Phoebe Yu is the founder & CEO of ettitude, an Australian lifestyle brand making sustainable bedding, sleepwear, bathware and accessories from CleanBamboo.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
My name is Phoebe Yu and I’m the founder and CEO of ettitude. We’re an Australian purpose-driven lifestyle brand that makes sustainable bedding, sleepwear, bathware and accessories from CleanBamboo – our proprietary, environmentally-friendly fabric.
The idea for the business came after relocating from China to Melbourne and setting up my new home. I couldn’t find any bedding that felt great but that was also affordable and responsibly-made.
That set me on a mission to start developing products that were luxurious, while also gentle on the planet and that did not cost a fortune.
My background in logistics and supply chain management exposed me to how damaging the textile industry was, so I set about harnessing all my knowledge and experience to create our CleanBamboo fabric.
It is a pretty incredible textile that is made in a closed-loop system that recycles 98% of the water used in the process. It’s extremely soft, breathable, hypoallergenic and thermoregulating.
2) What does a ‘day in the life’ look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
About 18 months ago, I relocated to Los Angeles, so when I am not working I am trying to make the most of the good weather and walking trails around the outskirts of the city. I usually wake up around 6:30am.
Before COVID, I would go to a Crossfit gym two or three times a week. Now, I do it at home almost every day, so I feel very energised!
My working day runs from about 9am to 7pm. It’s always quite busy, with lots of meetings to cover across four time zones. Most of our investors are located on the US East Coast, so my mornings are spent communicating with them, and afternoons are spent with our Australia team and with our manufacturing partners in China.
I always aim to take a walk with my husband after dinner to wind down for the day and catch the beautiful sunsets here. I’ll end my evening with emails, research and reading.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
ettitude is made up of a global team, so even before Covid-19, we were used to using video conferencing and dealing with different work schedules. We are currently all working remotely, which has worked for the team so far as we do what we can to keep us and others safe.
I personally have not felt too much of a change with the remote working; I think most founders are used to very long hours and the integration of work and life, but it’s something I try to be conscious of and make time to ‘unplug’.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
It’s an important balance to strike, and one I am always looking to find. I’ve become better at it over the years, with setting ‘rules’ around my day (like my early evening walks with my husband, and taking time every day to exercise).
We also have company policies such as 3-days/week remote work policy (pre and post covid), paid personal time and annual paid volunteerism day, and flexible arrangements for working parents, caretakers and all employees to encourage a better work-life balance.
Ultimately, it’s about giving yourself permission to switch off while knowing it will ultimately make your work life easier, more productive and better overall.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I started to learn sailing a few months ago as a new habit. It is so calming to be out on the ocean, not to mention that sunshine and the ocean breeze are good for my mental and physical health.
It’s also good training for the brain to have to read the wind and decide quickly what to do, and learning how to utilize natural force: to harness wind and water, not fight them.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
- Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard
- Journey To The West by Wu Cheng’en (an ancient Chinese novel, regarded as one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature)
- A Brief History Of Time by Stephen Hawking
- Morning Brew
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I keep it pretty simple! I cannot live without Google Maps for getting around LA, and of course my ettitude sheets, which I take with me wherever I go to make sure I get a good night’s sleep.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Helena Morrissey, the CEO of Newton Investment Management and a founder of the 30 Percent Club (which campaigns for greater female representation on company boards), plus she has 9 children and has written several books.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
As a founder or aspiring entrepreneur, people will give you advice, and lots of it. The trick is learning what to listen to and what to discard. Saying no will be harder than saying yes, yet what you say no to will have the biggest impact.
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