Prisca Ongonga-Daehn is the founder & CEO at baresop., a startup revolutionising the personal care industry to make it easy for millions of people across the globe to eliminate single use plastic waste from the bathroom.
Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?
My career background is quite varied. I feel like a cat who’s lived seven lives (you don’t have to include that) . I began my career as a journalist then moved to public relations and recruitment focusing on the Branding, Advertising and PR sector based in Shanghai and later Melbourne. A move to Beijing coincided with my long life plan to start my own gig in sustainability led product development (I have a passion in designing products that improve lives and most recently, make businesses better).
A few things came together and compounded my journey to baresop concept and to create a solution that made it easy for everyone to create change without compromising their everyday lifestyle.
Having just returned to Australia after living in SE Asia where l witnessed first-hand how much single use plastic was immersed in our everyday life, and outspoken daughter whose main wish in life is to be able to find a solution to cleaning the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch.
Wanting to own the narrative and do the bit we could to be part of the solution to this big problem, we went on a journey to shift our consumption habits. Whilst it was much easier to find solutions for the kitchen space, it was a challenge to find solutions for bathroom (personal care) products at the time.
Research on how much waste we were creating from personal care products and lived experience in difficulty finding an easy, convenient and a solution that was fully closed loop presented a responsibility to create the solution I wanted. And bring the community along with me to create positive change.
The Baresop concept has become more than a solution; it’s a declaration of intent. It bears witness to our refusal to succumb to convenience at the expense of our planet and shared humanity. It stands for a choice – a choice to confront the problems that felt insurmountable and to uncover the solutions that exist within our grasp.
We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?
A typical week day usually sees me wake up at 5am. I start the day by prepping my ginger/tumeric shot to kick off my day and a quick 5 minutes gratitude meditation. I love my 8 km beach run as a way to start my day and activate oxytocin.
I try to leave for work early so I can start my work day at 7.30am. I schedule deep work in the morning and meetings after 1pm whenever possible to capitalise on my alpha brain waves. 7pm – 9pm is time for dinner together as a family and an opportunity for us to pause to check in and share. I try to be in a deep sleep by 10pm wherever possible.
Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?
I have taken the term work life balance from how I structure my life and replaced that with mindful work and lifestyle routine. I found that in my experience as a time poor, overwhelmed female founder (female founder because there are different work/life demands for most women founders and male founders – something we can dive into another time), aspiring for a work life balance state was having a negative effect on my journey. I just couldn’t reach this state however much i tried. When I replaced that with mindful and empathy work and lifestyle routine. This seems to be serving me best.
My approach to maintaining this state saw me go through a transformational step and chopped off everything that is not part of David (David being my northstar and purpose as a mother, friend, leader and colleague) and only giving space to those things that positively impact my work and life journey. This has allowed me to create and maintain space for the things that add to my cup.
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?
This question and answer link to my response above. Essentially, I found myself on the edge of burnout, teetering dangerously close to a state of exhaustion. It was a wake-up call, prompting me to engage in a heartfelt conversation with myself about the changes necessary to not only preserve my resilience but also to create a life that resonates with positivity and fulfilment.
I embarked on a mission to reclaim space within myself and refine my priorities. This journey demanded that I establish healthy boundaries in both my professional and personal spheres—a daunting task for someone who had spent most of her life as a perpetual “yes” person. The transformation has been nothing short of remarkable.
I’ve summoned the courage to decline commitments when necessary, a liberating act in itself. The ability to delegate and outsource, coupled with access to streamlined tools, has revolutionised my work. It’s astounding how much more can be accomplished with these newfound resources.
But it doesn’t stop there. I’ve made an intentional effort to experience the small glimmers of life and simple life joys that are free and in abundance. Purposefully setting aside time to relish these little glimmers has been a revelation, reminding me of life’s inherent beauty.
And yes, there’s always room for rule-breaking and spontaneous fun. After all, what’s life without a few delightful deviations from the norm?
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?
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?
Discovering and sustaining a work-life balance is a deeply personal journey, something as unique as our own fingerprints. It’s about uncovering what resonates with you on an individual level, rather than adhering to a one-size-fits-all formula.