Rebecca Jefferd is the Co-Founder of skinscreen brand Ultra Violette, which she launched in 2019 with her co-founder Ava Matthews.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m Co-Founder of the skincare brand, Ultra Violette. We make skinscreens that are a wonderful combination of skincare and sunscreen that launched into the Australian market just over 18 months ago.
Before starting Ultra Violette, I have had many roles in marketing and general management in Australia and overseas, but have found career love in the beauty industry.
I met my Co-Founder, Ava working in product development for an Australian beauty retailer and we started work on the brand 4 years ago. We now work full time in the business and It’s the best job I’ve ever had!
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I’m based in Melbourne and at the moment and we are in Stage 4 lockdown due to COVID-19 meaning I’m working from home with my husband and 2 boys who are doing primary school from home also.
It’s pretty hectic but I’ve had a bit of time to refine what works as-best-as-it-can for me and us right now.
I’ll pick a Tuesday as these are my favourite days at the moment. I start with a walk with a girlfriend at 7am. The government allows us outside for 1 hour of exercise with one other person at a time.
We catch up on each other’s lives breathing through face masks taking in Port Phillip Bay and I grab a coffee on the way home to get my kids ready for homeschool. Whilst the restrictions are far from fun, I’m grateful for this much needed break from the house and this morning we were reflecting how good it was to be able to sleep in and exercise at 7am.
Before lockdown we would have to meet at 6am given the process of getting the kids organised and out the door. Small mercies!
My work day starts at 9am when everyone in my household is on a Zoom meeting at once. I prefer morning meetings, or tackling complex projects in the morning. I also have some help with my children on Tuesdays with a Nanny coming and keeping the household organised, making snacks and answering school questions so I can focus on work.
She is an absolute lifesaver, and allows me at least 2 days of productivity, otherwise I’m the one juggling work with hot chocolate preparation and algebra questions! We are clearly in “unprecedented times” (I’m so over that saying by the way) so I’m choosing to lower my expectations of what can be achieved in a typical day/week and survival is key.
That is survival of my business, my relationships with my family, and of course my own sanity.
As a business owner my days are really varied. At the moment they can be planning our summer marketing activations with Ava (fun), checking cash flow with my Financial Controller (less fun but super important), or implementing a new stock management system to help cope with new customers and new products as the business grows (the least fun, but again super important).
I wrap my day up at 5.30pm and the 30 second commute to the kitchen is another small mercy in the day. I get dinner organised, talk through the day with my boys, tidy up and break up any arguments.
We then have the evening together, or if I need to jump back into the office and finish work I do that, but given the survival mantra I’m adopting, it’s often TV on the couch with my boys and then either Netflix with my husband or a good book.
We also have a curfew in Melbourne during Stage 4, so there is no leaving the house after 8pm even if I wanted to!
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
I think flexible and remote working is the new normal and at Ultra Violette we each have the means of communicating and being productive from whatever space works for us.
Ava also works from home around her own schedule, our Financial Controller is avoiding lock down by working from the NSW coast and we just hired and Inventory Manager who is currently in Hotel Quarantine after returning from the UK. What is normal anymore?
The key is to work with people you like and you trust, so that you are accountable to the task and you fit work in around your life and vice versa when a deadline is approaching. The only downside to this is connecting on a human level.
In “precented times” we would come together over lunch, coffee or drinks and that would really cement our human relationships (and therefore working relationships). I’m really looking forward to having a better balance of face-to-face-time as well as keeping the things we have learned about remote and flexible working into the future.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work-life and just-life are the same thing to me. It is really about being empowered to run your day how it best suits you.
We are all able to focus on outcomes, and look to both the micro and macro picture to get the best job done, and still be a fully functioning member of a family, a team, a friendship circle etc. Work has to fit in with everything else or otherwise what is the point?
I know I have the privilege of owning my own business so I get to set the rules, but both Ava and I are really determined to afford this flexibility to everyone that works for us. The more business owners that do this, the better things will be for everyone.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
In the past 12 months, and in particular the last 6 months, I’ve really had to adopt a flexible mindset to be able to respond to the external situation with COVID restrictions, but also to respond to the needs of a growing business.
Understanding that change is a constant has meant adopting a greater mental agility when setting any routine. It doesn’t mean throwing a routine out the window, it just means setting and assessing and not being afraid of mixing things up if need be.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I completed the Work Smarter Live Better program a few years ago (I read the book and completed the workshops while I was at Mecca Brands). It was a total game changer. It really helped shape how I prioritise and structure the way I work and gave me several tools that I still use such as a well-planned digital filing system and ruthless prioritisation without distractions. It saves me time every single day.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I have the app “To Do” on my phone which is a good home for all those random things you remember to do when you don’t have a pen and paper handy.
I now use it solely to keep all tasks in one spot and it gives a very satisfying ‘ding’ when you tick off a task. I also use it to keep future lists such as gift ideas or book/podcast/show recommendations.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I’m really interested in reading how other women who have a big job and still prioritise their friends and family actually do it. I’m a total work in progress on that front, and always looking for new and different ways of keeping all the balls in the air, or at least feeling less-bad if one drops!
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