Balancing the Grind with Sandy Ronalds, Founder of NAT’V Basics

Sandy Ronalds is the founder of ethical and sustainable intimates brand NAT’V Basics, a brand she started to make a positive impact and be part of the solution.

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Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

I would say my ‘career journey’ actually started way back in 1996, at the Australian Institute of Sport. I was an elite gymnast up until 2000 and, as a gymnast, the power of discipline and consistency is really drilled into you. They’re two things I have carried with me in every job I’ve ever had. And I’ve had every job!

In my junior years, I did everything from working in a bakery to coaching gymnastics. I worked in retail and hospitality, from serving drinks to running events and even worked as a Beauty Therapist.

As I progressed into my more professional years, I’ve worked in business development, I’ve been a marketing manager and also led a team as a practice manager before going on to co-found a cosmetics startup, where I learnt some crazy lessons over four years! Looking back, my very varied roles have turned out to be just the right mix of ‘building blocks’, setting me up perfectly for where I am today with Nat’v Basics.

We’re currently coming into our fourth year. We’ve had amazing growth so far and are currently focused on really nailing down our tech stack and systems. We want to be a well oiled machine! That way we can keep growing with as little friction as possible.

We have also been working closely with the Darling, Shine girls Chole and Ellidy. We have been working on a very cool collaboration which is due for launch at the end of June. 

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

I definitely have a few ‘consistent moments’ woven into my day, but, like a lot of parents/business owners these days, it’s quite untypical to have a typical day. 

My morning coffee ritual is probably the only staple in my day that doesn’t change. Of course, there are things that need to happen every day, like (my daughter) Kenzie’s school lunch being prepped and packed etc. tending to the dog, that sort of thing, but they can be tweaked and changed throughout the week between my husband and I.

It all evolves and gets worked out depending on which of us is best set up to do whatever it is, whenever it needs to be done. And I think that is actually the beauty of running your own business. You may be responsible all the time (there is definitely no ‘tools down’ moment at 5pm) but you also get to make what you do for work, compliment instead of contradict, who you want to be at home. 

Most days will start in the office checking my list on Monday to see what priorities need to be attended to first. Then it could be any number of things depending where we are in the product development cycle, what’s going on with the website or marketing.

The other day I went from having an impromptu brainstorming session with the team about a new product range we received the sample for, and then headed off to do an interview. But other days can be stuck in front of a screen pouring through spreadsheets and finances which is less exciting, but absolutely necessary as a business owner.

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

I definitely know the value of maintaining a work life balance, and part of that is understanding that it’s not attainable 100% of the time, but that’s ok. My business is like a second baby to me, so I’m happy to give it the attention it needs to thrive and in some ways it’s always on my mind.

When you need to work hard, long, or late, that’s just the way it is sometimes to keep things moving and growing. But when it’s family time, it’s family time and I try to switch off from work and be present for that. Again it’s not always possible 100% of the time though!

At work, we wrap up for the week at lunchtime on Friday’s which is a great way for the whole team to wind down from a big week. It’s good to know that we can all go into the weekend ready to make the most of it, whatever that means for each of us. For me, I like to get out with my family, walk on the beach, enjoy a long lunch out somewhere, that sort of thing. 

I still haven’t ‘nailed’ the work life balance thing yet, I’m not sure it’s even something you can achieve and then it’s ‘done’. Instead I think it’s something you consistently work on. I’m still often on my phone last thing at night, and first thing in the morning, which I know isn’t ideal, but then I also get to stop everything when it’s time to take my daughter horse riding and spend that quality time with her. It balances out.

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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?

Yes, I’ve set my phone to go to sleep at 8pm and wake up at 6:30am to avoid being interrupted and distracted with work when I’m at home. It doesn’t mean I’m not still on it late into the evening though! But I am getting better and more conscious of it.

I’ve also started going to pilates twice a week this year. Carving out regular time in the week to do something for my health and wellbeing helps me not just physically, but mentally too. 

If I need a rest day, or mental health day, I’ll take it. I might not take the whole day off, but I’ll work from home, or somewhere I feel secure and allow myself to recharge. 

I also make sure to guard my time and set boundaries. I don’t just automatically answer every call, especially from unknown numbers, I will set time to listen to messages and return calls that work for me within my day. If I answered every call every time, I would spend my entire day on the phone and get nothing productive done!

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?

I really enjoy listening to the Female Startup Club podcast, and would also highly recommend the Darling, Shine! Podcast. Chloe and Ellidy are so raw and honest – and very entertaining! It’s not necessarily a business podcast, but it is empowering to listen to their journeys and feel inspired to keep striving, which can help you at work as well as at home.

I actually find I learn most from my network, though. I like to surround myself with people that are smarter than me at things they do so well, and then I watch, learn and ask them for advice.

An extension of that network can also be the resources and account managers you have access to from tech products. Most businesses will have a tech stack that they use to run their business, and the companies behind them want you to keep using them so they are constantly trying to add value by creating tools and resources. They are technically ‘free’ as they are bundled in with subscriptions you are already paying for, so make use of them!

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?

Be consistent, and be disciplined.

In business; know your why, know your numbers, and know your customers. These three things, kept in focus and known upside down and inside out will serve you well. 

In life; Do things with purpose. Figure out what you wanna do by asking yourself why you wanna do it. Then remind yourself of this every time it gets difficult.

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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.