Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Shem Richards, Founder of Goldilocks Suit

Shem Richards is the founder of Goldilocks Suit, a company selling smart clothes for babies to help parents navigate the stresses of early parenthood.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I am a medical device engineer by background and have worked in the industry for +9 years. About 5 years ago, I got approached by some startups to do some consulting in the medical device space and I caught the start-up bug.

About 4 years ago we were blessed to have our first daughter, Amali, and I was struck with the uncertainty and stress that new parents face bringing home an infant from the hospital. And then I looked at the stats and 72% of parents suffer from the Baby Blues and 10-20% from postpartum depression.

Imagine having a product or service that caused 72% of users anxiety and stress? Clearly the transition of care from hospital to home wasn’t being done well, so I started Goldilocks.

In the 2 years that Goldilocks has been running I have experienced the highs and lows of start-up life – including countless rejections and managing to raise capital and get our first paying customers.

But through it all, my role is to support the team to be their best in an uncertain and volatile environment. This means taking most of the pressure, coaching, advising, consoling and celebrating to ensure the team is on an even keel and delivering as we know we can.

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

Today I:

  • Like the usual superhero, changed my daughters nappies and got her breakfast.
  • Rode to work to squeeze some exercise in.
  • Took introduction calls to investor/mentors to put Goldilocks on their radars.
  • Spoke with manufacturers about scaling and assembly work.
  • Ran interviews for new position we have coming up and sat down with organisational psychologist to narrow down the field.
  • Did some personal development work in digital market and best practices.
  • Responded to emails.
  • Came home and had tea with wife and kids.
  • Packaged and assembled product to send out the next day.
  • Caught up on the Olympics.

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

We are living in and out of lockdowns. It is impossible now to run a business without flexible and remote working.

For me this means that I can fit my family life around my work life. I don’t have to stay at work to all ends, I can come home at a reasonable hour, spend time with the family, then when everyone is asleep, catch-up on the work I couldn’t get done.

Not having to go into work also frees up an hour so in the day that I would have been commuting. Often in startups being well paid is difficult but what they can offer in spades is flexible hours and remote working. This is a key reason, I am still in a startup.

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

For me there really isn’t a balance. Due to working in a field of my passion and the remote and flexible working hours means that the lines are very blurred between work and life.

Is having a drink with an investor/friend work or life? Is helping new parents enjoy their new born work or life? Is mowing the laws work or life? I tend to focus on instead what I enjoy, what I find fulfilling and what makes me a better person, rather than so much is this life or work?

So for me, I focus on what I find fulfilling and enjoy and spend as much time doing that. The things I find a waste of time (spoiler alert – mowing the lawns) I try to outsource as much as possible.

I am blessed to have a job, I find it fulfilling and I enjoy it so I do spend a lot of time doing that. I also really enjoy spending time with my family so I do spend a lot of time doing that. Anything else, gets outsourced.

Sorry it’s probably not the answer you were looking for, but put basically find what you like doing – do that. Everything else – outsource (or at least work towards/plan for that).

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

Every week I reflect and think on things I want to change. In the last 12 months, an embarrassingly small amount of changes have been made. One thing I am concentrating on at the moment is meditation.

Trying to find time to reflect on myself, the path I’m taking, how I am feeling and what I want to improve. It helps me to re-focus on what is important and concentrate my efforts. It is important to do if you have a chaotic job in a start-up, you don’t want to be chasing your tail.

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

It’s a bit controversial but I don’t. I very briefly read the headlines of some cutting edge medtech magazines and read the Bible for guiding life principles, but largely I don’t read or listen to anything else.

I found, I didn’t really learn anything from books or podcasts except for general principles. But I have been in the game for long enough to understand most of the general principles and driving factors.

I didn’t used to, I used to read, listen and watch to be inspired, applying general principles for my specific niche and finding what else is going on in the world. But for me, at the moment, I have found the best way to get that is by speaking with other founders, investors and friends I trust.

I get more than enough specific inspiration, advice and knowledge through speaking to people then I do through podcasts, books and newsletters. If I am trying to wind down or relax, I watch sport, have friends over or watch British comedy panel shows.

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

Everyone is different, everyone learns to cope in different ways. Find what makes you tick and stick with that. Don’t be pigheaded about it, try new things as you want to. But don’t waste all your time trying to meet someone else’s expectations or life goals. Listen to yourself and find what works for you and if something doesn’t work for you leave it and don’t look back.

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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.