Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Simon O’Connor, Co-Founder of Alkira Skincare

Simon O’Connor is the Co-Founder of Alkira Skincare, a natural skin care range, that he launched with his sister, Alison Goodger.

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

I was a co-founder and director of Sukin Skincare, a natural skincare company. With a background in marketing, my goal with Sukin was for the brand to become a household name and I’m really proud to say that my incredible team and I achieved that.

The Sukin brand was not only successful domestically, we also exported to multiple countries which contributed to strong brand and company growth. In 2015 we sold Sukin to a company called BWX. After handing over the business for 12 months and subsequently exiting, I enjoyed some time away from the grind with my young family.

I now run and own a branding and marketing company that specialises in consumer products. My current projects include Alkira Skincare, an Australian native skincare brand and a joint venture with Cronos Australia, working on delivering CBD products to the Australian market.

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

Despite the unusual times we’re facing at the moment, my days look significantly different now to what they used to in my previous career at Sukin.

My sister, Alison Goodger and I had built the company to a point where we had a team supporting us in various roles. We’re now back in start-up mode and wearing the various hats it takes to run all facets of a small business.

I find myself switching from social media manager to sales director and everything in between on a daily basis.

Generally a work day involves me waking early to grind out a coffee before getting started on the lap-top. My wife and I have two children, 5 and 3 so depending on the day of the week and whether or not they’re at kinder/school, it’s usually a mad house between 6 and 8 am with a production line of breakfasts and school lunches being prepared to the sounds of Peppa Pig or Octonauts on Netflix.

Once the screen lights up it’s all systems go and time to start ticking off the to-do-list. This list has been a significant part of my working mantra throughout my career.

The great part about brands and the thing I love the most is no day is the same. It’s a ‘choose your own adventure’ and every day has its own challenges and triumphs, large and small.

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

I own my own business, so my work-day is flexible and working remotely is an option for me.

Now that restrictions are lifting, I find myself taking a cautious approach to returning to the office. My sister and I share an office in Richmond at Creative Cubes, a co-working space. I’m heading back in 3 days a week and working the other 2 days from home. We’re slowly starting to see more and more faces return to the space, which is encouraging and refreshing.

Being in start-up mode again means that there’s always something to be done. Routine is a difficult one to achieve given everything that’s going on but I’m finding some organisation to my chaos.

I’m making sure that I work hard in blocks throughout the day. I set myself some ‘non-negotiables’ to have done by the end of each day and anything else I achieve is a bonus.

Throughout Covid-19 my wife has been incredible, taking on the task of kinder and prep teacher. This has enabled me to focus on my work and to develop my current projects. Working from home has had its challenges but none greater than my 5 year old daughter project managing the build of a living room cubby house.

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

My work-life balance is really important to me. It’s what keeps me on-track and mentally healthy. It sounds crazy but after selling Sukin and taking some time off, I found myself needing the ‘work’ side of the balance.

For me it’s super important to spend time with my wife and children. Balancing this time with work as well as keeping myself fit and healthy are the important elements in my life.

I find myself working hard around the clock Mon-Fri but closing the laptop screen for family is a must on the weekends. It’s challenging to switch off when you run a small business, I’m always thinking of ways to improve.

Fatherhood has definitely given me a different perspective of the balance. I need ‘work’ and the gratification you get from success is hard to replicate, but nothing compares to family life. My kids and my wife make me incredibly happy, so when I’m focused on work I’m happy to work hard but I remind myself that when the laptop closes and my phone is down, it’s all about them.

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

I’m pretty open about my battles with anxiety amongst family and friends and happy to share a little here as well. I’ve experienced and dealt with anxiety off and on for most of my adult life. Around 12 months ago, for reasons I don’t understand I found it creeping its way back into my life once again.

Pushing myself back into work over the last 12 months as well as my all-important fitness routine has been a really important. I’ve discovered that not only do I crave occupation to keep my mind on track but staying fit and healthy plays an integral part in keeping me healthy. My daily to-do-list will always have some sort of exercise as a non-negotiable.

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

My favourite books are actually cook books. I really enjoy cooking. It’s a great opportunity to switch off and I love seeing others enjoy what I’ve created. I’m playing around with some dishes from The Complete Gut Health Cookbook by Pete Evans at the moment.

If I had to recommend a podcast it’d be PukaUp by Wayne Schwass. It’s all about encouraging genuine conversation around mental health and emotional wellbeing.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Yes! I can’t live without my iPhone and the app Later. Later allows me to create and schedule posts as well as gain insights into the analytical side of social media. I found socials absorbing a large chunk of my work-day before I was recommended Later. It’s been a game-changer.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

I’m a keen snowboarder and skier, so I’d love to read about the work life balance of the late Jake Burton. Jake pioneered the snowboarding movement and grew one of the worlds largest and most successful equipment and apparel brands in the space.

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

Do what makes you happy. Ultimately we work to be able to enjoy our lives, so make the enjoyment side your priority.

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This conversation is brought to you by The Well-Suited Group, providing premium executive support services to high level executives, who also recognise the value of work-life balance.

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.