Balancing the Grind with Sonia Gouveia, Founder & Director at She Connect

Sonia Gouveia is the founder and director at She Connect, a one-stop shop for women’s fashion, a consumer centric marketplace building the largest range of brands.

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

I am Sydney born and raised and have been in marketing for over 12 years now, while originally coming out of a finance and economics degree I quickly recognised that I could add more value to a business if I was in a position where I could uncover new opportunities, connect with customers and help drive growth. Within a year I made a move into marketing and have never looked back. 

During my career I have worked across various marketing sectors from food, cosmetics and healthcare in the FMCG space. I have worked with some incredible businesses along the way who have taught me the importance of understanding your customer, really understanding them not just who they are but why they buy from you and how we can better serve them.

These principles have shaped who I’ve become to understand the power of connecting and storytelling to our customers. A good marketer won’t try to sell you something you don’t need but rather ensure you’re aware and informed of what you can benefit from. I currently work for a global healthcare organisation.

I enjoy the brands I manage and how they help our consumers. I have been given many opportunities to move around the business and work in different categories to develop my marketing skills and continuously tackle different business problems. 

Like many businesses we too have been impacted by COVID in one form or another so while companies navigate through the pandemic so too are individuals who are constantly learning. The never-ending challenges of COVID push me to be more resilient and adaptable to ensure we can change as the conditions change. 

I am passionate about many things in life including marketing, growth and fashion. From an early age I understood the true power an outfit can have and the feeling of confidence it can bring to a woman. It wasn’t until recently that I had the courage to pursue this passion of mine and turn it into a side hustle.

At the moment, I’m working on a re-launch of She Connect into a new platform to help other fashion labels grow their business. I want to help rock stars become super stars by finding their customers and connecting with them.

At the same time, I’m also re-launching my own label with a new name, By Sonia which is apparel for the real, modern woman. Watch this space as exciting things are happening in the first half of 2022. 

I describe myself as a multipotentialite having interests in many things. I feel it’s so much more common for people to have a corporate career and a side hustle (or hustles) – at the same time. People are looking for an outlet where they can be, both creative and make extra money. 

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

I am currently deep in learning how to be a working parent. I have an 18 month old little boy and after returning to work half way through 2021 we are still figuring it all out. My husband and I are a team when it comes to navigating the working week and I’m thankful we share a lot of the load. 

Typically, my day begins by being woken up by our little human alarm clock at 5am and from there the focus is ensuring everyone is set up for their day. With the current flexibility of work from home it means we have a little more time to savour the moments with our little boy that perhaps the rush of prior life and commuting to the office wouldn’t allow. 

Each morning one parent takes the lead on day care drop off so the other can get a head start on the day. On those mornings it means I’m ready and at my desk early. It’s really important for me that I start my day with a few rituals I have, including my daily coffee, green smoothie, journaling, essential oils and my quote of the day.

Being a mum now I don’t get a lot of time to myself so I really make the most of the in-between moments I can create for myself. From there, I make time to get into my side hustle, She Connect and By Sonia, we’re currently launching a new website and making some changes to the label so I’ve been focusing on finding the right partners to bring my vision to life.

I use the time from my previous commute into the office to focus on my side hustle. I previously spent up to 2 hours in the car every day! It didn’t bother me then but being a mum now, it’s crazy to think how much time was spent commuting. 

Then it’s time to get into my marketing job and it’s busy! I’ve come back into a new team and new role and while I’ve been with this company for a while it’s great to be given new challenges. The company I work for pride themselves on flexibility and with most of the workforce embracing this so most are working remotely so we have lots of video calls. I like to mix it up and try doing walking meetings when we can so I’m not stuck at my desk all day. 

I try to take a lunch break during the day especially if hubby is home too, it’s nice to have some quality child-free time and finish our sentences! We often pop down to our favourite local coffee shop for some fresh air and to recharge for the afternoon. I’ll usually take this chance to check my emails, social media and see what’s happening for the day. This is my way of keeping up with what’s happening in my industry with the latest campaigns and new launches. 

In the afternoon, I like to set time aside to work on bigger projects like new campaigns or big activations coming up. We usually work quite far in advance on campaigns so I like mapping out key milestones so we have a clear plan. 

I step away from my laptop for dinner and bath time with our little boy and I really enjoy having the opportunity to have dinner as a family with the current work flexibility. At the moment, I do tend to log back on later and work while it’s quiet in the evenings. I make the choice to do this now while my little boy is young and goes to bed before the sun goes down.

I have also set up my week so I can dedicate a day to having quality time with him. We made this choice as a family and I’m lucky that my work place gives me the flexibility to do this. It’s important that every family does what works for them and doesn’t judge what others do. 

In the evening once I’m ready to switch off, I like to relax with my husband either by watching our favourite show together or I’ll catch up on my current book. Right now I’m reading, The Audacity to be Queen by Gina DeVee 

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

Yes, my corporate role has a great amount of flexibility, flexible with work from home arrangements by ensuring I am set up at home with the right ergonomics and technology to support these new ways of working.

Individuals are encouraged to choose where they want to work from and where they feel safest. This arrangement also requires a great amount of trust in your workforce especially between manager and employee so I ensure that my manager is across what I’m working on and where I’m spending my time. Building that trust is a key foundation of a great work from home operating rhythm. 

This current level of flexibility suits me in the current phase of life I am in, as a working parent it means the time I previously spent commuting I can be present with my family. I can be on-time for daycare drop-offs and picks and the extra time means our work week doesn’t feel so rushed. Our little boy will only be this little for such a short time so I want to savour all of the moments which having this flexible schedule allows me to. 

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

My work-life balance has changed as the phases of my life have changed, there’s probably not a whole lot of balance when you have a toddler but that’s part of the adventure. Every Sunday we try to map out our week, we prioritise what’s important for each one of us that week. 

For me, work life balance is about making space for what’s important to me, ensuring that I’m making time in my calendar for the things that bring me joy over and above my work day. Having kids, a career and a side hustle makes you really good at setting boundaries and space around those.

At the moment my most important things are being present with my baby boy and enjoying this phase with him. It’s having time to focus and tick things off my list so I feel good about my work and progress I make. It’s also important to make time to connect with my husband and people in my life.  

I am still figuring out work-life balance in this new phase of being a working parent, things get a lot busier and a more-full on than they used to be but we love it. 

I like to reflect every month as I look back at my calendar where I spent my time, what I did and what I would change. I think it is important to look back, learn and make small changes. It’s important I spend my free time recharging and doing the things I love. 

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

I have been working on myself a lot in 2021 and have a adopted a few key rituals to set me up for success in the day.

My daily ritual:

Start the day by setting my intentions – what do I want to achieve today, using essential oils and meditation. Journaling and being grateful plus a quote of the day.

The Pomodoro technique. I split my time into 25-minute blocks. I like to set my timer, put my phone away and tackle tasks in 25-minute blocks.

I especially like to do this in the morning to help set my day for success. It’s amazing how focused and productive one can be especially when you know the clock is ticking. I use this technique for both work and home. 

In planning for the week, I have also started to ask myself what can I say ‘no’ to in my week, what can I do to make space for myself.

My weekly bath, just relaxing, having time to myself, my thoughts and creating space for ideas. This was particularly important during lockdown and times we couldn’t go far and were trapped at home. This gave me some time out which I needed to recharge my energy.

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

Podcast: Powerful stories by Tory Archbold – I did the business attraction program in 2021 and love having her voice in my head. She reignites your passion and helps you truly discover who you are. She’s definitely one to look up.  

Podcast: The Confidence Chronicles by The Queen of Confidence. She is real and raw, tells you what you need to hear and not what you want to hear but she will make you feel like you can do anything! 

Book: Daily Mantras to Ignite Your Purpose by Lisa Messenger. This book is part of my daily rituals and it lights me up. I love reading the quotes and the mantras everyday to start my day with a positive punch! 

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

A notebook and a good old-fashioned paper diary (this year I’m using the migoals diary to help keep me accountable for my goals). When you’re managing work, side hustle and family I need to outsource all of my to-do list, plans and ideas somewhere so I don’t have to remember everything myself. 

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

Sara Blakely – she’s my inspiration and someone who I look up to in business and life. I’d love to know how she manages a billion-dollar business, 4 kids, her marriage and manages a household. I love her mug-spirations on her socials, she’s not afraid to be her real self and I admire her honesty. 

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

Key things I’d love to be known for; 

Normalising side hustles within corporate cultures. It shows that you take initiative, that you have a diverse skill set which can also benefit your career and make you even more valuable. Not everyone who has a side hustle wants to make it their main hustle 

Companies and co-workers need to evolve to be more supportive in this work parenting journey people go through as both mum and dad’s – especially mums – as they find their feet returning to work and navigating the seasons as parenting life changes. 

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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.