Sophie Kovic is the founder of Seed & Sprout, an online store renowned for their ethical and sustainable products ranging from back-to-school supplies, personal care, through to composting solutions and now skincare.
Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?
I’m a bit of an entrepreneur at heart which means over the years I’ve created a few businesses! I started out my ‘career’ as a Candy Bar kid at the local cinema, then projectionist, then moved to become the co general manager. From there, I went on to start a fashion label which was my first foray into small business.
I then started a business called Flock Stocks selling feather hair extensions (which won a business comp and flew me to New York to meet some of my great mentors like Seth Godin). After that I started doing phone apps which allowed me a lot of personal freedom to be a mum and led me to wanting to create something that was not only fulfilling a need for my son but also fulfilling me personally, with a vision to create a better world through small manageable steps.
Right now, I feel like I’ve fully landed in my passion, which is my business Seed & Sprout. Seed & Sprout is an online store that’s on a crusade to end our obsession with single-use plastic. We’re renowned for our ethical and sustainable products ranging from back-to-school supplies, personal care, through to composting solutions and now skincare. In fact, next month we are launching an exciting new product in our WITHOUT skincare range!
I created Seed & Sprout in Byron Bay Australia in 2016 after I was faced with a problem that I couldn’t find a solution for. After enrolling my son into a local school that had a wonderful no-disposables policy, I literally couldn’t find one single non-plastic lunch container that suited my needs (no matter how much I wanted to spend).
This sparked an idea and set me on my journey to create a company that was focussed on creating products for the everyday person, with a goal of reducing reliance on single-use plastics.
We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?
A recent workday for me has been very focussed around our new WITHOUT skincare launch which is a game-changing anti-ageing serum without all the nasties commonly found in skincare products.
I’ve been very focussed on communicating the message of this product, especially since the skincare industry is rife with greenwashing. I wanted to ensure that we could create a product that really was what it said it was, and thankfully we’ve been able to do that. But a big part of what I’ve been doing is making sure everyone truly understands what this means.
As the name suggests, Seed & Sprout’s WITHOUT Serum is without chemicals, without synthetics, without fragrance and without harm to animals (but that doesn’t mean it compromises on quality).
What’s more, the serum is Australian made, vegan-friendly, dermatologically tested, clinically proven and comes in a fully recyclable aluminium tube, meaning it is also without waste. There has obviously been a lot of work that has gone into creating this product and ensuring that my teams (both internal and external) are all aligned is a big focus for me right now. Lots of calls, Zooms, in person meetings, sending out samples, liaising with media and overseeing copy has been a big focus.
Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?
It’s a daily struggle for sure! Some days I don’t think I get it quite right, but thankfully I’m now very aware when it feels like I’m spending too much energy on the work side of things. Work for me is so important, but it never comes before my family.
When I’m busy, I will block time out in my diary so I can ensure that my ‘life’ (a.k.a family) gets prioritised. It’s so important to take a step back, turn off notifications and reconnect with people and the planet. Spending time in nature allows me to reconnect with myself and what’s most important, so that’s a priority in my day as well. If that means I have to schedule time in my diary to do it, I absolutely will!
Ultimately I think work-life balance is all about what you prioritise in your day – so never feel guilty for prioritising your life and the things that are most important! I will say, having the right key staff in place is essential to creating space in your life. Entrepreneurs are often the bottleneck in their business so coming to terms with that and sacrificing both ego and payroll are crucial if you really want balance!
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, one change I’ve made is taking the steps towards actively prioritising the ‘life’ side of things. I’m very driven when it comes to my work (which is obviously a great thing), but it’s important to find time everyday to look inwards, as well as outwards.
When you’re so busy working towards a goal, you can forget to take a moment and appreciate what’s happening right now. Spending time on gratitude exercises is also a change I’ve made (I used to do it a lot, but it had dropped off), but now it’s something I make a point of doing in written form every day. I feel very lucky in my life and so it’s important to spend time appreciating every little moment.
I also spend most weekends truly offline. My off-grid property has no Optus phone reception and people always ask me why I don’t switch to Telstra. But the truth is I love it and I choose Optus by design! Ha.
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?
A book I recently read and loved was A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry because I’m obsessed with India and it truly took me into another world. I used to exclusively read business books and found fiction a time-waster, so letting go of that mindset opened up a new world for me.
As for podcasts, Lottie Daziel’s How to Save Our Planet is an incredible resource that interviews game-changers in the sustainability space. It provides practical advice on ways to make positive change for our planet, as well as some truly inspiring stories.
I also love Body and Soul’s Healthy-ish podcast for all the latest and greatest on health and wellness. For newsletters I love Leigh Campbell from Mamamia’s weekly newsletter that provides a wrap up on all things skincare and beauty, as well as the beauty newsletter Gloss Etc.
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?
Yes. If you’re ever struggling to find happiness or meaning, focus on spending time doing things that are good for others and for our planet. We are all in this together, so it’s important to consider others and how our actions may be having a lasting effect on the world (and for the generations to come).
In such a fast-paced world, sustainability needs to be a priority for all of us. That means slowing down our consumption, and our minds, so that we can remember to take our water bottle, reusable containers, utensils and bags out with us.
Trying to take on a zero waste lifestyle all at once can be overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to just start somewhere, even if that has to be baby steps. It won’t just give you peace of mind, but taking these action steps for yourself or helping others will feel truly rewarding.
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