Subhaga Amarasekara is the co-founder at FLAYR, a marketplace for HMUAs that makes booking a makeup artist & hair stylist as easy as possible.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m the founder of Flayr, an online marketplace for booking mobile at-home makeup and hairstyling services around Australia. How I got here was completely by accident.
I didn’t have experience in beauty or tech, I was a solicitor for over 7 years and worked mainly in litigation. Over the years I’ve been helping my mother-in-law (who is a makeup artist) manage her clients and it inspired me to develop a better way of managing her business.
In 2016, my husband and I started Flayr, originally just as a way to make it simpler for my mother-in-law to get bookings. It was definitely quite a juggle during this time, we had a toddler, working in the legal field is always intense and then bootstrapping a start-up to show growth equals plenty of sleepless nights, just to get through everything in the day.
We started Flayr with just 4 stylists in Sydney and we’ve been growing ever since. We had shown enough growth to receive investor funding, and it was at this point that I made the leap to work on Flayr full time. Now, we have the largest marketplace of hair and makeup artists in Australia.
It’s been an incredible journey so far – start-up life is never boring and you have to constantly learn to grow your business.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My day starts off with coffee. I’m not a morning person, so when my kids wake up, anytime between 5 – 6AM, I need that coffee. We get the kids ready for their day and walk them to school. Then our day begins, and each day is slightly different.
We usually start with a stand up, checking in with staff, confirming what we want to achieve and then we get cracking. Depending on our target for that month, we just work towards that goal whether it be UX or UI redesign, customer retention, stylist acquisition, tech improvements, marketing, board meeting preparations and investor updates.
We are lucky enough to work from home, so we can pick up the kids and we alternate who makes dinner (the other half washes up). We then get the kids ready for bed and then my second shift starts and I usually work through into the night because I’m a night owl.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
When you run your own business, you are fortunate enough to have flexibility to work from home. I spend more time with my kids now than when I was a solicitor so it’s wonderful being able to drop and pick them up from school. It’s really nice to have that flexibility as you can instantly assess how your child’s day has been and how you can try to help.
The flip side is that you are always working. I go everywhere with a laptop, holidays included.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
When you run a startup, the reality is that it is part of your life, especially when both you and your husband are invested in it together. So, for me, that separation is hard to distinguish.
My version of work life balance is trying as best as I can, not to have any work stress or thoughts surface when we are around our kids. It’s incredibly hard and I don’t get it right, but that’s the intention that I set everyday.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Yes, I think we had to. COVID was (and still can be) such a stressful time. When there is a complete lockdown, we usually start the day with a morning walk so everyone can get some exercise and fresh air. Wine and cheese nights also became a regular Thursday night occurrence for my husband and I.
We also purchased a fridge calendar, to start scheduling activities for each weekend coming up that month, whether it be having friends over for dinner, bushwalks, weekends away or even solo days, where my husband or I could take the day to ourselves to recharge. It’s been the best $10 we’ve spent to help gain some balance.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
- The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama
- Finding Your Element by Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica
- The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates
- Masters of Scale
- Lady Startup Stories
- How I Built This with Guy Raz
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Trello and Zendesk for work. The ABC News App has also been my go-to, to stay up to date on the latest Covid developments.
On a personal level, it’s been Facetime and WhatsApp – not being able to see family has probably been one of the hardest aspects of COVID, so seeing my niece at least grow up on FaceTime calls, makes the distance a bit more bearable.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Jo Horgan, Shemara Wikramanayake and Melanie Perkins.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Some days work is going to consume your day and other times it’s your family. So just take note and pencil in some time to compensate. I find that you are your biggest critic so don’t beat yourself up too much if you don’t get it right all the time.
Before you go…
If you’d like to sponsor or advertise with Balance the Grind, let’s talk here.
Join our community and never miss a conversation about work, life & balance – subscribe to our newsletter.