Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Tessa Carroll, Founder of A_C Official

Tessa Carroll is the founder and designer behind vegan accessories label A_C Official and also, social enterprise The Common Good Company.

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

I have been in the fashion industry for over 15 years now, working for a number of reputable Australian brands in creative direction and range development.

In 2014 I was lucky enough to relocate to South America as part of my role. It was there I came face to face with the impact my career was having on the environment. As you can imagine, this was the turning point for not only my career but my lifestyle.

A_C Official was born out of a love for Design and a commitment to the Earth. The business was founded to provide a sustainable but fashion forward alternative to the leather and P.U. Accessories market.

As the founder and Creative Director, I am honoured to be working with some of the most exciting textile innovations of the fashion industry. Currently I am working with plant-based textiles made from Cactus (Desserto) and Pineapple (Piñatex).

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

Pre-2020 my day-to-day had a bit more structure which I have had to adapt in recent months as we all have! Regardless, my day is always kickstarted with an intense yoga class or a functional workout.

I am a morning person so I like to start my day early, checking emails and getting my day planned out. Being the founder of a start-up has its challenges when setting some form of work flow routine but I like to set up my week to start and end the same so that I feel on top of things for the next week.

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

Absolutely. This business was founded with ‘freedom’ as an integral part of our ‘work fulfilment’ requirements. Most weeks are split between Inner-city living in Melbourne and on the surfcoast in Torquay.

The balance is what keeps my creativity flowing as well as my connection to nature. This is what keeps me grounded and reminds me why this business was started in the first place.

2020 has restricted our ability to be on the coast but I think it has highlighted society’s need and longing to be engrossed in nature, enjoying a grounding and nurturing experience.

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

Work-life balance is an art. There have been times in my life where I would not close my laptop until late into the night and I am still guilty of taking my laptop to bed sometimes but I have learnt to know when I am burning out.

One practise I am regimented in is mediation. I mediate every day for anywhere between 5 – 20 minutes. Sometimes when work becomes ’too much’, I take 90 seconds to close my eyes and face the sun. I find this helps me tremendously.

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

Meditation. This has been a constant part of my life for the better part of 3 years now but the last 12 months of chaos have really highlighted its importance.

I may only mediate for three minutes on occasion but those minutes are so valuable to help calm my nervous system and realign my priority list of to dos (which is never ending by the way!).

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

Yes, absolutely. I can not recommend Clare Press’s podcast Wardrobe Crisis highly enough. Clare makes the education and evolution of fashion not only aspirational but addictive. You can’t listen to an episode without pausing to write down a quote or two or jotting notes to research.

My favourite book is Tracks by Robyn Davidson. It delves into current and historic social and environmental issues of our great Australian island home while seamlessly addressing the connection we as humans, have to nature and the indigenous peoples’ inherent respect for the role humans play in the ecosystem.

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

I would like to say I can live without my phone but I haven’t entirely tried it. I do like to put my phone in another room each night but that’s the extent of my self-control at the present.

Being in lockdown for the majority of the year has really highlighted the stimulation and reliance we have on our phones and it’s an ongoing struggle to strike that balance between being informed and being addicted.

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

Stella McCartney.

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

Just because it worked once doesn’t mean it always will. In other words, be flexible with your work life balance and check in with yourself daily. If some days are tougher than others then find some solitude in nature or simply close your eyes for a reset. Speaking of which, I’m off to mediate now.

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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.