Balancing the Grind with Zhoe Low, General Manager at July

Zhoe Low is the General Manager at July, an Australian start-up redesigning luggage and travel accessories from the bottom up.

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

I’m the General Manager at July, the fastest growing luggage brand in Australia. I come from a digital marketing background, and before joining July, I was the Marketing Lead at the cryptocurrency platform, CoinJar. 

My career background is a little hard to summarise as it hasn’t been particularly linear. I spent most of my twenties simply saying yes to opportunities that were exciting and interesting to me. I left a comfortable government role to join a crypto startup in 2014 (no one knew about it then).

I spent a year freelancing and trying the digital nomad life (fun but sometimes isolating). I explored what it was like to be a marketer for all sorts of products and services, from nail stickers to B2B SaaS platforms (D2C has been the most enjoyable so far). 

I’ve been really lucky that it’s worked out so far, and I’ve been able to work with so many amazing brands and people.

Today, I lead a team of 25 together with the founders at July. My role as General Manager is to set the direction, clear the path for the team and help them to perform at their best.  

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

It’s quite different day to day! But here’s an example of the Monday just past.

I’m up at 5:30am. I am not a morning person, and it took me 12 months to work up to waking up this early, and I’ve been doing it consistently for over a year now. 

Hot pilates at 6am. The post-class endorphin rush is what gets me out of bed. If I need the rest, I skip class and read in bed.

At 8am, I’m ready to leave for work after a full breakfast and coffee. Three Thousand Thieves just sent my subscription bag of coffee beans, and this month’s edition is from Duke’s, which is my absolute favourite of all time. 

Traffic is light and I’m at my desk at 8:30am. As it’s a Monday, I’m catching up from the weekend. I check the numbers, write up some action items and reply to urgent emails. 

We’re launching two new products this week, so it’s particularly busy today. I check in with everyone, especially our design and tech team to make sure they have everything they need. 

Design sprint at 10am to make some decisions on final assets for the Carry Me crossbody bag campaign. The design team also weighs in on the final creative direction for the new colour launch for our carry on luggage later in the week.

At 11am, I’m with our Head of Product finalising some products to launch later in the year. After a quick run through, he’s ready to present the roadmap to the team in the afternoon.

A quick lunch and I’m back to meetings in the afternoon. I have a sprint session with our Head of Tech, and we review some urgent tasks that were added. I introduce myself to some new team members in our warehouse team.

I end the day with a few more emails, and a catchup with the founders to set our priorities for the week.

I’m home for dinner at 6:45pm, and my husband and I FaceTime my parents before settling down for the night. I’m in bed at 9:30pm and the lights are out at 10pm.  

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

July is a travel brand so we encourage all team members to travel when they can, and if they want to, work remotely too. I’m hoping to visit Malaysia and Thailand this year, so I’ll probably be working remotely for a part of those trips.

I’m fortunate to live very close to work, so I don’t work from home. I find that I’m far more productive and energetic in the office, and I miss the incidental conversations and ideas that happen when I’m with the team in-person. 

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

Work does take up a lot of my time, and that has been a conscious decision on my part.

I love what I do, so I have to actively keep myself in check. I’ve been working on finding my ‘off switch’ and ensuring that I do things that recharge me. Mid-week dinners, regular date nights and weekend plans with my girlfriends help a lot. And scheduled downtime. 

My stance on work-life balance is to take it a week at a time, and adjust accordingly where I can. Some weeks are harder than others and my main goal is to just be mindful of where my time and attention is going.

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

The lockdowns really threw off my routine, so I had to work back up to 5:30am wake ups and regular pilates classes in the past few months. The combination has changed my life. 

Also from lockdowns, but a positive habit, is FaceTiming and audio messaging friends and family regularly. It doesn’t beat face to face, but it comes close enough. 

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

Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer. It tells the tale of two men who find success despite coming from very different backgrounds, sharing only their birthday. I recommend it to anyone who loves finance, especially if they are serial nonfiction readers. 

Music over a podcast, every time.

As for newsletters, I love The Squiz’s daily news updates and Julian Shapiro’s growth newsletters.

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

I’m always using a combination of these: Spotify, Apple Music, SONOS, AirPods, YouTube.

I’ve mentioned it enough already but I love FaceTime. Asana. The Kmart airfryer.

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

Parents. Celebrities. Presidents and prime ministers. 

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

We’re all trying to figure it out, and I agree with a lot of what’s already out there from those far wiser and more experienced that it’s best to live a values-driven life. Figure out what matters to you, and live a life that honors that. 

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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.