Balancing the Grind with Zoi Vafias, Founder & Director of Girl and the Sun

Zoi Vafias is the Founder & Director of Girl and the Sun, which she started in 2015 and is a brand for all women that showcases neutral tones, capturing the feeling of a destination holiday even while at home.

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

​​My background has always been in fashion. I worked in retail from 14, and then started work experience for a Brisbane wholesale agency in high school and instantly fell in love.

They offered me a full time role after I graduated and then at 19 I decided I wanted to work for myself. I started my own wholesaling business, Studio Agency, and set out to find a range of beautiful brands to represent. This was my focus for 4 years, until I realised I could get even more hands on, and start designing my own pieces. 

From here I pivoted and started my first brand while still wholesaling, and then a few years later after gathering my learnings from that brand, I started my now passion child, Girl & The Sun, where I am the Founder, Managing & Creative Director.

We are still a small-medium sized business, so I manage all of the different departments and there are many non-creative elements to my role, however I love what I do and get so excited to come to work everyday and be creative in some way.

Alongside my designer and production team, we design all of our pieces in Australia, including all of our in-house exclusive prints, and have become known for providing beautiful destination-style pieces for women of all shapes and sizes.

I always want to feel like I am on holiday, and our brand embodies that magical feeling you only get when you’re abroad. We also still have Studio Agency, and wholesale a gorgeous brand through that business separately. 

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

Of course! My schedule can change pending the stage of a collection we are at, but a recent Monday went something like the below:

6am – Wake up and feed the baby, I have three kids under 5, so my mornings are all about family time! We have a play and cuddle before doing breakfast and drop offs, and then I make my way to the office.

9am – Morning meeting to set goals and intentions for the week as a team. We are putting a big focus on marketing and creating bigger opportunities for ourselves in 2022, so making sure we are all on the same page and are off to a fresh start.

10am – Catch up on emails

11am – Touch base with the production team, smooth out any bumps and make final approvals before our next collection is sent off to production. 

12pm – Team lunch to celebrate being back from holidays – this isn’t a daily thing, but we were due for a catch up.

1pm – More internal meetings. We went over implementing a new inventory system and operational changes for the New Year, as well as our customer facing marketing strategy for 2022. It’s all about what the customer sees, so website, consumer and display are a big focus this year.

3:30pm – I then spend the rest of the afternoon responding to emails and tieing up any loose ends before heading home.

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

Working for yourself is great because if you want to work from home – you can! I do prefer working with the team though, so have established a routine that is flexible around mornings with my family, but prioritise getting into the office daily.

Collaborating in any creative industry is really important, and being able to bounce ideas around the room or see and feel fabrics in person is a big part of what we do. I am also quite hands on with all departments, so being there physically makes it easier to navigate any issues quickly.

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

For me, work-life balance is all about being able to give and take. I want to enjoy my work, and enjoy my family time, so I’ve learnt that if this isn’t happening – I need to make changes.

Quality time is so important to me, so being able to spend time with them in the morning and start work a little bit later, or head home early and then put in some extra hours after bedtime is a must.

That being said, I don’t work extreme hours like I used to when I was younger. It was fine for a few years when growing the business, however now that I have a family it isn’t always possible (and becomes very draining).

Instead I make an effort to switch on at the office and that is my work time, and unless there is a pressing deadline, or i’ve had to change up my routine that week – my time at home is family time. I know so many women are the same and we want to have it all, so flexibility is important! 

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

I have started to make more of a conscious effort to be more present in what I am doing, whether this be at work or in my personal life. I am a huge multi-tasker and thrive on doing multiple things at once (like most mums!) but am working towards tackling one task at a time.

If I spend time with my kids, I will try to keep my phone out of reach, or if I am getting back to emails, I will switch off from external tasks and focus solely on getting back to emails. 

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

I love reading about the relationship between self development and success in business, so some of my top book recommendations would be The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen R. Covey), How To Win Friends & Influence People (Dale Carnegie), The Four Agreements (Don Miguel Ruiz), and The Power Of Intention (Dr Wayne W. Dyer). 

The Joe Rogan Experience would be my favourite podcast, it has such a great mix of people from all walks of life and I learn something new every episode. I also love listening to Ben Shappiro from Daily Wire, and the Beyond the Bump Podcast for advice on mum life. 

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

I find writing things down on paper is a great way to boost productivity and stay organised, so I cannot live without my Emma & Kate Co diary.

As for something I have been recommended by others and am yet to try, a reMarkable. It’s a digitised notebook that looks and feels like paper, but all pages can be exported directly to your computer. It’s an absolute game changer for old school workers like me, and on my 2022 list for sure.

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

I have read so many autobiographies, but someone I haven’t yet and think would have such a unique perspective on this would be Candace Owens. I also love all things Jessica Alba! 

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

It’s important to remember that work, life and balance look different on everyone. I think we need to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves to imitate exactly the lives of those we look up to, because no matter how hard you try, we are all going to be different.

Of course I love to take inspiration from others, but we all have different external influences, and it’s important to find what works best for you.

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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.