Our Aussie business feature continues with this inspiring interview with Stride founder, Jordan Wilkes. We absolutely love hearing peoples’ stories about how they arrived where they are today. This is Jordan’s journey of founding his Australian business Stride, an ethical fashion company:

1. Tell us a bit about your business and how you got to where you are now?

Stride is an online store that showcases ethical fashion from over 75 Australian labels. Think of Stride as similar to ASOS or The Iconic, but for slow fashion! Lots of Australians are fed up with a fashion industry that abuses human rights, destroys our environment, and even has child labour in their supply chain. Through Stride, Aussies can vote with their wallet for the world they desire – they can match what they wear with what they believe.

I have had an interesting career before Stride. I always had business aspirations, but my ambition since I could remember was to play professional soccer. After returning from playing soccer Greece in 2018, I finished my business degree and decided to pursue my business ambitions – hence Stride was born soon after.

2. What do you love most about your business – how is it unique?
It would definitely have to be the value-driven cause of Stride. Yes, we are a for-profit enterprise, but the overarching goal of ethical production and sustainable practices go far beyond the benefit of Stride. It truly humbles me to know that I am empowering Australians with good intentions to shop fashion that is contributing to a better world for them (and the people around them).

3. What’s your life mantra?
I’m not sure if it’s specifically a mantra, but a Tony Robbin’s quote that has always stuck in my mind is “Hell on Earth is meeting the person you could have become”.

I’ve been blessed in so many aspects of my life that I want to live it to my fullest potential – I don’t want to look at some young guy in 30 years time and think ‘that could have been me’.

I love how this quote is also very personalised in that it is the person that YOU could have become. It’s insular and not to be compared to someone else’s success; it’s all about being the very best person YOU can be.

4. What else would you be doing if you didn’t do what you do?
In a dream world, it would be playing for Liverpool FC – but I’m nowhere near good enough!

If I wasn’t operating my own business, I think I would be working for a marketing agency. Marketing in all it’s forms has always fascinated me and I’m always interested to see how platforms and messages can compel people to convert.

5. What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
I’ve received some really thoughtful gifts in the past, but I can’t remember them!

For my last birthday, my girlfriend got me some Airpods and they have been a game-changer for so many reasons – work, exercise, podcasting.

6. What’s the best gift you’ve ever bought someone?
This may not be the ‘best’ gift, but I think it might be the most thoughtful one. My girlfriend and I were watching TV and she commented on how much she loved the earrings that the person on TV was wearing.

I noted that in my head, and the next day, I tried to Google these green earrings… but I didn’t get far! So I thought I may as well DM the person on TV and just ask.

To my surprise, she responded in like 20 minutes and told me where she got them from.

A quick online order and after a few days I had them – my girlfriend was very appreciative!

Jordan is the founder of Stride – Australia’s leading ethical fashion store with over 75 local labels.

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Why I do what I do: Caroline Fenton, Avidiva

Caroline Fenton’s passion for natural baby products started after a traumatic experience when her own son was born. Here’s Caroline’s story of why she does what she does…

1. Tell us a bit about your job and how you got to where you are now?
I own and manage my online baby boutique at www.avidiva.com.au… 
It all started as a unique and personal collection of gifts and goodies for little ones. When my son was born early at 30 weeks, we spent 3 months in NICU before we were allowed to bring him home. The journey we went on was pretty epic, full of challenges and lots of unknown. No new mum journey is easy but this really was a way to be thrown in at the deep end! With lots of time spent researching and sourcing natural products, looking into what really is best for bub, I wanted to share this with other mummies. We now have a range of gift boxes, support local businesses as well as source globally to bring you a beautiful collection of all natural baby products and gifts.

2. What do you love most about your job?
The fact that I am my own boss! I source the products, chat with the brands, decide whether or not to take on new lines…I have learned so much about marketing. About social media. About web techy stuff. It’s amazing just how many hats you need to wear… but I really do love it all! It’s not easy, and it’s certainly been a challenge, but it’s a great one!

3. What’s your life mantra? 
Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle. Cliché maybe, but all too true! We are all full of this positive energy and natural want to succeed and be happy. But all too often we compare ourselves to others, or doubt our own abilities. Just keep on going, and keep believing, and don’t let anyone (including yourself!) tell you otherwise!!

4. What else would you be doing if you didn’t do what you do?
I would either be teaching English or working in Marketing somewhere. Or maybe completing by Masters in Psychology. See, I’m undecided! Who knows what I would be doing…

5. What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
Oooh a toughie. Not all too exciting but a purse from my sister. A really lovely real leather wallet that was just what I needed, but I wouldn’t never have treated myself to!

6. What’s the best gift you’ve ever bought someone? 
Even tougher! Probably a set of garden mugs for my Mum! She is forever out in the garden, and they have this awesome little lid on to keep the flies away and then use for your biscuits too! Plus they had some lovely garden flower design on. Can you tell I was pretty chuffed?!

Check out Avidiva’s great range of products at www.avidiva.com.au and connect on Facebook and Instagram

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Why I do what I do: Annaliese Allen, Honeybell Waterwear

Last month, Annaliese Allen shared some gorgeous advice that her dad gave her for our Father’s Day blog series. We were intrigued to learn more about Annaliese and her business, Honeybell Waterwear, so this month she very kindly shared her story of “Why I do what I do”…

1.Tell us a bit about your job and how you got to where you are now?
I am the founder of Honeybell Waterwear, an Australian boutique sun protection clothing label for women. All Honeybell Waterwear garments are made in breathable fabric that is certified as providing UPF 50+ protection, the highest possible rating available, blocking 98% of the sun’s damaging UVA/UVB rays.

I have the type of skin that burns, so I was always pretty good at practicing the Cancer Council’s the Slip! Slop! Slap! message. A key component of this message is “slip on clothing”, and I thought that wearing a t-shirt was enough. But when I started looking into it and learned that the average white cotton t-shirt only has a SPF 5, it motivated me to buy a ‘rashie’ for myself. But finding a rashie that fitted me properly was not as easy as I thought – they were terribly unflattering and unfashionable.

The experience got me thinking; if wearing a rashie is making me feel body and fashion conscious, then other women are probably feeling that way too. So I decided to design rashies I wanted to wear. 

Other than providing a high level of sun protection, in fact the highest possible level, the end result is a looooong way from the regular rashie!

2. What do you love most about your job?
I love that it doesn’t feel like a job!  
When I was in the corporate world there was this constant struggle to maintain a work/life balance. Then, when I had kids, my outside life became more of a priority and I was never able to get that balance back (if I ever did have it in the first place!).

When I became my own boss, there was no longer a need to balance my time. Time working on the business is enjoyable, I look forward to it and it gives me energy, rather than draining me! Yes, I’m probably working more hours running my own business, but it sure doesn’t feel like it!

3. What’s your life mantra?
Stress is good.
Embrace your crazy, busy, stressful life and enjoy! A stress-free life does not provide happiness. High levels of stress come along with the things we want: purpose, meaning, community, love. 
Kelly McGonigal’s TED talk on stress, titled “How to Make Stress Your Friend” was a life changing 14 minutes for me!

4. What else would you be doing if you didn’t do what you do?
I’d be dressed up in a suit managing a strategy project for a corporate client. I am an accountant by trade and have always enjoyed numbers and problem solving. This type of work just doesn’t fit into my life right now.

5. What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

The best gifts I’ve received are always ordinary items that I would have never bought for myself. Like so many other women, I am great at buying nice things for my partner and children, but never splash out on myself – so it is amazing when I receive something special just for me.  

6. What’s the best gift you’ve ever bought someone?
Post-Poo Drops. A life changer for the recipient and their partner! Just a couple of drops after activity has occurred in the bathroom to neutralise disagreeable smells. The first time I bought this as a little bit of a joke, but they actually work and I’m now giving these to everyone who has to share a bathroom! 

Annaliese Allen, founder of Honeybell Waterwear

Want more? You can learn more about Annaliese and how she is redefining the rashie with Honeybell Waterwear.

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Why I do what I do: Renae Smith, The Atticism

When you read Renae Smith’s bio, it doesn’t take long to figure out that she’s a hard worker. Fans of Channel Ten’s MasterChef will recognise Renae from MasterChef 2014, but Renae has many talents, in addition to her passion for food and cooking. Renae has very kindly shared her inspiring story with us below… 

1.Tell us a bit about your job and how you got to where you are now?
I have two jobs. My ‘main job’ that pays the bills is a PR Agency called The Atticism.  
My focus there is on sub culture and urban products as this is where I feel my skills lay.  
I started this company after I got sick and tired of working in law. The hours are just ridiculous and I felt very uncreative – I had always helped friends and contacts with marketing and PR so figured, “Why not do it and get paid for it.”  

Apart from that, I teach cooking to people across Australia and Asia (so far). I specialise in vegan and vegetarian food and have travelled to India, Sri Lanka and Singapore as well as teaching on Food and Wine cruises with P&O, Festivals and catering events.  I got into this because of MasterChef – food has always been a big part of my life, but meat hasn’t – and I think it’s hard to get this type of food to be as popular as mainstream food – but I’m trying.

2. What do you love most about your job?
My favourite thing about PR is the fact that I can be really creative. Coming up with concepts for a client can be hard work, but when you finally get the vibe and can work with them to come up with some really great ideas – it’s a fantastic feeling to watch those work and to allow others to see what you see in a brand.  

For my cooking work – the thing I love the MOST is when I give someone a sugar-free, raw, vegan dish to eat and their face lights up and they say “Oh wow, I would never have thought it could taste this good.” Every little bit of healthy and consciousness helps and I am glad to be a part of it.

3. What’s your life mantra?
I live by “If it doesn’t make you happy, don’t do it.” That’s my one and only mantra.

Renae Smith, founder of The Atticism PR Agency and MasterChef 2014 contestant

4. What else would you be doing if you didn’t do what you do?
I’ve always wanted to be a psychologist and to study addiction. It’s something that both terrifies and fascinates me and I believe, in my uneducated opinion, that there’s a connection between genetics and specific types of addiction. I would love to work out if this is right, and if we could potentially work on a preventative treatment for those who suffer addiction of certain substances and not others.

5. What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
I’ve never really dated anyone who’s been huge on the gift front. I’ve received the odd thing here or there, but I’m not really a materialistic person. If I had to choose one, it would be from one of my boyfriends YEARS ago. We started dating and he had a daisy bush out the front of his house that I commented on the first time I went to his house (I love daisies). A whole year later I received a pressed daisy in a frame. He had picked me a daisy on that day and pressed and framed it for me as a gift. That was pretty sweet.

6. What’s the best gift you’ve ever bought someone?
I’m actually secretly very romantic, or lame – i haven’t worked it out yet. I once bought someone a star – hah. It sounds lame, but they travelled a lot and we were going to have to be apart a lot of the time. We were both feeling really sad about this and I ended up buying him a star – and getting the coordinates etc. Then, I gifted it to him and said that no matter where we were in the world, we could always look up and share something that was just ours and we could have a moment to not feel so alone. I know – super mushy! I don’t think I’d ever do that again haha. A nice journal will suffice next time.

Here’s a delicious Dumpling recipe Renae shared with us recently…

Learn more about Renae at www.renaesmith.com.au

Why I do what I do: Dianne Brinsmead-Ward from The Sassy Cook

Where do you source new recipes from when you get bored of your regular mid-week recipe repertoire?

Although I have quite a few recipe books I often refer back to, I have recently found myself scouring the web for interesting food websites and blogs. There is a plethora of helpful and unhelpful information out there, so when I find a website with consistently useful information, I stick with it. The Sassy Cook is my latest favourite recipe website – here’s why I love it:

  • It’s easy to navigate – you can search recipes by meal or ingredient
  • It’s real – The Sassy Cook founder, Dianne’s food manta is “how to be fast and fabulous in the kitchen”. She’s a busy mum to two young children and gets the need for speed when preparing meals for the family. However, speedy meals don’t mean compromising on quality ingredients that nourish our bodies.
  • Delicious recipes – I’m tempted by every single recipe on here. Best Ever Brownies, Salted Caramel and Banana Cookies, Lamb and Veggie Sausage Rolls, Sticky Spicy Drumsticks are just a few of The Sassy Cook’s tempting recipes.
  • Simple recipes – Recipes are simple to follow and contain common ingredients found in most household pantries/fridges.
  • It’s inspiring – don’t look at this website when you’re hungry! The stunning photographs of food featured on here are ‘food porn’ at its best!

    “The Sassy Cook is all about being fast and fabulous in the kitchen,”
    Dianne Brinsmead-Ward, Founder of The Sassy Cook

    Founder of The Sassy Cook, Dianne Brinsmead-Ward kindly shares more about The Sassy Cook, her background, and life philosophy in our below interview…

    1. Tell us a bit about your job and how you got to where you are now?
    My blog, The Sassy Cook is all about being fast and fabulous in the kitchen. I have a background in food and my blog allows me to draw my experience together into a wonderful hub of recipes that help busy people have fun in the kitchen.

    I got to where I am now through a lifetime of studying food, spending time with chefs, cooking on cooking shows, researching food and lots of recipe book reading. I have thousands of recipe books and read them like novels. I am also a freelance journalist.
    About a year ago I woke up one morning and decided it was time to combine my passion of writing and cooking into one blogging juggernaut – The Sassy Cook was born. I didn’t fuss over the name – it took me all of 10 mins to come up with the name, as that’s what the blog is all about – being fast, sassy and fabulous. Food is such an integral part of our lives and I wanted to provide a way to make cooking quick, functional and enjoyable.

    Since starting my blog, my food tips and home organisation skills have been featured on many news and lifestyle TV shows, blogs and magazines.

    The Sassy Cook Chocolate Brownies

    2. What do you love most about your job?
    Cooking and food is a way of life for me. It provides me a creative outlet and a way to reach out to people. I can lose myself for hours creating recipes and writing up posts. In essence, I love being a source of assistance to my readers, making one of the major components of their life – eating! – fun and stress free.

    Food testing and road-testing new kitchen gadgets is also very cool!


    3. What’s your life mantra?
    Work hard, play hard, eat well and love your family and yourself like no other.

    4. What else would you be doing if you didn’t do what you do?
    I would be a chef.


    5.What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
    My Renault Clio from my husband this week.

    6. What’s the best gift you’ve ever bought someone?

    The Nutribullet for my mother in law (and myself). By far the most valuable kitchen gadget one could own.
    Check out www.thesassycook.com or The Sassy Cook facebook page for more delicious recipes and clever cooking tips.

    Why I do what I do: Chantal Imbach from Simply In Order

    I’m a firm believer that ‘everyone has a story’. We often downplay our life experiences and think that other people lead much more interesting lives than us. But the truth is, it’s all the little experiences that make up our life journey that are the most interesting. Our latest blog series, Why I Do What I Do is a celebration of personal journeys (and an opportunity for me to indulge my interest in other people’s stories). We hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as we have.

    This week we caught up with Chantal Imbach from Simply In Order…

    Chantal Imbach from Simply In Order

    1.Tell us a bit about yourself…

    I’m a Swiss-Australian living in a beautifully green and hilly suburb of Melbourne, a wife and a mum to two lively primary-school aged boys, a professional organiser and business owner specialising in office organisation and time management. I love to read and to travel and can’t wait to see more of Australia.

    2.What led you to doing what you do today?

    Before I started a family I worked in the corporate world for about 20 years. Most of the time as a personal assistant, but also in project offices and as a financial controller. I went back to part-time work after I had the boys but it didn’t feel right anymore because my priorities had shifted. Very soon I knew that I wanted to be my own boss.

    But what to do? I had many interests but I didn’t feel passionate enough about anything to start a business. In the meantime, I did a lot of volunteer work at our school, much of it was event management. Everyone suggested I should do this professionally but for me it didn’t tick all the boxes.

    One day, a friend suggested to become a virtual assistant. I did some research on that and stumbled across professional organising. Wow! That was just totally me! Everything fell into place, I immediately started training and started my own business called Simply In Order.

    3.What else would you be doing if you didn’t do what you do?

    I would probably run a B&B.

    4.What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

    I think this would have to be that one never knows what is waiting around the corner (so better make the best of today). It can be good or bad and hit you out of the blue. The two main events in my life that taught me this was the sudden diagnosis that my dad had cancer and a month later he passed. A day before his 62nd birthday.

    The other one was the relocation to Australia seven years ago. My husband received a job offer out of the blue and we kind of new from the first second that we were going to accept this challenge. We had travelled in Australia before but never looked or even thought about moving away from Switzerland. We had just bought a house and had two young boys aged 1 and 3.

    The job was a chance in a lifetime and we have never regretted the move even though we of course do miss our loved ones a lot. In the meantime, our boys are more Australian than Swiss and we all became very proud Australian citizens last year.

    This country has opened doors for us that we never even dreamt of and we’re so grateful for this. One of them is starting my own professional organising business. It’s still a very new industry and back in Switzerland or Europe it is even newer and I’m not sure whether I would have come across it at all. My hubby would probably say that one of his dreams came true when he finally has a big enough backyard to have a ride-on mower ;-).

    5.What is your next must-do?

    Professionally it’s definitely to get the accreditation as an Accomplished AAPO member (AAPO is the Australasian Association of Professional Organisers). On the personal side, it’s traveling the West coast and the Kimberly in one of the coming years with my family.

    That’s where we spent our honeymoon and we’d love to take the boys to this absolutely wonderful part of Australia.