We love talking about happy places with high profile women, and discovering how they find time to disconnect from busy schedules and reconnect with nature. We were delighted when Eri Stewart, Founder of Hardtofind, found a moment to chat with us.
1. You attribute much of your success to tenacity, optimism and self belief. How do you keep going when you’ve had a rough day? I find it much easier to recalibrate after a stressful day than I used to, but it’s taken me years to finally realise that the sky won’t actually fall on my head! I have a little ritual that involves nurturing myself as best I can (not always easy with three kids). I eat healthily, get an early night, download with my husband (he’s a great listener) and try to exercise. I think exercise is key. I’m lucky to live close to Centennial Park in Sydney, so have a beautiful walking track right on my doorstep. I do pilates once a week and the instructor comes to the office, which means I don’t have to think about it. I’d love to say I always follow this pattern, but the truth is sometimes only Netflix and wine will do.
2. Hardtofind really blossomed during your maternity leave. How did you project manage such a perfect storm of business and babies? I think back to that time and I honestly don’t know how I did it. I remember typing emails with one hand, whilst breastfeeding my youngest with the other. I’d get the kids to bed and stay up until midnight responding to customers, then I’d be up again at 6am preparing school lunches and getting everyone out the door (after a disruptive night with a newborn). My husband worked full-time back then (he’s a stay-at-home dad now), so it was pretty full on. Before I even knew about project management platforms like Jira or Trello, I used to allocate specific times in my diary for daily, weekly and monthly tasks, and stick to these like glue. Managing my time like that taught me the 80/20 rule. I worked out pretty quickly the importance of spending 20% of my time on the 80% that made a difference. I’d list the items on my to-do list based on a formula of time vs reward, then prioritise the list accordingly. Everything came back to a return on investment. I still do this today – whenever my team asks me if we should do something, I always ask them, ‘What’s the ROI?’ It’s a great way to think when managing a business.
3. You’ve described your brand as being playful and irreverent. Is this an extension of your own personality? What brings you the most joy on your days off? I’d like to think so! I’m pretty laid back and (I hope) fun, but also very driven and keen to learn new things. On my days off, I like hanging out with family and friends. Saturday mornings are busy with school sport, so it’s an 8am walk around the park, followed by swimming lessons, netball, rugby – whatever the kids are playing that term. The place where my daughter does swimming lessons also has a gym, so I’ll often get in a 40-minute workout. Sundays are for mooching. And cooking. I’m a big foodie, so when I have time, I love to cook. I’m currently working my way through Ottolenghi’s ‘Simple’ cookbook.
4. There is growing interest in minimalism, sustainability and ethically made products. Have you seen any changes in consumer or supplier behaviour since you started your business? What are you predicting the future trends to be? Absolutely. We’ve seen a big movement towards ‘wellness’ and products that are good for the environment. Vegan products are also gaining traction. I think quality and provenance is where the trend is heading. Customers care about where and how a product is made. Australian-made is also making a comeback.
5. What’s the one thing that helps you to be the happiest you can be everyday? What do you prefer not to live without? Apart from my family, it’s my daily walk around the park. There’s something about getting out in nature and having time alone to breathe and think or just listen to some great tunes. It really helps me set up my day.