Sarah Hamilton is one busy lady.
Together with her sister she founded the wildly successful Bella Box beauty subscription service. She’s also a mother of three (all under four years of age).
She also recently spoke at a Melbourne Start-Up Week event ‘Ladies who Launch’, hosted by Square, a mobile credit reader company that aims to support female entrepreneurs in the technology sector.
I spoke with Sarah about the role of women in business and how Bella Box got started.
Tell us how Bella Box came about?
“I was living in New York and my sister was living in Singapore at the time. We had seen the launch of the Birchbox (the first of it’s kind). It seemed exciting and fun. We didn’t take ourselves too seriously in all of it. We knew we wanted to give it a go in Australia and Singapore and from go to launch it was about four to five months.”
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“The Bella Box idea was really pushed through social media at first, people were excited. Beauty enthusiasts were already aware of what was happening overseas and so when we launched it was like oh, well this is the Australian beauty subscription box.”
How did you get involved with Ladies who Launch?
“Well, we had done some pop up stores and got to know Sqaure from there. I’m always really excited when I see new things out there and this was one of them. We did a few seminars and it went from there.”
Why do you think it’s important for women to support each other in business?
“Growing up, I didn’t really focus on the fact that I was a woman. My family all had an entrepreneur side and I had two brothers. We were always taught to be in the top 5 per cent of what you do.
“Salary never meant anything and it wasn’t the end goal. The focus was to generate business. I was silly I guess because I didn’t realise that this wasn’t the case for women everywhere. I didn’t get that some women were not supported, that some women were not confident the way I was.
“I remember talking to Megan Quinn, who is the co-founder of Net-a-Porter and she was speaking to Penny Wong about it. I guess she really articulated how I felt. She just said ‘You have no idea. Not everyone gets these opportunities. Your role is to empower other women’ and since then it’s just this nagging thought. She just articulated it well.
“I can be confident and walk in to a room and say ‘this is me, this is what I do’ but other women might not be able to do that. I think it’s really important that we talk about it.”
As a mother, how do you juggle work and family life?
“My partner Jamie -I don’t like saying that but we’re not married because we keep having kids! Well we realised that we should be strict about home and work. I leave the house around 9am and I’m generally home about 5:30 or 6pm.
“I try and stay involved, not look at the phone. It’s hard! I try and be present during those moments though. We have a live in Nanny, which was the best decision ever, and we are up front that we’ve had a lot of help.
“I did do childcare but they kept getting sick and then I did agency nannies but it was hard to find someone I trust. In the end I remember calling my friends and just saying ‘I don’t care if they can speak five languages, I just want someone I can trust!'”
What does a typical day look like for you?
“I’m trying to exercise two days a week now because I’m done having children. We are generally up around 5:30 or 6am. Then we get the kids ready with whatever they’re doing and out the door. I might go to the gym and then I’m home at night to do the kids, bath, bed thing.
“In between that there’s the typical office stuff, meetings and all that. Plus, we have a strong gin when the kids are in bed!”
What do you do to unwind?
“I’ve realised that I need to read at night for my mind to switch off. I don’t have my phone in the room where we sleep. I try and exercise and I really like outdoor play with the kids.
“I guess we would try and holiday more and relax with friends.”
How do you choose which products to include in the Bella Box and do you have a favourite?
“We have a lot of brands that approach us and we seek out brands depending on the theme of that month’s box. “At the moment I would say that my favourite would be a cheek and lip tint- it’s perfect for mums because it can do two jobs. “We do a lot of product testing in the office and we have a lot of staff who are beauty experts.”
Book your next beauty appointment with @vanidayaustralia found in your May ‘Conscious Beauty’ bellabox A photo posted by bellabox Australia (@bellaboxaust) on May 29, 2016 at 3:00am PDT
“I mean, they have to do it (support mothers).
“The way I look at it though, there is no perfect policy. Even with the childcare rebates and all that, the current policy is not supportive of women working full time. I’m lucky to work and be able to afford full fee childcare but we need more than just rebates.
“I think we need programs which support women returning to work and give them the confidence to do it. We need to promote the benefits of women returning to work and showing more why they should be applying for jobs.
“I think also that it’s up to big corporations to support women in business, not just the government. We should be saying ‘this is something you should be spending money on’ rather than it being just a token thing. I’d like to thank Square for what they do in this area.”