Be ready to wear all the hats in the business. If you have been someone that has delegated your way to your position. You need to be prepared to juggle all sectors of the business. I am the cleaner, the marketing manager, the customer service officer, the recruiter, the purchasing officer, the shipping clerk, my own personal assistant and the logistics officer. I create concepts, action plans and finalise everything. I deal with complaints and build connections. The perception of owning your own business is that it’s easy to be a CEO. You just watch the money come in and choose your hours you work. But the reality is that you are every position. You can choose to take a week off work, but do you want as company, to lose or neglect your clients/customers? It’s all on you, until you can afford assistance. Keep pushing.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Freya Zandt.
Aspiring to be more than how others view her. Known for her charity work amongst her closest and her love for positive thinking and hard work. She has redirected her career path to being her own boss and starting her own business. Dreams wait for no one. So, Freya is creating her dreams into existence.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in a small town, Cairns, Australia. It’s where the red dirt outback meets the luscious ancient rainforest, where forest meets the beach shores, the shores meet the open ocean, and the ocean meets the Great Barrier Reef. Surrounded by islands, wildlife and natural beauty, my family and I grew up doing activities outdoors. Camping, fishing, hiking, you name it. But here’s the twist, at the age of 6 years old, I grew up in the modelling industry. I remember having a list of dates that my father had to sign for the school administration team, to state my where-abouts, missing school. The reception desk attendees would roll their eyes when they read the statement saying, “I was sick”, knowing true and well, that wasn’t the case. I was always missing school for magazine photo shoots, brand advertisements, newspaper articles, fashion parades and commercials. I loved modelling and I ensured my school grades were never hindered. I started my first job in retail, at 14 years old. I signed up for work placements after school to gain qualifications to add to my resume. I was resume obsessed throughout high school. I thought about how many other graduates per year and per school graduate at the same time and apply for jobs. I wanted to make sure I was in with a chance as I was not the smartest in class. I even recall having to read a sentence four times until I understood it. I refused to give up though and always put in my 110%, if not more in everything I did.
I grew up being down to earth, humble and appreciative of the smallest things. I also was whipped into shape at a young age from modelling to be disciplined. From communication skills with clients, time management skills, manners and knowledge in the field. I’m very grateful when I think back to my childhood.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I held a photo of my self up to my face. Observing my reflection in the photo frame. I remember at the age of 8 years old, I said to my mother. “Mum, wouldn’t it be amazing to see my older self-looking back at me right now, as the reflection I see?”.
She said, “Yes, but why do you ask that?”.
I responded; “I just wonder what my older self would tell me now?”.
I now know what that answer is. The life lesson I would tell myself would be: To Never Assume.
It’s a small statement but so many times in my life when things went wrong or I was called into my boss’s office, or I was approached and questioned. The words “Oh, I just assumed”. It is the worst!
Oh, my stomach drops in nerves just saying it right now.
Never assume. Always clarify because that will cover your end completely and confirm if anything else is required.
Once I was organising a business conference room, for a meeting that typically started at 4:15PM every Thursday. I never spoke much in the meetings, so I assumed it wouldn’t matter if I didn’t attend one afternoon. I had a huge client ask me to join for a business lunch. My manager was so mad that I just assumed it would be ok. I recall my thought process at that time. I thought my manger that had been trying for months to land this clients contract. That he would be happy and ok with my un-attendance.
In hindsight now, I laugh about this assumption and clearly should have checked with my manager first to be excused or to reschedule with the huge client. Assuming, I wasn’t needed at the conference and assuming my manager would be ok with my disappearance because of the client. Was a mistake and misjudgment fueled with assumptions.
I felt the stupidity in the moment, when I responded to my manger. “Oh, I just assumed it would be ok”.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I don’t idolize anyone in particular. I have read many books, articles, watched interviews, listened to affirmations channels and podcasts throughout my life. I believe in general it is good to educate yourself on various materials and points of views.
If I had to state one, that I believe a lot of people can benefit from, it would be Mel Robbins. One day I was listening to Mel Robbins in this interview with Tom Bilyeu. She stated this particular technique, why it worked and how it changed her life. Which I found very interesting because I did this at a young age un-subconsciously. No one taught me this particular technique. I just did it and with time, it took no thought at all.
She speaks about the “5 Second Rule”. How to make a decision before your brain convinces you to keep quiet and stay in the comfort zone. She continues on about how you are one decision away from a different life. Your decisions impact your life. If you change your decisions, you change everything. The 5 Second rule helps kick you into gear.
If you have not heard of Mel Robbins. Please type her name into YouTube and watch her speeches or purchase her book/s. She does not sugar coat anything and I love her for that. She will be so straight to the point and tell you to wake up. Admittedly, I have a various range of motivational speeches I listen to, when I walk my dog, and it changes daily. But Mel Robbins is one of my favourites.
My body has always without fail, automatically wakes up at the same time every morning. I would open my eyes, pop up out of bed, Stretch and start my morning routine. My partner on the other hand, would have 5 alarms go off every 5 minutes and he would repeatedly snooze them all. I just couldn’t understand that mentality. So, one day I asked him. Why set that 4:00am alarm and every other alarm 5 minutes afterwards. If you do not intend to wake up?
He responded, “It’s a habit and the alarms prepare me to wake up”.
I said, “Well, if it’s a habit. Then you can learn a new habit and just get up. Do it enough times until that is your new habit”.
He thought I was being sarcastic, but I was dead serious.
The issue was not just his alarms. He actually wouldn’t get out of bed on his last alarm. He would grab his phone, scroll on social media and slowly convince himself to get up. He was allowing his brain to convince him to stay in bed. Feeding himself all those thoughts.
You know them: I’m so tired, I don’t want to go to work, its cold this morning, what’s the time? Ok, I’ll get up in 10 more minutes and it goes on.
I didn’t realise that not everyone had used the technique of counting and getting up straight away.
I personally count 1,2,3 UP.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
I feel as though I have lived many lives. My work experience has been in nearly every field. I really set my mind to achieve as much as possible, to take on hard work and be open to all opportunities. I’ve worked many free hours or days to show my competence and skills. To land the job or move up to a higher position.
From the modelling industry, to front line retail, to managing employees on a mango farm, to a dental assistant to the doctor in practice, to supervisoring in hospitality, events management and supervisor at nightclubs, to the business field from front desk, to office administration assistant, to Administrator Officer, to Personal assistant to department managers and finally being the personal assistant to the Founder & CEO of the company.
Whilst working at any of these jobs, I was either studying online for another qualification, or working at another job. One during the day and one at night. My determination and discipline allowed me to juggle many tasks at once. Ultimately all these career experiences, shaped me to understand the ins and outs of certain industries. I was hands on, presentable and professional. Which streamlined me perfectly to become a personal assistant. Assisting with their daily life needs, business management, event planning and so much more.
I recall thinking about my level of experience at one of my pervious employments. Ultimately, knowing how to run the business. I could take over the duties of certain managers when they were on leave. I knew how to manage the online store, the inventory ordering, the HR responsibilities, the marketing and the accounting and so much more.
I thought to myself, if only I had a business. I wouldn’t work for someone else.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
The day that my boss let me go due to the effects of the pandemic. As per usual I buckled down and moved on. That very evening, I opened my laptop and looked at the available online courses to complete. My state of mind was to gain another qualification and get ready to compete for a job. I knew so many people were being a effected by covid-19. Losing their jobs like I did, surely the market would be saturated. I wanted to improve myself and keep my mind moving. So, when covid was over, I would still be mentally sharp or sharper than I was before.
Then covid continued longer than I anticipated. It then dawned on me; I had lost so much because of covid. I would eventually have to apply for a job, I did years ago. I thought to myself, I’ve worked too dam hard in my life to go back and to doing the basics again. I worked too hard to gain the respect in workplaces, to show I could do it. I worked too hard for my qualifications, to just be told your overqualified for this position. I wanted to feel fulfilled and accomplished and didn’t want to accept going back to where I was 7 years ago.
What did I do to pivot as a result of the pandemic?
I changed my mindset from preparing myself to work for someone else. To preparing myself to be my own boss.
I launched my dream into my reality. I finally had the time, the experience and knowledge. I turned off my mind from fear. I stopped the negative thoughts in their tracks. When you start something different or change your life’s path. The brain likes to throw negative scenarios at you. I had to retrain my mind and reprogram it and to feel every positive affirmation I state. It is still a learning process but at the beginning it was very draining and exhausting to be mentally aware of all your thoughts and control them. I didn’t realise how much I allowed my brain to play out negative scenarios like as if they were actually occurring. That takes discipline to change.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
I had just moved to a bigger city, risking it all on a new job opportunity. All was well, then the pandemic hit, and I lost everything. Sitting at the family dining table, I looked at my life. I’m back at home in my small town that I moved away from 5 years ago, my city apartment belongings were being packed into a storage unit, I was jobless and not mentally stimulated. I helped all my friends and family renovate their homes and business. I sat there just evaluating everything. I was troubled by my current situation and went for a walk.
Then this moment hit me. I call it a real angelic moment. I’m not religious but I actually experienced this overwhelming feeling. That is hard to explain. It felt like the energy of someone basically questioning me. The feeling was, “You can finally pursue this without your excuses in the way. Will you put aside your fears and take this opportunity or will you ignore this window of opportunity and carry on with life kicking yourself about what could have been”?
It was so strong. I stopped walking, laughed to myself and with passion in my hands and said, “It really feels like your testing me right now”.
I’ve always felt I could do more and be more, but I just didn’t have the time, or my creative energy was always drained from my job, I had bills to meet. Now standing there, I had the time, I had the creative space to move, I had savings and none too little bills.
In the moment, when you have literally nothing to lose, there is a sense of clarity. It allowed me to shift my mindset and focus. I went home, opened my laptop and I begin that very day and I haven’t stopped or looked back since. It wasn’t just a random thought in that moment to sell clothing. It had been something I was familiar with and loved when I involved in with the modelling industry for so many years. It just felt right to launch my own clothing brand.
How are things going with this new initiative?
Everything is going great, I didn’t start this thinking it would be rainbows every day. I entered it with a realistic mindset. It is important to not lose sight of the ambition and eagerness that fuelled this journey to begin with. Working on an organic flow to all platforms and optimising SEO is a fulfilling task that defiantly takes up time. I am personally enjoying the experience of building relationships and connections. Receiving happy feedback from customers, comparing the online visitor rates on blogs, watching the reactions to our clothing on social media. Has been truly rewarding. Being able to discuss my journey and teach other young women the ropes in the fashion industry, like I was once taught. It’s interesting and amazing to feel that I ‘am giving back what I once received from my community. Every day I ‘am learning new things or getting closer to my larger goals and projects.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
In general, I am grateful to all my previous managers. All of them deserve my appreciation and applause. For hiring me, training me and allowing me to have my own creative freedom to grow. There has not been one particular person that has helped me to get to where I am today. I was raised with the mentality to not lean on anyone for help and it’s on you and you alone to get the things you desire most.
However, I do acknowledge without my experience and knowledge with ecommerce and marketing. I wouldn’t have felt so confident to branch out to start this venture. So, to all of my previous managers, I thank you.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
Experiencing Life complete a full circle. As I’ve mentioned, I grew up modelling at a young age. I was literally learning on the job with each hired gig. There would be a hair stylist, make-up artist, the clothing department assistant with the run sheet, Marketing manager who was typically was the person who oversaw the whole visual operation, the photographer and the venue manager. Weather it was the photographer or the Marketing manager, I had someone guiding me with my posing in photos, explaining the basics and taking the time to give me supportive feedback to grow.
Now as I create my own fashion brand promotional material. I am now able to guide young women that wish to branch out into the modelling scene. I help them with understanding their positioning to the camera, guidance and valuable information from my experience.
As someone once helped shape me, I am now able to help another with her dreams. The circle of giving back and in something that I am so passionate about, is truly amazing. I wouldn’t have been able to experience this without redirecting my career path to purse my dream.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Refine your quantity purchasing. When Purchasing in bulk in your promotional cards, business cards and clothing tags. I know it sounds great as you click through the online checkout to purchase that “half price deal” on your promotional material. Just don’t do it. Your brand is forever developing and growing. The concept and style you had in your research period is different to a few months in or even 1 year later. Its great to make and create material as you grow as a business. You can’t be wasting money and storage at this point. Keep an open mind.
- Being a business owner is lonely. You will really need to buckle down and complete crazy hours of work. Your work is your priority and you can’t allow other people’s expectation of you to control your work routine. Friends would expect me to come over for drinks every week to catch up. But I had work up to my ears and was mentally exhausted. I needed time to recharge myself to go back to work. It is very rewarding when you hit those highs. But, buckle up because this is a roller coaster. Don’t except everyone around you to understand what your going through. If someone has no understanding about it, you can’t except them to give you valuable feedback or understand your point of view when you vent.
- Get ready to do some gardening. You will notice that you have a lot of weeds and dead plants in your social circle. When you announce that you are a business owner or pursuing to be. You will be faced with close friends and family telling you to stop pursuing your business and will even state that you will fail. You will have the friends and family, that silently watch your every move that you make on social media and your business. But they do not reach out to you with kind gestures of support or speak of their happiness of your journey or success. You will have friends and family, provide all the vocal support but do not actually follow through with sharing that post, liking a photo, tagging a friend or commenting. When you start a business having family and friends support you by completing those free actions on social media can mean a lot. Doesn’t mean everyone will do it, even when you ask. So be prepared to see the supporters and the weeds in your garden. It may be confronting and discouraging but remember people don’t like change. Watching others shine sometimes forces them to reflect on themselves and their lack of motivation on their own dreams. They tend to take this out on you. Be strong!
- Be ready to wear all the hats in the business. If you have been someone that has delegated your way to your position. You need to be prepared to juggle all sectors of the business. I am the cleaner, the marketing manager, the customer service officer, the recruiter, the purchasing officer, the shipping clerk, my own personal assistant and the logistics officer. I create concepts, action plans and finalise everything. I deal with complaints and build connections. The perception of owning your own business is that it’s easy to be a CEO. You just watch the money come in and choose your hours you work. But the reality is that you are every position. You can choose to take a week off work, but do you want as company, to lose or neglect your clients/customers? It’s all on you, until you can afford assistance. Keep pushing.
- Hiring great talent in all aspects can be hard. I strongly recommend hiring the experienced professionals. You can never beat having a professional who knows the industry, to represent your brand. Having freelancers or influencers can harm your image because of the lack of professional experience and ultimately wasting your time. At the beginning, my inbox flooded with influencers or aspiring models. They all expressed their passion for my brand and wanted to model my clothing line in exchange for image content for both parties. Sounds great because photoshoots can be days of work with editing and can be costly. However, you’re running the risk with basically a wishful agreement. Once the influencer receives your merchandise for photoshoots, they may disappear, or decide they won’t be modelling any more, or won’t allow you to use the images given for anything other than Instagram. Ultimately, you just can’t beat dealing with professionals. They deliver by the organised time frame; the images are yours and their management team deals with the finer details.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
For myself knowing my family were safe during this time was the utter most of importance to me. That took a lot of tension off my shoulders knowing they were ok and safe. It was hard when the restrictions were being implemented and changing daily. I’m someone that believes in physical movement and being out in nature is vital to mental health. So, to be limited on your travel from your home or not being able to leave, can defiantly impact someone’s health.
The internet has many amazing videos and activities available. I recommend this if you are feeling anxious during this stressful period. Search for a rainforest soundtrack from Youtube and you may link it to your Tv or mobile. Youtube is great because it is not only a soundtrack of nature, but some videos provide the video footage as well. You can watch the forest canopy whilst the sun rays try to peek through the gaps, the waterfall rushing down below and the birds chirping. So visually it is relaxing but also the sounds are very soothing. I would take a seat somewhere comfortable and focus on my breathing. Doing this whilst saying some positive affirmations is perfect for starting your day, in a moment of panic or before bed.
Your thoughts become reality, you can think something and feel that emotion behind it. So, focus on the good emotions and thoughts. Breathing deeply will calm you and help narrow your focus by decluttering your mind.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would create a date in the calendar for a “clean up day”. Once a year everyone comes together to clean up the rubbish, to fix vandalism, to fix damaged public property like parks and playgrounds. Plant trees in our suburbs and parks. We would all come together, clean and maintain our town, our city, our country. We pay taxes already, so the materials to plant, clean, paint and pick up rubbish would be deducted from our already paid taxes.
I believe having a date in place for this would make everyone appreciate their community more and help build connections. They would take pride in building it up and living in a safer and cleaner suburb. People would be more mindful of their bad habits such as littering, or damaging trees and property. It builds a sense of integrity to themselves and their community, by giving back.
I would normalise the pay gap between men and women. If you have the same level of experience, qualifications and position title. You should not be paid less judged by your gender. If I had that great of an influence on the world, I would meet with large companies to discuss being part of that change. Perhaps from there, to start a program to hire more women in those higher positions of power within their companies.
I would influence whom of power to create more workout stations in the parks. We have open grassy field parks and at often are not used. To to add an permeant workout bars station can attract more people to the parks, keep the community healthy and fit. It is visually pleasant watching the people in the park, jog, having a picnic, kicking a soccer ball and working out. It creates a great community.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
I would love to meet with many people that I find musically talented or have inspired me with their acting skills. But to just fan girl over someone is just an experience. To have lunch with a particular person, I would want to take in as much as I could from such a unique opportunity. I would not only idolise them but benefit from being in their presence. Mentally strengthening my sense of awareness and goals from the encounter with this person. Developing on a personal level and from a business prospective as well.
I would love to have lunch with Bob Proctor. Listened to him nearly every morning, is motivating and inspiring. He speaks truth with such passion, that I feel that lunch with him would be a sent miracle. Having a one on one conversation with someone with his level of experience and knowledge would something you can’t put a price on.
How can our readers follow you online?
Email: [email protected]
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!