Small Business

Achieving Work/Life Balance

This afternoon we explore the idea of ‘work/life balance’. Is it ACTUALLY attainable? Our interviewees – stylist, author, and creative director/co-owner of The Establishment StudiosTamara Maynes, and founder and director of Nest ArchitectsEmilio Fuscaldo – think so, though they’re both refreshingly realistic about it.

Read on for insights into staying in-tune with yourself, and being clear on your priorities, while trying to remain a little flexible, too.

Elle Murrell

The founder and director of Nest Architects, Emilio Fuscaldo is also a father-of-two. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Tamara Maynes is a stylist, author, and creative director/co-owner of The Establishment Studios. Photo – Annette O’Brien for The Design File

‘For me, my workload begins to feels unhealthy if I haven’t been selective enough about what I’ve committed to,’ says Tamara Maynes. The Melbourne-based freelance image stylist specialises in art direction and set design. She is also an author, and the creative director/co-owner of The Establishment Studios – a location-style photographic studio and prop house in Melbourne.

‘Originally, I was apprehensive about taking on the studio, as I knew something else would have to give,’ recalls Tamara. ‘The result was deciding to close the door on my commercial making practise, and allow it to become a slow personal one… a scary decision, but one that felt right and has allowed me to be more present in it.’

Finding her way into her field through lots of volunteering and work experience rather than formal study, Tamara is no stranger to long working hours. An average week sees her working more than 60! She feels fortunate that her co-owner responsibilities are shared with business partner and studio manager, Carly Spooner, with whom she regularly talks through everything, from financial decisions and fine-tuning operations, to broader vision and growth.

‘My non-work life definitely gets less of my time, but to be honest, I love what I do to the point where work, for the most part, actually fulfils the majority of my personal interests – in an unconventional sense I actually feel balanced,’ Tamara explains. Despite her busy week, she tries to remain flexible, taking an hour/day/weekend off whenever she needs time out, whether that be to potter around at home, or to lose herself in the gardening or craft.

The founder and director of Nest Architects, Emilio Fuscaldo is also a father-of-two. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Aside from helming his successful architecture firm, Emilio Fuscaldo is father to two young children, with his partner who is also pursuing her own career goals. ‘I need to balance the needs of the office against the needs of my family, and my own desire to be a great Dad and partner’ he says.

How does he go about this? ‘I’ve worked hard at creating a really supportive environment in the office, where staff can be open and honest about their personal commitments. As a result, we’re nimble enough to help each other out when our personal commitments get in the way of our workday,’ tells Emilio. This translates into four-day work weeks, flexible work hours and a non-competitive work culture. ‘These simple things ensure that all of us value our lives outside of work, and are supported when pursuing those interests and responsibilities.’ He adds.

Though that’s already a strong effort, Emilio is first to admit that it’s paramount to be continually assessing and striving for that all-elusive ‘balance’. ‘The ongoing challenge for me personally is to make sure that I have enough time out of the office to support my partner when she’s busy and spend enough time with my kids – so that they see me not as a babysitter, but a committed and dedicated Dad.’

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