Women of Style & Grace Lunch Series – Sydney

We can have it all.

It’s a bold statement. And it’s a statement that has been debated time and time again with women on the 21st century. It’s also a statement that can make some women feel like failures if they aren’t having it all.

However, what I believe this statement really means is that it is very okay for women to want more. Former US Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown who is famous for coining the phrase, used it as an analogy that women should not have to choose between family and retaining our own identities, or between caring for our families and providing for ourselves. She has been quoted as saying, “Nearly every glamorous, wealthy, successful career woman you might envy now started out as some kind of schlepp.”

Today we tend to think of ‘having it all’ as some kind of ideal life to attain – the pinnacle of success if you like, and one which seems to be only for the lucky few. So let’s get down to the detate. This is where our Women of Style & Grace come in.

WORDS: Genine Howard
PHOTOGRAPHY: FitzSnuggly Productions (www.fitzsnuggly.com)

Each month, Australian Content Magazine invites a handful of stylish women, who epitomise success, to lunch to get to the bottom of this eternal question – can we, as women, have it all and furthermore, what is having it all?

Nearly every glamorous, wealthy, successful career woman you might envy now started out as some kind of schlepp.

I know I certainly have my own opinion on whether we can have it all – in fact I teach women that they indeed can have it all in my personal coaching business A Charmed Life (the name also clearly gives away my thoughts on the topic).

However, my opinion may very well be biased. I am currently ‘having my cake and eating it too’ as I am fresh off the back of having my first child which comes with it a sense of renewal, but also more importantly – time. Ironic, some of you may say, but having a baby has made me hyper-aware of each and every hour in my day and where my priorities lay. I use every minute of my ‘working’ hours to within an inch of their life, then totally dedicate my non-working hours to being a great mother and wife. Though I do admit that sometimes throwing in exercise, catch ups with girlfriends and family can sometimes get a little hectic, but I do manage to do it all – and retain my sanity.

But let’s move on from my thoughts and meet this month’s Women of Style & Grace and hear what their thoughts are on ‘having it all’.

Allow me to introduce; Sylvie Hutchings, Flavia Abate and Megan Rose.

Processed by: Helicon Filter;

Sylvie Hutchings is a mother of three growing boys, and CEO of Scout Cosmetics – a company that launched in 2008 with a mineral makeup range and has now expanded to organic, antioxidant skincare and hair care. Sylvie works alongside her life and business partner Guy and together the business has become a real success. Just last year however, Sylvie battled Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Today she is fit, healthy and busier than ever having “used her time wisely” while in treatment to launch her new nail lacquer range.

 

Flavia Abate Women of Style & Grace

Flavia Abate launched her family business ‘City Clinic’ alongside her twin sister. The Sydney based City Clinic centre was the first of its kind in Australia to offer a client-centric model, pioneering a multidisciplinary approach to injury management-all under one roof. In 2003 Flavia established Bolster Trading Pty Ltd (www.bodybolster.com) which was born from a notion to empower people by providing self-help tools and resources. One of their most popular products is the Body Bolster which is now sold in 13 countries.

 

Processed by: Helicon Filter;Megan Rose is the CEO of Connect PR and is mother of three children aged five, three and one years old. She has a background in media having previously been the Production Manager at Channel 10 but is now committed to running her own business as it gives her the flexibility to work from home on her terms and hours. She has a burgeoning team and is about to move into new premises.

 

 

For our launch event we flew to Sydney and dined at the sensational Kazbah Darling Harbour. After getting to know each other, we got stuck into the debate.

Australian Content Magazine (ACM): Let’s start with the balance between work and home life. Can you draw the line between the two?
Megan: Firstly, I know I need to outsource, especially with bookkeeping. I’m spending Saturday nights doing that and I’m terrible at it!

Flavia: That’s a lesson I have also learnt. If you just outsource to people who do a specific task for a living you’ll get so much more from it.

Megan: I agree – it’s taking me away from growing my business … and conversing with my husband! But in terms of separating work and home, between the hours of 4 and 7pm we are on as parents and make up those hours in the evening.

Sylvie: We work from home. We do have a big house but we actually just changed from direct selling (party plan) to retail. We have now opened up a distribution stream – we need to have volume, and although we have a house that is big enough, my son who is away, I’m using his room as a packing station. There’s boxes everywhere! But it will stop eventually – we will get a warehouse at some stage.

Megan: We are the same, we can’t even get our car into our garage!

Women of Style & Grace lunch ACM

From left: Sylvie, Flavia, Megan and ACM editor, Genine Howard

ACM: In terms of ‘having it all’ what does it mean to you?
Megan: I get so sick of the mums versus non-working mums argument. I believe that most women are juggling. These days most families can’t afford to be on a single income. Most women are juggling work and the children, or if they don’t have children, you have to run the household, do the grocery shopping and so on … I’m certainly not man-bashing here but women have to be the gate keeper for everything. I want my daughter to know she can be whatever she wants. I want her to know you can go out and get it regardless of your circumstances. What drives me is having a nice lifestyle and time with my children.

I want my daughter to know she can be whatever she wants.

Sylvie: I think having it all means different things to each one of us. It’s about having a frank conversation with yourself about what it means to have it all. What we need is a community of women that can work together to help each other.

Flavia: I believe that having it all means something has to give. You can’t keep all the balls in the air at one time. There are moments in time that I can’t do everything. Is that having it all? Well, it’s about making choices. I also think that having it all catch phase has been taken out of context – the founding editor of US Cosmopolitan – she is the one that said how successful she was and empowering women – but she was saying that she was only successful because she had people all around around; nannies, cooks, cleaners, drivers – the works. She said ‘Having it all empowers me to be the success I am … I diarise time with my children – that’s the only way I can be successful’.

You can’t keep all the balls in the air at one time.

Sylvie: And that is her success but for me that wouldn’t equate to success. I wouldn’t want somebody else spending time with my children doing things like that – I don’t want to have to diarise time with my family. Especially with my brush with cancer last year has reinforced that.

Megan: I have people say to me all the time that I’m in such a position to grow my business if I just put my children in more care – and I say no, no, no. I didn’t start working for myself to put my children in fulltime day-care. I’m now growing staff around me so I can work on the business not so much as in the business so I can look after these little people.

Sylvie: You do have to be very organised. The other thing to address, with children again, there are different phases with your life. You might start off early 20’s establishing your name, kids come along – it’s a big change … there are different times when things become important. My boys are teenagers and my phase now is that my boys need me more than ever. You’ve got to be prepared to be flexible around the different phases in your life.

You’ve got to be prepared to be flexible around the different phases in your life.

Megan: On another note, being self-employed allows you to be choosy about who you work with. All our clients know that we are a family business and they all supportive. I choose not to be at all the events in Sydney – it’s just not authentic to me. I just don’t have that extra time. One day when the kids are all at school I will work probably five days a week.

Flavia Abate - Women of Style & Grace lunch series ACM

ACM: Flavia, do you think women look at you and think ‘it’s easy for you’ because you don’t have children?
Flavia: Yes. What they don’t realise is how much more you take on. You do because you can. While some mothers need to stop work at 3pm or 4pm to do school runs and be with the children, I still have other jobs. I can be at my computer til 9pm at night. I take on more and more.
I also find you want more experiences so you throw yourself into a lot of things. I am a board member of an entrepreneurial group – it’s where I can feed my soul, learn, grow and invigorate myself. So then you start to take on more and more. It’s about setting the next goal. Next thing you know you are busier than busier. You do take on more in other ways.

I had to reconsider that image or picture of what having it all is.

Flavia (continued): I had to reconsider that image or picture of what having it all is. I got to a point where I asked myself do I want to be a parent? It’s all right to say ‘do I want to have a baby’ but for me [with the high rates of divorce these days] the question was ‘do I want to be a single parent?’ Now I have to paint another vision of my life. I thought I was going this way, but now going a different way. Do I regret not having children? I’m not big on regrets. Things happen for a reason. I have a very rich and full life and it is very much geared towards what I want to do, where I can add value.

Megan: I liken having it all to living your best life. I’ve always been a career girl but I’ve also always wanted children. I’ll put it out there – I feel like I’ve got it all. I’ve got three healthy beautiful children that I miss like an ache in my heart when I’m not with them, a wonderful husband and career.
Here’s the other thing – I believe that having it all is never having to ask a man “can I have this”. I think it’s important for women to have independence. Having it all is having control over your life. It’s about not relying on someone else.

Having it all is having control over your life. It’s about not relying on someone else.

Flavia: If you want a traditional ‘wife’ role there should be a safe place for that … but it is a high risk strategy. Unfortunately that’s not the ways things happen right now.

[ACM: The conversation steers towards affairs, divorce etc. for a while as we devour our desserts. Getting back on track …]

Megan: To summarise, I believe that having it all is about empowerment. Empowerment to make your best life and have choices.

Sylvie and Flavia: Yes, I agree!

So it seems that to ‘having it all’  is something attainable for us all, though we each need to be crystal clear on what ‘having it all’ means for ourselves. Just like success, the term does mean different things for each individual and, as Sylvie pointed out, our ‘having it all’ can change as we go through life’s different phases.

And as Megan summed up, ‘having it all’ is quite simply about knowing your boundaries, your priorities and most importantly, feeling empowered.

What do you think? Can we have it all?

ACM

Courtesy Kazbah Darling Harbour

WOMEN OF STYLE & GRACE – LUNCH MENU

Our first Women Of Style & Grace lunch series was held at Middle Eastern-inspired Kazbah Darling Harbour. We chose to eat from the ‘Royal Feast’ menu so that we could concentrate on the conversation while plates (and plates!) of sensational food came our way. I have to say, we dined like queens during our interview – the Royal Feast menu is fit for a queen – or for a king for that matter!

The Royal feast menu ($65 per person) normally includes;

Hummus, Babaghanouj, Taramasalata & Bread
Rocket, Walnut, Quinoa Tabouli Salad
Fried Cauliflower, Eggplant Jam, Pinenuts, Yoghurt Tahini Sauce
Kataifi Wrapped Prawns, Muhamara Sauce
BBQ Garlic & Harissa Marinated Octopus, Skorthalia
Spicy Lamb & Pinenut Boreks, Tzatziki
Lemon Baharat Chicken Shish Kebab
Mixed Nut Pilaf, Caraway Capsicum Crème Fraîche, Parsley Pesto Sauce
Whole Baked Baby Snapper, Pistachio Samke Hara Sauce
The Casablanca Royale Tagine
Roasted Duck, Falafel, Honey Baked Quince, Sweet Potato Chips
Carrot Steamed Couscous, Rice Pilaf
Fattoush Salad, Hand Cut Chips with Kazbah Seasoning
Dessert: Kazbah Bomb, Turkish Delight Ice Cream, Blueberries & Kurrant Vodka
Baklava & Petit Fours

Seriously! Although this is the normal Royal Feast menu, as we were at lunch and knew there was a lot of talking to do, we have a slightly abridged version of the above menu (as in – smaller!).

We all agreed that this menu was absolutely divine. The food had been created with love and care which translated to every mouthful. Each dish was almost a work of art, with my favourites the Fried Cauliflower and the Kataifi Wrapped Prawns.

However, let’s not forget dessert. If I had my way I would eat dessert for entree, and Kazbah’s signature ‘Kazbah Bomb’ is my new favourite. Our super fabulous waiter Joel presented the dish in the centre of the table, then proceeded to throw Vodka over the top and light it! I thought my notepad was going to catch on fire (dramatic I know but gives you an idea of the granduer of the dessert).  The dessert was turkish delight flavoured ice cream encased in a film of fluffly meringue served with blueberries – and don’t forget the flaming Kurrant Vodka!

Kazbah Bomb Courtsey Fab Dining Spot

This restaurant is an institution in Darling Harbour, having one many awards and being renowned for its fabulous atmosphere and authentic Middle Eastern food. We thank the Kazbah Group for hosting us for the launch of Women of Style & Grace Lunch Series.

KAZBAH further info …

Kazbah Group restaurants: multi-award winning, offering Sydney’s best Middle Eastern food with fast, friendly service since 1998. Kazbah Darling Harbour offers the best Middle Eastern/Moroccan/Mediterranean food in Sydney’s tourist district Darling Harbour. Enjoy fragrantly flavoured shisha overlooking harbour views. Kazbah’s menus reflect owners Zahi and Penny Azzi’s Lebanese and Turkish/Greek heritage. Kazbah’s unique recipes fuse Middle Eastern, Turkish, Persian, Mediterranean and Moroccan/North African traditional dishes with French haute cuisine techniques and Modern Australian ingredients.

After extensive training in the field of hospitality management and countless hours in the kitchen, Zahi and his wife Penny took their skills with them to open the famous Kazbah On Darling in 1998. The dynamic duo and their team were a force to be reckoned with receiving accolades from Restaurant & Catering Australia/NSW and appreciation from culinary peers. The popularity of Kazbah inspired a second and third venue; Kazbah Top Ryde and Kazbah Darling Harbour.

Zahi’s insatiable pursuits to provide exemplary food and service have sent him around the globe to represent Australia, most notably in Dubai and Hong Kong. His restaurants have appeared regularly on Channel 7’s Sydney Weekender, SBS Food Safari & Sydney International Food Festival.

Kazbah is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.

DARLING HARBOUR
The Promenade
Harbourside Shopping Centre
Darling Harbour, NSW
+61 2 9555 7067
www.kazbah.com.au

Other locations

RYDE
La Piazza
Top Ryde City Shopping Centre
Cnr Devlin Street & Blaxland Road
Ryde, SYDNEY

BALMAIN
379 Darling Street
Balmain, SYDNEY

A big thank you to photographer Peter Fitzpatrick from FitzSnuggly Productions (www.fitzsnuggly.com). SPECIAL OFFER 10% discount on bookings for Australian Content Magazine readers!

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