Vanessa Rowed

Head of Marketing, BWS & Founder of Awakind

Roles in life and work:

I am a mother to two beautiful children, wife to a busy husband, a sister and daughter.

My day job is Head of Marketing at BSW. I also just launched Awakind, a Social Enterprise sleepwear brand, utilising profits to fund homes for less fortunate children in Vietnam.

What are you juggling right now in your life? 

Right at this moment, as we are all in isolation due to COVID19. I am juggling my full-time job, with home schooling and supporting my business Awakind so it can survive throughout this period.

Like all parents the days are not long enough to spend the time I want with my kids, and yet sometimes they feel too long, and I cannot wait for the kids to go to bed. I am juggling the difficult balance of how much screen time I allow, in order to get my work done. 

I am also juggling my own personal ambition and impatience to see Awakind realise its full potential yet recognise that the world is in turmoil right now and therefore I need to be more patient. The patience part is difficult, as I am not a patient person and I am so passionate about the brand, I just want to see it realise it is potential.

How did Awakind come about?

After having my own kids, I became more aware of the imperfect world they were entering and at the same time overwhelmed by the issues they would encounter and face in their lifetimes.

I try to make good informed choices about what we buy, wear, eat and do the right thing in any way we can. That seems like a mission amongst the day to day dramas of parenting and life.

I also developed a heightened sensitivity towards the innocence and fragility of childhood. I often felt overwhelmed by the growing issues facing children around the world, especially concerned about those that did not have the same basic rights and safety as my own.

Determined to help others less fortunate, I started to search for ways in which I could do my part, big or small.

Sometime later, whilst I was searching for quality, ethically produced and well-designed pyjamas for my kids, I realised there were not many options. I found myself searching beyond the standard two-piece sets or gender stereotype prints for something that could take a couple of cycles in the washing machine and be made from fabrics that would not self-combust in sunlight!

None, in my mind, could I take the kids down to the shops in – for those times I must rush out to the shops for the forgotten milk for tomorrow’s cereal. It struck me that kid’s clothes had evolved, but pyjamas had not changed with the times. 

These were the founding motivations for Awakind. To create a brand that challenges the status quo in sleepwear, where the profits are used to fund homes for children in real need. Homes that give vulnerable children much needed care, shelter, and a safe place to sleep. It became my mission to build a better world through something we all do every night…sleep!

Tell me about the social side of your start up

We believe that every business has an opportunity to help build a better world, just through how they choose to spend their money.

When you purchase Awakind sleepwear, you are contributing to life changing projects helping less fortunate children. Providing more than a roof over their heads, these projects give kids a place to play, grow, sleep and dream.

We are focused on ensuring our collective contribution will have the biggest impact. That is why we have chosen to start with partners who are small, and we can ensure our dollars go to the children.

These organisations provide care at the very fringes of poverty- affected communities, relying on individual donations.

Through our partnership with Chop Vietnam, we are currently supporting two children’s homes; The Thien Phonc Centre which provides shelter and care for 77 physically and or mentally handicapped children from families unable to cope with their child’s disability, and the Mai Hoa Centre which provides shelter, food, free basic medical care and an orphanage for those abandoned by their families due to their HIV status

How do you value your time?

I have learnt through my marketing work that I need to value my time as no-one else will. It is still a constant juggling act, as I love to be involved in everything, I love to constantly learn, and I hate letting people down.

Unfortunately, the reality of my work, family and personal business means that I must be more ruthless with my time these days and be ok with missing out or saying no.

As I reflect now, I realise the people who I have said no to most recently have been my extended family and friends, so this is something I will need to rectify – once we’re out of iso of course!

How do you manage your time effectively?

Lists and calendar invites.

If it is not in my diary, and it does not make my list, it does not happen. At work I have a great team who help me prioritise what is most critical or important. At home I dedicate my weekends to getting stuff done and because I am a night owl, at night is when I do my thinking and work on Awakind. It is not ideal, as it is often sleep that I miss out on, which is kind of ironic given I run a sleepwear brand!

How do you separate work and personal time?

I gave this idea up a long time ago and it works for me. Having grown up in advertising and marketing, there is no off button as it is a deadline driven business. I work the hours that need to be worked to get the job done. But I also make sure that if personal things need to happen during work hours, this is just part of life. My children often have appointments in the day, and this is just part of my schedule. Some people ask me when I have ‘personal’ me time and my answer to that is, when you love what you do, that is your personal time. I am just as happy designing the next PJ collection as I am reading a book. I consider both my personal time because they both bring me joy.

What does your support network look like?

I am incredibly blessed to have a wonderful support network, and I am very aware that I would not be in the position I am today without the support I have around me. Firstly, my husband has always been my number one supporter in ensuring I achieve my personal goals. We plan the support we need together.

For example, I realise given my current employment I have the privilege of having a nanny for before and after school care for my kids. This enables me to travel for work, to attend early morning or late evening meetings and know that my kids are safe. Without the beautiful support of the lovely nannies we have been blessed with over the year, I would not have been able to achieve as much in my workday. I have also got a wonderful family, with a sister and mother who are always there for me both emotionally and physically when needed. They are both incredibly busy, hence why we like to have our own support, but I will not underestimate the peace of mind they provide knowing they are only a call or drive away.

When it comes to business, I am again am blessed to be surrounded by an incredible support network. Comprised of many people I have met throughout my career, and most of which are inspiring women, these amazing women inspire and support me in more ways than I could detail here. Many have advocated for me in challenging times, they have supported me when I was in trouble and they have cheered me when I have been successful. I consider myself extremely lucky to have such a diverse but selfless network.

What kind of conversations do you have with your inner voice?

This is something I have worked on in recent years. Unlike many of my friends, I did not have a very strong inner voice when I was young, and I was genuinely quite confident. However, as we all do, I have experienced ups and down throughout adulthood, and some experiences affected my confidence, others challenged my own view of the world. For example, motherhood was the first time I ever really doubted myself, and I had to work hard to build confidence in my parenting abilities. At major turning points in my career I have also had to learn to listen to my inner voice and at other times quieten it down when it is not serving me. It is been a long road to learning to meditate, but this has been my savour in this space. Not always, but sometimes I am able to recognise when my inner voice is my ego, my intuition, or my conscience. Being able to identify this has been a huge unlock for me both personally and professionally.

Do you have any time saving tips for the One P community?

Be present. This was a hard one to master, but I learnt the hard way. When I am present with my kids, I do not have to constantly look for ways to make up lost time with them because the time I’ve spent with them has been quality time. They have had my full attention and I have connected with them. I have also found this at work. Not being completely engaged in a conversation just means I must revisit the topic later or I do not make the right decision that results in having to fix the outcome later. 

You can follow Awakind on Facebook, Instagram or visit Awakind web site

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1 Comment

  1. So impressed with you and all that you do Vanessa – in your work, as a Mum and as a friend. Keep on being the most fabulous you can be.

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