Travel Beautifully · Perform Confidently
Travel Beautifully · Perform Confidently

How she carries on in COVID-19: Millie Kendall MBE

Development Director of BRANDstand Communications, Millie Kendall MBE, tells 35 Thousand how she is juggling this role and her other as CEO of the British Beauty Council in lockdown. She talks us through her newfound love of Tai Chi, life as a workaholic and how she misses travel right now.

Q: Tell us about your work…

A: “I am a multi-tasker so I have two jobs currently. I am the development director of BRANDstand Communications, a boutique beauty PR agency. We have an office in central London where I have two partners, Andrew Perera who is the worlds nicest guy and a successful and talented publicist, and Anna-Marie Solowij, former Beauty Director of British Vogue who I have known for over 25 years. We met when I was running the cosmetics brand Shu Uemura and she was the beauty editor at Elle Magazine.”

“I am also the CEO of the British Beauty Council, a non-profit organisation dedicated to raising the reputation of the beauty industry by enhancing education and investing in innovation. We are pleased to support a successful, innovative and inclusive beauty industry. We have defined and valued the industry of the past year and it is worth an incredible £28.4 billion to Britain’s GDP which is something to be proud of. We create open source reports and hold events to showcase our industry to the public and future-proof it for generations to come.”

Q: ‘What’s your context outside of work?

A: “I have two daughters – one is Lucia, 13, who lives with me part-time and spends a few days a week with her Dad, and my older daughter Sadie, is 23 and lives in LA, which is where I grew up and where most of my family live. I live in Highgate, London, which I love. I like the vibrancy of life here, the 4 seasons a day, the nightlife and the people.

I have no pets – I can barely keep a cactus alive. I’m a workaholic and it is my downfall, but I am learning Tai Chi to counterbalance the work load and the fact that my mind never switches off. I also like going out – still at 53 if you ask me to go down the road for a drink and a chat, I’m there. I rarely say no!”

Q: What is your normal day-to-day life like?

A: “I am an early riser and I like the quiet time in the mornings. I like my own company, so a shower and half an hour at my dressing table is absolute bliss for me. It’s like my own type of meditation. I’m not much into staying home and watching TV at night, so I’m usually socialising or chatting to friends (though I can pull the odd coach potato day at the weekends).

I do try to cut my work week off on a Friday night and recharge over the weekends. When I became aware that all I did was work, I realised that if I didn’t make the disconnection at the weekends then I just wouldn’t live very long. I like long walks on Hampstead Heath, pretending I have a dog.”

millie kendall ceo british beauty council
Pr Executive and CEO of the British Beauty Council, Millie Kendall
Q: What is your day-to day life like now currently during COVID-19?

A: “Well it has changed dramatically. I thought I worked hard before, but my goodness I’m up at 5am usually sat at my desk by 5.30am. I take a walk in the mornings, around 9am and then do Tai Chi in the garden at 10am for an hour. I work through lunch and try to finish at dinner, but lately, with trying to support an industry and workforce of almost 600 thousand people I find I am working until I go to sleep. I am also currently all Zoomed-out.”

Q: How has it impacted you personally and professionally?

A: “I have good days and not so good days. It’s hard because whilst I love spending time alone I can’t see my daughter in LA. I have cancelled a few trips abroad, so that’s a huge shame – I was meant to go to Jamaica, Bergerac, Iceland, Amsterdam, Paris etc…I had so much travel lined up and was really looking forward to it but am focused on rebooking those trips for next year.

Professionally I am just swamped. Our industry has really come together over this, but my role at the Beauty Council really means I am having to step up and remain calm and concise.”

Q: What are you finding challenging?

A: “Not being in my office, not being outdoors enough and the intense increase in work. Homeschooling and just motivating my 13 year old is also a challenge.”

Q: Where are you finding hope and optimism?

A: Just the thought of seeing my daughter really. I feel hope just watching her thrive throughout this awful time in a country 5000 miles away.”

Q: What do you miss about life before COVID-19 that you never thought you would?

A: “Coffee made by someone else. Walking past the BT tower every morning. My call to my best friend on my way to work. Sleep! I am not sleeping much at all.”

Q: How are you getting through?

A: “Honestly the Tai Chi has been a life saver. I had a friend called the Barefoot Doctor who practiced Tai Chi every day. He passed away earlier in the year and I was really quite shocked by his passing. When lockdown started I noticed a group of people in my communal garden practicing – people of all ages, around 8 of them. I sort of longingly looked out my window hoping they would invite me to join and then one day they did. We are all spaced responsibly throughout the large garden and we practice Qi-Gong and Tai Chi every morning at 10am rain or shine. I love it.”

Q: What is your mindset about how to use your time at home (Hustle harder with newfound time, be still and soak up the gift of time, dive into unexplored creative pursuits?)

A: “I thought I would relax more and have more time, but I am cooking, cleaning, homeschooling and working. I am definitely hustling. I haven’t found relaxing very easy.”

Q: Personally how are you managing your mind and wellbeing and that of your family?

A: “My beauty regime is a big part of my wellbeing, because it’s my personal time with me. I am not one to share my beauty routine on social media, because in a way it is so private to me.”

Q: Despite all the negatives and the brutality of the virus are there positives you feel are coming out of this  – a silver lining perhaps?

A: “Gratitude and kindness. Hopefully a renewed respect for the NHS and our nation’s hairdressers too!”

Brandstand Communications

British Beauty Council

How she carries on in COVID-19 with Rae Feather

The entrepreneur and founder of the fashion editor’s favourite accessories and clothing brand Rae Feather, on running the entire company by herself, her newfound love of Peloton and why she misses driving during lockdown.
(Note the above personalised face masks will be available from next week)

rae feather how she carries on
Rae Feather
Q: What’s your context outside of work?

A: “I live in the countryside in Oxfordshire and have four sons and 2 dogs – a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy that is handful and a little terrier that is very old and very blind.”

Q: What is your day-to-day life like now?

A: “I like routine and in the current climate, routine is really important to me. I work out in the morning, walk the dog, sort out my kids and go to work.

I’m running my business single handedly which is a great privilege in so many ways but challenging. My team are furloughed so I have a lot of plates spinning and I have had to learn a lot of new skills in the last few weeks.

I am mainly in despatch in the afternoons and when Royal Mail departs, I tidy up, do a supermarket shop and get home to prepare supper. Dinner every night has always been family time and never has it felt more important than now. We all get to catch up on our day and have quality time.”

The Rae Feather Jenna Basket
The Rae Feather Jenna Basket
Q: How has it impacted you personally and professionally?

A: “Personally it has been amazing for me to spend real time with my kids. I have a Peloton and have got quite fit as I have been religious about working out almost daily. I have also been way more experimental in the kitchen and also quite creative with ingredients. There have been some disasters but also some great successes.”

“Professionally there are positives and negatives. I have engaged with my customers in a really positive way. I am ‘Customers Services’ so I pick up the phone and speak to people and without exception they have all been so lovely! I have gone back to where I started and I am running my business alone and making my own decisions and that feels really good.”

Rae feather bag
We have teamed up with Rae Feather to give away a Monogram Leather Cross Body Bag, worth £195 (including personalisation) See details here
Q: What are you finding challenging?

“I’m finding the the uncertainty challenging. I try to live for the day but for so many businesses this is really tough. For so many individuals, their future is really messed up.”

Q: Where are you finding hope and optimism?

“I am an optimist and think a lot of good has come from this. Both professionally and personally Professionally, it has allowed me to reassess so many elements of my business and I can see the mistakes I have made along the way.

Personally, I have got to know my kids even better than before. You think you know them but this time has tested us all. I have found their weaknesses and their strengths – long term this is so beneficial as I can support them in the areas they struggle with.”

Q: What do you miss about life before COVID-19 that you never thought you would?

“I miss driving. I know that sounds odd. I take detours now so that I can sit in the car and listen to music for a few minutes more – is that crazy?! I also miss swimming, I knew I would miss it but not as much as I do.”

The Rae Feather Monogram Soho Lambswool throw
The Rae Feather Monogram Soho Lambswool throw
Q: “How are you getting through? What are your coping strategies?

A: “My belief is that this is out of our hands. We are told to adhere to the guidelines/rules laid out very clearly for us. I try to respect those rules for the sake of others.

I find working out is key – getting daily exercise is uplifting. Experimenting with new recipes has been great and creatively satisfying. I have also really enjoyed engaging more with my audience on social media.”

Q: What is your mindset about how to use your time at home (Hustle harder with newfound time, be still and soak up the gift of time, dive into unexplored creative pursuits?)

A: “I have some good days and some bad and I have a terrible habit of working in bed. Some days I am still in bed at 11am planning and researching. I get a huge amount done but I find I chase my tail for the rest of the day.”

Q: Personally how are you managing your mind and wellbeing and that of your family?

“I am mentally pretty strong, obviously like many, I have had bad days but I think it’s important to take the good with the bad. I made a rule very early on, that when the going gets tough, go to your room. It works and everyone respects it.”

The Rae Feather Rainbow Organic Hoodie
The Rae Feather Rainbow Organic Hoodie
Q: Despite all the negatives and the brutality of the virus are there positives you feel are coming out of this – a silver lining perhaps?

“For me this time has been life changing, particularly professionally. I am back at the helm and that feels so good and positive. Personally, I think the world has had to sit up and listen, whilst this time has brought so many negatives and great sadness to all those who have been affected by the loss of loved ones, environmentally and sociologically this time has brought many great positives.”

raefeather.com

We are running a competition currently with Rae Feather to win a Monogram Leather Cross Body Bag. To enter please click here

How she carries on in COVID-19: Kristen Pressner

Kristen Pressner is a Global People & Culture executive living in Switzerland. She talks to 35Thousand about juggling back-to-back virtual meetings with four teens in lockdown, daily meditation, and getting ‘Back to better.’

Tell us about your work…

“I’m a Global People & Culture executive. I’m American but have lived in Switzerland for 12 years. I work in the diagnostics/pharma/healthcare industry and in the context of COVID-19, it’s an honor to see the work we do every day impacting patients’ lives around the world in a very real way.”

What’s your context outside of work?

“My husband of 20 years, Dan and I have 4 teenagers (19, 18, 16 and 13). We’re especially blessed to be all together during these ‘shelter in place’ days. It’s been 4 weeks of just the 6 of us (plus Mochi, our cat) and I am surprised how well it is going!”

What is your normal day-to-day life like?

“Typically I travel about 50% of the time, all over the world. I am frequently meeting face-to-face with all different sized groups, from one-on-one to meetings of all sizes, to addressing crowds of thousands. We’re transforming our People & Culture organization to an agile working model and thus the day to day often requires thinking in a very different way than in the past, both about our business and the way the People & Culture organization plays a key role in enabling it.”

What is your day-to day life like now currently during COVID-19?

“All meetings are Zoom, Hangouts or phone call – back-to-back. I had to learn how to organize myself and my days in a completely different way.”

Kristen Pressner working from home during the Corona Crisis
How has it impacted you personally and professionally?

“I’m juggling trying to eat well, fit in meditation, a well as exercise (I used to take the stairs up 18 flights to my office each day) and also make sure that my teams’, my colleagues’, and my family’s emotional and psychological well-being are also being cared for, albeit in some cases, from a distance.”

What are you finding challenging?

“Firstly, being purposeful to find the new normal and establish patterns that work. Secondly, not being stuck in front of my computer, or having back-to-back meetings all day. Some days, it’s about just being kind to myself.”

Where are you finding hope and optimism?

“This pandemic will end. The world won’t go ‘back to normal’ but we do have the opportunity to establish a new, better normal. We like to call it ‘Back to better’. I feel this is possible and hope that an unthinkable humanitarian challenge can then accelerate important and positive change for the better.”

What do you miss about life before COVID-19 that you never thought you would?

“Wearing fabulous shoes! I broke my foot 8 months ago and was on crutches and a cast. I longed for the days I could wear all my fabulous shoes again. Then after I healed, COVID-19 happened and I still only wear trainers! My heels must think I’ve abandoned them.”

How are you getting through? What are your coping strategies?

“I am very serious about fitting in my daily meditation (my favourite is the app 10% happier – they are offering certain elements for free during COVID-19). I also get sunshine and fresh air every day, but I know we are privileged to have a garden. I am also being kind to myself. I find the whole “People who changed the world while in quarantine” pressure, or the ‘Use this time wisely’ talk unhelpful. They probably didn’t have four teens at home.”

What is your mindset about how to use your time at home (Hustle harder with newfound time, be still and soak up the gift of time, dive into unexplored creative pursuits?)

“I don’t have ‘newfound time.’ My work is accelerated in ways that a day feels like a year and the stakes are incredibly high. In addition, the additional ‘asks’ at home such as re-working routines, finding food for 6 in these times, caring for peoples’ emotional needs and worrying about family and friends all over the world, actually has me quite exhausted. What I do plan to do during this time is play the long game of mental wellbeing and learning to ride the wave for when we are ‘back to better.’”

Personally how are you managing your mind and wellbeing and that of your family?

“Meditation and open discussion. We talked about what we are grieving the loss of and how ‘Comparative suffering’ (see Brene Brown podcast) is a trap we don’t want to fall into. We’re now cultivating a daily practice of gratitude – for being together, for being healthy (so far), for having a garden and sunshine, etc.”

Despite all the negatives and the brutality of the virus are there positives you feel are coming out of this  – a silver lining perhaps?

“I do think the ‘Back to better’ will include accelerated advancement in working from home, location agnostic workforce and gig working, telemedicine and other healthcare advances and a newfound gratitude for the simple things in life.”

How she carries on in COVID-19: naturopath Jennifer Trejo

Jennifer Trejo is a naturopath whose company, The Abundant Life Wellness Centre in Fort Worth, Texas, offers advanced, natural health services, She educates her clients about how to live a healthier and more holistic lifestyle. Here, Jennifer talks to 35 Thousand about telemedicine appointments,the joy of unexpected time with her family and why it’s a tough time for naturally ‘huggy’ people right now.

Q: Tell us about your work

A: “I own Abundant Life Wellness Center in Fort Worth, Texas.  I am a Naturopath and love helping people find solutions to their chronic health conditions.”

Q: What’s your context outside of work?

A: “I have been married for 18 years and have a 17 year old daughter and a 13 year old son.  We have two cats, two horses and one tortoise.  We live in Fort Worth and I love to read, spend time with my family and serve at my church.” 

Q: What is your normal day-to-day life like?

A: “I work Monday through Thursday at my wellness center seeing clients and leading my staff.  Evenings are spent going to my children’s activities, overseeing homework and having long talks with teenagers (if they feel like talking that is.)  Fridays are when I take care of myself and do administrative duties for my practice.  Weekends are reserved for family and church.”

Q: What is your day-to day life like now currently during COVID-19?

“I am offering both in-office and telemedicine appointments for my clients due to the virus.   And after I have worked all day, I now get to go home and help to homeschool my children so that is unexpected!  They are older so it definitely could be worse; I am grateful I don’t have to homeschool elementary-aged children.  Not having to rush to sporting events or school meetings after work has also been a big change.”

Q: How has it impacted you personally and professionally?

A: “It has impacted our family travel plans personally.  We had an 11 night Italy and Greece cruise planned for the summer so that will definitely not be happening.  My children are sad that they can’t see their friends whenever they like.  Professionally, my staff have had to stop providing certain services but other services have increased greatly so there has been a balance. 

I have not had to lay off any full time staff – I have been creative with assigning work duties but no one has lost their jobs.  I have an amazing staff and they are willing to do what it takes to serve our clients.”

Q: What are you finding challenging?

A: “Helping my son with 7th grade math!”

Q: Where are you finding hope and optimism?

A: “In less than 18 months, my daughter will be leaving for university, so before all of this, I was trying to savor every moment I could get with her.  Now, I have her undivided attention so much more.  We cook at home more than we did before, and we have more time for family game nights which I love.”

Q: What do you miss about life before COVID-19 that you never thought you would?

A: “I am a natural hugger; I hug most of my clients, my staff and my friends.  I can only hug my immediate family now. It feels uncomfortable for me to say goodbye to many people and be unable to give them a hug.  Physical touch can be so healing to many people.”

Q: How are you getting through and what are your coping strategies?

“My Christian faith is what is getting me through.  I have always had a morning quiet time with the Lord before my day started but now I have an extended time to help calm my mind before the craziness of the day hits.   I love to listen to praise and worship music and pray on my drive to work because it gets my mind and spirit in the right place.”

Q: “What is your mindset about how to use your time at home (Hustle harder with newfound time, be still and soak up the gift of time, or dive into unexplored creative pursuits?)”

A: “I am being productive because my practice will be moving this Summer to a larger space that will include adding more services.  My family will be selling our home and moving about 45 minutes away to a new home.  So this time has been a Godsend to be able to brainstorm and get organized for the many changes coming later this year.”

Q: Personally how are you managing your mind and wellbeing and that of your family?

A: “If there is a glimpse of sun outside, we make sure we are walking or playing outdoors.  Exercise and fresh air does wonders for our mind and wellbeing.  I am also ensuring my family is supplementing with immune boosting nutrients like healthy food, Vitamin D, C, Zinc and probiotics.  Getting plenty of sleep and exercise is also invaluable to our wellbeing.”

A: Despite all the negatives and the brutality of the virus, are there positives you feel are coming out of this  – a silver lining perhaps?

A: “I have much more family time that I truly never thought I would have at this stage of our lives.  Our pace of life is slow and sweet and I am so thankful for that.”

The Abundant Life wellness Centre