Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Career Girl Spotlight - Laura Chong The 400 Co

For anyone who reads my tweets and this blog you will know I am a massive advocate for work/life balance and having extracurricular activities. 

These activities could be your children, your love of expensive wine, sport and fitness (like me), or fashion like Laura Chong (pictured below). Laura is the first career girl, in a series to come, that I am going to spotlight. 

Laura is a lawyer (like some of the best of us are!) but is also an entrepreneur. Laura is a fashion designer and has started her own clothing label The 400 Co (www.the400co.com.au). These clothes are aimed at corporate women and are oh so comfortable. I've been privileged enough to model for Laura at a recent women's networking event and they deserve to be seen by the world. 

Here is an exclusive look into Laura's life and how she makes it happen. 

Laura Chong - Lawyer, Fashion Designer and Entrepreneur 

What is your "day" career

Construction Litigator at Holding Redlich. 

How many hours a day do you generally spend at your "day" career

On average, 9 to 11 hours. 

Throughout the early stages of your career, how did you wind down and de-stress

Like many young lawyers, cocktail hour was a great time to wind down with friends. But exercise is a greater motivator and a chance to de-stress!

You've now started your own fashion line and released your latest designs, what prompted you to do this

After my first year in the law full time, I realised that I needed something more; a way to express myself creatively. Aside for wanting something different to wear to work than all the high street labels that everyone else in the city owned, I wanted a way to contrast my busy, high pressure law practice with something that was a little fun and creative. 

I read an article one day that said this was a way to achieving work life balance and even though it has turned into a form of work, I feel like it gives me the drive I need in my day job and in the business side of The 400 Co. 

How much leg work did you have to put into starting the line

I had about 3 months of planning from surfing the web for manufacturers to launching the live website. There wasn't really any moment where I was planning as such, I hit the ground running and made the big decisions when they popped up. I think this is a major problem for small businesses is doing too much planning. My biggest tip is don't sit on your idea for too long, do your research, but go ahead and do it. Otherwise you will get bored of it or it will never truly take off. 

Does the line provide you with that extra release for your "day" career

Definitely.  There are some things that law offers me that The 400 Co does not, and vice versa. They both perfectly balance me out at this point. The 400 Co is the creative release that I need when I come home from a busy day at the office and need to switch off my mind and relax. 

What are your hopes for the future for the line 

I would like to see The 400 Co gain a grater presence in Australia and I am planning to do this by extending our networks. 

This part of our other strategy to give back - we have grown so quickly and with our exposure we have been approached by a number of charities that we are working with to achieve mutual ends and awareness within the community on important issues that corporate professionals are in a good position to make positive changes towards. 

Wow. That is fantastic. So taking all of that on board, do you believe it is important to have a work life balance 

Definitely. Though this is concept that is easier said than done. What achieves balance for one person will not necessarily work for another. My advice to young professionals is try a few different tactics and branch out. It is not so much about reducing your hours at work but more about finding the time to do things that make you happy. 

Do you hope to inspire others to branch out and be diverse in their career, or do you think it's important to inspire girls to do their best and take the path they want to succeed

I think we all have different goals in life. It is not so much about being diverse, working women need to find the time to sit down and think "what am I working towards?"  There is no point slaving away if you don't have a target in mind. You should have both long term and short term goals that are achievable and that you can work towards. Without goals, life is very uninspiring!!

Who is that one career girl who inspires you/is your role model 

My role model is very close to home. Janelle Kerrisk, my Partner at Holding Redlich, is a true inspiration. She is the type of woman that gets out there and does it. She makes you believe that anything is possible if you want it, work towards it and know you deserve it. 

Every career girl has that one quote they live by. What is yours?

The global success brand Nike says it best - JUST DO IT!

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Thanks so much for your time Laura. I can't wait to see what your next line brings. 



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