Catherine Balavage is an author, freelance writer, and the editor-in-chief of Frost Magazine. Catherine started the online books and lifestyle magazine Frost ten years ago. Catherine is the author of five books on subjects diverse as acting, blogging, wedding planning, childbirth and poetry. She is currently working on a collection of short stories.
How did you balance being a mother and working?
By acknowledging that there is no balance. I thought that being a freelance writer and author was the perfect job to raise children with. Oh ha ha. Most of my time is taken up by the domestic and I have few hours which are blocked out just for work. I have to work quickly and efficiently when I can. There have been times when I have had to work evenings and weekends but I keep that to a minimum. Family time is so important. My oldest is in school but other than that we have no childcare, even before lockdown. It has made me a much stronger person!
What have you sacrificed (both personally and professionally) at each stage of your career?
I read an interview with Natalie Massenet where she said that if you want to be successful in business then life is work and family and nothing else. I have sacrificed making friends, hobbies and free time. In my twenties I relentlessly focused on my career and nothing else. I did not date or have many friends. Now I have my family too and, thankfully, a couple of good friends. But you sacrifice just being in the moment.
Who inspired you and why?
Natalie Massenet, Michelle Obama, Beyonce, Jo Malone, Tamara Mellon, Nora Ephron, Arianna Huffington. All of them are strong, successful women. Michelle Obama is my ultimate role model. She is so supportive of other people and so wise. Her book Becoming changed my life.
What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
Focus on your goals. Be as relentless as the problems that try and bring you down. Get a mentor if you can. Network like a demon. Read books and study. Get qualifications that will give you an edge. Do not take your foot off of the pedal.
I would also recommend taking time out. That sounds like a contradiction but take weekends off and do not work into the evening. Do not burn out. Practice self care. I spent my twenties burning out from over work. It is a terrible way to work. I have learned how my body works and how I am most efficient, and that is when I make time to exercise and sleep properly.
Where will we find you on a Saturday morning at 10 a.m.?
Having breakfast with my children while my husband has a lie-in.
What do you love about your job?
The creativity. I also love all of the different people that I meet. Even if it is virtually. I started Frost Magazine ten years ago and it is such a community now. Being a writer makes you feel plugged into the world. I love telling stories and learning about people’s lives. I also love that my books sell regularly. I hope that they help or entertain the people that buy them.
What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made?
Starting Frost Magazine and writing my books.
What’s the worst career decision you’ve ever made?
I did a film about seven years ago and I was badly injured on it. I still need to do physiotherapy to this day. In the past I did a ton of terrible jobs just to pay the rent.
How do you organise your time?
I organise my time around the school run and my three-year-old. She is not in nursery yet. Late birthday!
What do you think is your greatest strength?
My perseverance and my work ethic.
What do you think is your greatest weakness?
I am too hard on myself.
How do you make decisions?
Usually quickly and then I rarely change my mind. I listen to my gut but I never ignore facts.
What do you read?
I read so much. We review books at Frost. I love books and magazines. I read pretty much all of the women’s magazines and Time. I love the National Geographic too. I read Didn’t See That Coming by Rachel Hollis recently and that was good. She is inspirational. I also loved Playdate by Alex Dahl and When You See Me by Lisa Gardner.
What do you think are the secrets behind getting to where you’ve got to?
Hard work and tenacity. Reading trade magazines and learning a lot about the industry you want to work in will also put you ahead of the competition. I also try to stay on top of what is happening in my industry.