Roxy Jacenko, the Queen of PR, director of Sweaty Betty PR, is one of Australia’s hardest working women. Impeccably groomed at all times, Roxy has time to exercise, run a business and take care of two children. I wanted to ask her some hard questions as well as some beauty related questions, I hope you enjoy and are motivated by the force that is Roxy Jacenko.
Q (Diane Penelope): You have such a strong work ethic, is there a driving force behind that energy. I know you have been working since you were 14 years old, did you always feel you could achieve anything you put your mind to?
Q: How did you drum up business in that first crucial few months of business. Four months in PR for Diesel is a pretty short apprenticeship, do you think that self-promotion was instinctive and in your blood or was it something that you taught yourself?
A: I worked at Diesel for 4 years, spending my last 4 months in the PR and Marketing department. I think at 24 you have little fear and you think you can do anything so when I started my business I didn’t really think or worry about if it failed or if a client came along and I didn’t know how to action what they needed. I was just of a mindset that if I put my mind to it, I would work it out! I was extremely lucky to land Von Dutch, Dolce & Gabbana, Christian Lacroix in my first month, from there brands just came one after another. I was doing things differently, more of a sales type approach to media rather than the traditional method of a press release blank carbon copied to say 200 media and waiting for them to call me!
Q: I remember your first website was a desk with a phone (pretty sure it was Flash) and since that site I’ve always watched Sweaty Betty PR with interest. Were there any particular events that were turning points in your business’ success?
A. You forgot the kitchen table in the middle which became the desk for 4 team members within my first 2 months!! Ha ha ha – clearly I hadn’t considered partitioned desks! I have never had points in my career when I have stepped back and gone wow, I feel like the minute you do that is the minute you can become complacent and think you’re ‘there’. The purchase of my building in Paddington which now houses Sweaty Betty PR and The Ministry of Talent would be a moment where I felt proud, but at the same time, I feel I still have A LOT more to achieve.
Q: I find that if men in Australian business do well, they are applauded in the media, yet it seems that when women do well they are criticised for all sorts of qualities from “selling their kids out” to being terrible parents, pushy or worse. Do you think that Australian women are criticised disproportionately to men when they are successful?
A. Australia is a funny place. The tall poppy syndrome is a big issue, there is no doubt about it. I do agree with you that women do get [judged] worse than our male counterparts. I have never understood it, and will never. I look away from critique. If I didn’t, I would be consumed by it and to be frank, I could not care less, the people who critique are the ones who ought to spend more time working on themselves or their careers not worrying about mine!!! They might be a little happier then!
Q: Where do you find you seemingly endless energy? Do you ever have down days where you take time out for yourself?
A: People think its crazy, I have never really needed to sleep that much, that said, things are a bit different these day due to my cancer diagnosis in 2016 – because of this I am on Tamoxifen which knocks me around a bit so by 9pm I am about to pass out. That said I do wake up in the middle of the night and get on top of my emails via my iPhone! I have never been one that needs time for myself, I find time with the kids being the best ‘down time’ I could wish for.
Q: In your early days, did you have other mentors that you looked up to? Do you still have people that inspire you to get going each day? Were there any friends who were instrumental to your success?
A: I would say my parents, throughout my schooling and then when I started my business, whilst they weren’t in PR and had no idea what it was, they pushed me to work hard and push the boundaries from a young age. My staff now are what keep me pushing and wanting to grow the company and expand it into areas such as digital.
Q: When you were diagnosed with breast cancer, was there a temptation to curl up in a ball out of self preservation? What helped you during this time. I ask this to give strength to other people looking down that barrel?
A. Absolutely not, I think that’s what a lot of my detractors (sadly) were hoping for. My husband Oli had been sentenced to a gaol sentence for 12 months and 3 weeks later I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer – the reality was, as hard as it was and no matter how miserable I was, I had two little people who needed me to smile, be there and keep everything going, so that’s what I did – they were the reason that I just kept pushing through it.
Q: Your daughter seems to be a very confident little lady. Do you feel that having such a successful role model in her mum is part of that? As a mum I felt guilty when I worked when my daughter was younger, but now I realise that she models my behaviour and it was the best thing I could have done. Do you feel that being a strong, active and hard working mum inspires her?
Q: I recently wrote a story about how online trolls are always looking to attack anyone they perceive as “getting to big for their boots”. I saw some doozies on the Daily Mail comments, and couldn’t understand people’s negative comments or pretending not to know who you were, but actually taking the time to post it. How do you cope with that level of crazy?
A. I laugh and avoid reading the comments, I mean come on, who seriously has time to be SO invested in other peoples lives to spend their days and evenings commenting!!!!!
Q: How do you explain fame to your children? How do they cope with the scrutiny?
A: I don’t, I mean, I don’t look at myself or the kids as being ‘famous’ – the only time I have really ever had to explain is when there is a photographer taking photos and Pixie spots them – that said, all have been pretty good with the kids and are respectful not to get close or scare them – Pixie knows a few by name now and she says hi and gets on with it. I suppose we have become known given the turmoil that occurred in our lives, realistically we could have done without it but it is what it is and you just keep doing your thing. I think I would be known as the most antisocial PR person in the country!!!
Q: I am in admiration for your impeccable grooming, each and every day. It must take work to look to impeccable day to day? What are your go to products for your perfect grooming?
A. I have recently started using an app called Glamazon, they offer nails, massage, hair, make up, tans at home by way of booking on an app, its great because it means I don’t have to make the time during the day for grooming, now I can do it late in the evening. Tonight I had a mani and a tan and then I got straight back into work.
I swear by the Sante by ENJO make up remover disks (pictured above) that can remove any amount of makeup (you would have needed a spatula for me normally!!) and I also use DUIT Tough Hands For Her hand moisturiser, as I have incredibly dry hands. Lanolips is a fave for the lips.
Q: What are your favourite beauty products?
- Melissa Sassine’s new Mascara is AMAZING, it makes natural lashes look like you have a full set on.
- Benefit Brow pencils are a daily essential
- Foundation wise I don’t think you can go past Armani – great coverage and it doesn’t look caked on
- I am obsessed with Amy Jean’s Shadow Palette and also have my brows ‘misted’ by the team annually
- When I need an at home tan SKINNY TAN Foam in Dark is brilliant
- I use Manicare Beauty Sponges and Glam Blurring brush daily
Q: What are the keys to your luscious blonde locks? I am always envious of those perfect thick waves.
A: I have my hair coloured every 3.5 weeks, I am very dark so any longer and I look like a topdeck chocolate. As well as this, I have 3 rows of hair extensions which are ‘sewn’ in normally, for now I have them out and am using clip ins in order to give my hair a break. I have TONI&GUY do my blow dry twice a week – Tuesday and Saturday and following that, they tong it [curl the hair] and fill it with Label M dry shampoo to give it extra body.
Q: How do you maintain your relationships with key influencers and clients, it must be hard to keep every body happy all of the time?
A. I have an amazing team, there are over 20 of us so we all have a number of people we are responsible for so as to ensure all are happy all the time.
Q: Roxy Jacenko, you have a wonderful figure, and I guess being on the go all the time helps but what tips do you have for women looking to tone up?
A: Resistance training and diet – realistically I would say 60% of a good figure is diet – apart from that I focus on weights and TRX to tone. I am VERY careful with what I eat. My diet is mostly sushi and green juices. Of late I have begun to indulge more!
Q: Which are your favourite brands?
Shoes – Azzedine Alia
Underwear – Eres
Swim – Melissa Obadash
Q. OK now my friend and client Jac Bowie, said “ask her which foundation she uses!”. So Roxy, for Jac, which foundation do you use?
Q: This questions is totally optional, do you do any philanthropic/charity work. I know many people who do this kind of work don’t talk much about it, but do you use your power for good at times?
A: Absolutely, I donate to breast cancer and ovarian cancer annually and have for some time now. A portion of the proceeds from my recent seminar in Melbourne was donated to the charities, additionally my interview with Woman’s Day was donated to Freemasons Epworth Hospital where I had my cancer surgery and my entire payment for 60 minutes interview was donated to 3 charities – Rare Cancers, Breast Cancer and Ovarian Cancer.
Q: Roxy Jacenko, if you could give a new business woman three pieces of advice, what would it be?
- Don’t get caught up with the running of your business and forget about the back end – know where you stand from the accounts side of things at all times!
- Make sure your team is strong and happy – you are only as good as the team behind you to back you.
- Don’t do tomorrow what you can do today! No matter how tired you are – GET IT DONE as tomorrow is too late!
I’m so inspired by Roxy Jacenko’s attitude, I hope this post will motivate and inspire women who have come through adversity to flourish as Roxy has done.