Meet Nicolle Edwards, director/founder of RizeUp. Married to Gareth, she is also mum to Olivia-Beth (11) and Juliet-Monet (6).
Tell us about your business/current role?
I am the founder of RizeUp and as one of the directors I’m responsible for the vision of the charity and ensuring that all the different departments are working together and in the correct frameworks in order to be sustainable and ensure the safety of everyone involved. I am also very much involved in the day-to-day organisation of the business, helping out with the practical side of things which is extremely diverse and changes on a daily basis.
RizeUp is a community-driven organisation dedicated to supporting the many women and families affected by domestic and family violence. Domestic violence has reached epidemic proportions and it is silently tearing apart the fabric of our society. The largest component of our work happens when the families who have sought safety in refuge have reached a place where they are ready to move on to independent living. This is an understandably daunting task and most often the homes are bare, sometimes lacking curtains and carpet and are not the secure and warm homes that the families have come from nor should they be moving on to. This is where RizeUp comes in and creates an inviting space for these families to call home – a space to repair and rebuild their lives. Through practical action, RizeUp volunteers are able to collect and source donations from the community through the Facebook page and turn a stark, cold house into a comfortable, safe and welcoming home. RizeUp is not a government funded organisation because we feel it so important that for systemic change to occur within our society the only way forward is by relying on the support and partnership of our Australian community to help us.
Where did the concept for this come from?
Through a friend of a friend, I was involved in helping out a family as a one off and after seeing what we achieved and how desperate the situation was for these families, it was obvious that we could and should do this again and again. And so here we are. If we can help even one person then why wouldn’t we?
What’s your business background?
My background and passion has always been in sales and marketing and my skill base is in managing and implementing retail systems, operational procedures and customer service so it has been perfect training for what I am doing now. All those experiences have brought me to the point where I can do the work that I was created for.
Who were your mentors along the way?
My mentors for this role have most certainly been the amazing, inspiring women who work frontline. Day in and day out they do some of the hardest work I have ever seen. It is challenging and relentless. These workers have become some of my best friends and they have taught me so much. I am in awe of what they accomplish each day. They work long hours and yet still have enough in their ‘buckets’ to mentor me. It is tremendously humbling. As corny as this sounds, my husband Gareth is probably the best human being I know. Not only is he is a very astute businessman but he shares my passion for RizeUp and the work we do together to help these families whose lives are being destroyed by violence. I couldn’t do what I do without his support and understanding of the long hours and the level of commitment I give to these families. We are very much a team.
What time does a typical day start for you?
I start pretty early with a quick check of the emails while still in bed then I get up and get the girls ready for school. Pack lunches, bags and drive them to school and then off to meetings for me or to the office or on the road with the team preparing a home for a deserving family!
Who does the cooking and cleaning at your house?
I am very blessed that both of us share these tasks. Thankfully for me, Gareth is a way better cook and doesn’t burn anything so he tends to do the cooking and I organise the house.
If you have 10 minutes to yourself, what do you like to do?
I’d really like to say yoga or something cool like that but embarrassing as it is my great indulgence is to lay on the couch and watch a bit of bad reality television.
What do you do for childcare?
Both girls are at school so Gareth and I share the mornings and afternoons depending on what we both have on and we are lucky enough to have our parents help us out if need be which is great as the girls just love spending time with them. We are a close family and they are really understanding of the work we do and support us however they can.
Do your kids do many extracurricular activities?
Yes, they do drama, gymnastics, dancing and touch football. They are also both involved in the charity – this is a family affair and I think it is so important for children to help others and to be aware that not everyone is as fortunate as them. It’s all they’ve really known and are used to helping mum sort storage units or prepare gift packs at Christmas time for kids their own age.
What do you do for fun as a family?
As our lives are so busy we really enjoy the time we spend together at home. Juggling the demands of our own business and the charity we are always running around and away from home so spending a weekend in just playing with the kids and relaxing in our home is actually really important for us. Our home is our sanctuary and I think that is why I am so passionate about what I do – everybody deserves to be safe and enjoy their home and their family.
What is your favourite thing to do for date night with your partner?
We don’t really do date nights but rather we have actually created ‘date-day’ and make sure we do something fun together each Friday. Whether that be a movie or a lunch, it is a nice time for us to both reconnect and chill out. This makes sure we keep the balance between our work, raising a family and making sure we are there for each other.
What is your favourite local place to visit?
We can’t go past the Broadwater – actually there are so many options for us living on the Gold Coast. We have the theme parks, the beach, the hinterland – there is always something close for us to do if we want to.
How about favourite place to eat out as a family?
The Night Quarter at Helensvale is out of control fun and has become a favourite for us and our friends on a Friday night.
Where do you head to when you get time for a girls’ night out?
James Street in Burleigh. A wine bar, restaurant, great friends and lots of laughing are the perfect ingredients for my perfect girls night out.
What is your best beauty tip for mums?
I’m known amongst my friends for my lashes and it is definitely a huge indulgence that I enjoy – an hour being forced to keep my eyes shut makes me relax and they look beautiful when they’re done. Your eyes always look fresh even when you’ve just woken up because you don’t need mascara or even eye makeup. My tip though is to go to someone good!
Favourite place to shop (locally and online)?
Because I am so time poor, online shopping is a must for me at the moment. I love homewares and I am addicted to Temple and Webster. I don’t tend to have too much time to shop for me and because I do a huge amount of public speaking I’m blessed to have the support of Sacha Drake who designs the most beautiful clothes and keeps me looking fab.
Must-have parenting tip or tool?
A white board, sense of humour and long life milk in the cupboard (plus a secret stash of teabags).
Can you share any tips on finding the right work/life balance?
This is seriously a work in progress for me. I think it’s hard to get it right all of the time and it’s actually OK to drop the ball every now and again. As mums we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves. (I have to remind myself of that every now and again though)
How do you stay motivated in your career?
That’s easy, I have the best ‘job’ in the world. I’m surrounded by amazing people who give up their time to volunteer alongside me and help these enormously brave families restart their lives. I am motivated by the women who leave the violence behind and take their children to begin a new life.