When she’s not busy running her own successful fashion label GIRL & THE SUN, you’ll find Zoi Safiya Vafias busy as a mum to Adoni (4), Santhi (2), Odyssia (8months) and wife to Dimitri. We chatted to Zoi about the highs and lows of business ownership, her parenting tips and what she does when she gets a rare 10 minutes alone.
Tell us about your business or current role – where did the concept come from, and what’s your business background?
I am the founder and the managing and Creative director of GIRL & THE SUN. My business journey has been an interesting one with a few pivots.
It all started with my own wholesaling agency, Studio Agency, which I founded when I was 19 years old. I flew down to one of our Australian Tradeshows in Victoria to find my first label, and with only two years of experience under my belt, it’s safe to say I was naïve. But, I had a lot of passion and determination and that’s what kept me going.
After two years, I started my own in-house brand, Toby Heart Ginger, a younger-skewed brand made up of primarily casual festival wear. Then two years later, moved on to create Girl and the Sun, my now baby! I saw a gap in the market for a brand that made casual destination-style/resort wear at an attainable price, went for it, and have never looked back.
While I am a big go-getter when it comes to business and love taking the leap, I don’t have any formal university business training. My interest in fashion started when I was a young teen sewing fabric wallets in my grandma’s garage – she was a huge inspiration for me. I then completed a Certification in Fashion Design & Production in high school at Tafe, as well as one year of business training at The Entourage in Sydney where I learnt A LOT. It helped me establish the core elements of my business that I had never even given thought to, and built the foundations I needed to be a good leader for my team.
What time does a typical day start for you, and what does your morning look like?
A typical day starts at 6am when my children wake up – it’s usually the eight-month-old first! There is always time for a quick cuddle in the morning, and then I will get the kids ready for the day. We do breakfast at home and then drop-offs, either to Yiayia’s or daycare. Every Friday however, I work from home so that we can all spend the day together.
If you have 10 minutes to yourself, where do you go and what do you like to do?
IfI have a spare 10 minutes I would probably just use it to lie down and not do anything but breathe and ponder – I don’t get many moments like that these days!
What do you do for childcare?
I had three kids under three-and-a-half – my youngest is now eight months old and the eldest will go into kindy in 2023, so two of the three are currently in day-care. I started back at work in the office after two months with all three kids, and they come into the office with me until about six months as I set up a little nursery for them there! My mum then helps and looks after them until about 12 months, at which point we put them into day-care two to three days a week. My kids attend a Montessori day-care and have picked up some great valuable life skills and have such a fun time with their amazing educators and friends.
What do you do for fun as a family?
We love taking the kids for a swim in the pool, they all love the water! We also love low-key activities like taking them for a bike or scooter ride and having a picnic. Our kids are very active and love doing outside things.
What is your favourite thing to do for date night, or to eat out with your kids?
We love going to sushi or Italian as a family – the kids love sushi and pizza (as do we!).
Where do you head when you need a girls’ night out?
I love a girls’ dinner – my favourite places to go are usually Same Same, Bianca or Gerard’s Bistro.
What’s your must-know fashion or beauty tip for mums?
Easy throw-on outfits in beautiful prints and simple shapes that you can dress up with a cute kitten heel can make you feel amazing! I love designing pieces that make women feel great with minimal effort, so something like the Gia Midi Dress is always a winner!
In terms of beauty, my must-have would be the Bondi Boost blowout brush! It is the best thing since sliced bread and so easy and quick to use for time-poor mums! I pop some Kevin Murphy product in my hair and then use the blowout brush and I feel like I have just walked out of the salon.
What’s your favourite place to shop?
GIRL & THE SUN, of course! I really do live in our pieces – especially during pregnancy, our flowy, breathable fabrics are second to none.
I also love shopping at beautiful homewares stores like Sunday Society, Sage & Clare, Hope & May, and have even found some amazing things on Facebook Marketplace.
Must-have parenting tip or tool?
Patience and calm are key. I know it can be hard when we feel frustrated or have had a tough day, but I find so much success in keeping calm and patient with my babies. It not only makes parenting easier for you, but makes it less stressful for them, too!