When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.
Audrey McLoghlin is remodeling corporate culture for working mothers. In 2009, the former engineer had a vision to reinvent the women’s button-up shirt — a category that had previously focused solely on men. She founded luxury clothing brand Frank & Eileen, which is now a cult favorite with celebrities such as Meghan Markle, Angelina Jolie, and Oprah Winfrey.
While building her companies, McLoghlin became a mom, and didn’t want to sacrifice her time with her daughter, so she set out to create a work environment where employees are encouraged to bring their kids to work. When one of her most valued employees became pregnant, she wanted to make the transition into becoming a working mother easy, so she encouraged her to bring her new baby in. As a result, the employee was able to work at a job she loved and be with her baby throughout the day — without missing a beat. McLoghlin even built a life-size dollhouse within the office for the children to play in. “When new moms can bring their babies with them and breastfeed at the office, work and life stop being constantly at odds with one another,” she tells Thrive.
In March of 2019, Audrey launched her second retail brand, Grayson, named for her daughter. Inspired by her own experience of motherhood, she brought together her 10 years of luxury fashion experience, engineering background, and belief in the power of a personal uniform to create one perfect shirt silhouette designed to help women feel chic, put together, and confident — making getting dressed an easy, stress-free experience.
Now, McLoghlin has two thriving businesses and a happy team who’s encouraged to work hard and creatively, but also take the time they need for their families. She chats with Thrive about failure, what motivates her, and the advice she’d give her younger self that will change your outlook on stress and prioritization.
Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Audrey McLoghlin: Make a cup of coffee with Know-Brainer MCT oil. My life hack for not being a natural morning person was installing a small coffee bar literally right outside my bedroom. Knowing that jolt is just an arm’s reach away helps drag me out of bed!
TG: What’s your secret life hack?
AM: I’ve had to create so many! One is building a two-story, life-sized dollhouse inside our office so the moms (and one dad) in the company can bring children to work whenever we want or need to. It’s also my secret hack for keeping talent on our team. When new moms can bring their babies with them and breastfeed at the office, work and life stop being constantly at odds with one another.
TG: Name a book that changed your life.
AM: Essentialism by Greg McKeown.
TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
AM: I used to be famous for nuzzling up next to my phone on my pillow and answering emails from overseas partners every night at 3 a.m., but becoming a mom and hitting 40 forced me to change my ways. Now I turn off my phone at night. Getting eight hours of sleep is my number one form of self-care.
TG: How do you deal with email?
AM: This year I gave up even pretending that I can answer email anymore. I feel bad (Irish guilt), but I have to pick my battles.
TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
AM : Make a new list! I’m obsessed. I have 5191 Apple Notes, and I can find everything I’ve ever jotted down since 2012 in a matter of seconds.
TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
AM: I have that classic entrepreneur spirit, so my work gives me energy. I feel a superpower come over me when I finally get through something incredibly difficult and charge forward. But I do get burned out when I feel a lack of control. My ex-husband and I are co-parents, and having the court system exert complete control over my time with my daughter is soul-crushing. It pushes me to the brink of falling apart.
TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
AM: Like most working moms, I’m constantly battling that voice in my head that says I’m failing at home and failing at the office. Truth: Some days I cry on the way to work and on the way home. But then I just get back up and try to do better the next day.
TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
AM: “It takes ten years of blood, sweat, and tears to become an overnight success.”
TG: How do you prioritize when you have an overwhelming amount to do?
AM: I’ve always used the Eisenhower Matrix, which I call the “important and urgent grid.” But honestly, sometimes the urgent stuff just swallows my day, and I look up, and it’s 9 p.m. and the office parking garage is closing. And I have to try to re-prioritize for the next day.
TG: What advice would you give your younger self about reducing stress?
AM: This billion-dollar advice: “If whatever is happening is not going to result in prison or death, then it’s not worth being stressed over.” It gives you permission to work hard, but not allow the stress to overwhelm you. It’s life changing.
TG: Do you have any role models for living a thriving life?
AM: That’s a brilliant question. Most people I know are running 100 m.p.h. and barely have time to contemplate what a thriving life might look like. But my sister worked very hard for the past 14 years, lived well below her means, saved a ton of money — and three months ago, she packed up everything, moved to a city she loved, bought a house in cash, and is living life on her own terms. She’s off hiking in the forest with her Labradoodle with no financial stress, and thriving.
TG: What’s your personal warning sign that you’re depleted?
AM: When I feel like I am starting to get sick. It’s my cue to go home ASAP and get to bed early, which works 99 percent of the time. As my four-year-old daughter repeats back to me, “Sleep is medicine.”
TG: When you notice you’re getting too stressed, what do you do to course correct?
AM: I remind myself that I am not going to prison and I am not going to die! It’s all going to be fine.
TG: How do you reframe negative thinking?
AM: When I start to think negatively about myself, and become envious of someone else, I have a little trick. I remind myself: In order to have the things that this person has, you would have to be that person. So you would have to give up everything about being you to become them.
It instantly makes me think of the things I love about myself and would never give up. And it allows me to admire specific qualities about this person and learn from them. So it changes the feeling from negative to positive. Try it next time you are scrolling through Instagram!
TG: What brings you optimism?
AM: Watching how quickly the world is changing for the next generation of girls. Since becoming a mom to a Frozen princess, I’ve desperately wanted to become part of the change I want to see for her future.
TG: Tell us about a small change you have made in your life to improve the way you connect with others. What did you do, how long did it take until it became effective, and how you sustain this habit?
AM: Recently, I’ve started intentionally making the time to connect with other female entrepreneurs trying to change the world, one woman-led company at a time. For a long time, I had my head down just working on growing my business — but little by little in the past year, I’ve started making more of an effort, and it’s been incredibly energizing and fulfilling. We are living in an unprecedented time when women want to root for each other and watch each other fly. To sustain the habit going forward, a few of us are turning these friendships into long-term partnerships where we trade knowledge and truly help each other’s companies grow. It’s so much more interesting to me than, say, hiring fancy consultants.
TG: What’s your secret time-saver in the morning?
AM: Depending on how many times I’ve hit snooze, I have a slew of back-up dirty little secrets. These include spraying Byredo hair perfume in my hair instead of washing it, and grabbing a packet of Justin’s almond butter and calling it breakfast. I dare you to judge!
TG: What’s your evening routine that helps you unwind and go to sleep?
AM: In the baby stages with my daughter, I didn’t need to unwind — I just collapsed. Now, I can keep my eyes open long enough to watch a few minutes of something that allows my brain to shut off completely. It has to be upbeat and inspiring, like watching young kids compete on World of Dance.
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