Motherhood for me with Alyssa Sheldrake

Alyssa Sheldrake and her husband Garth are the design duo behind ZETR, a range of refined and integrated power outlets, switches and electrical fixtures designed to disappear.

"Motherhood for me is about learning to become a child all over again; To bring as much laughter, energy and playfulness into our home and the kids’ lives as possible."

How will you spend Mother’s Day?
We are lucky enough to live right on the beach so Mother’s Day - like most days - is all about surfing as a family.

What does motherhood mean to you?
Motherhood for me is about learning to become a child all over again. To bring as much laughter, energy and playfulness into our home and the kids’ lives. After all, the best thing about being a parent is watching them cackle with laughter. It’s addictive!

Do you have any family traditions you hope to pass along to your children?
Our home is the drop-in centre for our huge extended family so Sundays are about long lunches and vino in the garden after mornings spent surfing and playing on the beach. We are avid foodies in our house, and I feel like our kids passion for cooking, making and messing with food has cemented our Sunday lunching traditions, as messy as it is!

Alyssa Sheldrake

What is one of your favourite activities to do as a family?
We have a growing collection of coffee table books and records that our kids love. Their favourite is the book ‘50 years of Rolling Stone’. We spend hours with Coco and Van flicking through the famous portraits of Mick Jagger, Janis Joplin, Courtney Love, Kendrick Lamar, Lana Del Ray and then blasting the stereo as high as it goes with their music videos, dancing around like crazed lunatics. I don’t know who likes it more, us or them!

What is one tip for balancing work and family life?
Aside from strong coffee, I think the one thing I have learnt is that no one is doing this ‘thing’ of balancing work/family life perfectly. So, embrace the imperfection of it all and work with your partner to set a realistic pace. It’s one crazy, exhausting yet rewarding ride. Our kids are 5 and 3, so we’ve been trying to figure out our ‘pace’ for years and reading the signs for when Coco and Van need us at home, and when work needs us and adjusting with flexibility day by day. Garth and I are lucky to work together, have kids together and do life together so it allows us to really understand what’s involved both at work and at home and to have flexibility between us. I’m also still very reluctantly learning that the weekends are for rest. If you don’t find time for rest everything falls apart, and when we as a family have an empty schedule on the weekends we are at our happiest.

Alyssa Sheldrake

Did having children impact your outlook on work/life balance?
PC (pre-children) I always thought kids were hand breaks, now I know they make you accelerate in life and in work. They force you to maximise every minute of work time you have, to cut out anything unnecessary and to make you really focus. I have to thank our kids for pushing us to launch and grow ZETR so quickly.

What’s been key for us is shaping a work culture where kids are part of work. Our youngest, Van, came to his first meeting at four weeks old. They are both regulars at functions, and at 3 (Van) and 5 (Coco) they are regularly in the studio and are now in charge of coffee orders. Sure, they may slow the work pace, and it can be wildly frustrating at times, but it brings a lightness and energy to our work at ZETR, that I know we and our staff value.

Alyssa Sheldrake

Where do you find ideas and inspiration? (Could be a physical place where you go to think or something more general which inspires you)
Garth is the designer in our ZETR duo, I manage the business side. I leave the practicalities, the aesthetics of new designs to him, whereas I’m more interested in the problem that we are solving with a product, and how we are going to get it to market in an interesting way. So, naturally I’m inspired by conversations, stories and people, as this gives me energy and ideas in business. I’m at my best in a room full of people, debating ideas and asking all the annoying questions.

Are there any designers or persons of significance who you admire or inspire you personally?
Both Garth and I used to be quite monochrome in our design choices, however having two quite eccentric kids and now working with tactile metallic materials for our ZETR ranges has really allowed us to explore bursts of colour and texture in our home and our studio space. We now spend hours searching for playful pieces, loud artists and iridescent colours.

Do you use your platform and voice to inspire those around you? If so, how?
Personally, I don’t use my platforms at all really! At ZETR we are still very young, and have many goals to shape our little role in the industry into something that speaks to the big wide world. We have a long way to go, and a lot to learn. But for now, I think it’s pretty cool that people are inspired by a power outlet.

What are three words that describe you and why?
A huge smile. (I’m known for my smile which I wear all over my face)

Alyssa Sheldrake

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