International Women’s Day 2021 with Sally Bloomfield
To help us celebrate International Women’s Day and talk to this year’s theme, #ChooseToChallenge, we’ve interviewed FIG favourite, Sally Bloomfield. A former editor of Harper’s BAZAAR Australia, The Real Housewives of Melbourne alumni, hotelier, podcaster, budding writer and Bloomfield has recently signed her first modelling contract. At age 55, the inspiring multi-hyphenate is continually challenging and building an impressive career.
We chatted to Bloomfield a few days after moving into her new home in Mount Eliza, Victoria where she lives with her mum and two teenage sons, Nico (18 years old) and Jules (12 years old). We had one of the most candid chats of all time — no topic was off limits. From discussing grief (she has experienced the loss of a father, brother and husband) and first date fears, to keeping things fresh ‘down there’. Everything about Bloomfield and her fighting approach to life and happiness embodies this year’s theme. Find a comfortable spot, settle in with a tea (or wine) and enjoy the interview!
“With all the shit that’s happened in my life, honestly, if you can’t laugh then what are you going to do with yourself? My mantra is: laugh at yourself before anyone else has a chance to.” - SALLY BLOOMFIELD.
FIG Femme: Firstly, how are you going at the moment?
Sally Bloomfield: “I’m good. Well, very busy actually. I’ve just moved into a new home. It’s me, my two boys and mum. We actually have two houses worth of furniture to move each time we relocate! It can be pretty exhausting. With the previous house, we’ve been in and out of VCAT hearings and it’s still going on, but basically, we were evicted and so that experience has been incredibly stressful. As soon as we found out that we had secured the new home I literally (the day after) broke out in shingles, so I think it’s been a whole lot of stress. I’m feeling great now though!”
FF: The stress of COVID no doubt added to this load! Have there been any silver linings for you and your businesses since the start of the pandemic?
SB: “Yes, because of COVID a lot of people and businesses had to reinvent themselves. And especially in the hospitality sector. I have a hotel in Bali – Bloomfield Bali — that’s where I make my living. We’ve been open since May and we’ve been able to pay for staff and amenities but there’s been zero profit. That door slammed shut and I had to get creative and think outside the box.
I tried to reinvent myself in a way. I realised mid-pandemic that I have 26K followers on Instagram and that I do nothing with that community. So, instead of whinging about what I haven’t got, I flipped that and decided to focus on what I have got. I started posting more and I take most of my photos myself (or mum does if I’m in a tricky position!). And that’s helped propel me to sign my first modelling contract which has been amazing. Jobs are starting to happen now that we’re out of lockdown. I’ve never done modelling professionally before so that’s been really exciting.
I also do public speaking at women’s events and schools for example, and I really enjoy doing that. I love dealing with kids before they get out into the big wide world. Especially with all the grief that I’ve been through and how I’ve dealt with it, to show them that life goes on and not to let things like that define you. I’m trying to build everywhere I can so there have been plenty of silver linings for sure.”
FF: Other than COVID, can you tell us about a challenging time for you and some tips that help you cope?
SB: “My father passed away on my thirtieth birthday and then my brother committed suicide a few years after that. So that was probably the most difficult period in my life. Over the years I’ve learnt many little tricks and tips to help me cope:
o I love massages
o I’m pretty good at taking me-time
o I’m lucky that my mum lives with us, so I don’t feel as though I’m not struggling as a single mum. We tag team and it works really well. We never fight! I honestly can’t imagine not having her with me.
o When things feel a bit tough, I like to pour a glass of wine, sit down with mum and just laugh it out.
o I’m one of those annoyingly half glass full people. That’s the natural me and who I am.
o I love walking and blasting music in my headphones.
o Dancing is big for me. My son Nico is a DJ and is constantly playing music at home and the whole family will jump up and have a dance. That’s how we got through lockdown! He has his own lighting and decks. It’s our very own at-home disco.
FF: The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge. That we can all choose to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. What does that mean for you?
SB: “As a woman in business, I love to mentor and help young women. Whether they are still at school, starting a new business or future entrepreneurs like myself. I always strive to be inclusive and inspire the women in my life. There are no limits to what we can achieve if we truly support each other and believe in ourselves”.
FF: Physically, what’s going on in your world right now? Is menopause something you and your friends talk about a lot and something your happy to talk about?
SB: “Yes! I’m 55-years-old and haven’t even hit menopause yet. Which is strange because all of my friends seem to be going through it. My mum went through it when she was 53 years old, so I was all geared up and ready for it to happen. Mum said she sailed through it: she never got the sweats or anything. We’re very similar in a lot of ways so I’m not really expecting massive changes.
To be honest with you, I still feel like I’m in my thirties! Apart from the recent bout of shingles, I’m never sick, I don’t take any medication, I eat healthily and I’m feeling really great.”
FF: Have you been using the FIG range? Do you enjoy using the products?
SB: “Yes, I’ve been using the masks for months now. They are beautiful. But I’ve just started the Refresh wash and I’ve been using that in the shower every day. I just want to say that it’s so lovely to have something that’s designed for ‘down there’, that you know is good for you, and not full of nasties.
And I love the revive mist because I’ve noticed as I get older —how do you say this delicately— it’s not as fresh down there as it used to be. It can get a bit sweaty and so on. So, I’ve been loving the spritz. If I have a busy day and I’ve been running around and feel that I need a refresh, then it’s a quick fix. The size is clever because I can throw it in my purse.
I haven’t dated anyone since my husband Ian died 4 years ago and we were together 19 years. I’m terrified, you know what I mean? I love this little mist product because I think well, one of these days I am going to start dating someone and when I do, I’ll have a little friend to help me out if I need it! It’s a safety net.”
FF: You talk about things so openly, why do you think others find it hard to talk about the vulva and what’s going on down there?
SB: “I just think because no one has ever done it. I couldn’t care less about talking about the vulva. An intimate care range just makes so much sense but to be honest, I had never really thought about it before Lindy told me that she was launching the brand. Then she sent me the mask and it looked so pretty with that lovely packaging. I think that the way that it’s presented, and then also having someone like Lindy (who is just so divine, cool and beautiful), then you can make a difference in this space and people will be more relaxed and able to talk about it more freely.
I did do an Instagram post around the vulva mask when FIG first launched, and my caption was: “I’ll save you the before and after shots.” I try and use humour with everything because I think it disarms people, particularly on taboo topics. With all the shit that’s happened in my life, honestly, if you can’t laugh then what are you going to do with yourself? My mantra is: “laugh at yourself before anyone else has a chance to.”
What does a self-care night in for you look like? Please take us, step-by-step, through your routine!
- It would start with lighting a candle or maybe some essential oils.
- Then I’d pop on a vulva mask.
- I would do a full-face skin care routine: a deep scrub, then I’ll layer on all the serums, oils and lush creams.
- I would then rub some beautiful oils into my skin all over my body: arms, legs and so on.
- Alcohol is a maybe. If I have anything it will be a glass of crisp Ruinart. Heaven!
- A cheese platter is my kryptonite.
- I would then lay down, start streaming something fabulous on Netflix, or I’d put on some relaxing music.