Mother to 18-month-old Atlas, co-founder of wellness brand BEAR™, environmentalist and creative, Saasha Burns is using her influence to create positive change for a better world. Saasha has called Byron Bay home for the last four years, and currently lives with her husband and son on the Sunshine Coast, while they build their dream home back in the Byron hinterland.
Saasha has always been drawn to the ocean and the relaxed, considered lifestyle of the Northern Rivers. Here, we speak with Saasha about how she finds balance between work and motherhood, what conscious living means to her, and her hope for a brighter future.
Between running a successful business and raising your beautiful boy, what does a typical day in the life of Saasha Burns look like? We have just moved up to the sunny coast for a little sea change while we build our dream home, Fox House, back in the Byron hinterland. It’s a mid-century inspired architecturally designed property, set on 1.8 hectares of sub-tropical wilderness. We have a great team working on the project and are in the final design stage with our architect and landscape designer.
Since moving north, we have had two short lockdowns, but can’t imagine what our friends and family are going through in Victoria and New South Wales. We feel grateful every day to be able to rise before the sun, venture outside and spend slow mornings together at the beach with our son, Atlas. He is so curious and loves being out in nature and exploring his surrounds. He’s in a really great sleep routine at the moment, and from mid-morning when we put him down for his nap my husband Sammy and I power through our work for the day. I’ve really tried to make a conscious effort to slow down and work smarter, in consolidated periods.
Our time and energy is so precious, and we only commit to a small number of opportunities that align with the strong vision of our wellness brand, BEAR™, or our personal values. We are prioritising our mental health and well-being, structuring our work day so we are not feeling immense pressure, enjoying the creative process of multiple projects, and finding a sense of balance.
We will open up all the sliding doors in our house and have lunch together on our deck, usually making a large fresh salad with the plant-based ingredients we bought at the farmers market over the weekend. We love supporting our locals wherever possible for dinner — Somedays is our go-to for wood-fired pizza and natural wine. I now appreciate an early night and good nights sleep. I’ll usually be all cosy in bed by 8pm, ready for another big day ahead of work and motherhood.
Working alongside your loving husband, do you try and set clear boundaries between family time and work, or do you find they are a blend of one another? My husband Sammy and I are 100% a team. I feel so fortunate that we can work side by side, whilst raising Atlas together. Working from home, it’s not always easy to find some space to mentally rest and reset, but we try our best and tag-team throughout the day.
We are outdoors with Atlas as much as possible, usually running around on the sand or going for an ocean swim to help break up the day. Boundaries for us are knowing when to close our laptops and put our phones away, so we can be present as a family. Since having Atlas, our evenings are more relaxed and we try and unwind from 5pm, rather than scheduling international calls and working away until midnight like we did before he was born. Family and our health always comes first.
As an original Melburnian, we imagine that this means you have family and friends that you have been unable to see due to border restrictions. How have you managed over the past 18 months with these restrictions and border closures? Lots of FaceTime! As soon as the borders open, we usually pack up the car straight away and head interstate to see family and friends. When Atlas was just a few months old, we only got as far as Sydney before the borders closed again, but we have managed to do two more road rips this year. Sammy and I have always been incredibly independent and strong, and have trusted our own instincts raising Atlas. We have been surprised at how natural parenting has felt. There have absolutely been challenges, especially running on little-to-no sleep for the first sixteen months and running two businesses without any family nearby. It would be amazing to have a ‘village’ to lean on, but we understand everyone has faced so much adversity with covid, and above all, I think it’s important to be kind to ourselves and one another. Our family is all healthy and safe, and we hope we will see them again soon.
What does your support network look like now? I have such an amazing community of like-minded mothers that I meet with in person where possible or connect with online. Connection is so important for our mental health and well-being, especially during pregnancy and the first year of motherhood. I am thankful for these strong friendships and the open conversations we have together each day, to raise each other up, and help guide each other through the different life stages.
Self-love, self-care and self-growth has been an inspiring journey that you’ve shared with us for years. What are some of your most memorable moments? I am innately curious and drawn to new experiences — life is all about the journey. As a creative, travel always opens my eyes and broadens my perspectives, challenges me, and helps me to grow. I am both quietly ambitious and a dreamer, driven by connection and positive impact. Self-love, self-care and self-growth are tied into setting goals, seeing the beauty in life, feeling creatively inspired and aways being open to change. I always try and move my body, find moments of stillness in the day away from technology, go for long walks in nature, and practice gratitude. Nothing will ever compare to becoming a mother, each moment is memorable in its own right, and it is the greatest gift.
Your appreciation for nature, recycling, minimal living, and no waste is authentic and encouraging. Where does this passion come from? How we address climate change will determine the kind of world of children live in. As individuals and businesses, we have the power and responsibility to create real and meaningful social and environmental change, no matter how small. Kit Willow first induced us to The True Cost documentary when we launched BEAR. I would recommend everyone to watch it. I think the pivotal moment was when we read The Uninhabitable Earth, Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells and How Not To Die by Michael Greger MD. We also watched the incredibly eye-opening Conspiracy and Seaspiracy documentaries and made the conscious decision to no longer consume meat. Sammy and I have been following a plant-based diet for the last two years for optimal human and planetary health. It’s also how we are raising Atlas. There is a lot of resistance to changing systems, especially ones that are incredibly profitable. The food industry is the largest cause of climate change — from deforestation, to animal agriculture, to food waste, to soil destruction. Regenerative practices will not only help slow climate change, but reverse it. It can also have such a positive impact on the fashion industry. For example, the regenerative farming of organic cotton, in addition to omitting chemicals, replenishes the plants, the nature surrounding it, and helps to sequester atmospheric carbon back into the soil. We have so much to learn and unlearn. Our future depends on it.
What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome since co-founding BEAR™? That it’s ok to truly slow down. From the moment you launch, it’s go-go-go and you’re always living in the future. We have suffered from burn-out more times than I can remember and felt such immense pressure to always be working at such a face pace, especially as an international brand. It can be challenging when the brand is larger than the small team behind it. We’ve learnt nothing is more important than family and our health. Everything else comes second.
When you were pregnant, did your style change? Did you find it difficult find sustainable pieces that would work both during and post pregnancy? My personal style is always evolving, and after I became a mother, I felt like a completely new person. My wardrobe was also impractical with a little baby — lots of silk, dry clean only pieces and summer dresses that I couldn’t wear a bra with. When I was pregnant, I invested in a handful of styles I would usually wear, but a size or two larger. I look forward to wearing them all again for my next pregnancy. My wardrobe is full of pieces that are effortless, comfortable and make me feel confident. When purchasing new styles, I will always research the brand, learn where they manufacture their pieces, see if the materials used are natural, if the garment can be hand or machine washed, and consider the longevity of the piece. If I welcome something new into my wardrobe, I will donate something I already own. I have some sentimental pieces from special occasions, but would always prefer to see pieces find a second home if they aren’t being repeatedly worn.
We would like to take moment to appreciate how empowering your influence has been for other mothers, especially during such an unusual time. Your passion towards living a simpler life is contagious, reminding us to take a deep breath and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. Thank you so much, there is so much beauty around us if we are open to seeing it. I try to experience life with an open-heart and open-mind. One of my favourite quotes is by Twain, ‘Explore. Dream.Discover’. We need to create meaning and purpose in life, and take risks — this is what brings us joy.
Having grown up in Melbourne, why is it important to you to raise Atlas in your new coastal lifestyle? Sammy and I both loved growing up in Melbourne, but we have grown so much since moving to Byron Bay. There’s such a wonderful energy there, and being surrounded by nature keeps us grounded and has such a positive impact on how we care for ourselves and the planet. We are part of a community of like-minded people, who live and consume consciously, support local businesses, and follow the beat of their own drum. Our life in Melbourne was very linear — but the Northern Rivers is home to such an entrepreneurial group of people, who are all actively following their dreams and encouraging others to do the same. Atlas is always bare foot, we literally can’t get shoes on him. He loves being out in nature, spotting birds, running around with his friends, and swimming in the ocean. He is fearless and not afraid to get covered in sand or dirt. We are open to alternative paths for education, and will be guided by Atlas and his individual life journey. Byron Bay will always be home, we can’t imagine returning to the city, but can’t wait to explore the world together and expand his horizons when it is safe to do so.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given on balancing being an entrepreneur with having a young family. Try not to overcommit and don’t be afraid to say no. Reach out for help when you need it and be open about your mental health with someone you can trust. Learn how to safely communicate your needs so you can provide the best care for yourself.
As an avid traveller, we imagine that being home this past year and a half must be a change of pace for you. Has the inability to travel overseas turned your sights onto any locations here in Australia that you would like to explore? Being grounded in Australia has been such a blessing, as we have definitely appreciated and explored our backyard more than ever before. We have done quite a few road trips, from Byron all the way down to the Great Ocean Road, and across to South Australia. We also visited the east coast of Tassie at the end of Autumn and flew to far north Queensland to relax in the Whitsundays. We would love to discover Western Australia if the borders open, and also explore the Northern Territory together. Any trips we could do with all our family together in one place would be incredible.
Where is your heart wanting to take your family once the rest of the world does open again? Mexico is on my mind — I’d love to head back to Tulum for margaritas on the beach, but also explore Mexico City and Oaxaca for the incredible culture, architecture, art and design.
What failure do you treasure the most? I honestly believe there are no failures, only lessons. I try to look forward, keep learning and growing. Our thoughts create our reality.
What’s a great piece of advice you’ve been given, and would love to share with our readers? Work hard in silence, let success be your noise.
What is your favourite place that you’ve visited in the world? The Amalfi Coast always holds a special place in our hearts — we were married in beautiful Praiano five years ago. India is such a rich cultural and sensory experience, and one of my favourite places I’ve visited in the world. I can’t wait to return with Atlas one day. It is pure magic.
What is something that Atlas did to make you laugh recently? He’s always giggling when he’s playing with Sammy.
We know coffee is important to you! What’s your go-to milk? Oat or Almond.
What do you love most about Joslin? I am inspired by Elinor Joslin and the team’s commitment to sustainable practices, and their continued journey to consciously reduce their textile waste, carbon, single-use plastic and ensure all business partnerships are fair and ethical across all areas of their supply chain. They are actively improving their environmental and social compliance, inclusivity and diversity across their business in a transparent format. Their pieces are also thoughtfully-designed using natural materials of the highest quality and traceability, and a dream to wear throughout the seasons.
What is your favourite piece(s) from Joslin’s current or past collections? Is there anything we should be making again? I always love a matching set, and the cotton cashmere knit bralette and brief are so cosy. I’ll be wearing the white set endlessly around the home. I also love that you can pair the bralette with a longer bike short and the palazzo pant, and layer with the Emma knit.