The Days of Our Lives: Jane Cay, Birdsnest

Jane Cay Birdsnest

In The Days of Our Lives we meet some fascinating and creative folk and take a look at what their typical day holds. Far from being about the mundane, it is a celebration of what it takes to juggle the day-to-day with big ideas, a successful business and a full home life. It’s about keeping all the balls in the air – what is important and what isn’t. It’s about (extra)ordinary moments that fill our every day. 

This week, I’d like to introduce you to Jane Cay, the clever bird behind online fashion retailer, Birdsnest, and founding board member of The National Online Retailers Association.

Based in the NSW Snowy Mountains (with her farmer and three young children),  Jane has built Birdsnest up to be one of Australia’s top 20 most visited online apparel sites. She has also created a workplace so vibrant that people move from the city to the country to be part of her team of more than 100. But the thing I find most fascinating is that Jane has found a way to successfully live in the slow lane and work in the fast lane.

This is a day in Jane’s life…


5.00 am

My peaceful sleep is disrupted by a loud ‘rainforest symphony’ entering my dream (I used to be a morning person, don’t know what happened!). Eyes peel slowly open, I catch a glimpse of paddocks, sheep and sunshine……then I remember I have a pretty awesome reason to get out of bed and anyway, sleep is overrated!

House is quiet – oh bliss! (three children and farmer Oli still asleep), sneak upstairs in PJ’s, open my life-line (the laptop)……and work on my ‘elephant task’ of the day, this is the thing I have been procrastinating on that needs a clear fresh head because this will be the last quiet moment of the day! It is always so tempting to get stuck into my e-mails however this morning I manage to stay dedicated to the task.


5.30 am

Bella arrives upstairs to our open living and kitchen space. Bel is over her mum always running late and has taken control of her life at seven. She is one super organised bunny, setting her own alarm, packing her own lunch and is ready for school each morning before 6am!


6:00 am

The farmer rises and wakes Pen, six, who walks to the beat of her own drum, which is a few beats slower than everyone else’s. Pen is always reminding us how important it is to stop and smell the roses and that life should not always be a rush!

In a previous and future life – I would go for a walk right now… but that never seems to happen!

Bella is now on my case to get in the shower.

Oh and then there is getting dressed – as a team, we are so passionate about clothes and their power to make women look great and feel amazing. It is all about having confidence in your style and to be honest I am just like the next girl and need this help too. I’m not the fashionista but I am lucky in that I now (with a little help from our styling birds) understand how to dress for my body shape. I manage to pull something together that the buying team will approve of… I’m pretty sure they’ll be happy to be seen in public with me!!

Usual dramas – can’t find the reader books, need to de-frost more milk, Arthur (just two) calls out from his cot just as we are leaving and we have a big snuggle (oh I could eat that boy, he is just delicious!!!)… is game on to be out the door by 7:10am……and we make the bus – JUST! The girls leave the boys behind for the day and Ree, our adopted Nan will be there soon to help out.

We live 65 kilometres from town and after the bus drop off – it is 35 minutes of serenity time with no mobile coverage and I turn the radio off – I call it my meditation time. I dedicate this time to mentally planning my day or solving a problem. Today I thought about how we are going to use video more to tell the story of birdsnest.

birdsnest fashion

8:00 am

Arrive at the nest feeling excited to see everyone after the weekend. Even though we are now a relatively large team, over 100, we are tight knit. The stories come thick and fast as we embark on our Monday morning packing ritual – it is literally all hands on deck to pack the orders from the weekend and get them out to our eagerly waiting birds.

The nest is abuzz as we prep for our Christmas photo shoot, our stylist and film-maker arrive and the excitement level increases – as does the chatter. The day continues with the usual diversity – there’s a newsletter going out so I collaborate on ideas for that, look through a few re-orders with our buying team, there’s a visit from a new puppy that belongs to one of our birds, a quick conference call, I check in on the results from our customer survey to see what styles are going into production for our winter that bird label range.

There is more excitement as the designers arrive with a copy of a magazine that they are on the cover of and everyone is clamouring over it and congratulating them. I check in with operations manager, Anthony, for our scheduled catch-up meanwhile the emails keep flowing. Somewhere in that I grab lunch from the café next door (we’re so lucky – she has cooked for Madonna and now lives in Cooma and cooks for us).

Later that afternoon brings a quick photo shoot so they make me pretty with make-up and a bit of love to my hair – feeling pretty special as this isn’t something I do everyday.

I’ve been distracted numerous times (again – too many bright, shiny objects – I am never at my desk long) – open plan offices allow that to happen but it also means I don’t miss out on the fun and I’m really in amongst it all. I am so lucky to have such an amazing team to work with…..Dad always said to surround myself with people smarter than me….what good advice!

Today the girls catch the bus home so I stay on but depending on the day it’s a mix of swimming, tap and ballet after school. Monday in the nest is Hot Bods – our in-house workout at 5.30pm taken by our very own 80’s aerobics queen…… today I am psyching myself up for it.

OK so I didn’t go to Hot Bods – the Christmas catalogue took over…….I heard them all upstairs going hard to ‘Wake Me Up’ ….maybe I’ll do Yoga on Wednesday….or maybe I’ll go next week! I grab some milk from the servo and hit the road hoping to make it home in time for a play or story. On the drive home I have to watch for wildlife……..I also wind down after all the excitement of the day and start to think about my elephant task for tomorrow.

I get home in time for a quick play in the garden – Oli is a rock star and has the home front sorted. It’s a juggle, like all families but I’m lucky I can take time whenever there is an important milestone or just because……


7:30 pm

The house is quiet with sleeping children (Ok so this is the one thing in parenting I think I have got right – my kids love going to bed!)……..Oli and I share a wine and swap some stories, then we get into communication mode on our laptops!…..before we know it, it is 10pm and we have forgotten to eat any dinner (apart from kids leftovers)…..oh well…..

For me work, life, family all mingle – there are no barriers. I explain to my girls – work should feel like play – like being allowed to colour in and play with your friends all day!


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