Brooke Roberts sits in front of a painting by Te Whanganui-a-Tara artist Ollie Zander Jones.
Brooke Roberts is one of the co-founders of Sharesies, an app designed to make investing easier for everyone. A longtime close friend of Yu Mei, Brooke is the type of person that would mention your name in a room of opportunities, and has been a constant support through the ever-changing process of building a business. Read on to hear her advice on everything from hiring to what she carries in her bag.
With Sharesies, we wanted to create financial empowerment for all, and we want to do that by giving everyone the same financial opportunities—whether you have five or five million dollars. I really care about social enterprise, and I believe that businesses should be a force for good. I want more people to have financial empowerment, and to help reduce inequality. So that is what drives me every day.
Before Sharesies, I worked in banking and tech, and had started businesses before. So it felt like everything I'd done had led me to help create this company. I grew up in almost two worlds — one where there was disposable income, and one where there were massive money struggles. So I saw the benefits cash can have in terms of opportunities you get access to, from dance class to tutoring. It provided opportunities to get ahead, or dive into what you really care about. And I saw that there needed to be change. When I started studying and learning about finance, I was like, 'Oh my gosh, nobody in my family knows this stuff'. It just felt like the joke was on us — like, ‘Oh, heaps of people who have money know these tips and tricks.’ But the information was so inaccessible, and I always thought that needed to change. I want to help people have equal access to knowledge and information.
When we started, it was just six of us figuring everything out, from building the Squarespace website to meetings with random people to learn how we could shape this business. Now it's about leading people, and making sure that barriers are out of their way so they can do their best work. I think the key thing about leadership for me is the hiring. When you know your employees want to bring this purpose to life, and that they really understand the type of business that you’re in. We're in a hyper growth business and it's incredibly rewarding, but it's also challenging. We're creating the 'new', and they're really up for that. So that's key. We have to think about what's the most impactful thing we can do right now, and people have different opinions on that. So I think that's why it's important we have our strategy conversations, and get everybody involved in our objectives. It works well when everybody is involved, and can see the ‘Why.’
I don't really know how to describe my style. I definitely don't want to be this person, but when I was younger I always thought that I'd probably dress like that woman from House of Cards—one colour block and an interesting silhouette. I’ve never dressed like that, but I've always liked clothes. At uni, I did a lot of op-shopping, and I really enjoy that creativity. I still love finding good buys, and shopping out of other people's wardrobes. I'm pretty natural with makeup and hair. I don't spend as much time on it as I probably should.
When I had more headspace, I used to visualise what I was going to wear when I was in the shower, and it’s funny because I see my three year old daughter do it now. She knows what she wants to wear. She's like, 'Oh, no, I'm not wearing that. I'm wearing this,' right down to the undies.
I make so many decisions in a day, and you get that fatigue. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I can kind of see why some people just wear the same outfit every day, just to reduce decision making. But I like the creativity of getting dressed up, or styling, or design. I want to find more time for that, because that type of thinking can cross-pollinate, and you can get unexpected ideas from unexpected places. I think that’s the most important thing about being exposed to a wide range of influences, because it helps you connect dots in ways that haven't been before.
I love playing with my kids. I love making up songs with them and dancing around and just being present with them. Their energy is so contagious. I hope it’s as rewarding for them as it is for me, but it’s probably more so for me. I like spending extra time with friends—knowing where we can hang out for a weekend together, or going for long lunches or walks. You settle into each other's presence a bit more, and I really enjoy that. I think I didn't really create as much space for that before and would hop from catch-up to catch-up, but now I love doing that with friends, and knowing what's going on in their lives. I also really enjoy running, reformer pilates, and I'm a big fan of Yin Yoga. The whole point is just lying down.
Music-wise, I like what Spotify calls ‘neo-soul.’ I listen to their Discover Weekly playlist every week, and if I like a song, I file it in a 'Discover' playlist I've created. And if I really like the song, then I add it to this playlist called 'Awesome'. It's a weird little system I've got. I listen to the lyrics of songs, so I like lyrics that are quite captivating. It's tricky because I know other people who listen to the music, but I really focus on the words and the meaning behind them. I feel like a song can change your perception of something in a heartbeat, and change how you feel really quickly. I like that.
I wish I was more organised. Life admin can pile up on me, and it doesn’t really spark joy. But I think I am way more organised in my work that I am at home. “Organised chaos” is probably how I’d put it. When it comes to my bag, my partner Leighton always pulls the kitchen sink gag. At university I used to be called the “bag lady”, because I had all the things—stuff for studying, stuff for the gym, stuff for if the weather changes (you’ve really got to have those layers on you in Wellington). I didn’t mind too much as I have always loved the song “Bag Lady” by Erykah Badu. But now my Suki Clutch is very organised—I don’t overstuff it (like I have in the past with other bags) and everything I need to carry on me, from meeting to meeting during the day, fits perfectly in it. But my Claudia Canvas bag is chaotic. Though I’d still call it organised chaos, because I know where everything is in it.
I now always carry masks and hand sanitizer. I love my silk masks. It’s been a bit of trial and error on the mask front, I’ve gone from surgical to organic cotton, but I really think I've found the mask that works for me (I sometimes forget I’m wearing it, I’m that used to it now). I also never go anywhere without a book to read (I hardly ever make time to read it though so it’s like carrying a weight around with me). I also used to carry a notebook around with me everywhere. But in just the last year I’ve stopped doing this, and started using notes on my phone. And it’s SO much better for me. A) one less kitchen sink item in my bag, and B) It’s digital, so it’s easy to search.
I remember when Emma [Lewisham] told me she was starting a beauty range. I was so excited for her. I remember she let me know when it launched, so I went to check-out the website straight away. I was so impressed with her purpose behind the skincare and started loading up my shopping cart. But I didn’t go through and buy the products. I have really sensitive skin, and even though I knew the ingredients were natural, I was just worried I’d buy it and then have a reaction and not be able to use it. Then a few months later, I had run out of moisturisers, so I thought I’d give Emma Lewisham a go. I haven’t looked back! It’s so great for my sensitive and often dry skin. I definitely should have just finished that first purchase a few months earlier. Because I have dry and sensitive skin, I use Supernatural (which is a night cream) both day and night. In the morning I use the serum too.
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