Some might say Deborah Symond O'Neil was born to launch a business. As daughter of Aussie Home Loans founder, John Symond (who managed to position loan ads in the same nostalgic category as Weetbix and Milo), she has proven herself to know a thing or two about filling a niche in the market. The young entrepreneur, who is founder of athleisure fashion retail disruptor, Mode Sportif, has fast paved her own path with the luxe sports and casual wear hub, much to the delight of the fashion set’s obsession with chic comfort. With chic sportswear having its time in the sartorial sun, Deborah foresaw the need for a one-stop e-tail shop. Just two years after launching online, she opened a store in Sydney’s Paddington, and there are no plans to stop there. Young, clever and with her finger on the trend-pulse, we were eager to take a roam through her stunning Sydney Eastern Suburbs home to talk about trusting your gut, the importance of skincare and, of course, the beauty buys that get this busy business woman through a long day.

“My dad has always told me to trust my gut instinct…

… in business and my personal life. My vision [for Mode Sportif] was a destination for off-duty dressing. I wanted to build a brand known for combining luxury fashion with elevated sportswear – the go-to for finding the perfect dress to style with designer sneakers, and a chic and functional workout look, all under the one roof. Having opened the doors to our first retail space in Paddington [Sydney] in July last year, we are focusing on an omni-channel growth model and have many exciting projects on the horizon. Watch this space!

I was a dancer from the age of five…

… and regularly performed in eisteddfods, so I had a very early introduction to make-up. Stage make up on a pre-teen certainly is a sight to see! I used to insist on doing it myself- think: intense bronzed glitter eyes and dark red lips, eek!

My mother has incredible skin.

Naturally, I grill her on her secrets hoping they might work for me too! Her advice has always been wear SPF 30+ on your face and get monthly facials from the age of 25. I have memories of being at the beach with friends, and receiving a call from my mum checking I had my 30+ on my face. I would cringe at the time, but I know I’ll thank her one day.

I love bright, clean and fresh skin.

I keep things fairly simple when it comes to my beauty regime. I focus on cleansing, exfoliating and moisturising and get regular facials to keep my skin in check. I use Lauren Napier make up removing wipes (they’re also amazing for travel as they come in individual packets and never dry out) and The Eve Lom cleanser has changed my life. I use it twice a day to clean and hydrate my skin. Once a week, I use the GlamGlow Youthmud Mask. This usually takes place on a Sunday before bed to exfoliate and brighten my skin before the week ahead. I love Radical Skincare Age Defying Pads to gently exfoliate without drying out the skin. Finally, I apply Apot.Care Rich Texture Cream. I tend to have dry skin so tailor my products to focus on bright and hydrated skin.

I discovered Tom Ford Shimmering Body Oil in Hong Kong.

It’s ideal for highlighting your décolletage for an evening out. I also love the Tom Ford packaging. [Makeup artist] Liz Kelsh told me I needed the Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel Bronzing Make Up Base in my life, and I’ve never looked back. Chantecaille Liquid Illuminatorprovides this dewy glow that lasts the entire day. It’s perfect for all the high points on the face, I love to layer over a tinted moisturiser for a natural look. The marbled packaging from Hourglass is seriously beautiful. I use the translucent rectangle as a powder, and the tonal squares to contour and highlight.

I change my hair regularly. I’m talking colour changes from light brown, to black, to blonde in the space of a year…

…so I do a weekly Olaplex treatment on a Sunday. It’s critical to keep my hair health. Coming from a girl with extremely frizzy naturally dried hair, the Dyson Hairdryer and its smoothing nozzle has honestly changed my life. [I started using a] large round brush after watching some tips from YouTube and my hair stylist, I have the at-home blow dry down pat. I use Bumble & Bumble Thickening Hair Spray – it’s everything for a voluminous blow dry. I have quite flat hair, so I spray this on my roots prior to blow drying my hair. It works like a charm! For a slick pulled back look nothing beats the Evo Gangsta Grip Bonding Resin.

I definitely watch what I eat.

I need to be careful, so I always try and eat clean, whole foods. I definitely have a strict diet during the week, and try and stick to proteins, fruits and vegetables. For breakfast I love poached eggs with avocado, for lunch I will have some sushi, sashimi or a salad and for dinner I love salmon with salad. I am definitely not perfect all the time, but I try and find the best balance.

I love working out.

I definitely mix it up to keep things interesting, with a combination of boxing, pilates, hot yoga and walking. I also love trying new workouts, and when travelling nothing beats SOULCYCLE.

I have a relaxed day-to-day style…

… filled with a mix of prints and colours. I love creating a look with my outfits. I am not the type of person that has a uniform, I could be wearing a very minimal and monochrome look one day, and then a bright bold print the next. Fashion is very much about expression and I love playing around with it.”

Story by Rikki Hodge-Smith; Interview by Sigourney Cantelo; Photography by Alice Mahran

Comment (4)

  1. March 11, 2017

    Her home decor and styling look stunning!

  2. March 11, 2017

    I agree with her mindset on fashion, each day has opportunity for a new look 🙂

  3. March 20, 2017

    Love the concept of Mode Sportif – I love wearing sneakers but never know how to style them with a fashionable outfit, so helpful

  4. March 20, 2017

    Would love to try out the Dyson hairdryer but can’t imagine it actually being worth the price.. Has anyone else tried it?