Secret Lifer: Theresa Winters

There’s a series I’ve been wanting to run on BusinessChic for some time now and by “some time” I mean “years” – I can say that because the blog turns five next March!

“Secret Lifers” are those people who work a job (or more!) but then pursue their passions at the very edges of their capabilities to live full and interesting lives. Some eventually make the switch to their passion like I have – trading in the IT audit gig for photography and personal styling- while others are completely content to keep their work and passions separate.

The thing I like about the secret lifers that I meet is that they are not defined solely by their “day job”, their relationships or even their interests – they are multi-faceted. They don’t make excuses like “I’m too old” or “I would if I had the time”; they just do it, they make the time. They worry less about “being perfect” and more about living the life they love.

I have fantasised about running this series as a TV show, a YouTube series and then a podcast – so in the spirit of what I know best, I’m going to try run it as a blog series and see where it goes!

Theresa Winters is a Secret Lifer. I’ve followed her on Twitter for some years now and have marvelled at all of the things she does. She is American and yet contributes so much to her adopted home city of Melbourne; more than many Melburnites I know (me for one)! By day she works part-time in administration but she also contributes to some great publications, co-founds another AND finds time to run classes teaching braiding. Read on for more!

Polished look for Theresa Winters

Theresa wears:

coat – Revival, from Clear It on Brunswick St.

cardigan – clothing swap

shirt – Express (from 10 years ago!)

skirt – clothing swap

shoes – Target

handbag – op shop in Wisconsin

[Every few months, my girlfriends and I get together and swap anything else we don’t want, fit, or are bored with (clothes, nail polish, even a vacuum cleaner once). The majority of my wardrobe can be traced back to swaps.]
Try wearing a braid to work like Theresa Winters

Theresa sporting a braid using techniques she teachers through her Braidiance classes.

Cute vintage purse

Delightful op shop purchase transitions Theresa’s polished outfit from work to events – just one of the topics she writes about!

Ballet flats with chain detail

Chain detail on these ballet flats make them a little more interesting than most.

What do you do? Tell us all of the things!

I like to keep things busy and varied. I teach hair braiding workshops through my business, Braidiance; I am a co-founder of The Plus Ones, which showcases Melbourne’s best events; I help do the social media for bicycle group The Squeaky Wheel; I freelance write for Time Out Melbourne and The Urban List; and I run a Facebook group/email list called WinWinWinters that compiles contests. I also have a part-time administration role coordinating training and development — and an international exchange program — for medical professionals.

How do you manage your time to get so many great things done?

Ever heard of television? I don’t watch it. I may stream a few tv shows on my laptop, but you’ll never catch me plunked down on the sofa.

For my social life, I’m addicted to my calendars. I have two: a constantly-updated Google Calendar, and the paper one in my room, where I rotate Post-It notes and then inscribe what I actually attended. It’s a sort of visual diary. I have a stack of past years, so when I’m old I can flip through them and reminisce.

What are you favourite braid styles for work? Tell us about your braid in the photo!

For work, I find the faster the better (I’m definitely not a morning person). A little braid right on the forehead, or doing a quick fishtail ponytail — they only take a few minutes, but last all day. One of my favourite looks is to tightly braid my wet hair before bed. I wake up the next morning with luscious, bouncy, air-dried waves.

The braid in the photo has become my signature braid style. In my workshops, I teach a similar look: a French braid goes up the back of your head. Since my hair’s so long, I finish it off with a plait. It ends up being a cool look that takes about 15 minutes (half of which is pinning it). I feel like I have a little 1950s hat on, except it’s made out of my own hair!

Which do you decide on first, your outfit or your braid?

Definitely the outfit. Depending on what I’m wearing, I’ll want my hair up or down, loose or tight. Luckily, there’s a braid to suit every look out there.

How do you get ideas for new braids?

Popping onto Pinterest is always inspirational, but a lot of it is just having the basic repertoire down pat — and working with what the hair feels like doing that day. Almost every braid is based on a few basic types (French, Dutch, Waterfall, etc.). Once you learn them, any look you do comes down to combining them in different ways. Experimentation is fun!

What Braidiance events do you have coming up? How can BusiChics get in touch with you?

I run monthly public workshops , usually on the last Tuesday of the month and I’ve just set up a Saturday class at Schoolhouse Studios – the next class will be held on Sat. 22nd Nov.  I’m also available for private parties at people’s houses — so get some girlfriends together.

You can find me on:

Thanks so much for your time, Theresa! 

Are you a Secret Lifer? I’d love to hear from you – just drop me a line cheryl[at]businesschic[dot]com[dot]au


  1. Thanks so much for profiling me. Here’s the the new Secret Lifer series!

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