5 Minutes With Felicia Palanca

Get your fix of wellness and things that inspire us.

Mum, designer and former prima ballerina talks work, life and family nutrition.

Tell us about your home life?

My home life is very busy, happy and bursting with love, energy, kids, friends and family. I have two children. My eldest is Isabella who is 11 years old. She is intelligent, beautiful, loyal and has the best sense of humour. Ben my son is 8. He is hilarious, a boy of many talents and has the biggest heart imaginable.

What is the best and hardest thing about being a mother?

The best thing is having these two beautiful humans who are part of you and your life every day. My love for them is unconditional and they give me so much joy. Making sure I meet their needs as a mum as well as maintaining a work life balance is a priority which requires constant energy and planning. It is incredibly rewarding even when it’s been a busy day – I love every minute with them.

You were a ballerina. Do you miss performing?

I do miss performing sometimes though it is rare now as it feels like a life time ago.

Now I am so focused on my kids and my business or my 'third child', as I like to call it.

When I was a dancer performing was everything to me. It was my sole focus every day; every waking moment I was thinking about my performance, the rehearsals, the endless weeks of preparation both mentally and physically that led to the ultimate performance on the night.

There really is no comparison to the elation I would feel on stage accompanied by the feeling of accomplishment for all that hard work in the lead up.

I miss performing most when I see a fantastic show. It brings back memories of the feelings I experienced whilst performing, and that is what I miss most.

As a former dancer, how important is daily family nutrition and what is your approach?

Food is very important in our house.

I was lucky to have a mum who brought me up on an almost completely organic diet before organic was “cool”. I found it quite strict when I was little as there was literally no sugar, white flour or packet foods in our kitchen.

Of course I did not stick to this strictly outside the family home; I needed more balance but my mum gave me a very important foundation that I have continued to reap the benefits from.

I was one of the only dancers who danced 250 shows a year 10 years straight without a single broken or fractured bone; actually no injury at all which was very rare and certainly not just luck.

I still exercise when possible and prioritise healthy organic eating because I know how it has helped me my whole life.

As a family I like to think we have a very balanced approach to food: I am not as strict as my mum was, though my baseline for healthy eating is set very high so we certainly eat healthily 95 % of the time.

Are your children good eaters?

They are both very different.

Isabella isn’t a big eater; she used to be very picky so I just used to introduce new things to her slowly and even when she really likes what she is eating she has never been a big eater.

It took me a while to get used to her eating habits and realise that she had a good measure of when she was full or not and to just let her eat as she prefers which is in smaller portions and more often. Benni is a good eater and has been from the time he was young. He has really always loved veggies and fruits so it was always easy to feed him. As he gets older he is becoming a little more fussy with his food but what he does like is very healthy so we all like to eat similarly now.

What is your approach to exercise?

Exercise is really important to me as it is something I have always done.

I see a trainer at least twice a week and on other days I try and exercise for even just 30 minutes each day with one day off.

Exercise helps me sleep, energises me and is great for my mental health so even when I am tired I make it a priority to exercise.

I love yoga so when I have a chance I do that once a week; Vinyassa yoga calms me and challenges me at the same time- my body responds well to it as it feels like I am dancing. The Power Flow yoga I do fills me with heat and helps me to stretch out.

You have a new career. How did you come up with Flo?

The name FLO came from me waking up from a dream. I had known I wanted to create my own brand and was only starting to think of names the day before. I wanted something that encapsulated my dancing so it would describe movement and music. I wanted the name to be short and look good as a logo so my graphic designer and I used a ribbon to come up with the logo’s look and feel together. FLO was perfect for what I wanted my brand to represent. 

As for the conception of the brand, it was my daughter who inspired the essence of FLO. Isabella was lying on a big pile of beautiful tulle, so I took some photos of her just for me and one in particular ended up being my first FLO Dancewear marketing shot. She was my inspiration. The look in her eyes was that dreamy look of a girl who wanted to dance!  I wanted to create a range of dance-inspired pieces in beautiful, easy to care for super soft fabrics that were perfect for ballet class or for play. Looking at the 2 – 7 age group it was important that the range was special but also well priced. Dancing is expensive for parents and I wanted to offer them something that was great quality and looked beautiful but wouldn’t cost a fortune. I sourced the fabrics first; one of the elements that separates FLO Dancewear from its competitors is the super soft fabrics that are used in every style of mine. FLO has continued to evolve and we now make everything a little girl needs to go to their ballet classes or just twirl and play around in like my daughter and I did as youngsters, including well-priced tights and leather ballet shoes. 

FLO Active was the natural progression fromFLO Dancewear. The collection was designed specifically for the growing tween market.

With a new career as a designer and business owner, is work/family balance difficult?

I love what I am doing. I love Flo and believe in my products; I have put my heart and soul into it. I have a really great growing team so it's always fun going into work.

The business strategy is always moving and evolving so it can be challenging at the same time as being exciting.

Finding a work life balance for me has been the biggest challenge. If I have a very busy few days at work and feel like I am missing too much time with the kids I will balance it out with the kids the following few days and make sure I spend more time with them. Being present when I am with them is extremely important which usually means leaving the phone in another room whenever possible!

What is your favourite way to unwind?

Either spending time with my kids relaxing, with my friends and sometimes their children too. If I don’t have the kids I love to watch a good movie or go for a long walks, sleep, do yoga or have a massage – all of which help me switch off. I love a warm holiday even though this is rare but if I want to really relax it's got to be somewhere warm.

How important is good protein intake for you and your family?

Protein is really important in our family. There is always a protein in every meal. Eggs, chicken and tuna are our go-to proteins supplemented with protein powders and elixirs.

Which WelleCo protein elixirs do you have on your kitchen bench?

WelleCo NOURISHING PLANT PROTEIN Peruvian Chocolate is my morning go-to after training for a boost in vitality.  I feel like it gives me quite a big energy boost almost straight away. Not like sugar or coffee does though. It makes me feel like I have had a very good sleep or finished eating a good bowl of veggies or both. I've noticed extra vitality in juggling my busy work/life schedule. The energy boost is subtle and presents me with a feeling of overall wellbeing and calm. 

My kids love Super Kid’s NOURISHING PLANT PROTEIN. They love the taste as well as the energy boost. It works more like a meal replacement which is perfect for before and after school.

How do you have your NOURISHING PLANT PROTEIN?

As a snack, I simply mix it with water. If I want to have it as meal replacement, I add some frozen berries and a banana and a small amount of almond milk.

The kids love theirs added to their usual smoothies of milk, berries and frozen banana.