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Safe & The City: meet the woman helping you get home safely

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Chloe Gray
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Jillian Kowalchuk, at work at Safe & The City app

Work/Life is Stylist’s regular column about the professional routines of successful women. Here, app co-founder Jillian Kowalchuk, takes us through her one-day diary, from morning latte to lights-out.

Jillian Kowalchuk, 34, created Safe & The City, an app that finds users the safest route to their destination. She lives in east London with her friend.

MY ALARM GOES OFF…

At 5.45am. I go straight into a 15-minute guided meditation using the Insight Timer app. I try to visualise the day ahead and manifest positivity and gratitude. Then I’ll head to the gym or out for a run to kickstart my brain. I’ll be home by 7.15am, grab a smoothie and get ready while listening to Drake. I tend to wear business casual in the office.

MY COMMUTE IS…

On some form of public transport. I’m hoping in the summer I’ll be able to get on the bike.

I’M RESPONSIBLE FOR…

Everything, as the founder. I make sure that we invest the right time, energy and resources into ensuring the company thrives. Safe & The City is a navigation app that has the ability to recall information about the routes users feel safest in and alert them when they reach areas police have flagged with high levels of street crime. It also has quick access to the emergency services.

Safe & the city app on phone
The app helps you find your safest route home.

I GOT THE JOB…

After I was almost sexually assaulted while walking down the street in London. I quickly found that the fastest route on map apps wasn’t always the safest one. I thought, why don’t these apps take an area’s safety into account? And then I wanted to create it. At the time, I was working in academia and had no experience in tech, but I went to a hackathon where I met a sponsor who thought I would be good for their accelerator scheme. That kickstarted my understanding of developing a business in the tech space. We launched in 2018.

MY TYPICAL DAY…

Begins at 8.30am. I write down my priorities for the day, then do a stand-up meeting with my two full-time and six contracted staff. We run through what we’re all working on and check if anyone needs help. 

My day is varied – from getting in touch with a potential customer and working on a certain feature of the app to meeting a new team member or doing tax things. I have set times to check my inbox so I don’t get distracted from other tasks. For lunch, I’ll eat a plant-based meal at my desk.

I finish at around 7pm, but I have a habit of working late to make sure everything is organised.

STRESSED I…

Go for a walk. We have a policy where we’ll walk around the block and talk things out if someone’s upset. I also keep a folder of nice emails people have sent about me and my work, which I look at when I feel things aren’t going right.

Safe & the city app on phone and laptop screen
She is often developing new features for the app.

MY GO-TO SNACK AT WORK IS…

Something from our drawer of goodies. Usually a granola bar or nuts – something with protein that’s a bit more nutritious.

MY MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT…

Was the app’s first anniversary last March. I spent the day giving a TEDx speech and later got the news that I was one of three Canadians chosen to present to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as part of the Commonwealth Day celebrations. I felt very proud.

AFTER WORK…

I often go to networking or client events. Even when I head home, I end up reading emails. I’m trying to stop that. I’ll cook something healthy and share it on Instagram. I try to get to bed by 11pm, but it’s often more like midnight.

My Plan B: brand consultant

Over the past few years I’ve found investing in myself and the things I care about really rewarding, so I’d like to use those skills to help early-stage entrepreneurs hone their vision. But, to be honest, I can’t really see myself doing anything else.

Photography: Holly McGlynn

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Chloe Gray

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