We spoke to George Georgievski, a dad from Geelong in Victoria, who is inspiring parents and carers globally to better feed their children. He is the founder of "School Lunchbox", a #1 Bestselling Author on Amazon, and Ambassador for Jamie Oliver Australia.
Tell me about your career & life background before the launch of School Lunchbox.
Life background is a long story, however, in a nutshell my parents came out from Macedonia back in 1968, in 1969 my sister was born and then I came along in 1973. All I remember is a lot of happiness and love growing up. Though we were poor financially we were rich with love. Fast forward till I was in my late teens my sister got married and moved out, my dad passed away from cancer and then my mum was in hospital for months. My dad was a bit of a hippy and a feminist, he taught me that there are no gender roles at home and that they’re just roles for all of to fulfill. It wasn’t unusual for my dad to be cooking while my mum was mowing the lawn, that was normal for me growing up. My dad also taught me a lot about life and that to be a good dad you had to be a good husband. The best way to teach our children is by showing them first hand how women should be treated, my dad was the coolest wisest dude I ever knew and I miss him everyday.
Fast Forward to 5 years ago, I used to leave for work before my wife and kids would wake so I used to miss out on the morning chaos. One day, I was home sick and I could hear chaos from the kitchen, I quickly discovered that it was the morning norm. My wife handballed me the task of making lunches to take the pressure off of her morning routine. That was the day everything changed for me, I started researching online for inspiration but found it was too complicated and over the top or there were too many nutritional facts that scared me. I figured I’d stop looking and start creating. One day my girls got a note from their teacher suggesting that their “mum” put the lunches on Instagram to help other parents with lunch inspo. That was the birth of School Lunchbox, I didn’t know what Instagram was so I downloaded it and began uploading the daily lunches.
Fast forward 5 years and I have over 300k followers across Instagram, Facebook and TikTok, 2 best selling books, Number 1 Australian Cook Book, over 25 Live TV gigs and countless shows across Australia, NZ and Europe. Ultimately though, I’m just a dad from Geelong that makes lunches. I still work full time as a Project Manager in Commercial Construction, so yes, School Lunchbox is a passion hobby.
“One day, I was home sick and I could hear chaos from the kitchen.
I quickly discovered that it was the morning norm."
Your followers are amazing on social media; 160k followers on Instagram and 104k on Facebook!
I still can’t get my head around all the followers, it’s crazy. However it does say to me that I have a connection with real parents with real lunch making issues, keeping it real and not changing who I am has been my secret I guess. I still respond to every message I get as it is mostly parents and carers reaching out for help so I cannot just ignore those types of messages.
From your background growing up, it looks like you get your ingredients of being a Male Champion of Change from your father. Tell us what your Father taught you about equality and gender roles?
My dad was such a cool wise man, he is still to this day my hero. He always got the best out of me and made me believe that I could achieve a lot more than what I believed I could do. My dad taught me to play chess as a kid and it wasn’t necessarily for time together, I later learned that it was for the most valuable life lesson I would ever receive. In Chess the Queen is the most important figure in the game, it can move in any direction and protects the rest of the figures, without the Queen you’re destined to lose. The King on the other hand can only move one square at a time and mainly stands protected behind the queen, without the Queen the King will mostly lose the game.
The day before my dad passed away he spoke to me about us playing Chess and then it all made sense, he was teaching me the importance of the Queen in real life. He said that the Queen was my mum, my sister, one day my wife and maybe even my daughters. Life would be easier by protecting my queens, and boy was he right. He taught me simple things like how to be romantic and to treat women the way I would want my sister to be treated. I remember him telling me about how real racism is and that what was in the inside was most important in humans and not the colour of their skin. I saw the world differently to others at a young age, I was encouraged to share my emotions and I used to watch my dad cry at the airport when random people would be saying their goodbyes.
My dad was cheeky also, he’d say at times that the sooner the house chores were done, meaning sharing them with your partner, the more time you’d have for fun with you’re partner and I am happy to say it still works to this day. The one key word I live by and not just directed to women but to everyone is respect. Come from a place of love and you’ll be ok.
Your audience is 97% female dominated; how have you navigated this and what have you learned?
Keep it real, you can’t bullshit a mum - that’s rule number 1. The saying Mum’s know best, it’s really true. So I keep it real, I have some bad dad jokes that I share on my Instagram stories and I also share my vulnerabilities as a person and a parent. Being open and honest with my feelings has been the key in connecting with almost 300k women. I don’t think I have learned a lot with such a huge female audience, I think the lessons I learned growing up had me in the right mindset to begin with. Everyone has a story so I always listened to what my audience was saying before assuming I knew. When I do shows around Australia I get blown away by the positive feedback women give me, so I think I might be on the right track.
How do you handle the work/parent balance: how do you make it all work?
This is a great question, I’m lucky as my wife and I share the household duties (no gender roles remember) which gives us both more time to pursue our dreams and aspirations. However, by my wife and I pursuing these dreams we are setting an example for our girls to dream big and that it doesn’t just have to be dream. My daily routine pretty much starts at 5:30 or 6:00am, I usually go training and then get myself ready by 7:00am, I make lunches and breakfast and get my girls sorted for school. Once I make lunches I take a pic and post it to my socials. I go to work and do my thing, I spend time in the car a little so I get time to thing about food ideas and fun creative ways to entice new foods. When I get home from work I prep dinner and answer any social media questions or queries. I mostly wait for my girls to go to bed before being too distracted by my socials. I don’t really watch TV as I love to be creative, whether it’s writing a poem or song or cooking in the kitchen.
What do you outsource?
I don’t outsource anything. I do everything as far as my School Lunchbox project goes. By not outsourcing anything I’m always learning and improving so I don’t think I could let certain parts of my socials go. However, when I released my books through MacMillan Publishing I let them tell me what they needed from me, however I maintained complete creative control throughout the whole process.
What do you simply not do?
I don’t take anything for granted ever, I don’t assume that I will be around tomorrow so I make the most of today and I treat every lunch I make like it’s the last one and that’s why I put a lot of my love into each and every one.
“Anyone can be a father, but to be a dad is truly awesome.”
What advice would you give to a new Dad?
Have no expectations as to what parenting will be. Mum will need all the help she can get from her partner so stay relevant in the form of being there emotionally and most importantly physically to help. Anyone can be a father but to be a dad is truly awesome. Be proactive and don’t wait to be told to empty the nappy bin etc, create your own little to do list and now is the time to take on some new chores like the laundry, cleaning and even cooking. Be the rock that you want your partner to be for your children.
How do you deal with the inevitable criticism from different angles?
I don’t really get too much criticism, however, I get a few hate comments that I don’t really take notice of. I would take criticism if it was someone that I would go to for advice or if it was constructive, otherwise I generally try to throw flowers when people throw rocks.
I do take criticism from my daughters when it comes to feedback with their lunches. Kiki my 9 year old doesn’t hold back so I certainly take note when she tells me what I could improve on when making lunches.
Check out George’s Instagram @schoollunchbox.