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Meet Nik Mirkovic

Co-Founder & Director of HiSmile

Nik Mirkovic, Co-Founder & Director of HiSmile (image supplied)
Nik Mirkovic, Co-Founder & Director of HiSmile (image supplied)

Nik Mirkovic, is one of the innovative minds behind the wildly successful HiSmile brand. With his entrepreneurial spirit and passion for creating accessible, effective products, Nik has transformed HiSmile into a global phenomenon. We delve into Nik’s journey, the inspiration behind HiSmile, and why the Gold Coast is the perfect base for big business.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I was born and raised on the Gold Coast (I’m currently 28 years old).

What do you love the most about the Gold Coast?
I love the Gold Coast lifestyle, it’s unlike anywhere else in the world. Cities around the world are either so big that you’re stuck in traffic trying to get anywhere, or they’re so small that you’re unable to have huge ambitions and build an amazing and hard working team. On the Gold Coast, I feel like we’ve got the perfect balance of the ambitions and drive of a major city, and the peace and tranquility of a small getaway town.

Nik Mirkovic & Alex Tomic, Co-Founders of HiSmile (image supplied)
Nik Mirkovic & Alex Tomic, Co-Founders of HiSmile (image supplied)

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up on the Gold Coast and I always had a passion to compete and challenge myself. My lifelong dream was to play professional football and to take my career over to Europe and compete with the best full-time. After finishing school I went on to try and pursue my dream, moving over to the UK to trial with a few bigger clubs. Realising I wasn’t at the level to compete at the very top, I had to make the tough decision of moving back to Australia to find a new challenge rather than lowering my expectations and playing professionally at a lower level.

I absolutely love living on the Gold Coast, and it plays a massive part in who I am as a person. I couldn’t see myself moving away from this amazing city anytime in the future!

HiSmile office, Burleigh (image supplied)
HiSmile office, Burleigh (image supplied)

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind starting HiSmile?
HiSmile started off the back of a common pain point for teenagers at the time, they loved whitening their teeth but they hated the pain and sensitivity that came as a by-product. We wanted to create a product that delivered the results but without the pain and sensitivity of traditional whitening.

When you launched HiSmile absolutely took off. Your sales went from zero to $50 million in three years! How did you navigate that crazy time?
The growth and challenges over the years have been crazy, but we take things one step at a time. Alex (the other co-founder) and I have always been obsessed with understanding enough about every part of the business to be dangerous enough to make decisions across the board, rather than relying on outsourcing and not getting involved. This allows us to organise and control that chaos as opposed to that being out of our hands.

Nik Mirkovic, Co-Founder & Director of HiSmile (image supplied)
Nik Mirkovic, Co-Founder & Director of HiSmile (image supplied)

What has been the biggest opportunity and/or challenge so far?
The biggest challenge came a few years into the business when we decided to invest heavily into r & d and the backend operation of the business (finance, legal, supply chain, data, procurement, etc). These were large investments that wouldn’t result in instant growth and revenue, but it was an investment that we felt we had to make in order for us to take that next step forward as a company.

HiSmile has expanded its product range beyond teeth whitening. Can you talk about the decision to diversify and the process of developing new products?
Our goal is to become the biggest oral care company in the world and to take that category to another level, away from its traditional mundane past. In order to work towards that goal it means that we have to expand the way we look at oral care, and expand our product offering. We now offer cosmetic whitening, brightening, everyday toothpastes and toothbrushes, dental professional whitening, and dental specific products for targeted solutions. Our development process starts in our r & d facility on the Gold Coast where we bring our ideas to life.

Nik Mirkovic & Alex Tomic, Co-Founders of HiSmile (image supplied)
Nik Mirkovic & Alex Tomic, Co-Founders of HiSmile (image supplied)

What can we expect next from HiSmile?
We’ll continue to launch market leading and world first products. We’re looking to do things that haven’t been done before in oral care, so we aim to elevate the entire category through amazing products and partnerships.

What is the best piece of business advice that you have ever been given?
Never get comfortable and complacent, make changes before external factors force your hand to change.

HiSmile office, Burleigh (image supplied)
HiSmile cafe, Burleigh (image supplied)

What are your Gold Coast favourites…
Café/coffee spot:
HiSmile cafe 😉 otherwise Tarte and Commune in Burleigh
Restaurant: Gemelli
Bar or place for a drink: Paloma Wine Bar
Beach: Rainbow Bay

How do you choose to spend your days off?
At the beach, with family and friends.

Nik Mirkovic, Co-Founder & Director of HiSmile (image supplied)
Nik Mirkovic, Co-Founder & Director of HiSmile (image supplied)

Meet Sasha Mielczarek

Sasha Mielczarek (image supplied)
Sasha Mielczarek (image supplied)

Some of you may recognise Sasha Mielczarek as a former Bachie contestant, but he’s left the reality TV world far behind and is busy kicking goals as a business owner, builder and family man. Last year was super busy for Sasha as he married the love of his life, completed a stunning renovation on a Bowral property and opened LOCAL in Burleigh. We’re officially exhausted just reading that! We chatted to Sasha about his many ongoing projects and what he loves about living on the Gold Coast.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I moved here in 2019 to pursue an opportunity with some close mates of mine in construction. Quite different to Country NSW where I grew up but I’m embracing the lifestyle of the Gold Coast and everything that comes with it.

Sasha Mielczarek with wife Carly (image supplied)
Sasha Mielczarek with wife Carly (image supplied)

Tell us a bit about yourself
I grew up in Western Sydney and Country NSW. Spent a bit of time in Canberra where I went to Uni (studied Engineering/Commerce) and played footy. Played a bit of footy overseas in England and the US.

I started in Construction in 2007 (both commercial and residential) and never looked back. Loved understanding and learning how things were built (must be the engineering brain). This extended past construction and with the influence of my Dad and Step Dad developed a passion for classic cars and bikes (I’m currently building a 1969 Dodge Charger in the US and am just about to finish a 1959 Cadillac here in QLD).

Sasha Mielczarek with his motorbike(image supplied)
Sasha Mielczarek with his motorbike(image supplied)

Given a close history with prostate cancer I actively support the Movember Foundation and Men’s health in general having raised close to $90k in 20 years. The biggest thing I encourage everyone to do is to go get a health check on a yearly basis as it could mean the difference between getting something early and getting on top of it OR leaving it too late.

I relocated to the Coast in 2019 where I switched from builder side to subbie side and took up a position as Operations Manager for a facade company that two good mates of mine started back in 2008. These two fellas (Nick and Jack) have also given me a number of other opportunities which I’m extremely grateful for. Putting work aside I have an amazing family, 2 brothers and a sister ( Jay, Jedd and Charlie), a beautiful niece and nephew (Isobel and Reggie), an amazing wife (Carly), a beautiful little puppy (Sadie) and a close-knit friend group. Hopefully, a few ‘tin lids’ (kids) in the future, who knows? Definitely getting in some practice haha I’m extremely close with my mother (Kym) and literally owe everything I have as well as all my successes to her. My parents worked tirelessly to afford me the greatest opportunities in life and I feel extremely fortunate to have them by my side every step of the way.

Sasha Mielczarek (image supplied)
Sasha Mielczarek (image supplied)

You recently opened LOCAL in Burleigh. What made you want to get into the hospitality scene on the Gold Coast?
It’s always been a dream of mine and there were limited places I genuinely enjoyed going for a beer that had it all i.e. Good food, drinks, live music, an outdoor beer garden, like-minded people and just a nice space for all occasions.

I was lucky enough to be given an opportunity to jump on board with some close mates of mine who were already in the hospo space and that’s when we stumbled across the old Harry’s site. We always had intentions of doing something great, it just took a bit longer than we first hoped. But we wanted to make sure we did it once and did it right. That’s when LOCAL Burleigh was born and the response has been truly overwhelming.

Side note, would like to thank the Locals and everyone who has come in and continues to pay homage and support us. Locals supporting LOCAL… How many times you think I can say Local in a paragraph, haha!

LOCAL, Burleigh (image supplied)
LOCAL, Burleigh (image supplied)

You have a number of other projects, including a coworking space in Burleigh. Tell us about that.
I seem to jump from one thing to another. It’s usually the odd house on the side however this time my business partners and I decided to do a shared office space on the main strip of Burleigh, James Street. We saw a gap in the market for a professional co-working community (namely those in the construction space). Rather than having people come and go we wanted to create a community of like-minded people where those on board could share information and ideas to help build and grow their own business. Since opening in late 2022 we’ve been full books and have a number of different businesses on deck including a Project Marketing Company, a Structural Engineering Firm and a Facade Company amongst a number of others. Given its success, we are looking to create another Blank Space in the near future so watch this space.

Blank Space Coworking (image supplied)
Blank Space Coworking (image supplied)

What has been the biggest opportunity and/or challenge so far for you?
Opportunities as mentioned above.

Biggest challenges: Personally – trying to find my feet on the Gold Coast having moved from Country NSW as well as finding a solid friend group and a partner. It’s taken time but I managed to do both.

Professionally – establishing a new business is always challenging little lone making it successful. Still navigating our way through and always looking to continually improve but heading in the right direction.

Sasha at work (image supplied)
Sasha at work (image supplied)

What do you love most about living on the Gold Coast?
The lifestyle and weather. Being an early riser it’s good to have the sun come up early and make the most of the day. Also being so close to the beach and the vast array of things to do. Growing up it was the local skate park or meet down at the 7/11 with the lads in a VL commie (Commodore) for a Friday night soiree. Being on the Gold Coast I can still do that but there are also so many other activities right at your doorstep to make the most of. 

Sasha Mielczarek and Carly (image supplied)
Sasha and Carly (image supplied)

What are your Gold Coast favourites…
Café: I recently discovered Bear Boy Espresso up at Hope Island and it’s bloody fantastic. Everything from the food, to the coffee and the staff was all time.
Coffee spotNot just saying it because I have a vested interest in the joint but love the coffee at LOCAL. We get our beans from Bellissimo coffee in Bulimba where I first met my beautiful wife. So having that tie makes it a bit spesh. I also love the coffee at Chut & Co in Mermaid. A mate of mine, Joey recently gave up his job in Construction to open up a cafe of all things and he’s killing it. To be honest much better cafe owner than builder haha (he’ll love this when he reads it).
Restaurant: Got a few however my wife and I are all over Sofia’s in Broadbeach like cheap suit at the moment. Also, can’t really go past Etsu. Always on point!
Bar or pub for a drink: Of course, LOCAL Burleigh but also love the Crab Pot down on the water. Good crew of local lads down there and it reminds me of home (with a slightly better view and a tab).

Sasha Mielczarek with wife Carly (image supplied)
Sasha Mielczarek with wife Carly (image supplied)

How do you choose to spend your weekends?
I’m always on the go however recently my wife and I have tried to take a step back and enjoy quality time together. We love the odd bike ride up to Main Beach from Burleigh, jumping on the Jet ski and going for a cruise up North, taking our little puppy for a run around down the Alley or simply going out and trying new places. Literally living up all the Goldie has to offer.

Sadie, Sasha and Carly's dog (image supplied)
Sadie, Sasha and Carly's dog (image supplied)

Sam Webb & Casey Lyons

L-R: Casey Lyons and Sam Webb (image courtesy of Luke Marsden)
L-R: Casey Lyons and Sam Webb (image courtesy of Luke Marsden)

In the 21st Century, mental health has become as important as physical health – and rightly so! Taking care of not only our own mental health but checking in on others can sometime’s make a world of difference. It’s organisations like LIVIN, a Gold Coast-based and non-profit mental health organisation, that are helping to destigmatise mental health and promoting the message that #itaintweaktospeak.  We were fortunate enough to ask a few questions to founders Sam Webb & Casey Lyons about their mission and how we can all improve our own and other’s mental health through early intervention and prevention initiatives.

How long have you been Gold Coast locals?
S: I was born in Sydney and grew up on the Gold Coast in Burleigh Heads. I relocated to Sydney, Bondi Beach in 2014 and have since moved to LA – where I now live.
C: 32 years, which is my whole life.

What do you both love the most about the Gold Coast?
S: I miss the beaches on the Gold Coast. Growing up on the Gold Coast I use to surf 3 times a day and looking back now, that is definitely something I took a little for granted.
C: I think it is a great mix of everything; the beach, work, great food and weather, and the hinterland isn’t too far away at all.

Sam Webb presenting to an audience (image supplied)
Sam Webb presenting to an audience (image supplied)

Tell us about how LIVIN came about.
S: LIVIN started in 2013 after we lost a good friend Dwayne Lally to suicide. Dwayne’s death was a wake-up moment for me at a time of my life when I was also at my lowest point. Dwayne’s death was felt by an unquantifiable amount of people, from so many walks of life, and we soon realized that there was a lot of people who struggled in silence with their mental health similar to Dwayne. For Dwayne’s wake, we created and sold t-shirts with Dwayne’s’ portrait on it along with one of his favorite lyrics from a song. Our intentions were to sell the t-shirts to raise some money to give to Dwayne’s family to support some of the financial burden around funeral costs. Dwayne’s mum and dad told us to keep the money and do something great with it. So, we did. And that is where LIVIN started. From very humble beginnings in my kitchen in Burleigh, to a spare room at my next home to then Casey’s garage, LIVIN started growing quicker than we expected all thanks to the support we garnered from so many young people who could relate with Dwayne’s story and breaking the stigma around mental health.

Why is mental health so important?
S: I believe that without good mental health, the rest suffers in some way. Our life goals, ambitions, passions, hobbies, relationships you name it, begins and ends with mental health. I am not saying that if you have poor mental health today you won’t achieve your desires, but I do believe that staying mentally healthy and prioritizing your mental health needs will serve you extremely well in your life both personally and professionally.
C: While we don’t all have mental ill-health, we ALL have mental health. Mental health is relevant to absolutely everyone! I can’t think of a more compelling reason to shine a spotlight on any topic.

LIVIN apparel range (image supplied)
LIVIN apparel range (image supplied)

How is LIVIN helping to change the stigma surrounding Mental Health?
S: LIVIN’s vision is to break the stigma around mental health through early intervention and prevention. We do this through our 3 core pillars.
1) LIVINWell- We deliver our LIVINWell in School program to students all around the country free of charge. Our program has been specifically designed to educate students on a range of issues related to mental health, with an emphasis on breaking the stigma of mental health, enhancing self-efficacy (both helping themselves and helping others) and encouraging help-seeking behaviour. It is delivered by experienced, highly relatable and carefully selected Facilitators that have a blend of lived experience and mental health training.L
2) LIVINWear- We sell streetwear and apparel. Think of this as a walking billboard spreading positive messages through collections to create conversations and raise awareness around mental health. Wearing a t-shirt, hoodie or hat can create on average 20 conversations around mental health that could be life-changing.
3) LIVINLife- Through our online social media community, fundraising and events, we are creating a cohesive, connected ecosystem that engages with the lifestyle of LIVIN which is why LIVIN has been the success it has been. Without our community, none of this would be possible. So thank you to everyone who’s helped in some kind of way.

What are some ways we can take care of our own mental health?
S: Practicing self-care. Focus on the things that you enjoy doing. That may be exercise, drawing, painting or journaling. Do them often and set time aside for them. Speaking about how you are feeling and educating others that may not be aware of what you may be going through can be beneficial. Remember, people are not mind readers. Above all, It Ain’t Weak to Speak. Reach out if you need some help and treat yourself like a good friend.
C: Self-care is my number one tip. Self-care is certainly not selfish and it doesn’t need to be something extravagant, 10-15 minutes each day is a great starting point. What does self-care look like? Well, that is completely up to the individual but typically it is doing what makes you happy; things that help you to relax, unwind, de-stress. Exercise is great for me and exercise doesn’t need to be strenuous either, it needs to be something that you can sustain.

Sam speaking at a conference (image supplied)
Sam speaking at a conference (image supplied)

What are some signs of depression people should look out for?
C: There are many different signs we can look for – noticeable changes in appearance, no longer enjoying things you used to enjoy, low energy and motivation, feeling like everything is too hard. However, the one I like to share is, any change in what would be typical behaviour for yourself or someone you know that has lasted for longer than two weeks is a good indication to explore what is going on.

How can we start the conversation with someone we may see is having a difficult time?
C: This is generally the part that people find the hardest to do, I understand this but it doesn’t need to be. People think that by starting a conversation it could encourage the person to do something terrible or make them worse. This is not the case, there is research that suggests that it is very hard to say the wrong thing if our intention is pure. I like to start the conversation by asking the person how they are going. I am usually met with the throw-away “yeah, good thanks”. I then say “no, how are you really going”? It can be helpful to communicate some of the things you’ve noticed that have prompted some concern. E.g., I have noticed x y z lately and you don’t seem yourself, is there anything I can help you with? After you have kick-started a conversation the best thing you can do to help someone is to listen and listen without harsh or critical judgment.

What are your Gold Coast favourites…
S: Commune Cafe
C: Espresso Moto Palm Beach
Coffee spot:
S: Didn’t drink coffee until 32 years of age and that was in LA
C: Flying Bean Beechmont
S: Bonita Bonita
C: Labart, Burgster, Wahoos, Harry’s or Ginger Indian – it really depends on the mood.
Bar or pub for a drink:
S: Ze Pickle
C: Lockwood

How do you both choose to spend your weekends?
S: Spending time with my Fiancé Nadia, friends, something outdoors like running or hiking for sure and then plenty of movies. I love a good film with some popcorn! It’s the perfect way to relax.
C: With the family down at Talle Creek, eating food at one of the above restaurants, mowing my lawns, or if I’m lucky, a bit of golf.

LIVIN apparel range (image supplied)
LIVIN apparel range (image supplied)
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