Being able to balance work and life - business and relaxation, living and loyalty - has always been important to me, a skill refined through my working life. Years ago, in the days before Naudic, I had to quit my job to travel around the world for 4 months - I needed to see and experience everything out there. Now, however, things aren’t so easy - working for myself, I no longer have those accruing days of leave throughout the year, to carve out days away from the computer and studio without the gnaw of productivity. But, while it’s not so simple, in these days of running a business, these moments of break are more fulfilling.
What’s even more pleasurable is when I get to mix work and life - as you will have seen, new experiences and relationships found through these moments of exploration are increasingly becoming part of the Naudic ‘process’, whether it’s designing clothes, writing blogs, and making travel films to share them. It’s how I learn about and evolve not only the business, but life itself. It’s through this I keep my mind and eyes open, staying current and keeping Naudic inspiring.
Like many, lockdown time has meant getting to rediscover my local community, renewing my inspirations closer to home. That could be through reaching out and seeing the people who wear the brand, trying to figure out all the different ways we can further inspire them.
Setting off on another Australian adventure since my last update, last week I took off to explore northern NSW. Now the borders have finally opened, we can venture further south! This region has some of my longest-term customers, partners of the brand since it’s earliest days 13 years ago, and I hadn’t seen them in quite a while. Plus, who doesn’t love those stunning beaches?
Monday, we headed to Yamba, a seaside village built around a headland, with the cutest and bravest little white lighthouse sitting proud at the peak. The idea for this stop started one Saturday morning, over my regular post-gym coffee debrief with my buddies. For years, we’ve gotten together at this time to laugh and offload about the week that has been. We’re seasoned travellers together, coming along for the ride to India when I turned 50, and we hadn’t done our girls trip for the year. All keen to escape Brisbane for a few days, a brochure across the room caught my eye - hiring a luxury glamping van, complete with a pull-out kitchenette, beds for four, blow up mattresses, and an annex with a tent to sleep the rest of us. The gang was down for it, so we planned to head off.
Just outside Yamba, I really wanted to visit one shop in particular. My friend Poppy owns a shop in Maclean, a short drive from the town. As I walked into her shop, unannounced, Poppy was wearing one of the original Sao Paolo dresses from 5 years ago - and she looked amazing. Her store was like a mini French department store, and I didn’t want to leave. taking a photo was nearly impossible, the personality of the store on every shelf transcending the ability of my camera.
Poppy and I have been doing business for 13 years. It’s reunions like these that make me think about loyalty, and how it’s built. Loyalty takes time over the years to build up, based on trust, and allows for relationships to grow; while repeat business is transactional and short term. Loyalty - whether owners, staff, or customers - sticks with you during the hardest times, something more relevant this year than ever before.
On Wednesdays, I have my business snapshot day, where I run through all channels of the business. During the slow down period of COVID, we set up our online business hub - all the key measuring triggers are in there, plus the new suppliers can find me wherever I am. Now, it’s very cool to sit at a café for an hour, enjoy a smoothie, and Zoom with some partners to discuss the week, and plans for the coming weeks.
But what about when I close the laptop? This trip was the ultimate chance to ‘live’ during office hours, taking time out of my daily routine. I love the lifestyle which we can offer as a business - the colourful freedom of living outside, and experiencing life in any situation. We love to inspire people to live their best life under an circumstance, and even having a go to start something from scratch. Now, many years later, I realise now this happened when I quit my good job in London for that four month trip - that exploration was needed to get me to what came next.
This trip took us from Yamba, to northern NSW hinterland, before finishing off in Byron. On the streets of this booming, vibrant hub, I saw a new way of living - I saw meetings happening in cafes, exercise on the beach, hang outs with friends with fresh food and sunset drinks. Life, work and play were all mixed together, and it was so inspiring.
Now, I feel like going back out again in the sleepout van set up. Just being able to finish the day with a boiling pot of water, ready for the night cap, while sitting around chatting without distraction cleared my head. I slept outdoors in the pull out patio, on the self-inflating mattress that I forgot to plug up, so I ended up on the hard ground. However, this didn’t matter - the sound of waves and birds chirping was the perfect soundtrack for a deep, restful sleep.
I’m thankful to have a group of friends who give it a go. I’m also grateful for the loyal client base who also take a gamble, mapping out the route. I look forward to seeing you all again on the next road trip - it’s a learning curve, but I have gotten used to driving a bus, and pitching a tent in the dark. If you’re in the neighbourhood, do the drive along the coastline and get lost … it is glorious.
Until next time,