I shifted base from Adelaide, over to Melbourne to be with my love. I designed - and launched a new collection. There were design markets, a Melbourne trade show, a London trade show, a week in New York helping out at a trade show. There was family, and health, and times when nothing else mattered more than being all there. There were photo shoots, and videos filmed, and a certain campaign dreamed up, actioned and pulled together (- and it launches this week!)
I’ve felt constantly out of my depths and at times, utterly petrified about how fast life is moving, how fast business is growing, and how everything I do now seems to need to be more measured, accountable and prioritised, less spontaneous and free. And I’ve felt grateful, to be feeling all of these feelings and in this position of stretching, expanding, of course.
This coming Tuesday morning, the project I’ve poured all of myself into for these past months launches (if you missed the big announcement via my mailing list and Instagram, read on below).
And, now that all of the hardcore figuring out and preparatory phases has been moved through, I’m experiencing a beautiful feeling of coming back to myself - settling the frenetic energy down a notch, making more considered, confident decisions, allowing myself a moment or two to simply digest and feel into the excitement and anticipation all. And here, as I sit tapping away on keys late into Sunday night in the calm of my studio, I feel hundreds of words circling, floating around in my head, tweaking and tightening into sentences, forming stories that I know will pour out as they will, before long.
Where to begin, tonight and now? Let’s back track about three months...
It was early July, and a new idea was tugging at me. I wanted to develop the product I had always wanted to bring into existence - a weekly planner - for 2017. Beautiful pages, bound together. Tactile. Minimalist. Inspiring. Easy. Functional. Something enduring, and useful. Something to carry to coffee dates, to prop open at a desk and pour dreams, plans - futures into.
For a little while, I amused myself with the lovely notion of keeping such a planner Australian made (on receiving back some preliminary quotes, this was brief). I very quickly learned that this was never going to be a realistic option - in a business sense, or in a practical, financially accessible sense for anyone buying it. I’ve been so proud to keep all of my printing as local and as connected to my own community as possible, so venturing beyond Australia felt… intimidating and far outside of anything I knew.
I spoke with my beautiful friend Tess, who has a (few) heart-led businesses up her sleeve, and she so wisely and beautifully told me, “honey, if you want your brand to grow, you have to relinquish a bit of control. Going offshore doesn't make your work any less YOU, it just improves your overheads and your production ability, which allows for more travel and more time to create! It's a wonderful business move, and I’m super proud of you. xx"
And I listened to this advice - I needed to. I read articles about how to do offshore business ethically. I sat with it, and ultimately, I got over myself a little bit. And then, I knew that to get really comfortable with it, authentically and my way, I just had to go there, I had to meet faces, see factories and connect.
So barely two weeks into Melbourne living, I found myself jumping on a plane, headlong into the unknown, en route to Hong Kong and China for a four day, first visit whirlwind. I packed a suitcase full of naivety - and determination - to throw myself into this unknown world of offshore manufacturing, and find a way.
I mean… “How hard could it actually be, to find someone to match my vision and make a beautiful planner?” was in my mind at the time. (I laugh at this, now).
Since that first trip, I’ve seen my words; my work; my art, absolutely ruined into terrible samples of publishing craftmanship. I’ve opened sample package after sample package in hope, and collapsed into a heap of tears and frustration. I’ve given up (momentarily) and I’ve picked up where I left off. I’ve faltered and surrendered and trusted, trusted, trusted. I’ve felt baffled, I’ve felt uncomfortable. I’ve felt tested. I’ve learnt a lot about myself, and my unrealistic expectations of perfection. I’ve been lucky to have the support of a very understanding, far more experienced (and patient, and calm) boyfriend. I’ve felt breakthroughs and connection, I’ve forged relationships and ultimately, I’ve fallen back in love with my purpose and “why” for this project itself.
And as soon as I came back to the feeling; my purpose, I found myself circling back to the first supplier who I ever reached out to, who was there all along, knowing my needs, just waiting for me to find trust and get straight on with it.
As the plane descended into Hong Kong, it was the beginnings of dusk. And may I start by saying… flying into Hong Kong has got to be one of the most beautiful cities to fly into, full stop. Tall, skinny buildings soar above the low lying clouds, smattered as far as the eyes can see. Victoria Harbour shimmers like gold leaf, with a backdrop of dark green mountains spilling beyond the horizon. It’s such a peaceful and exquisite city to take in from the air. And then, we stepped out of the airport to a sticky summer’s night. For anyone who has been to Hong Kong, you’ll know the immediate intensity of this city - it’s chaotic and energising - a buzzing metropolis.
For the first night, we were kindly welcomed by The Langham. Situated in the heart of Kowloon, the 16 story property couldn’t be more conveniently located for visitors to Hong Kong. Despite being so in the thick of things, as soon as you step inside this hotel, the chaos promptly falls away. The Langham brand’s signature dewy scent of Ginger Lily is refreshing and instantly relaxing, and helps you to feel right at home, whether in Melbourne, Hong Kong or elsewhere. The lobby was a hushed haven of marble, crystal chandeliers, fresh flowers and dustings of pale pink. Upon checking, I was offered a long stem pink rose and then we were personally escorted up to our room. With our first manufacturing appointment early the next morning, we decided to make the most of our few hours to explore by night. Charles took my hand and led me to the iconic Star Ferry, and we crossed from Tsim Sha Tsui (Kowloon) to Hong Kong Island (for just HKD $2.30 - that's about $0.40 AUD). Tired and travelled, we found our way back to our home for the night and collapsed into our cloud sheets. We rose early the next morning for a quick breakfast, before heading out into the big unknown. While I only experienced Hong Kong for less than 12 hours, it had such an impression on me, and I can’t wait to return and explore deeper next time.
Now, in the early hours of Monday morning, with love from me and my rosé glass to you, all love and gratitude. I'll be back to share more stories soon.
Until then, keep an eye out on Instagram for this week's launch announcements. xo