My favourite words are: splash, frolic and mischief.
But I didn’t know that before I went on my first stint around the world alone!
Each time I travel, I return with notebooks jam-packed with scribbles, thoughts and ideas. The constant movement, meeting new people, and seeing fresh sights take my mind out of the usual day to day routines, inspiring me to think beyond the familiar.
A few years ago, I quit my corporate job, and headed out into the world to find out what it was, exactly, that set my flame alight. I had lost sight of it, becoming rather jaded by London life.
My first stop: Japan. I had traveled a huge amount already in my life, but Japan for some reason really blew me away. I found it weird, wonderful, fascinating and, occasionally, frustrating (there were more than a few tears shed).
Initially, without my usual to do lists and a boss breathing down my neck, I wandered around a little lost. But then, something clicked. I relaxed and became more playful. I opened up my notebook, and for the first time looked at the blank page and I wasn’t scared. I realized that no one was looking! I could write/doodle/sketch – nothing was too serious or too silly. This six-month journey belonged solely to me, and it was up to me to make of it what I wanted.
“What thing caused my skin to tingle and sing with delight, overjoyed with the very notion of being alive? That thing was water.”
And so the academic anthropologist in me resolved to study myself like a bug. I noted down anything and everything which caught my fancy.
Those six months took me to Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Vietnam, California, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and New York as the last stop. It was there that I sat in a café and looked through my notebooks. What patterns were emerging? What thing caused my skin to tingle and sing with delight, overjoyed with the very notion of being alive?
That thing was water.
Cheeky skinny-dips in a pool high above the hills in Sonoma County, California, or warm rivers, again in California and Connecticut. Delicious dives in bright blue oceans in Tulum, Mexico and two weeks spent beetling around Belize, in the heavenly waters of Caye Caulker. One of the highlights was the most magical glade in a Guatemalan jungle, where we swam in Samuc Champey, a freshwater pool whose chalk base meant that the water was as clear and bright blue as the ocean. My word, it was heavenly.
But then my trip ended, I returned to the UK, and my grand plans were kaiboshed by the recession. After a six-month veritable battle, I got myself a ‘sensible’ job and I soon lost sight of all of those glorious insights.
Until, one year later, I was back to my usual skinny-dipping tricks. This time, I found myself in the bright blue seas of Sardinia. I looked back at my notebooks and those three words that were highlighted and circled throughout: splash, frolic, mischief. And finally something clicked.
And this is where the story really begins.
Because those skinny dips caused my best friend, Lucie, and me to wonder why life back in London wasn’t that exciting. We hatched a plan to challenge ourselves with other, similar, slightly ridiculous escapades. Anything that pushed us just that bit outside our comfort zone, like a skinny dip never failed to. We were to call those challenges ‘bikini flings’ as we wrote them all up (capturing that moment just before you’re about to do something a little bit outside your comfort zone, a little bit mischievous).
Then I got carried away. Why don’t we design a bikini as one of our challenges? In fact, why don’t we start a bikini company, where the bikinis are designed to make girls feel their confident best on the beach?
It is now two years later, and I’ve launched Bikini Fling, an online bikini company with beautifully cut bikinis made out of heavenly Italian fabric, which girls can mix and match to tailor the perfect bikini for them. And I’m still flinging them, every single day…
So, whether you realize it or not at the time, travel always gets you to where you want to go. It gives you crucial insights that could turn your life 180 degrees. I find keeping a notebook on hand for all those insights – small and big – is absolutely key. Those three little highlighted words that appeared time and again throughout my notebooks: frolic, splash and mischief are what get me up every single day. Whether it’s London or the rest of the world, they remind me: never stop exploring.