With the launch of our brand, Dérive Collective, I couldn’t help but think about our journey; the windy path that has brought us right here; the memories and the stories I’ve never told you. There has been highs + lows, unexpected twists and surprising outcomes. Yet, looking back, taking that leap of faith and deciding to work together, devoting ourselves to pursuing this intentional, off-the-beaten-path life has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Here’s how it all began:
Flashback to 2015. There I was: navigating my way through being a freelance marketing consultant, photographer and new blogger. We were living together in Utah. I was loving my clients + work, yet it was hard not to feel constrained by Aaron’s structured, corporate career. Each morning, as he left for work, I would open my laptop, make the most of my day, hustle hustle hustle and then when he entered the door each evening, I would close that same laptop.
Monday through Friday.
Suddenly, my non-corporate work felt ever-so corporate.
Where was my freedom?
And where was my flexibility that I had so badly desired?
For a long time, I had worked with it. Grooved with our different schedules. Tried to make it work.
But it’s hard to be totally out of sync with the person you love. We were on really different pages.
And since I happen to kind of adore this man (who am I kidding?! I am deeply in love to the core) and our relationship wasn’t going anywhere, I knew deep down something needed to change.
The end of September was when Aaron + I began talking about change; about the possibilities.
Aaron had worked in his career for ten years, building something he was proud of. He was phenomenal at his job, although I could see it eating away at him. He was anxious and his blood pressure was high (high even for someone in their sixties). We sat down after a scary, stressful couple of weeks. His blood pressure was out of control, he was working 80 hours a week and my ‘freeing’, work-from-home life was following suit with his intense schedule. I was afraid to approach the subject of change; worried of his reaction, worried of the outcome. But a voice inside me was whispering. . .
Whispering words of change, of ‘what if‘, of excitement.
Those small whispers in my heart became our saving grace, our path to more joy, our life-changing switch.
I posed the question: ‘What if you left your job?’ … then, ‘What if you came to work with me?’
At first, it was comedy. I mean, I had spent a long time thinking about this and we had tossed around the idea before BUT he had worked in his career for a decade, he was so invested. We thought: How would we actually do that? Would it end us? Would we kill one another? Those thoughts started shifting to daydreams of living somewhere we had so badly wanted to for years. To more time together + more freedom to live how we wanted.
It seemed out of reach, but so worth reaching for.
After a lot of deliberation, we made a plan: he took the leap.
We never anticipated how crazy it would be to jump in head first working together. When we set out on this journey, we had little idea what the path would look like. He said that if he were to leave his job, we would have to make a major shift. Go big or go home, right?
So on top of working together full time, we were also planning a (fast) move – BAM! Chaos.
In the beginning, it was doing the tango, figuring out who did what, how we flowed, how to not kill each other (only slightly kidding). Then it became more natural. We moved to our island in the middle of the sea – tried our best to find our flow again, adapt and adjust. It was an entirely new lifestyle. As we became more comfortable and confident with these immense changes, we began to discuss the business. Our company. Our brand, together.
We knew what we stood for, what we loved doing but:
What was the identity of our brand?
How could we represent that visually?
How do we tell our story?
What we did know was this:
1. We are not just social media experts but we are storytellers and visual artists
2. We are inspired by incredible, heart-centered entrepreneurs who are willing to dive in, learn and carry out our strategy
3. We are passionate about working with amazing people, shooting photography and collaborating with brands in unique ways
We both felt extremely compelled to surround our business around the fact that we’re not most inspired by the time we spend behind our screens but instead, by the time we spend away from our devices. The moments that most inspire us, in life and in our work, are not the moments of scrolling through content online; but the moments spent exploring, photographing, connecting and traveling together. The times we spend in the moment; living.
We realized we want to build a business that encourages intention, authenticity, adventure and collaboration. We want to work with businesses who are drawn to these same things, that expect greatness from themselves and who are who are doing incredible work. We want to work with entrepreneurs with whom we connect on a deeper level.
After mapping out the WHY behind our business and making clear the business we wanted to build, we then set out to create a name that described the meaningful work we carry out each day.
Something that described us and our journey.
Something that was abstract, although not confusing.
We brainstormed. We went back and forth, not quite seeing eye to eye. Days went by, weeks went by. We wrote down these words on a white sheet of paper: connection, quality, passion, soul, creativity, journey, intention, experience and authenticity.
After scouring and searching for abstract words like meraki, we finally stumbled upon the word dérive – meaning: (n.) “drift” ; a spontaneous journey where the traveller leaves their life behind for a time to let the spirit of the landscape and architecture attract and move them – which resonated so deeply with us.
Then, we thought collective – meaning: (adj.) forming a whole; combined; “together“ – supported it well.
We were both nodding. After a bit of time and saying it out loud a lot, we agreed: this was it.
Our brand had come alive!
Dérive Collective – Our journey vividly put into two words. It’s a nod to our entrepreneurial (and life) journey together and these formative years of our business: where we left behind our comfort to discover + explore a new landscape; being moved by the journey so much; working together, bringing our different skills to the table to serve the same goals.
We felt good sitting with this; coming to a consensus. We had taken the leap, formed this company together and somehow, having a name for it all validated it in so many ways.
We knew we needed a visual presence and a place for our company online but also knew it would take a lot of work to bring our vision to life + build the site out. Yikes! It’s said that you have to work ON your business to work FOR your business. Yet, as we all know, this is much easier said than done! We said ‘the moment the client work slows down a bit, we’ll focus on our own site.’ HA! You know as an entrepreneur, that time never comes. So, we took baby steps: we finalized the name, we bought the domain, we mapped out the design on paper, etc.
Finally, last fall–right after arriving back to the Big Island from our summer spent in Maine, and in the midst of managing client projects, trying to find a new home, celebrating the holidays and some major blog collaborations–we decided to DIVE IN and finally design the Dérive Collective site ourselves (because, you know, we’re super sane like that). It was a long process with learning curves and delays, many ‘we’re almost there’s and long nights of frustration.
But after months of giving our energy to this eye-opening labor of love, we finally launched just over a week ago + MAN are we blown away by the response! So many kind messages pouring in, friends + family congratulating and peers in the community sharing. It’s been completely humbling, thrilling and rejuvenating to launch Dérive Collective.
It feels amazing to fully embrace our brand and to have a space on the internet that we’re proud of.
We’ve really come full circle from that dark, scary point in 2015. Within a month of our move to Hawaii, Aaron’s blood pressure was back down to normal, his anxiety has subsided, he surfs nearly every day and his overall wellness (emotional, physical, mental) has made 180º change. It’s been incredible to witness.
As for me, I have run with the freedom + flexibility that having both of us home has given us. We create, explore and enjoy on a more frequent basis. I feel as if I can fully own my career and take advantage of the unique qualities of my work landscape. You will often hear me ask ‘Is today Saturday? ‘ on a Tuesday, losing track of what day it is because a Tuesday can mean play + a Saturday morning can mean work. It’s fluid and wonderful. In this stage in our life, I couldn’t imagine anything different and am so thankful that we made the sacrifices we did, worked our asses off and have made a conscious choice to live how we want NOW, not later.
So if you’re reading this and you have a lump in your throat, or a dream on the forefront of your mind, here is my advice:
GO FOR IT.
Do that thing you’ve always wanted to do, take the leap, push yourself.
It will take a lot of hard work, don’t get me wrong, and it will be worth every second.
I don’t know exactly what that ‘thing’ is for you in your life, but there’s something you’ve always wanted to do but never thought it would actually happen, or you didn’t think you were worthy or you just didn’t have the time.
I’m here to tell you that it can actually happen, you are worthy of living your BEST life and that you can make the time.