Travel is in my DNA; my initial idea for The Token Hunter came to light when I was living in the Australian Outback and had A LOT of free time on my hands! *Side note: I studied Textile Design at NTU graduating with a First Class Honours Degree in 2009 - Exactly a decade ago!! I spent the following 5 years working in Arts Education before buying a one way ticket to Bangkok with no plans in place, just my passport and the bag on my back.
I arrived in the remote mining town of Chinchilla (to work as an Au Pair) in January 2015. I did not know a single person, weeks of solidarity loomed and I just wanted to book the first flight out of that rural outback township, but there was no airport! Behind closed doors I cried for three days straight! Travel of this kind is not for the faint hearted; the ability to carry your entire identity in a single backpack and start out in some place new is extremely liberating and offers many rewards, yet also brings with it significant challenges.
My weekends were spent horse riding, kayaking and road tripping through the arrow straight highways that stretch into the horizon of Eastern Australia. There was no alternative option, I had to pull myself together! Appreciating the importance of embracing this once in a lifetime experience, my dream to create a side hustle was born!
Later that year my travels continued to Australia’s Northern Territory, Malaysia, Europe and Indonesia (turns out you can save heaps when there are no shops to spend your hard earned cash) before I settled in New Zealand for a further 12 months and started to really put my plans in place. I longed to create a personalised and affordable product that would capture memories of worldwide destinations, near and far. In August 2016 I returned to the UK, in the hope of turning my hobby into a potential business.
This time 2 years ago I had just started out; I was living with a friend, renting her spare bedroom and working full time in recruitment, sat in an office staring at a computer screen for 8 hours a day. Hating the rat race and missing the untamed beauty of life Down Under I experienced a now or never moment ‘I might fail but I’ll always wonder if I don’t try’ so, I quit my job to build the dream. I wanted to do something that my future self would thank me for and since learning to embrace the idea of fear and failure I have never looked back. It’s still early days and I continue to juggle part time work with a million ideas I have yet to create, but I’ve never been happier and I can’t wait to see where the next 12 months will take me and this little business of mine!
Now as I reflect, 4 years have passed since I first arrived in Chinchilla and my love for isolated landscapes and handmade treasure remains and continues to inspire my products, which represent strong and undeniable ties to people and places. I simply cannot imagine a life where I’m not obsessed with adventure and the goods I create!
Ultimately we can all relate to the sentimental stories that souvenirs represent and I’m a firm believer that you don’t need to be a traveller to appreciate the beauty of a good old fashioned map!