MORE ABOUT STEPH
I get it. That feeling in your gut that you just have to chase. The project you need to start, that sunny country you want to live in, that hobby you must to turn into a small business. But you still need to pay the bills, right?
I was a Strategic Researcher at a creative agency in London, working with some of the most respected luxury fashion brands. I worked Monday - Friday, 9am - late in an office with no windows. Evening and weekend were spent either spending money on clothes or alcohol to get rid of the feeling of work.
I had this wonderful job that I’d been working towards for 8 years in the industry, but I had this idea that I couldn’t let go of - I wanted to head to Argentinian Patagonia for a few months to find out more about the Welsh Colony. During the summer of 2013, I decided to finally quit my job. I made my day dream a reality and set off on a journey of discovery to Patagonia to meet (and interview) Welsh descendants and develop Project Hiraeth.
I found myself confused why I hadn’t done it sooner. I was scared, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing - I didn’t even know anyone in Patagonia, but I had to make it work. I became self-employed so I could balance paid work with unpaid Project Hiraeth, I moved out of my house, stayed with friends and lived out of a tiny suitcase for 7 months to save money. It wasn’t easy.
Lows include my first attempt at getting Project Hiraeth on Kickstarter not being approved, not receiving Arts Council funding, teaching myself how to work alone, broken promises from brands and businesses, stress and relying on favour after favour from my wonderful friends and family.
But I worked on my Kickstarter application, re-applied and reached my goal. Re-applied for Arts Council funding and received it. I was approached by TED to speak at their TED event in 2014 (which I was unfortunately in Patagonia for) and wrote an article for the TED x London Business School newspaper in 2014. Project Hiraeth received numerous amounts of press and support including interviews from BBC Radio Wales, support from The Welsh Affairs Committee, National Library of Wales and The British Council.
The project research has been used to write Key Stage 2 reports for the Welsh assembly and the website is used as a Key Stage 2 resource across Wales. I was invited by the Ambassador of Argentina and the Welsh Select Committee to be part of a service at the Palace of Westminster to celebrate 150 years of Welsh Patagonia. Following this, I was approached to write and publish a book of stories from the Welsh Colony in Patagonia which was published during December 2015. The cherry on the top was launching the book from the House of Commons along with the Welsh Affairs Committee.
The project came to a close, I discovered it was possible to do anything that you put your mind to and it focused me to become clear on what I wanted my life to look like:
I enjoyed freedom, so I stayed self-employed
I dreamt of my own home, so I purchased a flat
I wished to live in the sunshine, so I work remotely from Thailand
I wanted to become healthier, so I created a habit to exercise daily for 30 minutes
I wanted to become coach, so I made it the work I do today
I’m incredibly proud of this story and at the very minimum, I hope this fuels anyone who has a concept, project or business idea that they’d like to explore.