Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Working from anywhere in the world

For the last 6 weeks Jodie and I have been travelling for a mix of holiday and work. Our trip began with a week in Bali for a friend's 30th birthday. We then spent 2 weeks in Hong Kong and China catching up with our suppliers, Vanessa and Qun. Next stop was a week's sailing with friends around the southern coast of Sardinia in the mediterranean (which was amazing). And we've just finished the trip with 2 weeks in London.

We just flew back into Sydney this morning and on the way home Jodie and I both concluded that the entire trip was up there with the best 6 weeks of our lives, we had a fantastic time, and got a lot of work done at the same time. Visiting other cities, catching up with friends and making new ones are things Jodie and I enjoy a lot, and we did a lot of that this trip. We also found that, particularly in London, being in another city results in a lot of work related meetings. We'd originally planned to go to London to do our normal work, enjoy the summer and catch up with the vast number of our friends who live there at the moment.

Catching up with so many friends we invariably talk a bit about Shoes of Prey and many of our friends ended up suggesting we meet with people they know working in media or the fashion industry. It was also a good time to get in touch with people we'd been dealing with from Sydney who are based in London. When you mention that you've come half way around the world and are in town for 2 weeks it's quite easy to get meetings. So amongst many others, some of the people we met with included Aron Schlagman and the events team at The Langham Hotel, I had a great conversation with Andrew Showman who runs two online retail sites, UK Digital Cameras and Current Body about online retail and he had some great ideas about improving our conversion rate which we're focused on at the moment. I met with Julia Grinham from Upper Street who also sell custom designed shoes online and have a great website. It was great to meet her and talk through some of the issues, both good and bad that arise selling custom shoes online. We'd been speaking with some potential partners in Russia and France and they both came to visit us in London while we were here, it was great to meet them in person. A friend, Andrew Essa, is launching a ping pong events and equipment business,The World Series of Pong in London and it was fascinating talking through his business plan. On our last day we had lunch with Steven and Kimberly from Notting Hill Design and talked through the ins and outs of the fashion industry, it was great to get their perspective (and Jodie loved the handbag that Kimberly had with her!) On top of all that we met with some retailers and journalists based in the UK. We had more meetings than we'd do in Sydney in a couple of months!

Naturally we need to be careful that everything we're doing fits with our priorities for the quarter, and with all these meetings we arguably spent less time on our immediate goals of doubling our traffic and doubling our conversion rate than we would have working in Sydney, however there is the potential for a lot of longer term value to come from these meetings so they were definitely worthwhile. On top of that, meeting smart people and having interesting conversations with them is something Jodie and I love doing, to the point where I actually enjoy travelling this way more than doing a standard tourist holiday. I actually found the same when I was at Google. Travelling for work you have a reason to meet a lot of new people and from that comes interesting conversations and lots of socialising. Travelling as a tourist doesn't provide those same experiences.

We're in the fortunate position that our business operates mostly online so we're able to work from anywhere with an internet connection, so hopefully we're able to do more trips like this in the future. Now that it's over and we're back in Sydney we're going to knuckle back down to focus on our priorities for the quarter.

Have you had similar experiences working in other countries?


  1. Make your way to Costa Rica next and you'll have a couch to surf. I'm about to start a Kiva Fellowship in the cloud forests of the south.

    And you answer your question, Yes. I learned more in one month of travelling alone than I did in years of school. There has to be some Churchill, Twain, Theroux, or Emerson truism about this somewhere already.

  2. Glad you got the chance to meet the Upper Street guys. I've seen their site, but prefer your shoes as you have a better range of heel heights. I'm 5ft 10" and don't need a 4 inch heel, but don't want flats.

  3. Hi Gabe, the Kiva Fellowships sound awesome, congrats and hope you enjoy it there! How long you in Costa Rica for?

  4. Hi, i've been catching up on your blog, it is both informative and inspirational. i'm curious to know how you spend so much time traveling with your business logistics? do your shoes ship to customers directly from China or do you have people in Australia that takes of the day to day business.