How to be a free spirit
So I was asking myself about how to be a free spirit whilst thinking my friday female this week and I realised tat i have been missing in action on this blog. It’s certainly been a while since I last wrote a post, I feel like I got swept up with the festive activities and the next thing I know it’s Easter! Shocking really how time seems to be moving at a super accelerated rate, or is that just me and poor time management?
Anyway I am here now and so excited to share this amazing lady with you, I tell you. You know how sometimes you meet people and their energy has an immediate effect on you in the best way possible? This is what happened to me when I met Christina.
Christina Gill is the founder of Free Spirit, a company that produces ethically sourced and 100% sustainable fashion apparel. They use materials like organic cotton and bamboo to make the softest most amazing tanks and t-shirts i’ve ever felt. I am always on the lookout for brands that represent truth, authenticity and most of all love.
When I met Christina, I had no idea what to expect and I was very pleasantly surprised. This gorgeous woman is one of those genuinely happy people who just seem so grounded in who they are. I also had the pleasure of meeting her mother and father which made it very clear where Christina gets it from. A totally beautiful family, with a lot of love and support between them.
Christina and I sat down to talk about how she got started, how she stays inspired and all things life. In wanting to keep this interview format as real and authentic as my videos are, I decided a Q&A style would probably suit in this instance. So here we go.
So tell us how you got started?
I started off working as a fashion designer, I got a sponsored visa, moved to Australia and I was working for a retailer there. After 2 years I was just tired of designing for other people, i’d saved a bit of money I kind of got into yoga and decided to my 200 hour teacher training even though i wasn’t sure if I necessarily wanted to teach or not. At the same time, I was also thinking about starting a beachy surf T-shirt brand. As I was training, I was meeting a lot of people doing yoga and a few recommended I do some yoga T-shirts. So i started doing those and they did really well.
After a while I just decided I was ready to expand and get some decent production done, I wanted to go straight to the source and get everything made myself. I used the last $800 dollars in my account, flew to India to meet this contact and take a look at these factories. Then working with organic cotton and bamboo seemed like the best step to take. I was so lucky because all my production happens in the same town, so I can actually see the entire production process from start to finish in one place.
It’s been amazing how it’s all just grown so organically and mostly just from me enjoying the entire process and doing what I love.
We have recently started to expand into making sweatshirts and leggings, it’s very exciting times. My manufacturer in India is working on production as we speak.
How big is your team?
I don’t actually have a huge team at all, everyone is just kind of part time or project based depending on what my needs are at the time. The amazing thing is that the people I work with actaully love the stuff and believe in it, which makes it all so effortless. I also work with a charity called fighting chance that employs people with disabilities who may sometimes feel discriminated against when trying to find work. It’s an amazing scheme that I fully support and they do all my shipping.
You also work with another charity I believe?
I work with the Hope Foundation in India, I heard about the organisation through a friend of mine. I was looking to donate to a good cause that I really believed in and when I went to India on that $800 trip that I mentioned earlier, I went to see them too.
They are an organisation based in Kolkata, working with some of the street children who are not getting access to education and basic things. They put these kids in school, give them some food, a home and when they finish school they teach them some skills that can help them going forwards.
It’s a good thing to give back, good job!
It feels great and definitely something i’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’m sure some people will think it doesn’t make good business sense to giving proceeds from where we are with profit. To me it is not about any of that. If there is a cause that I truly believe in , then I will follow my heart. (this may sound a bit cheesy) Every decision that I make comes from the heart, if it doesn’t feel right then I just won’t do it and i’ll do something else.
Do you then sometimes have this voice inside that tells you to be ‘practical’?
I get that sometimes, but generally I’ve learned to fully trust my heart. I didn’t use to be like that before but I think yoga has helped me a lot over the years. It is this self awareness that makes you realise all your fears and self doubt that we all have and being able to grow from it. I’ve learned to just be more in tune with myself and just breathe through it all.
Let’s switch gears for a second now, can you tell us your biggest failure and what you learned from it?
This is a difficult one for me to answer because I’m usually quite positive so I don’t know if I would dwell on something negative. What I can tell you about though is my biggest challenges. I would definitely say that I tend to take big risks and they don’t always pay off.
Managing the finances is another big one because I am not a math person and find it quite difficult. I am not in a position where I want to take on any investors simply because I don’t think I would want to have to answer to someone else. I also like being able to take off for a month to go south America and couldn’t do thats easily if that was the case.
It sounds like you a believer of taking action and stepping out on faith?
I have to tell you, almost everyday I ask myself wtf am I doing? You know that emoji of the monkey with its hands over its face? That’s pretty much me all the time! I tend to feel the fear and do it anyway. I know that no matter what, either way I am going to ok and that gives me courage.
Saying that, I do wish that I had a co-founder to work side by side with me. It would be nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of, who’s got other strengths that I don’t have. It can get quite lonely sometimes and although I have a lot of support from friends and family, having someone there in a business capacity would be amazing.
You are happily busy, but how do you relax?
I love yoga of course and I do a beach bootcamp every morning. I know that doesn’t sound relaxing, but I get my sweat on and jump in sea straight after and the endorphins just flow. I try and make time for a coffee and a walk in the day, maybe catch up with some friends. I don’t have a ‘normal’ life so i’ll usually work really hard for maybe 2 months straight, but then i’ll get to travel and go to India. Being in India with the children is actually the most relaxed i’ve been in a long time. I also try to get as much sleep as possible which is something I used to be really bad at but i’m getting better.
Who would you say has been your biggest inspiration so far?
My dad has definitely inspired me a great deal. He has his own business and he’s done so well with it, i’m just so proud of him. My dad comes from a very poor family, he had to support everyone and he’s worked so hard to get to where he is now. He’s helped me so much throughout this journey and has been a great source of support for me.
What advice would you give to somebody looking to start their own fashion line?
i would say first and foremost, do your research, make sure the market that you want be in is not too saturated. I think it also depends on wether its something you’re doing through passion or for money.
Do you not think it be for both passion and money? Not one or the other?
Yes it can be, regardless of the logic actually if its something that you’re very passionate about I say do it. It may or may not work out in the way you envision it to, but you’ll still learn from the experience. You have to go through these processes to get to where you want to go and find your path.
Take risks, I would say the worst thing you could possibly do is NOTHING. To do nothing then means nothing is happening. It is really good to have a plan but allow yourself to be flexible and be ok if the plan sometimes changes. Be very open to change because the best laid plans will often change.
How do you think you got be where you are today and where would like to end up?
The self awareness and learning through yoga has taught me a lot. It is a constant journey, looking back when I look at myself I just see myself in a box. There is this picture that society has of how things should go and I think it’s really hard not to ‘conform’. Ultimately I’m now just trying to live my truth, trust the process and come from the heart.
As in where I want to take Free Spirit, I would love to expand to Europe and have it be in more countries. I would love to have my print identity like the Missoni brand for example. In terms of the fashion it would be nice to expand to boho chic dresses too.
I want to do a lot more with the Hope Foundation as it is a project that is very close to my heart. It’s not all about the bottom line, I wanted to create something that I could be proud of, enjoyed but also have the kind of life I wanted. I’m living the life that I want to live right now and that’s the greatest feeling.
There you have it ladies and gentlemen, I hope you enjoyed reading about Christina’s journey and her brand. I can’t tell you how inspiring this lady is and I know I keep banging on about her energy but she is honestly amazing.
I love her philosophy on life, she definitely taught me how to be a free spirit and I think we could all take something from this interview.
I would love to know what your thoughts are on this week’s friday female. Please leave me a comment below and share your thoughts. If you have someone who would love this article then please share it with them too.
Until next time beautiful people, please continue to live on your own terms and love the life you’re living!