1) Hi Hanna & Ash, and congratulations on being featured as our globelle gals in focus! Can you tell us where in the world we'd currently find you?
Ash: Thanks gorgeous gals! Right now I’m in my hometown Bondi Beach, Australia. I’m taking a bit of timeout from travelling to finally Pause. It’s been a bit hectic the last 6 years travelling 5-6 months each year to build the biz, so I’m finally getting the opportunity to enjoy some time at home and reset. I’m loving it!
Axel: On the contrary, I've been living like a gypsy for the past 8 months and also loving it! For the last month, I've been up in Byron Bay in particular. From staying at a spa resort, to sharing beds with a friend, I've been living in a van for the last week and have now moved to stay with a good friend on their property in the hinterland to just relax, work and enjoy the serenity by the infinity pool for a few days (HQ: Not jealous…At all…) .
2) What inspired you to first start travelling?
Axel: I've travelled since I was 5 years old, and before I even finished high school I went to Spain and worked in a restaurant for a summer. As soon as I had finished high school at 19, I was off for years traveling and working all over the world.
From being an au-pair in USA, to working as an English teacher in Thailand, to living in a tiny fairytale village in Norway, I finally made my way to Australia where I fell in love with the beautiful country and laid back surf culture - i’ve called it home ever since!
I think what I love most about traveling is all the new impressions that comes with it. I have never been one for routine and the freedom of waking up to a brand new day of new places, new sights, new personalities and new impressions somehow attracts me.
Ash: It's crazy- travelling has always been in my veins. Ever since I was a little girl, adventure & being a little daredevil were high on the agenda.
I remember, I had this great big poster of the Canadian Rocky Mountains in my room and I loved American TV. These places were so far from reach for me, so dreamy, yet all I wanted to do was travel over there, live an American lifestyle, have my own locker and not wear a school uniform. When I was 15, I almost went to the USA for a basketball program, but unfortunately my parents couldn't afford it.
Therefore, my first big overseas trip was when I was 21 - I saved up all my money and went to Europe backpacking for 5 months. I had an obsession with Paris alongside art/writing, so that is what made me go there first. I guess it was the adventure, seeing the cultures, the museums and throwing myself into one big unknown territory that inspired me. I get excited, and I love the challenge of getting outside my comfort zone.
3) What's been your favourite place to visit, and why?
Ash: Ahhhhhh my goodness, this is way too hard! There are so many, my 4 that take first place (HQ: we like your loophole here) are Paris, New York, Cuba and Iceland.
But if you forced me to choose it would be Cuba, that place is absolutely incredible. It's like going back in time to the 1950s & 1960s - the country is so rich in culture - not to mention the wonderful people (& food).
The very limited technology means you have to stand in certain spots and get a scratchy card just to get 20 mins of wifi, there are ATMs in very few places (you literally would have to walk for blocks to find one) and that there’s no such thing as pay pass as they only take cash, even most hotels!
But aside from the technology detox, my most favourite part was all the vintages cars everywhere - completely the norm there! On top of the beautiful beaches, history, people smoking cigars, smiles everywhere... I could visit there over and over and never get sick of it.
Axel: There are literally soo many! I loved the tropical feel of Beachcomber island in Fiji, the amazing boho beaches of Tulum, and the retro latino vibes of Havana in Cuba.
However, I'm a sucker for weird places and the most random places I've ever been to was when traveling on the Trans-Siberian railway and stopping off for a week in Mongolia.
From staying in yurts in -40 degrees and exploring the untouched lands on horse & camel backs with the nomadic herders, to seeing a phone on a table in the middle of the main square and people lining up, realising that's their idea of a 'phonebooth' - I just love how it's like traveling to another dimension of space & time.
Also, last year visiting Black Rock City, Nevada for Burning man - a town of 70.000 people that exists for only one week each year in the middle of the desert is up there for me. After the week, the town disassembles – leaving the clean white desert exactly as bare as it had been when the event started - an out-of this world experience.
4) What's the worst thing that's happened to you since being on the road? How did you deal with it?
Axel: We have so many crazy stories - One that first springs to mind was when me & Ash just arrived to our luxe Airbnb in Harlem, NYC late one night - we'd been road tripping across the US for the past 2 months and our car was packed full of stuff and valuables, and driving around Harlem we realised how it’s depiction in the movies isn’t too far wrong...
We had to go into this small back alley to unpack and we were super scared to unpack our car. We had an elevator straight into the apartment and as I was reaching for something in the elevator it closed behind me and wouldn't open again without the keycard, which was inside on the counter.
It was midnight, we were in the middle of Harlem and locked out with half our carload still downstairs. Ash was not happy! Very luckily, the owners of the apartment who were on holiday answered the phone and not long after we found out that their cleaner has a key and she luckily was awake, but she lived in Queens which was another 30 minutes drive away! It was past midnight and I had to drive there myself.
Finally having the keys, I was so excited when I stopped at a red light. Suddenly, there is this wild gang fight on the corner just beside me! It was just like in a movie and I got soo scared again, so I just drove off past the red light. I hear sirens behind me, thinking it was for the fight. Soon I realize it's not - they're after me!
I get busted by the police on for breaking not only 1 (driving against red), but 3 laws (also had forgotten to turn the lights on after picking up the keys AND didn't have my drivers licence as I'd locked it in the apartment! They were so suspicious and angry to start but I told them the situation and soon they were my best friends telling me to call them if I had any trouble :) Exhausted, laughing and excited I finally got back to a tired and not so happy Ash who'd been waiting in a staircase in Harlem with all our stuff for hours after midnight.
Ash: I can't say that there has been a 'worst' things that has happened to be honest, (touch wood) as I've always had such awesome roadtrips. I think probably maybe a difficult thing is perhaps when we were on the road, when Hanna and I would have a fight. Usually when you're at home, you can go to your respective houses and cool off. But on the road, you're stuck with this person and there is nowhere to go except for the back of the RV, so you're forced to work it out.
5) Obviously life on the road is about fewer possessions and more moments, but what is the one thing you can't travel without?
Ash: My phone and laptop. They are glued to me. My laptop for work and my phone as it's usually my camera, and obvs emergency reasons ;)
Axel: My Phone and Computer as I'm constantly working the road. And I do love my eye-lash curler, it's the one makeup item I need.
6) You started your company AxelandAsh in 2012 and have been going strong ever since. What was the inspiration for starting your venture?
Ash & Axel: We wanted to create a brand that inspired others to live out their dreams. To believe in themselves, to let them know that they can follow their passions and that they could travel the world and tick off their bucketlist.
To let others know that you can do it now, and should make the time - you don't have to wait until your old or retired. That your own unique story is the most important of all - so capture it, write down your adventures, the people in your life and your experiences, because it will be a wonderful story to read when your old and grey.
7) What has been your proudest achievement so far through your work? And the best piece of advice you'd received throughout your career?
Axel: The proudest achievement was getting stocked on the shelves of Urban Outfitters. The whole idea to create our first travel journal Wanderlust started when I was 19 and traveling around the US. I was looking for this specific journal I had in my mind but couldn't find anything like it. I remember finding all the cool books at Urban Outfitters but nothing was quite like what I had in mind and thinking 'If I designed these travel journals - they will probably sell it here'
Nine years later, together with Ash, my dream came through!
Ash: I think having our books available in the US & UK market. Seeing them sold at major retailers like Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters - it was literally a dream come true. I remember trying on a hat in Anthropologie and saying - I want to get our books in here! I think it's the next step you do with that dream is most important. To take action, I hounded and chased and never gave up, then next thing we're in there!
From starting with one travel journal, 'Swept away by Wanderlust' sold only in one store, to having four that are sold all over the world, is so rewarding and I am so proud - but we still have so far to go. My advice would be always try, you have nothing to lose. People will say no, but just don't give up. I remember I got around 10 rejections of US distributors, before one finally said yes!
8) As well as AxelandAsh, you both pursue your passions in other fields - Ash, you're currently working on your first novel & Hanna (Axel), you're often seen behind the camera directing & editing. How do you find the balance between investing time in your joint venture, and your own personal projects?
Ash: Ahhhh it's really hard to be honest, as a business owner you're always thinking about your business. New ideas pop up, you meet with people and because it's your baby you just want to make it bigger and better, implement things here and there - create this and that.
So thinking about what you want to do personally generally comes second. What I have been trying to do is on weekends completely switch off from work and do things I like, i.e work on my projects / my book etc. I've also recently moved from working from home/cafes to working in a co-working space.
This has really helped for me to compartmentalise work and home life. So that when I am at home I can start working on my own projects. This has been a new practice this year and I have already seen such a difference in productivity and me getting more 'me' time.
Axel: In the last 8 months I've spent all my free time floating around enjoying life and nature with beautiful souls around the world. I've been in this flow state where I don't plan a thing, but just follow my gut to where to go next, literally living for the moment every day.
There's been so many fun experiences and opportunities opening up one after another that I haven't had any time to commit to film & photography. Instead I've explored and experienced amazing moments in un-expected places and connected with incredible people who introduced me to new ways of life, activities and brand new passions.
From indoor climbing and fancy Silicon Valley events in California, to ecstatic dance festivals around the world, to camping in the deserts of Nevada, surf trips sleeping straight on remote beaches of Australia, van life living with busking musicians, countless mini roadtrips chasing epic views and waterfalls and meeting my friends new little family members in Sweden, I've connected with nature, incredible souls and my own body in a way I haven't really given time for before.
I wish I would have captured it all on film, but there hasn't been time. Instead the stories will forever stay in my mind and being a hopeless creative my head is now full of new passions and ideas I wish to give life to soon.
9) What are your plans for the future, and what do you hope to achieve through all of your hard work?
Ash: I would love to expand the Axel & Ash brand even further globally. It’d be great to take it to the next level so we can inspire as many people around the world to live their best life and capturing the wonderful journey.
By creating more journals to 'insert your story' into, we aim to continue to grow a platform for people to look for belief, courage and inspiration to follow their passions and dreams, then as a result of following these passions & dreams, find themselves in a position to wholeheartily enjoy life and the wonderful joys it has to offer.
Axel: Traveling so much and seeing the world has brought back my thirst for creating art, whilst I am still hungry for more adventuring. To combine these two I am currently looking to buy a van and convert it in to my little home on wheels so I can wake up to sun-kissed beaches in dream locations every day and do what I love the most: surf, explore, meet people and capture their stories from all over the world.
10) What does travelling mean to you?
Ash: Opening your heart to the unknown. The world has so much to teach us, travelling is like you getting hands on experience. You get to see all the beauty, the cultures, the food, the different ways of living, landscapes, history, mother nature - it's just spectacular and such a fun way to learn.
Axel: Freedom, stories, adventures and constant new lust for life!
11) If you could offer one piece of advice to those travelling for the first time, either as part of a group or solo, what would it be?
Axel: The best way to get to know a place is to see it through the eyes of a local, and take the road less travelled. Don't plan too much, go with the flow, be open to speak to locals. Ask for help and dare to say yes to the random adventures and opportunities that present themselves, even if it's out of your comfort zone - that's where the magic happens!
Ash: Be open, you’re going to be completely outside of your comfort zone. Embrace it, and enjoy every moment. Things will happen, but try not too stress, because it will be all ok. You will meet some incredible people along the way and learn and grow so much, and you won't even realise it’s all happening.
12) And finally, how can our girls get in touch with you, and their hands on your beautiful journals?
Axel: On Instagram especially, you can follow our journey through life in our stories! We offer inside info, tips and tricks on all things travel and how to run your own business.