You've probably heard by now that Andrew and I are moving to the Philippines this month (22 days left until we board a flight, yikes!)! I wanted to take a moment to catch everyone up to speed on the details of this pretty-huge life change and how it will affect this blog + my work over the next year.
First off, why the Philippines?
If you followed along with our journey in 2016, you probably watched us launch A Beautiful Refuge, spending a total of 8 weeks (just five for Andrew!) in the Philippines setting up a new social enterprise. 8 weeks is a ridiculously short time to set up shop, but with the help of some amazing friends (looking at you, Lizzie and Nicola!) we are now at the point where everything is in place and all the ABR workers are trained in all the skills required to make products and run the shop.
To be honest, this is where we thought our involvement would end. A year ago (heck, even three months ago) I would have told you that we wouldn't be moving overseas, that we'd be passing the reigns over to someone else. But life rarely goes according to plan, does it? It turns out that ABR needs a lot more hands-on support in order to run successfully during its first year of operation. Andrew and I have been putting in tons of hours from here in the states, but we can only do so much from across the world. There are local connections that need to be built, sales that need to happen, structure that needs to be enforced. We haven't managed to find a local manager (we don't have a huge salary to offer yet) or any consistent local volunteers (which was our hope). So, Andrew and I are going to offer the needed support as sort-of-full-time volunteers for the next six months or the next year or however long it takes!
Neither Andrew or I take a salary or stipend of any kind from the work we do for A Beautiful Refuge, nor are we comfortable "raising support" to live off of (I'll reserve my rant on that subject for another day), so we'll still need to make a living while living in the Philippines. Thankfully, our consulting+digital marketing business is pretty location independent! I've been working full-time with Grow the Good Collaborative since 2014, and Andrew's been working part-time with me for the past year (he'll move to full-time as well once we move).
We work mostly with anti-human trafficking organizations (providing help with survivor employment initiatives, protests and campaigns, copy writing and strategy) and cause-based businesses (mostly content creation, but also assisting with product development, digital marketing and social media, and doing a bit of project management).
I'm so thankful for the freedom that my business gives us. It makes all the months of struggle worth it (for those that haven't heard this part of my story, I quit my final full-time non profit job very suddenly after discovering some internal corruption and just dove cold-turkey into running my own business with NO client list, NO business plan, NO previous planning at all. I made it work, but do not exactly recommend).
As far as our daily life, not much will really change. We'll work, volunteer, repeat. We'll probably travel a bit (though I've spent a collective 8 months of my life so far in the Philippines, I've never once taken the time to explore all of the beautiful places around the country that I've admired. That changes this year!). I'm looking forward to connecting with some awesome social enterprise incubators and co-working spaces in Manila, as well as working with Fashion Revolution Philippines as the Events and Fundraising Coordinator. Andrew is excited to (hopefully) have a bit more time to work on the book he's writing and some other side projects he's got up his sleeve.
We'll be living in the tiniest space we've lived in yet, which both of us are completely thrilled about. It's a bit ironic.... we're moving to a city where the cost of living is low enough that we could move into a pretty big place on the same budget that we've maintained here in the states, but neither of us have the desire to have any more space than we actually need. We've been saying for years that our apartment in MN is way too big/more than we need, and Andrew's been drawing up carpentry plans for tiny houses for ages... this will be our chance to see how we do living VERY minimally in a home that's the size of a closet in a Texas McMansion. ; ) Andrew and I are hoping to vlog a bit about this experience!
My blog will probably change a bit over the next year- expect a bit less fashion-related content and a bit more content related to ethical travel, minimalist living, and social justice issues. I'm hoping to put out several resource packs/ebooks/videos over the next year focused on various aspects of conscious consumerism, as well (shoot me an email if you have suggestions on what I should tackle first).
Several of you have sweetly asked on social media or through emails if there is a way to support Andrew and I financially as we make this life change. We're so thankful for the generosity, but we really have everything that we need. If you'd like to support the work of A Beautiful Refuge, you can donate to our startup fund here (we're currently saving up to buy a printer that we need, as well as some much needed packaging and marketing materials).
Thank you all for your well-wishes and excitement!