In my late twenties I spent five years working as a police officer in rural South Western Victoria. During my years there, I spent far too much time dealing with suicides and mental health crises amongst the farming population—in particular the young men. For a lot of these farmers, the first time they had ever really opened up was when a bloke they had never met was standing in their living room.
During these conversations I would find myself asking the same question: ‘What do you do to relax or de-stress?’ More often than not I was met with the quintessentially Australian reply of, ‘Well, I milked the cows five times today, I’ll milk five times tomorrow and, come to think of it, I milked five times yesterday… so what do you think, mate?’
The point was always the same: that these men did not feel like they had the right to take any down time. The reality was that most of them couldn’t get away from their farms or their jobs for long enough to do things that many people take for granted—like going for a surf or playing a game of footy with mates. So how could they possibly find any balance in a life so overcome with stress?
Surfing has always brought me comfort. There is something about duck diving the first wave of the day that is centring. It’s almost as though you can feel the stress and filth of the day wash away from your face, and for a while nothing above the surface really matters. That was the feeling I wanted to bring to the people who weren’t able to just head down to the beach for an afternoon surf.
So the more I pondered on this the clearer it became. The one thing that all of these guys had in common—whether they spent their days milking cattle, swinging a hammer or punching a keyboard—was that they all had time to bathe… well, most did anyway.
It seemed like a logical step then to create a line of products that could be used at home, during the little of bit downtime these men were guaranteed each day. By creating a face and body wash, I could replicate that calming sensation and stress release that I got from surfing. My line of products has expanded since that first ‘light bulb’ moment, but the aim has always remained the same: ‘to slow men down and give them permission to spend a bit of time on themselves’.
The Wayfaring Stranger...