In honour of our co-founders Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power’s latest book, The Career Code: Must-Know Rules for a Strategic, Stylish, and Self-Made Career ($24), we’re running an interview series featuring 17 questions (to parallel the book’s 17 chapters) about the work lives of inspirational female leaders who are at the top of their fields. So far, we’ve tapped Lisa Gersh, Pip Edwards, Kelly Wearstler, and more. Up next? Hanna Axelsson Sahlen (aka Axel) and Ashleigh Powell.
Often, people assume that a serious case of wanderlust can be dangerous. After all, travelling the world and sipping on exotic cocktails aren’t always conducive to being financially responsible or holding down a day job. However, founders of Axel & Ash, Hanna Axelsson Shalen (aka Axel) and Ashleigh Powell have proved that entire philosophy to be wrong. In fact, the two self-dubbed “wanderlusting souls” used their passion for travel to inspire their business: A series of products that encourage people to create and write down their own stories.
Whether it’s a road trip, a bucket list, or placing pins on a map of every country you want to see, Axel & Ash are encouraging us to take a break from the hustle, and start dreaming instead. Below, we interviewed the duo about their career journey so far, and what it takes to build a business.
IN CIVILIAN TERMS, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR JOB?
WHAT PART OF YOUR JOB DO PEOPLE FIND MOST SURPRISING?
What did you wear to your first job interview?
Who would you like to have a 30-minute meeting with?
What are your go-to resources for keeping up to date with the industry?
What is one thing in your career that you’ve regretted?
What do you do when you’re feeling uninspired?
We have such a fast pace that we rarely have time to stop to feel uninspired. However, with so many things going on, sometimes we may feel overwhelmed and need to bounce back. We both find that there is no remedy like a great workout, so whether that is going in for a sweaty session in the park, a run, or just a walk by the water, this often gets us back on track. Calling a friend who doesn’t naturally define you by your business is good too, so you can have a chat about all other things in life.
What are your morning and evening rituals?
Ash: I absolutely love the mornings. I try to wake up at 6-6:30 a.m. every morning and do some morning yoga, just to get my body awake. I then have some warm lemon water, then either I will go do a work out or I love to have my coffee and sit and check my emails. It's my favourite part of the day and it doesn’t feel normal without it.
Axel: Routine? What's that? I have only ever had a normal job for a year of my whole life so I've never followed my body clock. I love to do exactly what I feel like in the moment. Night time is my creative space where the world sleeps and I get time to listen to all the wild things happening in my brain. So even if I try to get to bed before 12, suddenly it's 3.30 a.m. and I've been working on new ideas like never before.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
To believe in yourself. We didn’t know how to run a business, but we took our strengths and came together. And never stop learning.