One of my closest friends always repeats something her favorite teacher used to say. It goes something like this: “If you paid to play an arcade game, where you had to get your man from point A to point B, but there were no boulders to navigate around, no opponents after you, no time crunch ticking away the seconds, no flying saucers veering dangerously close, just a man on a straight path leisurely making his way to victory, you would want your money back. But in the real world, most people try to make their life as point A to point B as possible. They want their road to be clear, to take on safe challenges, and to avoid “leveling up” if it could cost them the whole game. In that kind of life, people might find contentment, they might find some sense of peace, but they don’t find the real happiness that comes from taking a risk and learning from the outcome. If you want something badly enough, and feel called to go after it, it should be worth giving up your sense of security. After all, you can bet that at the end of your life, if you want your money back, you’re not going to get the chance to play again.” I’m paraphrasing here, (obviously) but you get the point. It’s the old “no risk, no reward” saying, just with more words and a visual that sticks.
I love this analogy. It’s one I found myself constantly repeating as Porter and I moved from the big decision phase to the planning phase of something we’ve quietly had in the works these past few months. This September we’re leaving Boston to travel the world indefinitely.
It’s a huge decision, and a risky one, but let me rewind for a second. Blogging is a tough gig, (even if it seems like a cop-out job from the outside looking in), and in the past year our eyes have been opened to what success in this industry would look like as we continued to grow. We didn’t love what we saw. There’s a rough balance you have to strike as bloggers between working with brands to make money, but not wanting to seem like an advertising platform to your followers. The creative element of putting an outfit together and photographing it should reap a kind of sustaining fulfillment if a style blogger’s going to happily keep on that course. That just wasn’t happening for us. We love photography, discovering new brands, and travelling, but we couldn’t find a “something deeper” in how we were approaching those passions, and it quietly chipped away at our enthusiasm over the whole blogging thing.
We felt like we were in the right field, but missing something, the way you feel when you have a great hand but accidentally play the wrong card. To make matters worse, we kept revisiting the same if-we-could-do-anything conversation, a talk I think a lot of kids who have been out of college for a year or two (or three or four) seem to always be circling back to. Except, one night, about four months ago, when we were having that routine conversation about how great it would be to just pack our bags & travel the world, working with a pocketful of ethical brands & hotels whose mission and aesthetic we really believed in, and sharing the kind of vintage-esque style & travel photography we love to create, the talk turned into a plan, and the next day that plan turned into action. Talk, to plan, to action, and suddenly our year is going to be colored by the kind of all-in, fulfilling adventure we almost dismissed as a pipe dream.
Over the past year, little things have slowly opened our eyes to what’s great and what’s not so great about the blogging / Instagram industry. We’d gotten a taste of the lifestyle, receiving packages from brands most weeks, but as our closets had gotten bigger, so had our doubts. We realized we didn’t need a lot of stuff and we didn’t want a lot of stuff, and we didn’t like the idea that we were promoting an industry that wanted people to believe the opposite of that. We also started to realize that the brands we loved working with the most were always those that were doing some form of good, practicing ethical and environmentally-conscious manufacturing, and run by the kind of people who you badly want to see succeed. Once we put this alongside the realization that, after five years of being long distance, corporate jobs would mean spending most of every day of every year apart, (which was honestly pretty crushing), we knew something needed to change. So we decided not to wait for someday, and to plan on leaving in September. Really, Porter’s exact words were “let’s just act like we can do this, and maybe the idea’s good enough that it might be possible.” He was right.
We have a small list of a dozen or so ethical brands we’ll be collaborating with this year, forming a “capsule wardrobe” for each of us to live in while we jump from place to place, and a growing team of boutique hotels that we’ll be photographing along the way. We feel there’s a massive misconception that people who aren’t bohemian or outdoorsy can’t wear head to toe ethical brands while staying true to their own sense of style. For whatever reason, ethical brands are kind of pushed to the guardrail as a niche for only certain kinds of people, probably the same way organic food was once upon a time. But people care about where their food comes from now, and we believe we should all care about where our clothes come from to, whether that means buying less, purchasing more wisely, or paring your entire wardrobe down until it’s entirely ethically-made and fits into a single piece of luggage (like us). We’ve started to realize that being a small part of a bigger movement brings a sense of fulfillment that being the center of our own show never did.
The beginning of our trip is still a long ways off right now (about four months away). There’s a lot of planning underway, a lot of late nights ahead of us, a lot of inevitable disagreements on wheres and whys, and a lot of hurdles still invisible to us now but undoubtedly out there, (more likely than not waiting till the least opportune moment to present themselves). But the overwhelming anticipation and relief we’re feeling at having said “let’s just do this” quiets most of those “what ifs” most of the time.
We’re so grateful to have such a supportive platform to share this next stage of our lives on. We feel indebted to and encouraged by all of you to make this trip the visually engaging, entertaining, uplifting roller coaster we deeply want it to be. Thank you for encouraging us to go after what we love, we hope our year ahead inspires you to do the same.
Anna Lisa + Porter