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British full time traveler, writer + wine pro. Loves a simple life.

They are avoidable if you know how

Photo: Caleb Woods/Unsplash

Naïve doesn’t even begin to describe what I was like as a new entrepreneur.

I was 28 when I opened my wine store and bar. I was the youngest wine store owner in the UK and at the time, one of only a handful of female owners. I’d never held a professional position in wine and I’d never owned a company.

I was going in blind and I made some hefty mistakes because of it. Here are 5 I wish I’d known about before starting out, and how you can avoid doing the same.

1. I listened to people who wanted to see me fail

It started with a note through…

I pursued all of them until I questioned why

Photo: Felipe Gregate/Unsplash

My mother used to tell me that if I didn’t work hard at school and didn’t go to college, I’d end up stacking shelves at Woolworths. In her mind, it was the worst insult she could think of.

I heeded her warning and worked towards everything she wanted me to. In my adulthood, I have gained a college degree, bought a house and attempted a linear career path.

Perhaps you were brought up in a similar household that spoon feeds the ‘success equals office work and suburbia’ rhetoric. …

I am not the person I thought I would be

Me, wine, Spain. That’s really all you need to know about me

My younger self would have assumed that by my 36th year, I’d be married with children, a 9–5 job, living in suburbia. The marriage came (to fellow Medium writer Sam Dixon Brown), I tried suburbia (hated it), I ditched the 9–5 job nearly a decade ago and there are no kids in the vicinity.

Growing up, I didn’t give a damn about food. I didn’t even try wine until I was 18. And yet, at 28, I became the co-owner of a wine store and bar (the youngest female wine merchant in the UK at the time) and food and…

It’s about personality, personal service, and a middle finger up to poor big-business practices

Me and Sam Dixon Brown outside our mom and pop store. Image courtesy of Fox and Bear Photography

My mom and pop wine store gave me and my husband a decent salary. It employed local people on competitive wages. It sold ethical goods. It was generally well-loved in the local community and known across the country (if you’re into wine). Eventually, we sold it, giving the buyer a shot at a brand new life.

Why did it work? Because mom and pop stores — independent, often family-run shops operating from one location — have something that has been largely forgotten in our modern pursuit of more money, more growth, more everything.

Good business practices that focus on quality…

They are yours for the taking if you want one

Photo by George Coletrain on Unsplash

When I was 25, I went to the worst possible person for career advice. My father-in-law.

“Hey father-in-law, you know I hate my job? Well, I’ve been thinking about what I could do with my life and I think I’d like to work in wine.”

“Hmm, I’m not sure about that. There’s no money in wine, that’s why only rich kids manage to break into it. Maybe you should think about a proper career instead.”

3 years later, I was the owner of an independent wine store and bar, which 6 years later won an award for best independent wine…

You don’t need millions — or even hundreds of thousands — of dollars to have the lifestyle you want

Photo by Isabell Winter on Unsplash

I’ve never been a fan of prescriptive definitions, and I’m not about to start now.

If my comments section is anything to go by, you can’t call yourself financially free if you still work / don’t sit on a beach all day / insert worn-out stereotype here.


But I’ve realized something.

I could have had around 90% (or more) of the benefits of financial freedom with just 10% of the cash.

So why should I (or more to the point, you) listen to the commentators, busting a gut to achieve an old-school version of financial independence complete with huge…

Because that’s all it really is.

Photo by Katerina Pavlyuchkova on Unsplash

Minimalism has an image problem.

Lovers of the movement — myself included — know it goes way beyond a Marie Kondo-style declutter and has very little to do with a white-walled lounge and a single chair in the corner.

But not everyone knows that. The word is too synonymous with the post-World War II art movement, where music, art, and design were stripped down to their bare ass.

Nowadays I call it simple living because, in its essence, that’s all Minimalism really is. It’s about crafting an existence free of the noise and trappings of over-consumerism and lifestyle inflation.


Learned from writing 100s of articles and reading 1000s

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

When I was 6, my parents told me I was the best writer they’d ever come across, and being a child, I believed them. They thought I had natural talent (I don’t), and for nearly 30 years, I took that as a sign that I didn’t have to work all that hard on my writing.

Parents are such full of BS sometimes.

All writers can — and should — work on their writing skills. With that in mind, I’ve spent a rather large number of hours compiling my 100 favorite pieces of writing advice. Some are from other writers, some…

THIS is the real reason I became a freelancer

Image courtesy of author: my niece, North Wales July 2021

I became a freelancer for you, my husband

I became a freelancer because we didn’t spend enough quality time together during our 8 years as business partners. Because now we can fulfill a lifelong dream of traveling the world together, spending afternoons wandering the streets of whatever city we happen to end up in.

I became a freelancer so I could spend afternoons watching you cliff jump in Croatia, happy as a clam, in fact, happier than I’ve seen you in a long time. So I could spend afternoons cooking with you, trying to follow Spanish YouTube videos about the perfect meatballs or patatas bravas.

I became a…

Charlie Brown

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