As a long term traveller, every now and again I have one of those moments. I like to call it a quarter-life crisis, I’m sure you know the ones. Where you start questioning your entire existence: What am I doing with my life? Where is this path taking me? Did I make the right choice by travelling? How am I going to support myself in the future? Can I make money while travelling?
Sound familiar? Well, I’m here today to introduce you to a girl who has some answers. Candy Tomkins started her own business, Soi 55 Lifestyle, back in February 2016. She put a hell of a lot of effort into making it what it is today and is currently living the dream in sunny Portugal where she works online to support her “digital nomad” life.
She’s kindly agreed to an interview with Six Year Gap Year and you never know, maybe she’ll inspire you to follow in her footsteps! Make sure you read to the end for a special surprise!
First of all, please introduce yourself!
I’m a free-spirited and clumsy only child who grew up in South Wales but moved to Cornwall at the age of 20 to pursue the dream of a beach lifestyle. I’ve more recently moved to Lagos in the Algarve to pursue a new beach lifestyle – one that’s hotter! I’m happiest when I’m on the move. I love to travel and experience new things but if anything is going to keep me in one place it’s the sea and the sun.
I can absolutely relate to the quarter-life crisis. I’d say I have one a couple of times a week at best. Mid to late 20s is a tricky time of life for everyone but especially women as I think if you’ve not already got the house and kids thing sussed your brain starts telling you that’s the next step to take. So when that’s not what your heart wants right now there tends to be a bit of a battle going on! Running your own business has a tendency to bring up ‘what am I doing with my life’ moments quite regularly but I guess it keeps you on your toes!
How old were you when you first started travelling, and where have you been since then?
My parents both travelled a lot when I was a child so I was introduced pretty young. I first started escaping for weekends when I was in my teens but didn’t head off on my first RTW trip until I was 20. Since then I’ve worked every summer and travelled every winter. Mostly to surf destinations such as Indonesia, Hawaii, Central America, and Sri Lanka but I’ve also spent some time on the mountains, on safari in Kenya and cycling around France.
Before you created Soi 55 Lifestyle, how did you fund your travels?
Worked. A lot. Usually, 3-4 jobs at a time which was anything from beach lifeguarding to surf coaching to parking cars at a car boot sale every Saturday. Since then I’ve also picked up some jobs that allow me to work remotely including working as a bookings coordinator for a camper van company and social media and marketing for a bakery. I can happily say every working hour was worth it when you get to the end of a season and have months of travels ahead.
What gave you the idea to begin your own company, and how did you get started?
About a year ago I was in a bit of a rut. Nothing particularly big was going on but I just wasn’t satisfied with what I was doing and I began to feel quite low. I went on a 2 month trip to Thailand and Indonesia with a happiness project in mind and it was in Bangkok I started gathering ideas for Soi 55. This involved coming up with a brand and ethos and working with a supplier both of which I started during that trip.
Was it a difficult process, or do you believe that anyone could achieve similar results if they put their mind to it?
It has been a challenging process and some parts have been difficult but the rewards outweigh these hugely. I decided from the beginning of the project that I wanted to learn everything myself and experience trial and errors along the way. Although I think this slowed down the process a little, learning from my mistakes has made me more knowledgable in all aspects of the business. The process is never-ending really as I am only a year in and still learning as the brand grows, but everyone has the ability to start their own business if it’s what they really want in life. I would encourage everyone to give it a go!
Where do you get your inspiration from?
This is such a cliche answer but everywhere. I’m inspired by different countries whilst I’m travelling but also by fashion magazines, current trends and other brands.
How has Soi 55 Lifestyle changed your life so far, and do you have any long term goals?
I desperately wanted to be able to work for myself while on the move and Soi 55 has opened up the gates for this. Short term it’s allowed me to move to Portugal and live the lifestyle I want but also given me more confidence in myself and the freedom to make my own decisions about the business. At times it has actually been quite scary relying entirely on myself to make it work but also humbling. I would love to continue growing Soi 55 so eventually it’s a travel and lifestyle hub and also a place to buy cool stuff from around the World! It would be amazing if I could eventually run Soi 55 from anywhere in the world!
Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about starting their own company?
Follow your heart and know that it’s ok to start little and simple. Pick something you are either really passionate about or really interested in learning about and then you’ll stick to it.
There’s also a tonne of books I found helpful including ‘How to Start a Business for under $100’ and ‘The Small Business Start-Up Workbook’.
Exactly where in the world are you right now?
Lagos in Portugal!
If you want to keep up with the latest products, deals and exciting giveaways then make sure you’re following Soi 55 Lifestyle on:
I’ve also been lucky enough to have been selected as a brand ambassador for this wonderfully unique and incredibly beautiful brand, and I couldn’t be happier. I received two colourful clutches in the post last month and I use them every day!
They are extremely well made, hand painted and crafted with high-quality materials so each piece feels as unique as it looks. The colours are eye-catching and I get so many compliments on them while I’m out!
I cannot recommend these enough if you want to add a little sparkle to your outfit, or you know someone deserving of such a gorgeous gift. Go to http://www.soi55lifestyle.com to see the full collection.
The best part? If you enter the promotional code “6YGY10” at the checkout you’ll receive a 10% discount on your entire order! How neat is that!