10 Digital Nomad Girls share … their female role models

10 Digital Nomad Girls share … their female role models

A few days ago one of the girls in the Digital Nomad Girls Facebook Group, Linn, asked for inspirational input on female role-models and feminist heroines.

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Her shout out sparked a really interesting conversation and within half an hour she had received over a dozen responses. By the time I woke up the next morning, more than 50 girls had shared and discussed their role-models. So I thought it would be a shame to lose all this information and inspiration in the depths of our busy Facebook Group and decided to turn the info into a blog post that we can all read and learn from. Because going through 58 comments and counting is quite a lot of work I decided to pick 10 answers by 10 Digital Nomad Girls.

Here we go, 10 Digital Nomad Girls share their female role-models:

 

Yoga Girl Book Cover Photo

Rachel Brathen/Yoga Girl

by Kris Oak – Health Coach

Rachel Brathen is the person that made me realise how important self-love & self-care are. Her book Yoga Girl was the 1st book I ever read in my life that reall touched me on a personal level. She made me see for the 1st time, that it’s ok to sometimes have shit days and cry, that you don’t always have to be strong and that no matter what past you had, you deserve to have a great future.

 

Lean In Book Cover

Sheryl Sandberg

by Katharina Kunze – University Admissions Consultant

My favourite role model is Sheryl Sandberg. She speaks to me in so many ways: 1) She is a (now single) mother with a high-powered job 2) She comes off as feminine and vulnerable, and not an “ass-hole”. She is someone I can identify with 3) The issues she raised in her book ‘Lean In’ really spoke to my heart and seemed well-reflected and balanced. She wrote a book that men also read, which I think is not so common among feminism books 4) She kick-started a conversation, at least for me, that had not been there in that form before 5) She manages to do all these things without, seemingly, alienating anyone. I am deeply impressed by her personally and that she comes across as so kind, personable and genuine as well. I also deeply respect Anne-Marie Slaughter and her husband, Andrew Moravcsik. Both have modelled a relationship where he is or was for a long time the “primary parent” taking care of their sons. They also spoke and wrote openly about the challenges they faced individually with that set up and as a family in The Atlantic. These were again incredibly enlightening and genuine-appearing articles.

 

J.K. Rowling

by Marta Ferreira – Graphic Designer

As nerd as this may sound, I have to say J.K. Rowling. Besides her amazing imaginative and creative mind, I absolutely admire the way she has fought for her work. She went through poverty and depression but transformed that into fuel for her writing and will to carry on. And after reaching gargantuan success, she kept her principles and generosity. Sher never forgot her past, never turned back from those who helped her, and keeps giving back. Awesome, even for a muggle.

 

Frida Kahlo

by Marina – Travel Blogger at My Dear Lola

Although experiencing lifelong health problems, what marred her for life was the traffic accident she suffered when she was 18 which made her be skewered by a metal handrail. Her injuries recovery isolated her from other people, and this influenced her works where symbolic portrayals of pain, physical and psychological wounds, skeletons and other grim images can be observed. Kahlo never gave up and kept painting form bed claiming; “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best”. She used to draw on personal experiences; her marriage, her miscarriages, and her numerous operations. She insisted, “I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality” and being influenced by indigenous Mexican culture, which is apparent in her use of bright colours and dramatic symbolism. Frida lived her life to the fullest, despite immense pain, handicaps, and suffering. She had a gift for communicating her emotions to the world through painting.

 

Gabby Bernstein The Universe Has Your Back Book Cover

Gabby Bernstein

by Sian Peters – Strengths Coach and Blogger

This woman has changed my life. Really. No BS. No hyperbole. She has changed my life. I met Gabby when I was at a particularly low point. I don’t remember exactly how she came to me [I was a little fuzzy at the time] but my gosh am I glad she did. She has overcome some serious obstacles of her own to develop into an international morale booster and spiritual teacher. In her new book ‘The Universe Has Your Back’ she shares techniques to keep you sane, to keep you from straying off the path of happiness and into oncoming traffic. And it works. It all works. I’ve been recommending her book to my friends and they’re telling me that they’ve found peace and wisdom in her words. She is what I aspire to. In order to change the world you must start with yourself, overcome your own challenges and obstacles, and then inspire others to do the same. I’m firmly on that road, and while I have a long way to go, Gabby is helping me get there. The universe has my back!

Ada Lovelace

by Nina Tomala – Writer and blogger

My unlikely heroine is 19th century lady-turned-mathematician Countess Ada Lovelace, daughter of Romantic author Lord Byron: She’s famous for being the first computer programmer in the world – a hundred years before modern pioneers of informatics, in a field nowadays dominated by men. She worked extensively on the Analytical Engine, the first Turing-complete mechanical computer proposed in 1837 by Charles Babbage. Her notes include the first algorithm tailored for implementation on a computer. Even though the Analytical Engine existed only on paper due to lack of funds to construct it, Countess Ada realized its potential to solve problems of any complexity beyond merely crunching numbers. She also anticipated the later distinction between hardware and software. A Lady, a visionary, and a geek!

Felicia Day

by Susannah Bruck – Freelance Writer

Felicia Day has become one of my biggest creative inspirations in the last few years. The mastermind behind the web series The Guild, she’s risen from obscurity to become a nerd icon for strong women everywhere. She’s honest, vulnerable, and relatable in her autobiography, showing that if you just go out and DO something, create something, you can make your dreams come true. She was also a home-schooler like me! We’re not just weirdos after all!

Miki Agrawal Book Cover

Miki Agrawal

by Jenny – Digital Nomad Girls

My latest role model is Miki Agrawal, serial social entrepreneur and founder of Thinx, the first period proof underwear. Through the Thinx pants she has started an open and honest discussion about the ‘taboo’ topic of menstruation. In the developing world, having your period can have serious consequences for women and girls. Often they are shunned by their families and community, girls aren’t allowed to attend school during their periods and only few women have access to safe and hygienic products. Miki Agrawal is a fierce feminist and recently wrote her first book ‘Do Cool S**t’ in which she teaches you to follow your passions and start your own meaningful company.

Alicia Silverstone

by Marta – Blogger at VeganBTravels

Beautiful inside and out, she’s been proving you can be your natural self and conquer the world. To me, she represents the ultimate icon of success: an accomplished, respected star who has kept her uniqueness all the way despite tough showbiz reality. Plus she uses her fame to advocate cruelty-free lifestyle – an earthly angel.

Brene Brown

by Janneke Dijkhuis – Adventurer

As a researcher and storyteller Brene Brown took on the topics vulnerability, shame and courage. How they affect us and how we can deal with these emotions and feelings. These topics are for many very sensitive subjects that we do not like to discuss publicly, but Brene does it anyway. And the woman is doing it in a way that you think she is talking about you. About the parts of you that you don’t want to expose because you think no one else has these struggles that trigger shame and make you feel vulnerable. In Brene’s talks and books, you’ll find self-mocking, jokes and funny anecdotes which make it clear that the struggle is not only real for you which made me feel empowered.

 

There you have it, 10 female role-models to inspire you and learn from. Who is your female role model? Please share in the comments!

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5 Lessons I learned at the first Digital Nomad Girls Retreat

5 Lessons I learned at the first Digital Nomad Girls Retreat

Sometimes, when the right people get together at the right time and place, magical things can happen. This is probably an accurately cheesy, yet true, description of what I experienced last week at the first Digital Nomad Girls Retreat.

 

Fourteen girls from 10 different countries around the world met at Sun and Co., a unique coworking and coliving space in Javea, Spain for a week of mastermind sessions, skill shares, adventure, and coworking.

I am still completely high on the energy, inspiration, support, laughter and love us girls shared during the 7 days we spent together. In the short 48 hours since the retreat finished, one of the girls has already published an article about it on the Huffington Post, one girl has created a logo and name for her business and is about to quit her job, and another has successfully more than doubled her hourly pay on Upwork securing a new client already!

I can’t wait to see what the next weeks and months will bring and what these incredible ladies will come up with. But for all of you who couldn’t join us, here are a few lessons I learned during the first Digital Nomad Girls retreat.

 

Group photo of the first Digital Nomad Girls Retreat

Photo: @annasophielc

1. The DN community is incredibly supportive

 

Many of the girls who attended the retreat still had corporate jobs and often our friends and families don’t really understand the digital nomad lifestyle and why we would want to pursue it. This can be a huge obstacle, especially when you have to leave behind a stable, traditional career. Being surrounded by people who understand what drives you means you can skip the explanations and justifications and instead get support, advice and inspiration.

In just one week we saw at least 6 or 7 professional collaborations between the girls. Two girls are starting a business together, one was hired by another as a social media manager, the list goes on.  Sienna shared her experience at the retreat on the Huffington Post, describing how the digital nomad community can foster professional as well as personal growth.

 

A mastermind session in the courtyard

Photo: noll.media

2. We can all do with a little ego boost

 

Over the course of the week and many a mastermind session, we discovered that apart from our wanderlust, we had something else in common: most of us undersold ourselves or didn’t really believe in ourselves. Every single girl had one or multiple great business ideas, but each of us didn’t expect to be able to actually monetize these projects. On top of that, it’s a fact that self-employed women regularly set their rates much lower than their male counterparts, often by more than half the price.

We spent a lot of time talking about how to raise prices, find better paying clients and outsource work to make more time for creative work and passion projects. But more crucially, being surrounded by other girls who encourage you, share ideas, help with accountability and believe in you more than you do, can be a life-changing experience. The support of other women really can help you achieve your dreams.

 

Cooking together

Photo: noll.media

3. Coliving helps create strong bonds

 

The reason why digital nomads love retreats and coworking experiences are the relationships they form within the community. In my opinion, there is no better way to form these bonds than living with people for a while.

I had plenty of ice breakers prepared for our evening BBQ at the first day of the retreat, but after preparing a meal for 20 people together, the ice had clearly melted all by itself (the sangria might have helped a little, too). Living and working under one roof is an intense experience, but it also accelerates friendships and business connections. Even after this relatively short time we all trusted each other with our business ideas and were comfortable sharing personal and business challenges, which often doesn’t even happen with your best friends. Sun and Co. was the perfect location for our retreat and the support from the owners made all of us want to return as soon as possible.

 

On a photo walk

Photo: @annasophielc

4. Every single one of us has something to share

 

Before the retreat started we generated some ideas for potential skill shares and the girls came up with great suggestions. A few were unsure, however, if or what they could share with the others, some even wanted help identifying their strengths. Over the course of the retreat it crystalized that all the girls had valuable lessons to share, whether in life, business or travels. Initially shy girls were slowly opening up, literally blossoming, sharing their experiences, offering tons of insights and a great deal of compassion and support. Important skills that one of us might have taken for granted were invaluable lessons for others. What was holding most of us back was a lack of confidence and awareness of how useful certain skills (even if very niche) might be to others. In the end, we all overcame this and shared freely, I hope this will continue on after the retreat.

 

Planning session at the Digital Nomad Girls Retreat

Photo: @annasophielc

5. The support doesn’t end with the retreat

 

Which brings me to the 5th lesson I learned. One of my biggest goals for the retreat was forming lasting relationships, both professionally and personally, that would continue on after the retreat had ended. The idea was to form accountability groups or find partners to check up on, help each other out with technical or logistical work and generally support each other.

It has only been a couple of days, but already we have formed a slack network with different sub categories and have used it to exchange ideas and hold each other accountable. Feedback has been solicited, people have hired each other and we are working on passion projects together. As we coined during the retreat “One week is good, forever is better.”

 

While these 5 points barely scrape the surface of what I learned this week, I hope they offer a glimpse into the learnings of our very first retreat. Only two weeks ago I was hesitant to think of organizing another one, despite many, many girls asking about possible next events, but now I simply can’t wait to get to know more of the lovely ladies in our little Digital Nomad Girls community at the next retreat.

 

If you’d like to join us at our next retreat, apply here to join us in Las Palmas in April! 

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Lani – founder of Gynopedia!

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Lani – founder of Gynopedia!

In our monthly Digital Nomad Girls interview series we will feature interviews with Digital Nomad Girls from around the world with interesting location independent jobs.

This week we talked to Lani, an English teacher and founder of Gynopedia.

Introduce yourself! Where are you from, how old are you (if we may ask 🙂 and where are you currently living?

My name is Lani Fried and I’m originally from San Francisco, CA. I’m currently based in Hanoi, Vietnam and I’m 31 years old.

What is your location independent job (or what are you working towards)?

At the moment, I have two part-time jobs, one of which is online. These jobs involve teaching English, SAT prep, etc. In the past, I have also worked as a writer/editor and software product manager.

You started a website called Gynopedia, tell us a bit about it!

Gynopedia is a free resource for sexual, reproductive and women’s health care. It’s a wiki, so anyone can contribute or edit information. Here’s how it works: You search for a city — for example, “Bangkok” or “New York City” — and Gynopedia provides information related to birth control, emergency contraception, STI tests, gynecologists, abortion clinics and more. Think of as like WikiTravel, but for your ladybits. This information comes from real people who have shared their experiences, or from careful research (after scouring the web!), also conducted by real people. Overall, the goal is to provide practical, non-judgmental information so that users can feel empowered and make informed decisions.

Screenshot of Gynopedia Digital Nomad Girls

How did you come up with this idea?

From 2010-13, I lived in Istanbul, Turkey. During those years, I constantly struggled to find high-quality and affordable women’s health care. For example, I was slut-shamed by a gynecologist for not being a virgin (and unmarried). I tried to get STI tests at two separate facilities, both of which didn’t conduct the tests that I asked for. I could only find tampons at select stores in my neighborhood. Then, I moved back to the States, where I supposedly had more health care resources. But I was unemployed and uninsured, so I dealt with the American type of difficulty that accompanies women’s health care. The same cycle kept on repeating itself: lack of information, lack of resources.

So, when I began planning a year-long trip through Asia, I realized: This was going to happen again. I wouldn’t know where to get birth control. I wouldn’t know what to do if I got pregnant. And I probably wouldn’t even know where to buy tampons in some places. This lead to an “aha” moment — and it just seemed so obvious: There should be a comprehensive resource for sexual, reproductive and women’s health care. That way, we could all share our recommendations (and warnings), and women could finally get the information they need.

What made you pursue a life as a Digital Nomad?

Personally, I don’t use the term “digital nomad” to describe myself. But I do feel a connection with other people who work online (which I have done on and off since my early 20s), people who love travel and people who have relocated often. As for my own story, I guess that moving around always seemed natural. Growing up, many of family members were immigrants, so I grew up around people who had lived in different countries. And, like many people, I wanted to see the world. Also, economics played a big role. The recession came after my college graduation — and, realizing that I had potentially bleak prospects for the next few years, I decided to look for opportunities outside the States, which brought me to Turkey. This turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life, but I didn’t realize it at the time.

Founder of Gynopedia on Digital Nomad Girls

Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’ve gone crazy or were they supportive?

There are always supporters and there are always people who doubt you. There is something incredibly inspiring or threatening (depending on how you look at it!) about leaving your old life or old city behind. But I find that most people are supportive. Last year, I was living and working in New York. When I told my coworkers that I was planning to travel around Asia for an extended period of time, I got a really positive response.

Of course I get a lot of questions: How will you get medical care? How will you make money? How can you leave your apartment/career behind? There is a lot of privilege that is a part of travel, and that shouldn’t be ignored. Unfortunately, it is way too often. But there’s also a lot of practical, not so glamorous stuff that people don’t always consider like: You can find jobs in different towns. Medical care is usually cheaper when you leave the States. But, all in all, most people are rather supportive (just slightly baffled by the whole thing).

What is your favourite city/country/beach/mountain destination to work?

Oh man, I wish I could answer this question! I’m too indecisive for favorites — I always like way too many books and movies and everything to pick one favorite. But I guess some places that I have visited in the last few years and loved were Japan, Indonesia and Colombia.

Founder of Gynopedia on Digital Nomad GirlsFounder of Gynopedia on Digital Nomad Girls

What do you struggle with most when you travel and work?

Lately, bad Internet has been a huge pest.

How do you connect with and meet new people while travelling?

I love CouchSurfing. And awkward situations. When you’re cramped in a van with a lot of people, or when you find yourself sharing a table with strangers at a bar, you’re forced to interact, and that’s when you meet some of the greatest people.

What item should every Digital Nomad Girl pack?

This is just me (and I spend way too much time researching women’s health products online). But I wish I had menstrual underwear or a menstrual cup in my travels. So far, I have been in some jams when I really needed a tampon but couldn’t find it (like in the Philippines, where there are so many amazing beaches… and yet so few tampons). So, pack a backup for times and places when you need a tampon!

What advice would you give a girl friend who wanted to start out as a digital nomad?

Focus on the basics. There is a wonderful online world of people who encourage you to move abroad, backpack around the world, work online, or be any sort of wandering type, and that’s great. But I think we sometimes forget the fundamentals because the inspirational stuff is so much more fun. But, if you plan to drastically change your life, you also need to focus on basics like: How will I work? For example, you may want to get a TEFL/CELTA if you plan to teach English, or you may want to build up your portfolio if you plan to do freelance work in translation, writing, design, etc. How will I get medical care? How will I find a home that works for me? There are many answers to these questions, and they vary from person to person. But take the time to really think through and take action on the basics. You’ll discover a lot along the way, and not all of your plans will work out like you expected, but think through what you can. It will help you in ways you don’t yet imagine.

Founder of Gynopedia on Digital Nomad Girls

What are you up to next travel and business wise?

Travel-wise, I am planning to visit Myanmar, Nepal and India next. Business-wise, I guess I’m still figuring things out!

What is your favourite business/travel/lifestyle book (or novel) you’d recommend to other digital nomad girls?

In terms of travel books, I love writers like Paul Theroux and Jan Morris. I think there’s also some great coverage being done by new publications like Roads & Kingdoms. Oh, and Migrationology is great.

And last: Do you have a favourite inspirational (cheesy optional) quote you’d like to share?

I guess I’ll share my favourite quote from my high school days, which I found through Anais Nin — but it’s originally from the Talmud:

“We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

 

You can check out Gynopedia here and please contribute if you have experiences or information to share!

Did you ever have to visit a doctor abroad? Please share in the comments!

Founder of Gynopedia on Digital Nomad Girls

 

A Typical Day on Coboat

A Typical Day on Coboat

I’m sure most of you know those nights; it’s a balmy summer evening, you and your best friends have decided to party through the night, and after around 12 rum and cokes you come up with an incredible business idea. One that you absolutely must pursue, it’ll be incredible and change your lives. Like a selfie stick that’s also a walking stick… No?

Well, at least that’s how I imagine Karsten, co-founder and captain of Coboat, the first coworking catamaran, came up with his idea. It may sound crazy, but I am writing this while sitting on deck of Coboat, on a balmy summer night in the Agean Sea in Greece. How did I get here? Let me explain.

 

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What is Coboat?

 

Put simply, Coboat is a coworking space on a sailboat. But this description doesn’t do it justice, as the project incorporates so much more. Being a sailing ship, Coboat is in a unique position because it can travel around the world, connecting people and organisations from around the globe. Their ultimate mission is to bring people together, draw attention to the difficulties our oceans are facing and help to find solutions.

Digital Nomad Girls on Coboat

 

Coboat officially launched in June 2016 in the Mediterranean Sea where they’ll be sailing until November. The team invited a handful of influencers to spend some time on board to see for ourselves what it’s like to sail and cowork on the open seas. I was lucky enough to be picked, and within a week had packed up my bags in rainy England and travelled to Paros, Greece.

So, what is sailing on Coboat like? Can you really work there? And will you get seasick? To answer all these questions and more, I documented a typical day on Coboat:

 

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A bit blurry sadly, but I’m driving a boat!!

A Day in the Life of a Coboating Nomad Girl

 

8 am: “Early” wake up. Awake in a beautiful bay in the Agean Sea, somewhere between Paros, Siros and Athens. The sun is shining, there are no clouds to be found and you can start your day by jumping into the deep blue water.

After a morning swim we sometimes do yoga, it helps that we have our very own yoga instructor on board, guest Lilou from France.

9 am: Brekky time. Our ship chef Jacob has already prepared a fresh breakfast for us. Sometimes it’s fresh fruit with muesli and delicious Greek yoghurt, sometimes avocado, bread and eggs. It’s always lovely and you’ll be super hungry from your morning swim already.

10-12 am: Work hard. We’re not just here for fun, but also to get some serious work done. Chill out on deck or in the cabin while you get client work and other business done. The speed and reliability of the wifi really surprised me, I could connect every time I tried. Here’s a speed test I took one evening.

 

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Before lunch: Time for a workshop, an idea incubator or another dip in the sea (or all!). Every Coboater gets the opportunity to present a project, goal or challenge they are working on and will get feedback from the other nomads on board. The projects we discussed ranged from turning a handmade flower-crown business into a social enterprise, to ocean protection programs for local islands in Greece and, of course, Digital Nomad Girls. A special shout out to Becky, the incredible Coboat community manager, who not only organised and structured our days, but also ran and supported all our idea incubators and did a tremendous job of connecting people.

Around 1:30/2:00 Time for lunch (see breakfast), yum.

 

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Lunchtime on the high seas

 

Afternoon: It always depends on the wind and weather conditions, but in general we tended to set sail in the afternoons to make our way to another bay or island. This is the part that I was a bit worried about as I tend to get seasick. Our first day was quite choppy and I did end up being seasick, but it passed quickly and after swim I was as good as new. You’re not very likely to get much work done while sailing (unless it’s a very smooth sea, which we also experienced), so take care of your work in the mornings and evening. Sailing time is also prime tanning time, don’t forget sunscreen!

 

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Relaxing and tanning time 🙂

 

Evening: Upon arrival at the next island we drop anchor, and have a good splash around in the sea, read a book and just relax.

Before dinner, we usually fit in another idea incubator or workshop on deck while watching the sunset over the islands.

Dinner time: Most days we had dinner on board, but we also went ashore a few times to have a nice Greek meal and some drinks. It’s great to be able to explore the islands and cute towns a little bit. I wish I’d had more time/money for shopping.

 

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Fun time: we either had a few drinks, just chatted or went out to a restaurant, but we also developed a nasty TV habit on board. Below Deck is a great new trashy reality TV show about a crew working on a superyacht. The first episode took place in the same spot we were moored, so naturally we became obsessed.

Time for bed: I often finished a few bits and bobs of work before bed (like writing this post). The cabins are super comfy and after such a long day of fun, coworking, networking and masterminding, I slept like a baby.

Next day, rinse (in the sea) and repeat.

Doesn’t sound too horrible, eh?

Overall, my experience on Coboat was brilliant, but I also want to include some challenges we faced during our time on board, to give you the full picture.

 

Rule No. 1 on Coboat: The plan can change.

And it will. You have to be really flexible and a bit adventurous, too. If you’re planning on doing a full 50 hour work week, you’re in the wrong place. I am lucky enough that I could prepare a lot of my social media client work ahead of time, and that cleared my schedule a bit during my time on board.

If you’re working on a business idea, new project or goal, however, then Coboat is perfect for you. I literally felt #ideaslapped after my incubator session and know the others did too.

 

Rule No. 2 on Coboat:  It depends on the wind

That’s a sentence you will become familiar with, after all, you’re out in nature and need to plan your trip around the wind and waves. Our captain always tried to keep sailing times and rockiness to a minimum (I like to think he did that so I wouldn’t have to hang over the railing at the back of the ship too much) and planned the route accordingly. Every morning Becky updated us and we arranged our plans to fit in with the sailing schedule.

Tips for Nomad Girls onboard Coboat:

A stay on Coboat is adventurous and can be unpredictable, but doesn’t come without its ‘luxuries’. All cabins have their own bathrooms including hot showers and toilet. If you happen to have your period while on board there are certain rules that have to be followed. Actually, there’s only one rule: do NOT throw anything down the toilet! And that includes tampons and any other sanitary products. Not only is this terrible for the ocean, but it also blocks the ship’s toilets, and then the poor crew will have to deal with the mess. If you want to avoid the wrath of the crew as well as a lot of toilet talk, then stick to this rule.

I would totally recommend using a menstrual cup like Moon Cup, which is environmentally friendly, easy to use and pack, and healthier too.

If you’re ready for the coworking adventure of a lifetime and are willing to be flexible, then you’ll have a brilliant time on board the world’s first floating coworking space!

I had such an amazing time that we ended up planning a Digital Nomad Girls Coboat takeover!

If you want to join us for a week of adventure, sailing from Spain to Morocco in October, find out more here!

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Meet Digital Nomad Girl Natalie! UX/UI designer and model

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Natalie! UX/UI designer and model

In our monthly Digital Nomad Girls interview series we will feature interviews with Digital Nomad Girls from around the world with interesting location independent jobs.

This month we chatted to lovely Natalie Howard, UX/UI designer, and plus size model.

Natalie UX/UI designer

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born in Fort Worth, Texas, USA but my family moved around a lot. I’ve lived in Texas, California, Washington, and Ohio. I’m 26, and living in Columbus, OH. I’m saving up some money before I go on my next big trip.

What is your location independent job or multiple jobs?

I am a freelance UX/UI Designer and professional plus size model. UX stands for User Experience, which means I plan out and architect apps & websites and make them better and more enjoyable for people to use. UI stands for User Interface which is the visual design side of things.

Natalie UX/UI designer

How did you become a UX/UI designer? How can others do the same?

I got my first two-year degree in Visual Communications in Los Angeles- which I deeply regretted after entering the very difficult job market in 2010. When I decided to go back to college for a bachelor’s degree- I wanted to make a more informed decision. I started researching companies that I really wanted to work at and seeing what jobs they were actually hiring for. I came across a position for “Information Architect”. I had no idea what it was, but the description sounded fun and interesting, so I began researching it. I decided to go back to school for Interactive Media Design, which included some elements of user experience design and information architecture. To get into UX, requires a lot of self-direction, research, and networking skills to snag an experienced mentor. I’m apart of a Beginner’s UX group on Facebook which has been really helpful for getting feedback on my portfolio and connecting with others in the same boat.

And how did you become a location independent model?

For modeling, my experience goes back to age 15. My parents sent me to a modeling school called Barbizon, and I signed with an agency shortly after. I did small local projects like fashion shows and modeling wedding dresses for editorials. I gave up professionally pursuing modeling while I was in college, but kept on doing time-for-trade shoots for fun with local photographers. I started posting my work on social media and my fan base grew larger and larger. Eventually, a fan suggested I try applying to some agencies again for plus size modeling. I reached out to one of the top plus size modeling agencies in the country and heard back within 10 minutes! I signed with them soon after and was able to get some projects with big retail clients and a national TV commercial. Since then, I’ve branched off and found more success being my own agent and boss, since I found the agency requirements to be too restricting.

To get into modeling, you either have to 1. Build up a large social media following (a lot of agencies won’t consider you unless you have at least 10k fans/followers) 2. Research industry requirements for height and measurements- make sure you fit them. Research modeling agency’s current rosters of models to see if you have a similar look to any of their talent.

Natalie UX/UI designer

How do you manage to juggle both jobs?

I always let my UX clients know about my modeling situation and that flexibility is really important to me in case I want to take on a job. Usually they’re pretty understanding about it. The way I work with clients is based on weekly rates with deadlines for deliverables, so as long as I get the work done by the time I say I will, they trust me.

You use Patreon for your model job. What would you recommend to others if they’d like to get started with that?

With Patreon, you want to already have an existing fanbase on other platforms- it’s not a good place to gain new fans. When I started out, I looked at what other models in similar industries were doing and took notes. Then kind of mixed and matched some of their ideas with new ones I came up with. It takes a lot of time investment up front to define goals and rewards, but it’s so worth it!

What made you pursue a life as a Digital Nomad?

A friend recommended a book to me called “The 4 Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss. That was a massive inspiration to me. When I was younger, I was homeschooled- so I was used to being self-directed and autonomous with my work. The 9-5 work schedule never worked for me. I’m happiest when I don’t feel confined to any space in particular.

Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’ve gone crazy? Were they supportive?

Nope, everyone has been really cool about it. I’ve had some confusion from people if working remotely is a totally foreign concept for them, but usually when I explain it they get excited too.

Natalie UX/UI designer

What is your favourite city/country/beach/mountain destination to work?

I love working on trains, especially through Europe. The amount of “flow” that happens for me is just incredible- they’re so peaceful. Really allows me to dig into a deep pool of creative ideas and problem solving. I worked on an app prototype while riding from Berlin to Prague earlier this year.

What do you struggle with most when you travel and work?

Staying disciplined and focused 😀 It’s tempting to want to go see all the attractions of an area. Can be very distracting.

How do you connect with and meet new people while travelling?

Recently, I’ve started chatting up people at restaurants or coffee shops who are sitting alone, because I often think…. nobody  (especially if they’re a traveler) came all this way to this new place to sit alone, they want to meet people too. So that’s been fun- and sometimes I meet people through mutual friends, networking events, Magpie, Digital Nomad FB groups, or even Tindr 😉

What item should every Digital Nomad Girl pack?

I have an expandable, waterproof hip belt I bought from Target that I love. I just put the bare minimum in there- credit cards, keys, etc. Was great for when I was riding a lot of scooters and easily hides under tshirts.

Natalie UX/UI designer

What advice would you give a girl friend who wanted to start out as a digital nomad?

Research! I think logistics are the scariest part- What am I going to do with my apartment? My stuff? How am I going to make money? There’s a lot of people asking the same questions in Digital Nomad communities, so it makes you feel more encouraged and less lonely to meet like minded people.

What are your future travel plans?

I would love to do 3 months in the countryside of France 🙂 Have a slow life by the pool, ride scooters, buy fresh produce and baked goods, drink wine, and seduce and be seduced by Frenchmen.

And last: Do you have a favourite inspirational (cheesy optional) quote you’d like to share?

“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” -Tim Ferriss

You can find Natalie on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and her own website is coming very soon! Make sure to check it out: www.nhoward.com

Have you ever considered being a location independent UX/UI designer and/or model? Please share in the comments!

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