Meet Digital Nomad Girl Stella: Online Social Entrepreneur

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Stella: Online Social Entrepreneur

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 Stella, online social entrepreneur and founder of 22 STARS.

Introduce yourself! Where are you from, what’s your background and where are you currently living?

I was born in Germany but moved to the Netherlands at age 6. Following in the footsteps of my parents, I lead a very active life and have travelled all over the world.

For the last couple of years I have literally been living nowhere. At the moment I am travelling in a Land Rover through West Africa: Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, and DRC while working on my new 22STARS project: bridging cultures through fashion and design.

Stella Interview Digital Nomad Girls Online Social Entrepreneur

You created a social enterprise called 22STARS. Tell us a bit about it and how you got inspired to become an online social entrepreneur!

In 2008, I decided to travel around the world alone for about eight months (South America, Hawaii, new Zealand, Australia, South Africa). Wherever I went, I was regularly confronted with poverty and injustice. For that reason I decided to do a master’s in Public International Law where I learned that the best way to help people out of poverty is by making sure that they can provide for themselves. I wrote my thesis about girl child soldiers within the Lord Resistance Army and visited Uganda in 2009 to volunteer at an AIDS Information Center and do research for my thesis. This is how my passion and interest for Uganda started. I interviewed a couple of women who were making jewellery from recycled paper.

A few years later I founded my social enterprise called 22STARS. I help post war victims in Uganda designing their paper jewellery and find international and national market to sell their products. I also raise money for school fees for the children and I help women get small business skills. Travelling is a huge part of my life. Twice a year I spend months at a time in Uganda making new designs with the women and checking on production and quality.

From Uganda I ship all the products to the Netherlands in big 30 kilo boxes. Shipping costs and import taxes are always way more expensive than people expect. Whenever I’m not in Uganda, my work is a big mix of everything and I can do it all from my laptop. Designing new collections, writing product descriptions and stories for the website, social media, finding new retailers, keeping contact with customers, making special edition collections, editing videos and pictures; the list goes on.

Stella Interview Digital Nomad Girls Online Social Entrepreneur

Why was it important to run your business as a social enterprise?

I want to help people directly in improving their life and making an impact. In particular, I choose people to work with who have no other chance on the job market because they are illiterate and ill. The story of one of my artisans, Susan Laker, is very touching.

Susan was born in Northern Uganda. When she was only 13, she had her first child. Her husband was a soldier, and soon left her, never to return. Susan fled to Kampala because of the war, where she found out that she was HIV-positive, had tuberculosis and cancer. She was extremely weak. When she got better she started working in the stone quarry in the Acholi Quarter. A terrible place to work with not much hope for the future. After Susan started working with us, she was able to build a new home for herself and her three children. Before that, they were all living in a tiny room, perhaps 1.5 by 1.5 metres, with no electricity or running water. With our help she went back to school, improved her English and now helps us as a translator. Susan’s dream was always to become a fashion designer. Recently we bought her a sewing machine and are now paying a teacher so she can start making bags and clothes. In this way she will not only be making products for the western market, but also for her local market. All her three kids are in school and doing really well. It is hard to imagine, but if these women were not working with us, they most likely would still be in the stone quarry, or would be dead by now.

Stella Interview Digital Nomad Girls Online Social Entrepreneur

What advice do you have for other women who’d like to start a social enterprise?

I would recommend to just get started. Just give it a try and see how it goes. Talk to a lot of people and see if there’s a market. It helps a lot if you go to meetings with other startups and entrepreneurs so you can get ideas and follow a course, and just really talk to people.

I would definitely suggest to go out and sell the product at a market. Even if you don’t make a profit, you still get a lot of customer experience, and you can talk to your customers right there, which is really helpful for an online store. Have your own website and see if you can collaborate with bloggers or magazines.

The best marketing effort I’ve found is to partner up with bigger companies. I don’t have a large marketing budget, but what I’ve done is partner with a website called Discovered, they put more effort into marketing and have a higher margin.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your business?

It is really a challenge working with artisans who have no phone, no email address, had little education, are HIV positive, war-traumatized, cannot read and write, speak only Acholi and have very large families. So that is definitely my biggest challenge. But that is also the main point of my business. Making fashion that gives back. Part of our net profit will be used to finance our 22STARS projects, educating our designers and their children.

Back to travel and the nomad lifestyle. What is your favourite city/country/beach/mountain destination to work from? What is important to you when choosing your next destination?

I have a lot of favourite destinations, but Cape Town is definitely one of my favourites. Obviously I travel many times to Uganda and to Africa, because I need to go there for my business. The rest of the year I love to hang out with other Digital Nomads, and I have a nice group of girls who are also location independent who I see now and then in different places. I went on the Nomad Cruise twice already and will join again this year. I also joined Coboat and some other workation camps.

Do you have a funny/crazy nomad story you’d like to share with us?

Recently, I arrived in Marrakesh in the middle of the night and got picked up by two other digital nomads that I know from some FB communities. We drove to Agadir in the middle of the night, arrived around 4 am, just put a mattress on top of the land rover and some blankets, and then the three of us were sleeping there! Around 5 am we woke up because some Moroccan kids discovered that our spot was great to have an after party and played loud Moroccan house music. Luckily I fell back asleep again, but woke up around 9 am to the sound of tourists standing next to us sitting on a camel!

Stella Interview Digital Nomad Girls Online Social Entrepreneur

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

Often through Facebook groups, but also by just bumping into people in bars. I also have a tinder profile which clearly states: no mating, no dating, and that I am into people who share a passion for music, travelling, love, adventure, sports & changing the world. So far I met great people through it. And since I use it more as an app to hang out with people, I would also take my male friends with me. I had already a couple of guys thanking me for bringing them along to my “tinder dates” because they became really good friends afterwards. Haha.

What item should every Digital Nomad Girl pack?

Swiss Army Knife. Babybell. Tabasco. Lipstick. Mascara. Perfume. Good luck 22STARS bracelets.

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

Don’t prepare yourself, just go! And while falling off the cliff, you will learn how to fly. Quite often I hear excuses from people, “but what if this” and “I need to do first this”. All nonsense. Just get yourself on the plane, and see from there!

What are your future travel plans?

In October I will be back in Uganda, I will be visiting all the schools and checking how the kids are doing. November is still open, perhaps the USA or Europe. In December I will be on the Nomad Cruise for the third time, travelling to the Dominican Republic.

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

“What you do for yourself dies with you, what you do for others lives on forever.” I would recommend every aspiring entrepreneur to keep that in mind, and make it an incentive for starting their business. Always ask yourself whether you’re giving back with what you do and, if not, how you can make that happen. Also surround yourself with positive people that believe in you and uplift you. And try to not get distracted from your end goal, or let any setback bring you down.

You can find Stella on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and visit her site at www.22stars.com.

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! 

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.

 

DCIM104GOPRO

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:

 

DCIM104GOPRO

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.

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 16.47.45

 

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.

 

DCIM104GOPRO

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!

 

DCIM104GOPRO

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.

 

DSC01634

 

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!

Twitter Coboat (2)

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!

Digital Nomad Girls join Coboat

Digital Nomad Girls join Coboat

Digital Nomad Girls go Sailing!

A lot has been happening behind the scenes at Digital Nomad Girls recently and we’re very excited to announce many new projects over the next few weeks and months, including our very first Digital Nomad Girls Retreat.

The community is steadily growing and to celebrate our 3000th member in the Digital Nomad Girls Facebook group we have teamed up with Coboat on their inaugural trip! Digital Nomad Girls get €100 off your week’s sailing trip with Coboat!

If you haven’t been hiding under a rock somewhere, you’ve probably heard of the world’s first coworking catamaran, Coboat. While their own boat is being refitted in Thailand, they went into Pirate Beta mode.

Pirate, you say? Yep, they simply chartered a beautiful 50 feet catamaran (a Lagoon 500 called Maranthounta) and turned it into another co-working boat, as you do!

The catamaran is equipped with fast WiFi and will be sailing around the Mediterranean Sea from June to November. Can you imagine a more idyllic place to wake up every day than the turquoise coves and picturesque ports of Greece, Spain or Portugal? No, we didn’t think so.

And to celebrate with us, the lovely sailing nomads have created an exclusive offer for all Digital Nomad Girl members. When booking a full price week on Coboat, (from calendar week 27 onward) you can use our exclusive code to get €100 off. Simply join our Facebook group or sign up here to receive the code:

You will need to fill in the application form on their website and once you’ve been approved as a worthy co-pirate, you will be able to add your discount code.

greece coboat zakynthos island sailing with digital nomad girls

So where will they sail? In June and July Coboat will be exploring the turquoise seas of Greece, from Lemnos to Paros and beyond. After that, the sky (uh, sea) is the limit, but rumour has it the trip will lead to Italy, Croatia and Spain.

The days at sea will be spent co-working on your projects, networking, snorkelling, swimming, practicing yoga, scuba diving, kayaking, playing board games and more, you definitely won’t get bored. And you’ll be sharing this incredible experience with other digital nomads from around the world.

Worried you’ll get seasick or anything else you’d like to find out? Then check out their detailed FAQs here.

Now, what are you waiting for? Grab your discount code and sunscreen and sail away!

Please share in the comments if you’d love to become a digital pirate!

Copy of Digital Nomad Girl Featured Image Social Size (3)

Please note that the code is only valid from calendar week 27 onwards until the end of 2016 (might be extended).

Terms and conditions apply and can be found on Coboat’s website.

Digital Nomad Girls cannot assume any liability, please refer to Coboat’s Terms and Conditions and Liability Waiver.

So you wanna be a … Sailboat Captain?

So you wanna be a … Sailboat Captain?

In our brand new monthly interview series: “So, you wanna be a…”, we will feature a kickass Digital Nomad Girl with an interesting location independent job. We’ll find out how she got into the job, what she enjoys about it and how you can follow in her footsteps.

This month we chatted to sailboat captain Liz, a real life sailboat captain and travel blogger at Moxie & Epoxy.

Liz from Moxie & Epoxy on a boat

Who are you and how/when/why did you become a digital nomad?

Hi Ladies! First of all I want to say that I am a huge fan of the DNG group and the strength and support that comes from women of shared interests supporting one another. My name is Liz Gillooly and I am a US Coast Guard Licensed sailboat captain who is also a travel-obsessed blogger – a woman of many hats (some of them far less cute than others). When I was 18 and backpacking through Central America in 2009 I brought a video camera with me and made short videos about that experience. I became a sailboat captain two years ago and when I took my first job on a yacht sailing across the Atlantic I began sending long emails home describing my adventures and pairing them with videos I had thrown together. Somebody suggested that I turn all of this content into a blog and last year I did just that! It has been an incredible experience to begin sharing my journey with an extended audience.

What is your location independent job?

Being a sailboat captain means that I get paid to travel all over the world. I have worked on boats in the Virgin Islands, the Mediterranean and Hawaii. This summer I have my first job in NY (in my hometown) driving a sailboat with my boyfriend as crew. At this point, I have enough experience to choose any part of the world (with a sailing industry) and I can almost always find a job. The other great part about the sailing industry is that so much of the work is seasonal. I can choose a location, work one season which usually lasts only for a few months and then pick up and travel for the next six months to a year on the money I’ve saved – plus it gives me great content for the blog!

Liz from Moxie & Epoxy is a captain

How did you start out as a captain? How can others do the same?

I grew up in Long Island sailing in the summertime. As a kid, I HATED IT! I do not have a competitive bone in my body and my instructors seemed to always push me toward racing which seemed to defeat the whole point of this relaxing, quiet activity I was so fond of. When I was 20 I was offered an unpaid position on an 80ft sailboat leaving Long Island heading down to the Virgin Islands. I put college on hold (again) and sailed away. When I arrived in the VI I fell in love with the peace and quiet and ended up staying for almost four years. I got a job on a local day charter sailboat taking tourists out for snorkeling adventures. I had an amazing all female team and after two years they encouraged me to pursue my captain’s license. My path was a little indirect, and it doesn’t always have to look like this. If you’re interested in getting started in the sailing industry, please check out my new guide: How to Get a Job on a Yacht: The “No Bullshit” Guide.

Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’re a little nuts? Were they supportive?

I went to a very competitive high school in NYC. The majority of my friends from school now have serious jobs in finance, real estate and other competitive industries. I have not talked to the majority of my friends from high school since graduation mostly because our lives are so different, but some of them show support on my blog. My family is INCREDIBLY supportive. I think that after I took a gap year at the age of 18 to travel through Central America (which was definitely not the norm for people around me) they had a feeling that my life was going to be a little different. The fact that I have a blog that allows them to live vicariously through me while keeping them updated makes my lifestyle a lot easier to understand and accept.

Liz from Moxie & Epoxy working on her laptop at the beach

What has been your favorite digital nomad moment so far, or what is your favourite place?

My favorite Digital Nomad moment was definitely my experience in Thailand last October – November. I flew to Thailand to attend a Travel Blogger conference and I was able to network with so many incredible people – in fact I met my boyfriend there! Even more significant than the conference itself was the fact that around 30 of us (all of whom I’d never met before) moved up to Chiang Mai for six weeks to form a little travel blogger community where we shared ideas, held workshops and helped one another bring our blogs from very basic to totally badass from all angles. Chiang Mai will always hold a special place in my heart for the sheer amount of personal growth that I achieved while living there!

Tell us about a time you struggled with the location independent lifestyle.

Last year I moved to Maui for six months to work on sailboats during the whale watching season and I had a lot of trouble making new friends. I was newly sober and living in what I saw as primarily a party town. It was definitely a struggle that I created for myself because there are plenty of clean living people in Maui, but I just didn’t find enough of them and after a while I gave up trying. I was very lonely and I compared the island so heavily with my little home in the Virgin Islands where I had already developed a strong network of friends. Leaving Maui I thought that maybe I was getting too old for travel, but less than a year and four countries later I can say that I was just stuck in my own unhealthy mindset and I feel more inspired to travel than ever!

Liz from Moxie & Epoxy overlooking a tropical bay

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

Working on sailboats is an incredible way to connect with a lot of new people every day. When I’m not sailing, I love meeting new people at hostels. I find that carrying a deck of cards is one of the best ways to start a conversation and make new friends. I love organizing adventures and inviting people to join and I am not shy about walking up to people who look like they know their way around town and asking them for advice on things to do. One of the best parts of travel is being able to connect with people outside of your immediate network and travelers are generally really friendly people who share that value!

Do you travel solo or with a boyfriend/girlfriend/friend/child/pet?

I wish I traveled with a pet – that sounds so fun! Up until 4 months ago I was a die-hard solo female traveler, and (GULP) now I travel with a boyfriend. I was pretty nervous about it at first but it turns out that we have really similar travel styles and we are good at giving space when needed. I honestly never thought that I would enjoy traveling with a partner but once you find someone special, it makes the whole experience even more epic!

Liz from Moxie & Epoxy enjoying the view

What one item should every Digital Nomad Girl pack?

A Lifestraw water bottle. This is not an item that people often think about but it is probably the item that I use most frequently. The Lifestraw bottle has a filter that allows me to drink tap water from virtually any country that I travel to (and puddles and streams when I’m on hikes). They recently went on sale from $35 down to $20 and one filter will last for up to 1,000 liters. This not only saves money while traveling, it helps to reduce the amount of waste that I produce.

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

If you want to jump into the world of becoming a digital nomad then you are already different from most of the population. You are an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs do not thrive in typical 9-5s – they need to be challenged. If you want to become a digital nomad my advice is to start today. There will be thousands of hurdles in your way on the path to success, start jumping over a few right away.

My other advice is specific to those who want to start a blog:

  • Brainstorm your values:  Make sure that you have set of core values right at the beginning and run every single post through the list to make sure it is up to your standards. Never compromise your standards ESPECIALLY if there is money involved – your readers will see right through it!
  • Highlight what you are good at and what you enjoy: If you are a writer, don’t worry about making videos. If you are a photographer focus your attention on that. Find your strong suits and stick to them! If you HATE twitter but LOVE pinterest, focus your attention on that medium. Keep it real with your followers and they will keep it real with you!
  • Focus your attention on one thing at a time: The difference between people who get sh*t done and people who just talk about their ideas is action. The more focused your attention is, the more you can get done. Make a to do list with action items and tackle one thing at a time.

Liz from Moxie & Epoxy using a sextant on a boat

What’s next for you?

After 8 years of traveling all over I am so excited to be spending 3 months in Long Island close to family this summer. As I get older I value the time with my family more and more! The icing on the cake is that I will be driving a boat all summer (bigger than any boat I have previously captained) and making lots of money. Following the summer my boyfriend and I have talked about road tripping through Africa or potentially buying a sailboat of our own so big things are on the horizon!

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

Here’s one of my favorite quotes for aspiring bloggers:

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” – Benjamin Franklin

 

Liz writes about her epic sea and land based adventures on her blog Moxie & Epoxy. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

What about you? Would you love to be a sailboat captain? Please share in the comments!

 

Pin It on Pinterest