I first met Suzie just as she was leaving life as an investment banker in London and heading for the beaches of Bali. Ahead of the game, she had cottoned onto the fact that in an increasingly digital world, the daily office commute should soon be a thing of the past. As the world catches up and the era of remote work and ‘digital nomad-ing’ fast becomes the norm, because it makes exquisite sense, I caught up with her to see how perspectives had evolved 1 year down the line.
Can you tell us a little more about your background and how you came to move from the UK to Bali?
I spent 7+ years in demanding, fast paced, corporate jobs in the banking and finance industry in London. Despite loving the thrill of the pace of these jobs and my life back home, something was always missing.
I became frustrated with bureaucratic work cultures that rewarded things like tenure over merit and the obsession with working from a corporate office. It left me bored, demotivated and out of alignment so I decided to shake things up. In the same week in January 2019 I quit my corporate job, ended things with a long term partner and decided to move to Bali!
You are obviously a very creative and driven person, talk us through setting up your brand and side-hustle, Franc + Iris
I knew I wanted to run my own business, it was just a matter of finding something I felt passionate enough to take action on and drive forward. When looking for business ideas, my focus was around impact – what impact do I want to make on the world? What issues or problems do I want to solve? I kept coming back to the issue of poverty and inequality.
I read the book ‘Out of Poverty’ by Paul Polak who introduced me to the concept of restoring sight as being one of the most cost-effective ways of reducing poverty. For every $1 spent on restoring sight, $4 is put back into the economy – why aren’t we talking more about this?! Simultaneously, I was a big fan of Blake Mycoskie, the Founder of TOMS and his story inspired me to run a business with a meaningful purpose.
Meanwhile, working from my laptop on various freelance projects was giving me headaches, eye-strain and I was struggling to sleep at night so I bought a pair of anti-blue light glasses to help block the harmful blue light. They instantly helped and I felt my productivity thrive. I’d never worn glasses before so it was also somewhat of a novelty – I loved the look!
I knew I needed to get this product in front of the remote worker community because they could gain so much by improving their overall wellbeing from a relatively affordable product so I decided to start Franc & Iris. We’re an anti-blue light glasses brand for those who live and work online. Being mission led was essential for me so I incorporated a similar 1-for-1 model as TOMS, where we help to restore someone’s sight with every pair sold.
Share some of the most interesting people or ideas you’ve met and interviewed for your podcast, what you liked about them and what inspired you
I’ve interviewed so many inspiring people on my podcast The Remote Edition. Every single one gave amazing stories and tips that helped myself and my listeners either start businesses or start asking themselves the important questions in life – in terms of what they really want to do.
My former Business Coach, Lauren Armes stands out, I love her attitude of taking action and getting things done. Another friend of mine, Paula Novacki, runs a ten person marketing agency, completely remote. She gets to call UBER her client all whilst travelling the world – a total inspiration, I loved chatting through her story on the podcast.
What have been the upsides and downsides of the move and remote life?
Leaving the corporate world stripped me of an identity I relied on throughout my career. Working for big brands like J.P. Morgan and Square meant I felt respected and people perceived me to be ‘successful’ and someone worth spending time with in many city circles.
Suddenly, without that, being in Bali and with no one knowing my corporate background, answering the question of ‘what do you do?’ became confronting and uncomfortable. It was crazy how much self-identity these corporations gave me back in London. This transition from the ‘old me’ into exploring new ways of making money and finding out who I really was, was very challenging and uncomfortable.
Over time, I recognised these old ways of living as very ego-driven and learned to live less from this place, by not caring what others think or how they might react, learning to trust my ability to succeed and knowing my time will come if I continue to ask myself why I do what I do.
This transitional phase was incredibly challenging financially and personally while I battled with destroying the sides of me that were not really ‘me’, I was a version of Suzie that society wanted me to be. Once I broke down a lot of beliefs that weren’t mine, I became a much more authentic version of myself and that’s when things started to fall into place. I felt alignment for the very first time with the path I was on – it had all been worth it.
My advice for any others feeling like this is to constantly ask yourself why. Why do you give something meaning? Is it because it means something to you, or is it because you’ve been taught the meaning of it by somebody else. You’ll probably learn a lot about yourself just by asking yourself these questions!
Yes and redefining what success means to you. On which note, how has life in Bali changed your lifestyle? And do you see yourself becoming a permanent resident, or moving?
Bali is the first place I have felt at home, in my first week of coming here I instantly felt this familiarity and sense of belonging. I’d like to spend the rest of my life travelling and exploring different parts of the world whilst coming back to Bali as my base.
How has the long-term VISA situation worked out, and what other countries are popular with remoters / nomads that you’ve met?
There are many different options for Visa’s, the best way is to do your own research and contact a reputable Visa agent. Currently there are no tourist VISAs being issues in Bali, only 6 month social or business VISAs, and I just renew it through my agent. Other popular digital nomad and remote work hubs are Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Lisbon and Chang Mai with many others popping up as the world moves towards remote work as mainstream.
How did you go about meeting people and integrating into a sense of community?
I joined a co-working space called Dojo as soon as I got to Bali with the sole purpose of meeting others. I went to all their events and tried to meet as many people as possible. The culture here is very open because people are often moving around, they are always up for connecting and making new friends, I love that about the digital nomad community.
Share some highlights of your experience so far?
Some of my highlights are the trips we’ve taken. I’ve learnt to dive here and seen so many incredible creatures – mantas, turtles, octopi, it’s a whole new world! Last weekend I went glamping in the jungle mountains of Munduk in North Bali on a yoga retreat. I feel incredibly grateful I can experience these wonderful places locally.
Adulting admin – what’s it been like when it comes to remote banking, renting, start-up incorporations, accounting, insurance, driving etc?
Personally I think the world still has some way to go towards becoming more set-up for location-independent life. Although there are some great resources online, some of these things can still be quite challenging and time-consuming to research.
Tell us about your work operating in Growth at Moonpay, and why you’re interested in Cryptocurrency
Having worked in the traditional Banking and Financial industry, I have seen how inefficient and elitist the industry and its products are. I’m excited about the decentralisation potential of crypto and how it can provide financial infrastructure and economic empowerment for all, regardless of where they come from and whether they have access to a bank account.
At MoonPay, we believe in the power of crypto and are building the infrastructure to make it easier for people to buy cryptocurrencies. In my role, I help businesses leverage our technology to make it easier for everyday people to gain access this new world. Working in an industry that I believe will change the global economic landscape and challenge inequality head on, at such an early stage, is super exciting to me.
What do you love most about everything you’re doing right now?
Feeling aligned with the impact of what I do every day.
Now that the world has finally caught up and gone remote, would you ever consider venturing back into banking?
Working for MoonPay has meant I have gone back into the Financial Services world. Back in London I had a vision for a future where we didn’t need to work from the office and people could work anywhere. I didn’t expect to be in this position so soon! It’s great and I’m really encouraged by the transition the world is making into remote work.
Did you fundraise for your start-up?
Franc and Iris is a passion project of mine that is fully self-funded.
What’s the smallest change that’s given the biggest return?
With a full time job, time is restricted. I made sure I outsourced early to incredibly talented freelancers.
What social challenges have arisen, and what sacrifices have been made?
I have battled with this a lot. I have learnt that saying no is important because going to a social event when you don’t feel present and are thinking about work is not fun for me or my friends! Instead, I go to fewer social events but when I am there, I am truly present and make an effort to be, so I show up in the best way for my friends.
When you first launched, what brought the most traction and momentum for you, and what hasn’t worked so well?
Influencer marketing has been incredibly powerful. I love working with other people so it’s been great to work with some amazing content creators and see the close relationship they have with their followers.
What motivates you?
The impact I want to have on the world.
What has been your biggest lesson, fear or failure?
If you don’t like something, change it. Don’t stick with something because other people or society is telling you to.
Do you have a mentor or people you ask for advice?
Yes, unofficial mentors and friends I bounce ideas off.
What are your hobbies or side-interests and what’s one new thing you’d like to learn?
I love sports, playing tennis, badminton, running. I’d love to learn how to surf – it’s on the list!
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Strengths – confidence, sales, and strategic thinking. Weaknesses – impatience and easily bored.
How has what you do changed you as a person?
It’s allowed me to lean into, and learn more about who I really am and how I like to spend my time. Spending a lot of my 20s doing something I didn’t really want to do gave me a perspective that I’m truly grateful for. It’s given me the drive to search and explore both internally and externally for something more meaningful in life and I’m so much happier as a result.
If time and money were no object – what would be on your to-do and to-see list?
From an impact point of view, I’d love to see sight not keeping people in poverty, as well as people around the world having equal opportunities regardless of the country they were born in.
Personally, I’d love to see a world where we consume plant-based products only, and animal consumption is eradicated. I can also honestly say that I feel such an alignment internally in my life, that I don’t crave to see anything that I consider to be ‘out of reach’.