We chatted to a legendary couple who combine work, home, love and business successfully.
We know what it is like to live, work and run a business together whilst trying to do our bit for the environment, so it’s only right that we have incredible respect for every couple out there doing it too! Byron Fiancés Nat & Dan live in a quaint, beachside timber house in Byron dubbed ‘The Treehouse’ with Nat’s brother and his partner.
The two co-own Byron’s best co-working space The Corner Palm (where they both work from as freelancers) and run their not-for-profit organisation Clean Coast Collective where they take a team of driven and inspiring humans on a beach clean-up expeditions each year, hold regular beach clean-ups, and sell premium, plastic-free lifestyle products.
Nat & Dan have a knack for creating community everywhere they go by giving space and time to those around them, fostering meaningful relationships and connecting people together. But what we love most about these two legendary humans is that amongst the chaos of business, work and relationships, they always remain cool, calm and collected.
And from what we’ve gathered, this is a bi-product of leading humble, simple lives by slowing down, making time for each other and the things they love like a big cup of tea on the couch with a good book. So, we wanted to ask the question: how? How do two people combine so many aspects of life as individuals, together, successfully?
Be the change you want to see in the world.
Tell us everything! Where did it all begin?
Dan and I met when we were both working in the government in Canberra; we soon realised that the slow pace of bureaucracy wasn’t for us, and took seven months unpaid leave to travel around Australia cleaning beaches. This was when Clean Coast Collective was born, a not-for-profit we created to inspire more people to take care of our oceans and reduce the impact of their daily consumption.
On this journey we travelled to Cape York Peninsula for the first time and were blown away by the amount of pollution we found up there (these are some of Australia’s most remote beaches, which are only accessible six months every year, yet they were completely covered in tonnes of plastic). Since 2015 we’ve been taking groups of passionate people to Cape York on annual clean up expeditions. These trips have helped remove over 13 tonnes of marine debris and plastic pollution from Chilli Beach in Cape York.
In 2017 we also decided to open The Corner Palm with Nat’s Brother Sean. The Corner Palm is a co-working studio and community in Byron Bay. While the Traditional co-working spaces originally grew out of the tech start-up scene, in our community the people who need a space to work are actually more creative and social entrepreneurs. The Corner Palm is a space to foster people to create businesses that are fuelled by purpose, rather than profits.
Oh yeah and we got engaged last year… so I guess we’ll throw a wedding party sometime too!
Left: Trash Tribe crew collecting and counting the rubbish found on Chilli beach.
Right: Hard day at the office.
In a nutshell, describe The Corner Palm & Clean Coast Collective.
Clean Coast Collective is an organisation that empowers people to slow down and transition to low-impact lives through campaigns and clean up expeditions.
The Corner Palm is a collaborative co-working community that ditches all the corporate stuff like networking and ‘overnight’ success, and replaces it with genuine friendships, support over competition, and grounded organic sustainable business growth.
A bunch of like-minded folk, stoked to have made a difference.
How do you both find time for your own hobbies with so many tabs open? And if not, what gets you through the really busy times?
Hmm, great question. After years of failing at this, we really try now to prioritise time with friends and family, and time in nature. We also really make sure that we’re spending time together away from our work desks, otherwise we just fall into a pattern of forgetting we’re lovers and not just colleagues.
I think we’ve been trained really well by traditional society to work 9-5 and to feel guilty if we’re not doing that, so we’re constantly reminding ourselves that we chose this work do we could design our own lifestyle, and making sure we do just that.
Left: These people know how to make beach clean-ups look good.
Right: Trash Tribe troops piling into the troopy ready to find more rubbish.
What does balance look, sound or feel like to you both?
Nat: Having a steady flow between busy times and down times, both at work and at home.
Dan: I know I’ve got my work/life balance right when I can be working in the office without a feeling of guilt for not being in the sunshine.
What is your spare time filled with?
Nat: Reading books in our treehouse and lots of cups of tea.
Dan: Always seems to start with a lot of time hanging around our treehouse.
Dan, Nat & Sean: The rad crew behind The Corner Palm.
If you could go back 100 years knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?
Try to stop western society going down the path of industrial revolution and capitalism, to somehow find a balance where we aren’t fuelled by greed and destruction, and instead live gently on this planet. Indigenous cultures all around the world had this down, we just ignored them.
If you’re willing to give it away, tell us how you maintain a relationship whilst working in the same room, live in the same house and run two businesses together?
It’s kind of just become our norm. Other couples say goodbye to each other in the morning and spend the whole day apart at separate work spaces whereas we get to spend all day together. We’re grateful that we get to spend more time together than apart. We’ve gotten better at not taking work home, but also we’ve given up the expectation that it’s bad if we end up talking business at the dinner table or on the weekend because it’s our life and what we’re passionate about, so naturally it flows through our whole life.
The Corner Palm in all its glory ready for a day of co-working.
What is your idea of an epic wedding?
Nat: All of our many friends hanging out in nature and dancing the night away under the stars.
Dan: Definitely involves being outside with no allocated seating or tables. I’m thinking rugs, fires and big smiles everywhere.
Favourite thing about each other:
Nat: Dan’s ability to not swell on set-backs and to simple see them as a challenge to keep going and do better.
Dan: Nat has the strongest moral compass of anyone I’ve ever met.
One of many events held at The Corner Palm.
What is the driving force behind doing voluntary work for a not-for-profit? How do you stay focused, inspired and driven?
Well, it’s probably not the ideal but we seem to have a funny culture in Australia where if you’re doing something ‘good’ then you shouldn’t be paid as much or it.
But it’s kind of a crock of shit, because why should a bank exec take home the big bucks, while people trying to help others and the environment must live off passion. Clean Coast Collective has always been run super lean and we’ve always prioritised putting money into projects over paying ourselves.
However recently we’re realising that this isn’t a sustainable option and if we really want to create impact we need to be able to focus all of our attention on it, rather than on the side of our ‘real’ jobs.