26 Feb Why letting go can be the most faithful commitment to that which we love
I started Faithful to Nature 10 years ago. I was 26 then and as it goes, so much has changed in the last decade. My vision, or quest really, was to create an ethical shopping platform where customers were treated with the respect they deserved in terms of transparent product information, ethical product choices and excellent service. I thrived, in particular, in creating inspiring content for our subscribers.
I found it exhilarating to work with a small team of people and to develop a progressive and loving work culture based on the five values of the business – love; action; bravery; caring and responsibility. The business was my baby, and as it grew, so did I. I also gave 110% output every day to fulfil this dream, and towards the end of 2015 for the very first time since I had forged ahead with this crazy idea I started getting the “Monday Blues.” Work started to feel like work. (I feel incredibly grateful to have worked so hard for a decade with my work always feeling like a labour of love.) The business was growing incredibly fast and was requiring tremendously more analytic rather than strategic thinking.
I was spending hours in HR meetings. All very exciting symptoms of growth, but it was sapping my mojo.
If you have watched my video clip on our homepage, you know I am a fierce advocate for following and trusting one’s heart even if the steps are not logical. Alongside this, I also believe with all my heart that to inspire, one must be inspired, and it is my lifeblood to create work that inspires.
The exhaustion and apprehension and even creative tension that was starting to build were clear enough signs to me to trust and allow the change coming. As fate had it, I bumped into Kaspar Paur soon after. Kaspar is a charismatic, intense – but not too different from my own intensity – and fiercely passionate, younger Swiss man by birth, but African by heart, whom I strongly connected with while getting sand under our fingernails, planting trees in the Platbos forest 2 years earlier.
He was the only person I knew of who actively shared an article I had written for a business publication on the merits of running a values-based, rather than rules-based, organisation, and was hugely excited by the potential of being involved in a business like Faithful to Nature. He was looking for work more closely aligned with his personal belief systems. As an environmentalist and a vegan, Faithful to Nature seemed the ideal stomping ground. Plus he had more than a decade of experience in UN-related NGOs as well as great start-up and consulting experience to boot. He had also just moved to the Southern Peninsula in Cape Town, where we were based. It all just fit.
I made the terrifying decision to give up control and to bring on Kaspar as the CEO of Faithful to Nature. I had worked so tirelessly to keep the business and make it viable but decided to take a trusting leap that it was time for my business to grow to the next level, and I was perhaps not the right person to take her there.
I make this leap feeling that there lies another quest for me beyond this one. And while my next steps are still forming, I trust it will play well with Faithful to Nature, perhaps even alongside her.
And so it is that I find myself having stepped into the role as shareholder, and director of the business, but am no longer driving her. I am available to support the team on the really big decisions but have passed the baton to Kaspar in all other respects.
Following one’s heart can be a strange beast.
And while I am scared I know that – what is the highest for me is the highest for the business – and vice versa.
Thank you so much to our amazing customers and fans still reading this. This dream has flourished because of you. Thank you for allowing us to grow and for inviting a space for me to be so raw and real with you, always. Even during our hardest days as a sapling trying to prove to the rest of the world that an online, ethical business could survive in South Africa, your feedback helped me believe in what we were doing.
As much as we were struggling to make ends meet, I could just never bear to let you down. It was also you and your heartfelt and constructive written feedback during times when you felt we were not honouring our ingredient policy (and thus you) which kept and continues to keep us on our toes, maintaining the integrity we always aim for.
It has and always will all about you – thank you!
As for the beautiful souls that have contributed and continue to be part of the growing Faithful family, you too make and made all of this possible.
People, if you could just feel and see our employee’s dedication to you. I know we don’t always get it right, but every single customer experience is taken so personally by the team behind the scenes. The care and love that goes into supporting Faithful to Nature to reach her potential is the most inspiring thing!
So, to Kaspar and his team and to you, our customers, thank you, thank you, thank you – a hundred times over.
I’d love for you to connect with me on Medium and continue sharing in my personal journey.