WONDER WOMAN // Julie Haslam, Curator for The Downtime Agenda
Julie Haslam is a wonder woman.
After a period of illness that forced a rethink on the way she was living and working, Julie took the bold step earlier this year to launch her own online platform dedicated to the concept of downtime.
It was a theme that struck a cord with us at Rad HQ as the times of quiet and spaciousness can be few and far between in the daily running of both a young family and a small business.
Starting with a beautifully edited Instagram feed with photography by the super radical Marnie Hawson, Julie's work caught our eye as being totally of the moment and the exact redirection social media needed to feel 'new'. Spend just a minute on the @dowtimeagenda feed and you will find yourself lost in a world of quiet meditative moments - long walks, hot baths and spacious views.
As part of our Winter Solstice 'renew and refresh' theme, we invited TDA to sprinkle a little bit of their relaxed magic on our Instagram feed this week and met the brains behind all this beauty, Julie Haslam.
You've taken the leap this year to launch your own business. Congratulations! Tell us a more about 'The Downtime Agenda' and the reason you have taken this project on.
The Downtime Agenda is a carefully curated online hub dedicated to, as I like to put it, the things we do when we’re not doing things. In our over-worked, over-connected world, we exist to remind people that rest, recuperation and comfort aren’t indulgences — but necessities.
On the Downtime Agenda site you’ll find interviews with some wonderful people about how they spend their downtime and relevant advice they have for others. You’ll also find beautiful downtime related products and services that contribute to physical and mental wellness.
There were several things that came together for me in starting this business. I have wanted to own my own business for quite some time and like many people I have spent hours wracking my brain for that big idea. I kept hearing over and over that if you want to be happy in your work you need to do what you enjoy and I would think to myself “how the heck can I make a career out of sitting on the couch watching TV or visiting my favourite day spas?!”
During this period of soul searching, I was burning the candle at both ends, working very long hours and travelling a lot. I unfortunately became very ill with a thyroid condition called Graves disease and as a result had to take two months off work.
It was at this time that I realised the importance of slowing things down – not only for ourselves but for the businesses we work for. I do believe in working hard, but I also believe we need to be more productive, doing less with more focus. And that’s why I have started the business.
You have created a business from scratch built around the idea of 'downtime'. Most small business owners would probably be thinking that these 2 ideas are seemingly at odds. How do you reconcile your own work habits with the Downtime Agenda philosophy? What rituals and practices have you instilled in your own working life to help maintain balance?
Firstly, I have had to come to the realisation that good things take time and not everything needs to be done urgently. Secondly, I believe that if we give ourselves the time we need for self-care, we come to work with more clarity, creativity and the ability to be productive.
Running your own business definitely gives you greater flexibility – you just have to be disciplined about taking breaks. I have blocks of “downtime” scheduled in my calendar just like I would any other meeting. In these blocks you’ll find me walking the dog, meditating or in a Pilates class.
Tell us about your creative process. Where do you source your ideas? Which part of the business do you find excites you most?
All of my ideas come to me in the shower. I think because I am alone, in a comfortable, clutter free space, with no technology, my mind just wanders.
Because we have only just launched, the most exciting part of the business would be the unknown. I have so many ideas and can’t wait to see how things evolve over the next year or so. I also get super excited when I am contacted by someone who has been inspired by what we’re doing. Social media can be pretty narcissistic and can make us feel a bit shitty so I just love hearing from people who tell me that our instagram feed makes them feel calm – it always makes my day.
You've worked with some amazing people already profiling key creatives as part of the launch of this project. Tell us about your favourite experience so far. Who has been the standout interview?
Can I have two?
Elleni Pearce, host with the most and founder of lenzo.com.au, an online destination for event inspiration. When we arrived it was kind of chaotic, Elleni is so creative and had several different outfits and loads of ideas. It was nice to see her eventually relax, in her comfy clothes and she even let us photograph her in the bath!
Patrick Johnson, founder of P Johnson Tailors was also amazing. From a creative perspective, he is incredible, just take a look at his Paddington studio. It was nice to see someone with so much creativity, focus and some serious dedication to downtime.
Tell us more about your work environment. Do you work from a studio, office, on the road or at home? How does the space you're in influence you?
I work from my home office. It’s small so I need to be really clever about how I use space and disciplined about getting rid of things I don’t need. If my desk is clear and organised then I am so much more focused and productive.
What does being ‘radical’ mean to you?
Radical means daring to challenge the status quo and having the desire to continually evolve. Without ‘radical’ life would be mundane, so no matter how great / challenging / stressful our lives’ might be, it’s always good to look for something better, and to me that’s what radical is.
I think Radical Yes! perfectly encapsulates that philosophy to continually evolve and its’ something I’d love to think the Downtime Agenda will do as we progress.