The Awesomeness Factor - Couplepreneurs Paul Girardi & Danielle Hachey

The Awesomeness Factor

Paul & Danielle hosted their surfing & yoga retreat at the Tailwind Jungle Lodge in 2015. I immediately fell in love with this couplepreneur duo and have since followed them to the waves of Nicaragua and to their cozy cabin in the Kootenay moutains of British Columbia. This inspiring couple recently tied the knot (congratulations newly weds! loved the pre-wedding hootenany!). I can't wait to see where their life adventures together take them...and I hope they don't mind me tagging along! Check out their interview below, you definitely don't want to miss the wildpreneur wisdom in this one :).

Q: What was your inspiration to get Feathers & Fur Experiences going? Where/when did this take place?

Our inspiration for Feathers and Fur was actually founded way back, before we were a couple.  I, Paul, was working as a gardener in the small surf town of Ucluelet.  I was pruning Nootka Roses one day down on the inner harbour and Danielle, whom I had met briefly and was quite taken by, stopped by with a popsicle.  We sat while pruning the roses and eating our popsicles and discussed life dreams, goals, and ambitions.  It turned out we had quite similar desires - to host people, and hold a space for people to reconnect to nature, to themselves, and each other.  This would have been the summer of 2010.

Q: How long did you think about starting your wild business together before you actually did it? What was the tipping point?

The creation of Feathers and Fur started with a transition to operating an already existent surf lodge.  We moved to Nicaragua to run a small eco lodge where we taught both surfing and yoga to our guests.  It was here that we were given our name by a lovely intuitive, Joanne, from New Mexico.  In doing a reading with Danielle, she foresaw "lots of feathers and fur in our future."  It was immediately after this reading that Danielle came back to our little beach casita saying, "I've got our name!"  In running this lodge, we learned not only about what we could offer as a couple, but also that we needed to establish our own home back in Canada where we could develop our ideas of hosting adventures to new and exciting places.  The tipping point was our first successful sold out retreat in San Pancho Mexico at Tailwind Jungle Lodge.

Q: What is the biggest obstacle you’ve encountered as you’ve created your business?

Challenges come from every direction, in different shapes, sizes, and forms.  The biggest complications we have had seem to have arisen due to something that arguably doesn't even exist - time.  Our individual viewpoints on time, and what is pertinent, and when, seem to vary from time to time.  Amidst all the 'time' we spend together, working, living, and playing, it is in our creation of "whats next," that the "WHEN" really rears it's ugly head.  But, amidst our busy lives, respecting each others opinions and reconnecting on our shared goals can overcome tiny petty arguments about when someone did the last Facebook post, or whether or not we've got up-to-date passports the weekend before leaving for a trip!

Q: What is your favorite aspect of couplepreneurship?

Most couples live and adventure together, to add in the working element is another ball game.  I love the confidence in knowing my partner is there for me regardless of the scenario, as well as knowing that we are collectively building our dream together.

We can do whatever we want!!!  Somedays Feathers and Fur are hosting surf trips, somedays yoga workshops, somedays art shows, somedays nothing at all.  The decisions are solely ours :)

Q: What is your secret to staying balanced and happy as couplepreneurs?

Secret to staying balanced and happy - go surfing, and adhere to the awesomeness factor.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you'd give to couplepreneurs looking to start their own unique business?

Remember that your relationship is based on love and togetherness.  Not on business.  You can argue about marketing strategies, expenses, emails, and whatnot as business partners, but don't forget that those conversations are not what your relationship is based on.  Argue as business partners, but then take those hats off and go back to being lovers.

Oh, and you don’t have to do everything together.  Splitting tasks, and confidently allowing your partner to take it on entirely allows for a bit more freedom.  And don’t bother trying to share one computer…

Q: How do you make the BIG decisions in life?

The Awesomeness Factor : This complex theory was derived through countless years of study, a philosophy degree, a brief period of time studying wine, and loads of spur of the moment changes.  The awesomeness factor is an equation which can be placed among a decision as a framework in which to work within.  The complexities are thorough - but manageable. Listen closely.

Step one - you have a scenario you are torn about.  Possibly a decision to be made, or something causing your turmoil. 

Step two - you layout your options.  Open your mind to explore what is possible with your dilemma/scenario, possible outcomes, options, directions you could go.

Step three - this is the big one.  You pick the MOST AWESOME option, and you do that one.  You commit to it.  You stick to it.  You keep following that awesomeness, forever basically.  And never stop.  Keep picking the awesome option, and you will never fail.

That in a nutshell is the awesomeness factor.  It is not as much living life without regrets, it is more so living life knowing you've made the decisions you have for a reason based solely on awesomeness and positivity - not fear, or expectations, or judgement.  But solely based on awesomeness.  And that, is going to be an awesome life.

Q: What do you wish you’d known prior to creating Feathers & Fur?

Life was pretty easy when everything you own fits in a van, your only priority is timing the swell to it’s best daily potential, and no-one expects anything from you.  Life as a free agent was pretty cruisey.  There are times when it seems like passing on that life was a sacrifice, but truthfully, it’s nice to be accountable, and productive, and actively creating a life rather than just floating through one.  Financially - remember that vegetables grow in dirt, and you can get whatever you need at thrift stores.  Living on a shoestring budget isn’t a sacrifice, it’s just smart.

Q: Describe your perfect day as couplepreneurs.

A perfect day is hard to describe being that in reality it would involve tele-transportation from tropical waters to mountain peaks to old growth forests.  In the tropics, a perfect day is glassy head high a frames for both sunrise and sunset.  In the mountains, 40cm of pow on a bluebird day.  But regardless of where, it involves the two of us, choosing the most awesome thing we can, together.

Q: How do you see Feathers & Fur down the road? Do you strive to expand/grow your business?

Our growth vision is to continue hosting awesome experiences for people.  The goal is to live an awesomely extraordinary life - and if others would like to tag along, well great!  Ideally we will be able to continue to comfortably host people at our home in the forest, in the mountains we play in, and around the world chasing waves.  Our focus will continually remain the same - explore this beautiful world we live in, while connecting to, and protecting, the natural environments in which we find ourselves.  Ideally, as our tribe of followers grows, our ability to facilitate these experiences for others will continually become more and more refined and frequent.

Q: Where do you find inspiration?

The ocean, the trees, and the bedroom.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

Do something awesome - chasing that which is wild, natural and free.  Just because systems have been set in place in society does not mean we must follow them.  Make sure it’s awesome for you, for others, and for the environment, and don’t stop being awesome!