fbpx

Meet this month’s conscious curator: Loz from Will & Bear

This month’s conscious curator is the remarkable Lauren Williams – co-founder of Will & Bear and the poster girl for life (and work) on the road.

 

Lauren and her partner Alex set up Will & Bear as an ode to the great outdoors: a hat brand designed for adventure. 

 

With 2020 putting Loz and Alex’s travel plans on pause, they’ve spent most of the year in their Melbourne apartment: discovering new routines away from the constant adventure and uncertainty of a nomadic lifestyle.

 

We spoke with Loz about what 2020 has been like for her, and took a deep dive into her approach to travel, work, food and style. 

 

Lauren Williams, Will & Bear

 

TCS:

2020 has been, to use the word of the year, unprecedented. Amongst the madness though, there has been time to slow down and reflect, and our good fortune to be living in a beautiful, sunny, democratic country has never been more apparent. What has 2020 been like for you?

 

Lauren:

I think 2020 was in hindsight, really great because we haven’t been forced to stop since we started the brand five years ago. And even though the brand was built on travelling and running around, it’s grown to a bigger business than we realised before COVID hit and forced us to slow down.

 

And being locked down in Melbourne has been such a change from our normal lifestyles of floating around. We’ve been floating around for the past five years, and we bought an apartment as a base for when we weren’t in the van. Just as we came back to settle on that, COVID hit and so we thought we might as well stay for a while, and… that was in March. We were meant to be in WA exploring in the van, so we’ve had quite a different year than what we expected, but it’s been good in a lot of ways. We never really realised how much time we didn’t spend in the office. We were always on the go, doing photoshoots and travelling, so when that was all gone it was like… wow, there’s so much other work we can be doing that’s really beneficial to our brand.

 

And personally, I am a creature of habit. Even when I’ve been on the road, travelling, I’ve always had my rituals and habits, but I’ve realised that being in one place for a long time really helps with that. So I’ve really deepened those habits, and I’ve picked up some habits which health-wise have really helped me.

 

TCS:

Melbourne came out of lockdown yesterday, how are you finding the freedom?

 

Lauren:

It’s amazing. Last night me and five friends went out for dinner and had some beers and walked around the city and it was like we’d just got out of prison. I could hear the birds more than normal, and the tree’s seemed greener. I can only compare it to the way you feel when you eat the first time after fasting, you’re like “has food always tasted this amazing?”. It was like that but for every other sensory sensation. Even just seeing people working in their shops – tidying and putting signs in their windows. The world was coming alive again and it was so beautiful to watch.

 

TCS:

We’ve all spent a lot of time at home this year, what’s your approach to space-making? In terms of home energy and aesthetic – how would you describe your home and van?

 

Lauren:

We both love design. Before we started Will & Bear, Alex was designing cafes and restaurants and work spaces, so he’s so good at designing spaces that feel nice to be in. And I suppose I personally, I’m not as design focused but I really appreciate space, and I like things to be tidy. Every morning before I start my work for the day I make sure everything is in its place: tidy space, tidy mind is my philosophy, plus as many brown things as possible. As many old, brown vintage things as possible. Both spaces we have are quite small, and with that you have to be really selective with what you fill your space with. I’m not super materialistic but I do love good quality, handmade things: really nice vintage pieces that are nice to be around. 

 

TCS:

Where do you feel most at home?

 

Lauren:

At my mum’s house. When I’m in Melbourne I always go and stay there at least once a week, have dinner with her, and just live the way I did when I was growing up – it always makes me feel so secure and comfy. Her design style isn’t the same as mine, but it’s the house I grew up in and it makes me feel … cosy.

Lauren Williams, Will & Bear

TCS:

A loaded question in these slightly restrictive times, but what is your relationship with travelling? Is travel something that has guided a lot of your work?

 

Lauren:

It definitely did at the start. The reason we started Will & Bear is because we were inspired to get outside, because of nature, and because of photography. We started it with the idea to inspire other people to get outdoors and explore amazing places. And we also started with the aim of giving back to nature, so travelling is a huge influence on us and always has been. We started Will & Bear with the idea that we could create a life for ourselves where we had the freedom to travel, and that was what we created and what we’ve been doing for the past five years. And I suppose with COVID, my relationship to travel…now I just don’t want to get out of my routine! Being a creature of habit and loving travel is actually a massive conflict I have. Sometimes I book all of these things to do and I get overwhelmed that my routine will be thrown off. But I’ve got three photoshoots on location this month planned, so I’ll guess I’ll know at the end of the month what my relationship to travel is now.

 

TCS:

Is there a certain place you love to revisit, or is there one place you’ve been to (even just once) which will always be your special place?

 

Lauren:

Tasmania. Me and Alex try to go there every year, it’s a really special place to both of us. On our first trip there we’d only been dating for six months, and it was just the pinnacle of our relationship. We fell so deeply in love while we were there, so it holds the nicest memories. And it’s interesting that falling totally in love with Alex and with Tasmania coincided with the start of the business. We tell the story of how we started Will & Bear so often that the memory of that trip is really deepened in my psyche now – I’ll never forget that feeling.

 

TCS:

Where’s on your wanderlust list – any hotels or spaces in particular that you want to visit?

 

Lauren:

I am really keen for the whole of WA. In January we were meant to jump in our van and spend six months in WA, but we were delayed because of the bush fires, and then the apartment was settling, and then COVID happened. So as soon as we’re allowed to, I really want to get to WA. And I really want to visit Broom, I’ve got family up there and I just want to drive the whole coast up to Broom. But… that’s on hold for now, and it will be even better when we finally can realise those travel dreams. 

 

Lauren Williams, Will & Bear

 

TCS:

What’s your food philosophy?

 

Lauren:

Healthy food is a massive part of my life. My philosophy is a rainbow diet and everything in moderation. I have suffered from anxiety, and I read this book a few years back called The Mood Cure – all about eating food for the purpose of improving your mental health. So a lot of the reasons for why I eat the way I do is based on improving my mental health. Mental health has to be holistic – you can’t just put a band aid on if you’re not addressing the whole issue.

 

TCS:

Do you have a signature dish? If so are you willing to share the recipe?

 

Lauren:

I do. One of my favourites is lamb and strawberry salad, I’m really into using fruit in salads.


TCS:

Is there one food product that you use every day?

 

Lauren:

Venerdi Paleo Super Seeded bread – bread is my favourite food in the world but I try to limit gluten for brain health, and I’ve tried every alternative but this is my favourite.

Lauren Williams, Will & Bear

TCS:

What is your approach to self-care? Are there any specific steps you take to look after your mind? If so, what are they?

 

Lauren:

I find I need to keep self care front of mind. I’ve always got at least one book on the go, or one topic that I’m researching or learning about, and that could be anything from how the brain works to social science. I’ve just started this book about making your own medicine from plants: Plants for the People, and I’ve just finished Atomic Habits which is all about how the small changes you can make every day can change your life. I find that if  I haven’t been reading about how we can feel better, I’m not on my A-game with it, so I try to really stay on top of that and read a little bit every day. 

 

Lauren Williams, Will & Bear

 

TCS:

The style of Will & Bear is flawless and so incredibly consistent in its beautiful, rustic aesthetic – where do you draw inspiration from?

 

Lauren:

Most of it comes from nature, and design-wise we’re both pretty classic – hats are a classic product and we don’t feel the need to change it too much. Classic colours and shapes that are telling a good story and making people think, that’s our defining style. 

 

TCS:

Do you have any rules or guiding principles in terms of your own personal style?

 

Lauren:

I don’t have any rules, but when I think about it, I’ve always been a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl. I’ll have a look in my wardrobe and I’ll think “maybe I’ll wear that dress today….or maybe I’ll just stick to jeans and t-shirt” it just works every time – it’s unassuming and approachable, which is the vibe I want to give off. Simplicity, I guess, is my style. 

Lauren Williams, Will & Bear

TCS:

Describe your work day – how is it structured? Is it structured? How do you find your flow?

 

Lauren:

At the moment it’s pretty structured, I’ll do some kind of exercise in the morning and then most days I have 2-4 meetings per day, normally after 11. I’m always in Asana – I’m very organised so it really works for me, catching up with what people are up to. I try to finish by 5 but because of COVID I’ve been working a lot later, but I love what we do. But then yesterday I took a whole day off because it was the first day of freedom, and even just with that one day, by the time it got to the evening I knew that I’d be better at work the next day – more creative. Everyone knows that if they take a day off they’ll be better the next day, but sometimes when it’s your own business you can forget to do that for so many days in a row. Finding my flow, my favourite thing to work on is actually the numbers. Before we started Will & Bear I was a mortgage broker, and I’d been at the bank for 10 years. I just kind of googled marketing when we started, so yep I really enjoy organising things and being in control of stuff. I tend to find my flow when there are lots of little tasks that need doing and I’m getting on top of them. It’s like the opposite of a creative flow I guess. I’m not so good with words but my brain is good with numbers – I like putting things together which is why I like the organisation of the different tasks. So a task might have a dozen sub tasks and each one has a different time frame, and I love putting those together and forming them so they work. 

 

TCS:

What are you most proud of in terms of your business?

 

Lauren:

I think I’m most proud that when someone knows Will & Bear, one of the first things they think of is what we stand for, which is the environment. And I like that it’s really engrained, but when you look at the aesthetics you don’t necessarily see that. At first glance people think “they make nice hats” but when you dig a bit deeper you learn that we also plant trees and we are actually making a difference, but I like that our values are part of the brand, and not all we have

 

Lauren Williams, Will & Bear

TCS:

What are the next steps for Will & Bear?

 

Lauren:

We’re actually launching in America next year. It was supposed to be this year, but with COVID we put that on hold. Alex has been wanting to do it for years, but it’s very exciting. The plan was to take a three month road trip with all of these events and photo shoots, but that’s not high on our list anymore.

 

TCS:

What an amazing life to spend with someone you love

 

Lauren:

I feel really lucky. The relationships we have are the most valuable thing, and we knew that before, but I think before COVID we didn’t really realise what that meant. This year has made everyone stop and think. Hopefully it’s going to be a more compassionate world now, you would assume right?

Lauren Williams, Will & Bear

Join our community

Good things only delivered to your inbox every fortnight, with tips for self-care and sustainable living.

It appears you're using an old version of Internet Explorer which is no longer supported, for safer and optimum browsing experience please upgrade your browser.