Sunshine Sister: Iris

This is an interview series with women that inspire me. Women that are doing cool shit. The Sunshine Sisters of the world! Be prepared to meet change makers, paradigm shifters, visionaries, game changers, humanitarians, entrepreneurs, adventurers, teachers, environmentalists, activists, renegades and storytellers from every corner of the globe! These interviews intend to share real life stories about how these women were able to diverge from the beaten path and follow their dreams. Learn how weaknesses were turned intro strengths and how breakdowns were actually preparations for breakthroughs!

Today I would like to introduce Iris from the sea is my cup of tea. What fascinates me about her is that at the age of 24, she is already crafting her life’s story in exactly the way that she wants. Her wanderlust and ocean loving mind has taken her from Cornwall to Sri Lanka, and later on to Portugal where she will be starting the biggest project of her life, as you will read about here! Right now, the adventure is on hold, because she is back in The Netherlands to save up some money for a year. Sometimes, we just need to put our heads down for a while and work our asses off to turn our dreams into reality!

I hope that this series can give you the inspiration and tools to cultivate positive change in your own life. At the very least, I hope you are able to look at your own situation, with all yours struggles, fears, but also hopes and accomplishments through a different lens. At the end of the day, you are the captain of your own ship. And because I love nautical metaphors, I’m just gonna leave this one here: ‘no smooth sea has ever made a skilful sailor‘ 😉

Hey, Iris! Tell us a little bit about yourself! Who are you, where are you from and what are you most passionate about?

I am a traveller, a freelance copy writer in the sustainable niche, a yoga teacher, a surfer, a lover of the ocean and the outdoors, but most of all, a dreamer. I have big dreams and I am currently planning to set up an eco-project in the South of Portugal with my boyfriend. So that’s definitely what I am most passionate about at the moment! We are hoping to sign the papers for our piece of land soon and move to Portugal around springtime next year.

The prospective piece of land in Portugal that holds the seeds to big adventures!

You weren’t always a digital nomad doing your own thang! What was life like before you started this big adventure?

I actually enjoyed university a lot (I’ve studied both mathematics and Dutch language and culture, but never finished the former) and wasn’t really into travelling. I knew I was a bit of a dreamer and that I’d like to do things differently, but I never really knew how. Some health issues also held me back to go and explore. But after discovering the allergies that caused my health problems, and changing to a plant-based whole foods lifestyle, I felt like I could conquer the world and set off on my first solo backpack adventure. I already worked a part-time location independent job that I ran into by coincidence and kept it going while traveling. Even though I earned very little, it actually allowed me to travel to Cornwall, Nepal, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and eventually through Europe. While blogging my way through, I discovered what I’d always been good at: writing from the heart, sharing things I am passionate about. My own freelance copywriting company was born. I discovered my passion for writing and my passion for sustainability could be combined. As of today, I am still collaborating with many interesting brands and meeting likeminded people through my online network. I couldn’t think of a more fulfilling career.

Do you remember a specific moment in time that you consider your turning point? 

There’s actually two events that led to my turning point. The first one was early on, when I was working in a callcenter to earn money for my travels. Working a job that feels like it’s draining you, 9-5, 40 hours a week. I knew it would be the last time I would sell my time for money like that. The second event that led to my turning point was getting my first freelance gig with a company that shares the same view on running a sustainable business and working in an eco-friendly manner. From that day on I realised the worth of my skills and started to extend my business from there.

What was your biggest challenge in starting this adventure, and what helped to push you forward?

Definitely finding my own way to do it, my own skills, my own niche. It’s so important to find the thing that excites you, that makes you happy and brings fulfilment. Being true to yourself and knowing what your talents are, are necessary to create a business you love and it will make you stand out from your competition.

Daily obstacles can cause us to lose sight of our goals and dreams after we’ve started turning them into reality. What are these obstacles for you? And instead of giving up, what helps you to regain a positive outlook?

There are definitely obstacles and you have to tackle them one by one. I’ve had many, from not realising your worth and charging too little, from not working time efficiently, from getting distracted by things that may seem important but are not making you money. And I’m still facing challenges every day. As a freelance writer, you will do something you’ve never done before almost every day. The only way to get through is to always remind yourself of what is important, how you want to spend your time. And definitely never let anyone, or any rejection, make you feel like you can’t do it. Because not everyone will agree with you or your ideas, as long as the right people, your people, do – the rest of it doesn’t matter.

What are the ways that help you become grounded and find your alignment again?

Yoga, definitely yoga. Every morning, even when you’re tired or upset or don’t have the time for it. And being outside. I always go for a walk or a bike ride, somewhere where I am surrounded by nature and I can breathe.

What gives you the most energy?

Contributing to positive change. Making the world a bit better. Even if it’s something simple, like making someone feel heard, making art or connecting with a likeminded soul. I would really love to see more people doing good, not just for themselves but for all on this planet. I am talking about small businesses working in a sustainable matter, people deciding to go vegetarian or even eat less meat, people choosing to consume less plastic. These things all add up!

Who or what empowers and inspires you?

I feel inspired by so many people! I am inspired by powerful writers like Janne Robinson, but I am also inspired by Dutch bloggers like Zoë from Moderne Hippies, Jessie from the zero-waste blog Emma+John and singer-songwriter Jack Johnson for creating a movement to change the world for the better. People in their power, doing what they love while making the world a better place!

What advice would you give to other women who would love to travel, but don’t know where to start or perhaps are being held back by fear?

The first time I went travelling by myself, age 21, I planned to go for just a week and as close to home as I could think of, and ended up going to Cornwall. I ended up staying for over six weeks and loved every minute of it. When travelling to Nepal by myself, I was so terrified again: how would I handle the cultural difference? What if I would be alone? You have to trust that in the end, it will all work out. I think that’s the most important lesson you’ll learn by travelling!

What do you want your legacy to be?

My biggest dream would be to see the eco-project I am dreaming about becoming a reality. Creating a place for people to enjoy themselves, to reconnect with nature and with themselves. To grow your own food, find your creativity, enjoy surfing, do yoga and take a step back. I think many people lost their connection with nature and their dreams in our society, it would be amazing to inspire others to find their talents and chase their own dreams, too. 

Thanks so much for the inspiration, Iris! Where can we follow your journey?

I would be so honoured if you would like to follow my journey towards this eco-project! You can read my stories on my blog The sea is my cup of tea, and of course take a little peek into my daily life via Facebook and Instagram. And if you’re running a sustainable business and are in need of a freelance copywriter in the sustainable niche, I’m your girl!

Author: Eline