How This Fashion Entrepreneur Reinvented His First Passion To Achieve Work-Life Balance

Jim Storey was being ground down by the rat race and losing touch with his love for adventure before he launched Surf Perimeters apparel brand, and rediscovered his first passion

RISING How much was your drive to start-up Surf Perimeters about re-connecting with a pre-career surf lifestyle?
JIM STOREY, FOUNDER
‘It’s not really a desire to reconnect with the lifestyle, because my life has moved on. It’s more a need to propel myself into the great outdoors and find a way to continue to explore this beautiful planet. I have a yearning for adventure. A hunger to stoke the fire and find empty surfing line-ups. And there is an inner spirit that wants to temporarily escape from the crazy world in which we live and just immerse myself in the simplicity of the great outdoors, and the ocean in particular. Over the years, I’ve really struggled to hang on to the passion to get out there. Life can be really busy and it can make you lose sight of that spirit, which lies deep within. There is always a reason to not do something or just postpone it for a few years.’

RISING Was there a particular event in your life that made you kick your own ass into action?
JS
‘When my Dad died back in 2012, having being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, it hit me like a freight train. I made a pledge to myself that I would make more of an effort to create that equilibrium now rather than wait until retirement – because we don’t know what’s around the corner. Sometimes I struggle to find the money and also work or family commitments may need to take precedence, but I will always do my best to fulfil that pledge. Because life is short. And if we are only surviving rather than living, then what’s the point? So, at the heart of the brand is a spirit that’s intended to help people keep the fire burning – to encourage them to keep the dream alive and never lose sight of their inner passion.’

‘Underpinning the brand is that search for a more balanced lifestyle’

RISING But being an entrepreneur is time consuming, so were there times where starting up Surf Perimeters meant your work-life balance suffered?
JS
‘I’d be lying if I said no. For the past two years I’ve been working in my normal job (albeit on a freelance basis) whilst trying to start Surf Perimeters and also spend time with my amazing wife and three awesome kids. So, things have been busy!’

RISING So how have you found a way to bring your passion back into your life without losing momentum in your startup?
JS
‘When I took the first step in igniting the business, my intention was always to take it slow and not have any self-imposed targets, which would cause undue stress. Thinking back, my main intention from the outset was just to design and manufacture contemporary, surf-inspired clothing that I could wear myself in order to keep the fire burning. A brand which weaved saltwater spirit into my wardrobe, which I could wear across many walks of life, whether that be commuting on a train to work, sitting in a meeting, splitboarding in the backcountry or just checking out the surf.’

RISING What did you do when the brand started getting attention?
JS
‘As the brand started to attract interest, I guess it became more time-consuming and harder to manage my work-life balance. However, I never let it become all-encompassing and, throughout the journey so far, I’ve always prioritised my family, followed by the need to get out there over and above the business. Whether that be splitboarding in the northern fjords of Iceland – where I was in May – or on a remote surf trip in southern Morocco searching for empty line-ups, which was earlier in 2017. I’ve made a point of continuing to live the brand – underpinning the brand is that search for a more balanced lifestyle. And I am focused on making sure I don’t lose sight of that as I grow the business.’

‘Don’t set unrealistic or overly-ambitious targets – they may cause you unnecessary stress’

RISING What are the top three lessons you have learned about working towards work-life balance while being an entrepreneur?
JS

  1. While having a strategy and associated plan is important, don’t set yourself unrealistic or overly-ambitious targets, which may cause you unnecessary stress and potential resentment of what you are trying to create.
  2. Always remember why you are starting the business. This will obviously be different depending on individual aspirations. But if one of the reasons is to increase your autonomy and have better balance in your life, then do your best to never let that slip in the search for growth.
  3. Make sure you have your priorities right. For me, family are number one and nothing gets in the way of that. If you have kids, they are only young once. Enjoy it. Be there for their special moments. Because one day, if you’re not, you will regret it.

RISING Did striking out on your own with Surf Perimeters help you to find more purpose and fulfilment from the ‘work’ side of the occasion?
JS
‘Yes absolutely. The gratification of starting something out of nothing is huge. For most of my career, I’ve been a puppet, adhering to corporate politics and having to ‘play the game’, which I hated and was generally not very good at! Seeing something which you have in your mind’s eye come to life is a very fulfilling experience.’

RISING Do you think some active brands are too focussed on ‘the dream’ lifestyle of a pro athlete?
JS
‘Most brands focus on selling the dream, but they forget that not many of us can actually live it on a permanent basis. For 90% of the time, many of us are living normal lives, navigating urban environments and holding down a busy work and/ or family life. I wanted to create a brand which understands the boundaries between work and play. We ‘get’ the fact that it’s not easy to find a balanced equilibrium between the two if you live in a landlocked location, or have little time to get to the waves. So we want to bridge that gap and speak to both worlds – sharp, contemporary lines for the more passive, discerning look alongside technical, innovative styles for getting out there.’

RISING Where do you think active fashion is go next?
JS
‘I think the desire to connect with the outdoors will continue to grow as people realise that there is more to life than just working. So the fusion of fashion and function will become more refined and interwoven. Apparel lines which look great but have a functionality that makes the connection to the outdoors.’

‘Just do it! If you don’t go, you’ll never know, so take that first step’

RISING Do you have any advice for a would-be entrepreneur who has a clear idea for a brand but is fearful of risking failure?
JS
‘Just do it! If you don’t go, you’ll never know. Take that first step. And if you’re worried about it not working out, then I would just do it in your own time, at your own pace, and see what happens. As soon as you tell people about what you’re doing, it creates pressure and expectation. Also, even if it fails, I can assure you that you will learn a huge amount having gone through the process. Not only about setting up a business, but also about what you’re good at and perhaps not so good at. The learning curve is steep, but as long as you don’t invest more than you can afford, the worst case isn’t actually that bad. You can walk away in the knowledge that you did actually try. And you will have equipped yourself with new capabilities and contacts as a result.’

RISING What was the best piece of advice you received while setting up Surf Perimeters?
JS
‘“Surround yourself with great people”. And he didn’t mean family or friends, which is a given, he was talking about experts who can help me bring my vision to life. It’s been a journey getting there but, one way or another, I’ve organically surrounded myself with some incredibly talented, loyal and trustworthy people who all have a unique area of expertise – from design to sourcing, manufacturing and PR. Without them, the business would still be in my head.’

WHAT NEXT? Read RISING’s interview with big-wave surfer Andrew Cotton who went from plumber to professional Red Bull athlete, on his search for the ultimate offshore break – Cotton recently broke his back in a monster wipeout but his drive remains undimmed…

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