Escaping The Daily Grind

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Since I was little I’ve always enjoyed the great outdoors. Mum would often plan epic camping trips away throughout my home state of Victoria. We loved to rough it: basic dome tent, a couple of chairs, gas stove, lantern, and a blow up mattress that always seemed to deflate overnight leaving us to wake up flat on the ground. We didn’t care, it was all part of the adventure. I loved the smell of the campfire that would remain in my hair and on my clothes when we returned to Melbourne. I couldn’t wait to repeat it all over again. I suppose it’s this upbringing I have to thank for the eager sense of adventure I’ve enjoyed during my 32 years of existence. 

In December 2015, I was gifted a bright yellow 1983 Toyota Hiace named Saffy. This had been in Mums partners’ possession for about 20 years and it was now time to be handed down to me. I couldn’t believe it. I’d lived in Saffy out the back of mum’s house for a few months so I’d already formed a special bond with her. I was so excited for our adventures ahead.

When I met my now fiancé Andy, he also took a liking to Saffy. We had ourselves the perfect love triangle. From then on, nearly every weekend, we’d go exploring. These trips away helped us to form the strong relationship that we have today. Most of the time there was no phone service, no distractions, no one else around to bounce off – just us. We were forced, in a good way, to get to know each other. We loved this feeling and wanted to be on the road more. We were sick of our same old jobs and routine and needed a change. 

Image by Andy Hoffman

Image by Andy Hoffman

“What job could we do that would allow us to travel?” we asked ourselves. Andy had been a freelance graphic designer and we looked at this possibility. However, being asked to be creative constantly is a hard task, and would it be enough of an income to support our travels? Probably not. Back to the drawing board. 

On a trip to Adelaide we’d stopped for a coffee. A terrible one that we couldn’t finish. Then it came to us: Why don’t we start a travelling coffee business? My background was in hospitality. I’d been a hospitality trainer for the previous five years. My various roles in the industry had taught me a lot; I was used to talking to different people; I was used to fast paced, stressful environments; I was able to adapt, to think on my feet and have confidence in my decisions. This all helped with the planning and running of our first business: Round & Round Coffee.

The business name comes from a lyric in a song we loved to listen to on our trips away in Saffy. It’s by The Go-betweens and called “Streets of your town”. How fitting, as that’s what we’d eventually end up doing, going “Round and round, up and down, through the streets of your town, every day I make my way, through the streets of your town”. 

Image by Andy Hoffman

Image by Andy Hoffman

We didn’t find anyone else doing this full-time, living on the road in a campervan, towing their workplace behind them. Of course, there’s a lot of cafes and mobile coffee operators out there, but we had the freedom to follow the sun, the people and the experiences that we wanted for our new life. 

We needed to gather the emotional support (and a bit of financial) from our family and test our dream with a network of friends we would essentially be leaving behind. With amazing support on both fronts we were ready to make a start. We spent nine months developing a good business plan, saving, getting advice, purchasing equipment, choosing the best suppliers, finding the perfect coffee chariot and building relationships with those who wanted us to come and serve coffee. We were finally ready to hit the road and trade. We’d plan to be different from the rest and take our pop up café experience to places going without. 

There were so many emotions. Excitement and trepidation, joy and sadness. Our first ever business. Did we have what it takes to succeed? “All progress takes part outside the comfort zone”, and “opportunities don’t happen, you create them” were helpful quotes to abide by in these early stages. 

It’s been almost a whole year on the road with Round & Round, and looking back it was the best decision we could have made. Life is short. As they say: if do something you love and find something you’re passionate about you’ll never work a day in your life. 

Biography: Jess Davidson is a down to earth, fun loving nature enthusiast with a love of the simpler things in life. Ambitious entrepreneur, full time van dweller with a hospitality background who enjoys being outdoors whilst learning new skills on the road.

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