Freya Berwick is a co-founder of Sense of Self. Here, Freya shares her thoughts about success and how her non-linear career path has created the perfect platform to launch a modern day bathhouse in the heart of Melbourne aiming to normalise the practice of self care.
The definition of success for me has become clearer over time. Success is having freedom to pursue my interest, make spontaneous decisions, have a two hour coffee date with a friend in the middle of the day, and have influence in the areas I want to see change in. A linear career never really occurred to me and luckily I was never boxed into one idea of ‘life’ by my parents.
I grew up on a farm across a crocodile river in the Daintree so I was exposed to hard work and survival pretty young! With that came a bit of the classic farmer dogma that it is all about hard work, but eventually that evolved into an understanding that I could do anything if I applied myself.
My Dad was Mayor of the Douglas Shire and I always admired his commitment to conservation and persevering through adversity. Growing up as his daughter, in a small town, was quite eye opening though, and I learned very early on to not idealise or be intimidated by people in seemingly powerful or successful positions. They're all just people.
There were also a bunch of women in my life, such as my sisters, friends of my parents, who travelled a lot and seemed to work for themselves and I considered that freedom as success - I never imagined myself in a 9-5 job. I kinda always knew I was just ‘fitting in’ to the linear path, by going to university, but I gave it a try, hated it, and left without regrets.
I started a nursing degree, hated the way the medical system defined ‘health’, transferred into a science degree, loved the systematic thinking that science is, and realised that your degree was actually learning how to learn and accepted that science was a great degree to do that with. I chose botany as a major because I love plants, nature, and learning about the way everything is connected in ecosystems. After uni I worked in science research - the only 6 months that I’ve had a ‘real’ job. I realised it wasn’t for me because I missed the action and variety of hospitality so I moved to Norway and came across a great opportunity to redevelop and re-market an old hotel which was much more me in that it involved design, hospitality, food, people and experiences.
I came back to Australia wanting to do my own thing but struggled to find the support and confidence so decided to do an MBA of sorts. I found the Master Of Entrepreneurship, and went with that as my ticket to justify having a diversity of interests.
Sense Of Self started to form when my business partner, Mary, and I met during our masters. We realised we shared a passion for hospitality, and thinking differently about what it means to be well and live a good life. Mary had done a bathing tour of Europe and then became motivated to bring a bathing culture, of sorts, to Australia. Taking Mary’s idea of the bathhouse and gradually weaving in our different experiences, lessons, and joys since then has got us to today.
We want to bring a neighbourhood-style bathhouse to Melbourne because we saw the impact of what communion and relaxation did for people in places around the world. We thought it could be an antidote to our modern lives, plus a way to democratise the wellness landscape so that more people could enjoy it. We want to give people permission to take time out and focus on nurturing their relationship with themselves and their bodies, without any expectations, in an environment that is playful and rich in textures.
I see my varied education, and career, as experiences that gave me confidence to not box myself in. For those seeking more alignment in their life I’d suggest doing the hard work of understanding what it is that excites you, not what you’re told is exciting. Take time to get to know that energy, and let that lead you instead of what your head says, or what others think.
When you follow that energy you realise that you’re happier, you make better choices, you do better work, and you feel contently you.