Monday, July 7, 2014

PIECES FROM MY PATH: how to sell your things, travel the world and follow your bliss.

One year ago, my friend Evie Slothower sold just about everything she owned to follow her dream of travelling the world. Now, after some radical adventures through Asia, she's back in California with an awesome online business called "Pieces From My Path" where she sells eclectic accessories she's collected along the way. I sat down with her to chat about the last year of her life, as she made this huge shift and adopted a more minimalist lifestyle in order to make her dreams a reality.

How would you describe “living a minimalist lifestyle” to someone you just met?  You would be so surprised at how little you actually need! Especially being a girl who loves clothes, accessories, and everything in between. It was so refreshing to take so little with us. However, there is a big difference between want and need. I don't need a lot of things in life, however I sure do like and want pretty things! If i could re-pack, I would take even less. There are so many beautiful, unique things in different countries, so I would've taken advantage of that more and started fresh with everything.  

What inspired you to sell most of your things and travel the world?  Going on this trip was much more important to me than Louis Vuitton purses, Tiffany necklaces, and even beautiful pieces of furniture were. I had all of these pricey things in my apartment that I didn't need and I didn't even use. When I was younger, I cared too much about designer things. It got old fast, but I was still attached to them for some reason. When the idea of this trip came up, of course the concerns of money also arose. In the end, comparing the trip of a lifetime to some designer labels in my closet was NO comparison at all!  It was an easy choice for me to make, so I sold them all.  I'm not saying that having nice things in your closet is a bad thing -- it's not.  I just chose to replace my closet full of expensive things with even nicer memories that are irreplaceable.  

What were the hardest possessions to part ways with?  I honestly didn't have a hard time letting go of anything materialistic!  It actually felt really good to let go! I knew that I would find many amazing unique items abroad, so I was very excited to have beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces from SouthEast Asia that I wouldn't see every other girl in the mall have.  
However, what I did miss was my sister, my new niece, and my kitty. But, Skype helped with that greatly!

Which countries did you travel to, and over what length of time? I traveled to: Singapore for a few days, then Bali for 2 months -- all over, but we mostly stayed in the Uluwatu area to fulfill my boyfriend Derek's lifelong dream of surfing there. Went back to Singapore, then Malaysia for few days. We spent 1 month in Thailand, visiting Bangkok, and the southern island beaches of: Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Krabi, Maya, etc. 
Followed by 1 month in Cambodia. Then, we went back to Thailand, visiting the Northern villages of: Chiang Mai, Chiang, Rai and other remote Thai villages where we filmed this video for Pieces From My Path in the village that makes the hand bags that I am now selling. I was the first woman foreigner to ever go there! 

After that, we visited Laos, then spent 3 weeks in Hawaii and headed home to California shortly after ringing in the New Year. All in all, 6 months of adventuring through Asia.

If you had to select just ONE favorite travel memory from the trip, which would it be?
Chiang Mai was my favorite place for sure. Every day was a new and stimulating experience...even if we didn't do much. Some highlights for me were riding elephants bareback and bathing them. Also, swimming with wild dolphins, sharks (nice ones!) and turtles while out free-diving. Eating new and amazing food, interacting with the locals, riding motorbikes everywhere, and falling in LOVE with different cultures.

The question everyone wants to know: the MONEY STUFF… How were you able to do it, financially? Were you able to find some work abroad and make money along the way? If so, how?

I saved as much money as I possibly could. I sold a LOT of things including designer bags and jewelry, clothes, shoes, furniture, etc.  I worked as much as I could beforehand and my boyfriend moved into my small apartment so we could save money on rent. We usually don't go out and spend a lot of money, but we were extra careful for the few months leading up to the trip. We had a big yard sale party to sell all our things. We were fortunate to get a buddy pass from a friend who is a pilot so our tickets were cheaper and it allowed us to have an open ended ticket.  

Once we got to Asia, it was super cheap to live there. Food and room and board were very affordable, much less than here. We were VERY blessed to have friends in a few different places and they shared their homes with us. Derek also did video work in exchange for room and board at a few of our destinations.  We were very lucky that he has a skill-set that he can take on the road.  I, however, was just barely starting the business concept behind Pieces From My Path. As we traveled, I searched for and shipped home beautiful pieces that I found -- hand bags, jewelry, pashminas, beaded belts, beaded keychains, etc.  So, I was spending way more money than planned, but it was OK with me since it had a greater purpose. My new site allows everyone to have a little piece from my path.  I've traded in my Louis Vuittons for some beautiful and truly unique pieces and I couldn't be happier!  
{ check out the full collection here: }  

What is the biggest lesson you learned while on the road that will stay with you forever? I learned so much about this world.  How we look at other cultures and just see chaos, when in actuality, it's not. Every culture has their own rules and ways of life. It may seem like chaos, but once you are immersed into it, it turns into really beautiful chaos.

Do you look at the American lifestyle differently now that you’re back? The United States has soooo many unnecessary rules and it's quite weird coming back to the US, especially since I was never even aware of them before I went on my trip. I learned so much about people in general.  There are some pretty amazing people out in the world! People that are so caring and giving and that welcome you into thier home and community with open arms. We were invited by our driver in Bali to his son's wedding.  We were the only foreigners there! It was so amazing that we were welcomed at such a private and personal event. On 2 different occasions, 2 different woman gave me their clothes to borrow so I would have something traditional to wear. Imagine meeting a stranger for the first time, inviting them into your home, letting them go through your closet and giving them your clothes to borrow. Not many of us would do that, even with a full closet! They did that to me, without having much of anything in theirs. I was so touched. It was a lesson I learned and something that I will always be humbled by.  

Advice to others on making big adventures happen? Just do it. Many people, including my previous self, make up a million reasons not to go. Instead, think of the million reasons why you should go! Everything works itself out.    

Lastly, would you do it again? If so, what’s next on the radar?
Definitely!!! South America, Australia, back to Thailand, Africa, everywhere!

Thank you so much for reading Evie's story. I hope it was as inspiring to you as it was to me! Be sure to check out her creative collection of handmade accessories from around the world: Pieces From My Path. * use coupon code ZENGIRL for 10% off your entire purchase, expires 8.31.14.

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