Meet Nicole Humphreys. Nicole is a digital nomad from Santa Barbara, CA & the owner of August Effects; an online boutique for the sale of Balinese goods. August Effects works in partnership with Bali Children's Shelter Foundation to create positive change by giving back to the community, and all of the products found on the August Effects website are hand-made in Bali to create jobs & sustainable income.
Recently, TL Travel had the opportunity to chat with Nicole about her journey to Bali & the process of starting her adventure as a digital nomad. See what she had to say below & be sure to check out August Effects online when you're done!
TL TRAVEL: Can you start by talking a little bit about the journey that you went through to start August Effects & how you ended up in Bali?
NICOLE: Absolutely. From my home in Santa Barbara, I moved to Venice Beach after college & that's where I met my husband Connor. Connor & I got married in November of 2016 & chose to honeymoon in Bali, Indonesia. The year leading up to the wedding was the most difficult year of my life. I had started a new job that, on paper, was everything I had ever dreamed of. I was the Director of the non-profit that I was working for, doing incredible work with children in Africa, & making a great salary. Unfortunately, I was miserable. I was working 12+ hour days & enduring stress levels that I never thought possible. Our honeymoon was the first time that I had been out of the office & truly enjoying life in a very long time, & that was what opened my eyes to what I had been missing.
Traveling around Bali on our honeymoon, I was blown away by the artisans I met all over the island. They created beautiful handmade goods from bags to home decor & I realized that I could work with these artisans to create products & build an online store selling their goods in the US. When we got back to California, I called my husband & told him that I wanted to quit my job & move to Bali. There were a few minutes of silence on the phone & then he responded “I’m in!” Fast forward 4 months – we quit our jobs, sold all of our belongings, moved out of our apartment & bought a one-way ticket to Bali.
TL TRAVEL: Did you do much travel before you settled in Bali, and what was it about Bali that inspired you to stay?
NICOLE: I was very fortunate growing up that my parents valued travel. We traveled internationally as a family as much as possible & it definitely gave me the travel bug early on. When I was 17, I took my first solo international trip to Ghana, Africa to work in an orphanage for a summer. That summer changed my life. Philanthropy & travel quickly became my greatest passions & during college I studied abroad through the “Semester at Sea” program.
Once I graduated & got a “real” job in Los Angeles, it became much more difficult to travel. I was generally allotted 10 vacation days a year which made it tough to go on international trips. In my six years working in LA, it was the one thing that tore me up the most. I think this was the light bulb that went off while I was in Bali & I realized that I didn’t have to live that way anymore; there were other options. Life was short & I could figure out other ways to make money besides conforming to the 9-5 work life.
TL TRAVEL: Where did the idea for August Effects come from & how has owning the shop changed the way that you travel?
The first inklings of what would eventually become August Effects came on our honeymoon in Bali. While exploring the island, I was blown away by the handmade products that I saw & loved the artisans I met there. The style reminded me of California & I knew that people in the US would love to have similar handmade goods from Bali.
Upon arriving in Bali after the move, I started to figure out how to build my new company. I rode my motorbike around the island & spent many afternoons at various markets meeting artisans & seeking inspiration. Eventually I chose 6 products to create – three different kinds of bags, a towel, a pillow & a blanket. I hand-picked materials & worked with each artisan to create the perfect products for August Effects.
After creating each August Effects product, I have a new-found appreciation for what goes into creating something from scratch. For one of my simpler bags, I have to get materials from 4 different shops & use 4 different artisans to bring that product to life. When I travel now, I love to shop the markets & see what people are able to create. I no longer take for granted any handmade item that I buy or own because I know just how much work & love went into its creation.
TL TRAVEL: So other than your own products, what is one item that you would never travel without?
NICOLE: My eye mask (or night shades as I call them) are essential! Whether I am on planes, trains, or sleeping at a new Airbnb, I put on my night shades & can get some Z’s wherever I am!
TL TRAVEL: Eye masks are great for those long flights ... & Bali is pretty far! Is there anywhere else that you still want to visit? What else is at the top of your bucket-list?
NICOLE: I have never been to South America so that is absolutely at the top of my bucket list. I would love to go to Peru & hike Machu Picchu!
TL TRAVEL: And what about in Bali? Where would you say that your favorite "must-see" spot is in Bali?
NICOLE: Wow, this is a tough one! If I HAD to choose one experience it would be hiking the Mt. Batur volcano at sunrise. You wake up in the middle of the night & hike the volcano for a few hours in the pitch black with just flashlights to guide you. Once you reach the top you can enjoy a hot cup of coffee & watch the sunrise over the island. On one of our hikes we even got to cook eggs in the volcanic steam when we reached the top. It is a magical experience that I would recommended to anyone visiting Bali, but I have even more recommendations on the August Effects Blog. Check them out!
TL TRAVEL: Our travelers love the Mt. Batur hike! You must have so many great adventures actually LIVING there! What sort of advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting their own business overseas?
NICOLE: August Effects is actually based in the US, but we obviously make all of our products in Bali. My greatest advice is to have patience. Business works very differently overseas & things can take a very long time to get done. If you are thinking of starting something new & you are passionate about it, my advice is just to go for it! Put all your fears aside & pursue whatever you have been dreaming about!
TL TRAVEL: That is great some great advice! If you are going to be a part of a community it is so important to understand how they work ... & life in Southeast Asia definitely moves at a slower pace! Could you talk a little bit about being a part of the community & how August Effects gives back locally?
NICOLE: Of course! We work with a lot of local shops & artisans throughout the island & we love that we are able to provide business for these local shops & artisans through our products. We have also partnered with an incredible local non-profit called the Bali Children Foundation, so for every purchase made on our site, we donate a dictionary to a BCF child.
TL TRAVEL: That is amazing! You seem to have accomplished so much already. What is the next step for you (either from a business or travel perspective)?
NICOLE: I am actually heading back to Bali this summer to deliver the first batch of dictionaries to the Bali Children Foundation. We will be creating a video to highlight our artisans & to detail our partnership with BCF & tell the story of August Effects. We will also be adding some new products to the site which is something that I am really excited about!
As for travel, I am headed to the Philippines this August for my 30th birthday! It has been on my travel bucket list for a long time so I am really looking forward to it.
TL TRAVEL: You will absolutely LOVE the Philippines & we are so excited to follow your adventures around the world! If our travelers would like to keep track of August Effects, where can they find you online?
NICOLE: Our website is www.augusteffects.com & they can find us on Instagram as well; our handle is @augusteffects. I love connecting with other travelers, so please reach out and say hello!
Since the launch of August Effects’ online store in March of 2017, Nicole has been giving back to the local community & BCF with her online shop & generosity! In just the first 6 weeks of their opening, August Effects generated enough orders to donate 100 dictionaries to children in need, and that number has just continued to grow!
Be sure to check out August Effects online today & sign up for their e-mail list for an additional 10% off of your first order!
Thank you again to Nicole for taking the time to sit down with TL Travel & we can't wait to see what you get up to next!