Burnout proved to be the brainchild in the case of Alex of Tom, the founders of Saint Belford who literally set out on a journey of self-discovery four years ago to find mindfulness, self-care and personal growth. From this, the beautifully created and thoughtful products from Saint Belford have evolved from the popular Curation diary which is now in its 4th year of offering to include journals, puzzles and self-care products aimed at promoting purpose and wellbeing.
Whilst Saint Belford is a brand that sells products, it’s much more than that. It’s a brand about living a purposeful life, prioritising your health and wellbeing and self care. It’s a brand that is turning a season business to an ‘all year round’ business, flipping the traditional business model on its head.
Alex and Tom have big business goals, but also goals around educating people and building awareness on how people can prioritise their well-being and being proactive in putting their mental health first.
Alex’s job was literally making her sick. Plagued with gastritis and fatigue, the stress from her corporate job in digital marketing was not doing her any favours. After taking some time off to reflect on what she was (or wasn’t) doing Alex decided it was time to re-evaluate all of her habits and truly be accountable for her wellbeing. Just before returning to work she set off on a mission to find a planner that would help her prioritise her health over productivity and offer reminders and encouragement to put herself first and avoid falling into the pitfalls of bad habits once again.
Exasperated with not being able to find what she was looking for, Alex lamented to Tom about the lack of importance that well being played in these diaries, where ‘to do’ lists and schedules reigned supreme. A light bulb went on for Tom; “Let’s do it. You identified a gap. Let’s create a diary business.”
Up until this point, Tom had worked in retail and whilst he had a deep appreciation for music and sold music samples on the side, he had never really found his niche. Tom didn’t go to university because he was never sure what he wanted to do and felt sometimes that he was drawn to music simply because he thought that was all he was cut out to do. As someone who enjoyed reading and had a passion for thumbing through business books, it hadn’t dawned on him up until this point that business itself was something he really wanted to do.
The idea ignited a fire for them both and St Belford was born.
THE REINVENTION OF THE DIARY:
Alex and Tom are clear that their products are not designed simply as a stationary solution. They identify strongly with the message of self-care, mindfulness, personal growth and wellbeing and this is embodied in their products. They believe that everybody has the capacity to change their life, one day at a time if they just have the right tools available. They see their mission as one of empowerment and aim to provide their customers with the resources that allow self-care to be at the top of everyone’s priority list.
The response has been astounding.
Alex and Tom delight in measuring their success by the shift from packing orders on the dining table to a dedicated home office and garage space in their St Kilda apartment. It has proven to be a tangible and major milestone for the pair, along with Tom being able to quit his job to now work for Saint Belford full time. The two talk to their revenue growth modestly and say “as long as we are making some money, we are happy” despite having hit it out of the park with a 500% growth between 2018-2019. The results for this year are not looking like they will disappoint either with further growth anticipated.
For the duo, feedback from customers is what provides the ultimate excitement, and why wouldn’t it with reviews like this:
“Since using curation I have found it completely remodel my way of thinking about my everyday schedule and life. I highly recommend this to anyone in any life situation as a key for clarity in this fast paced and busy world”
“I bought the diary because I needed some guidance in mindfulness, but it has been much bigger than that. The mind, body and soul recommendations that Saint Belford have provided, have made a huge difference in my life. I now care so much more for myself and am caring for every aspect of my life.”
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing though. Like so many small businesses, there have been some teething issues along the way. For Alex and Tom, tying down the right supplier has been a major hurdle. In their first year, the pair were keen to tie down a local printer but were left disappointed with a print run riddled with defects despite paying a lot more for a locally produced product. In their second year they attempted to offshore the process with disastrous results. St Belford was left with stock that they could only explain as being terrible quality. Customers wrote in complaining of missing pages and almost half of the 2019 diary stock needed to have a personalized iron service. Third time lucky? Yes! Alex and Tom were determined to find the positivity in the process and the experience was the catalyst that saw them head overseas to find a manufacturer. They now confidently tell us that they have found their perfect manufacturer in a business relationship that is built on respect and the goal of a long-term working relationship, two values which are deeply important to the pair.
MIND AND BODY FIRST:
These two are driven by their core values and it is underpinned in everything they do. Their commitment to authenticity and honesty filters through their business as they continue to share their stories with their customers and keep it real when it comes to both their triumphs and their tribulations. They believe that connection is born from authenticity and promotes open communication as an essential part of wellbeing.
Alex and Tom live what they preach, after all having your life partner as your business partner can be a hard ground to navigate, but this pair takes it in their stride. They admit that whilst it took them some time to find the balance that has set some great foundations to ensure that their relationship flourishes both personally and professionally. For Alex, she continues to be committed to her well being first with meditation, breakfast and her mandatory must do’s all taking place before the computer is switched on in the morning.
Whilst they love the flexibility of running their own business, they tend to stick to standard business hours and prioritise making sure they have time for themselves, including not working on the weekends and usually steering away from working on an evening where they can. Both Alex and Tom believe in prioritising peace over conflict and try not to sweat the little stuff, allowing them to create a great working environment where they can communicate openly.
The Saint Belford pair want to be seen as a brand that gives back to the community. They actively offer free resources and create free Ebooks which can be accessed by anyone who visits their website. Each year the company donates a percentage of its profits to Beyond Blue and R U OK to support the ideals of community contribution to bigger causes. This year, 100% of the profits made from 4th-5th of January were donated to the bushfire disaster appeal to the tune of $5,500. Alex and Tom stress that what makes them different is not just the offering, but the value they strive to add. Signing up to their email list sees you greeted with an email titled “your awesome.” It’s enough to put a smile on your face and show their genuine compassion and care for people that Alex and Tom so clearly have. It’s authentic, real and says a lot about Alex, Tom and St Belford. We think they are pretty awesome too.
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