Another amazing Conscious and Creative Mama this week – it makes my heart sing to connect with so many like-minded women! Suzanne Garske is one half of the husband & wife team behind the Island State Co brand, which has a strong eco-conscious ethic. They recently launched their latest collection The Drifters—inspired by a nomadic, surf lifestyle, drifting from place to place—and I’m so thrilled to have partnered with them in our Global Guardian Giveaway for eco-conscious kids. Suzanne and hubby Mark live in Byron Bay with their children Olive (10) and Jack (6).
Describe your family for us…
A tight-knit, ocean-obsessed, free-range tribe, happiest roaming the world and being surrounded by a vast variety of cultures and people. We pride ourselves on being open-minded, honest, accepting… on the outset we probably seem a bit too laid-back, but at the core we value being educated and we’re full of enthusiasm, curiosity and determination.
We moved back to Australia a year ago after 5 years of being nomadic in south east Asia. For the last 12 months we’ve been in Byron Bay, but have found ourselves spending each spare moment driving out of town to escape the crowds. We’ve made a pretty good attempt at discovering every remote surf beach along the northern NSW coast! Now we’re looking at relocating again, searching for a house to buy, somewhere we can make a nest, but something we can lock-up to go travelling.
What spiritual elements or practices do you include in your life, and do you involve your children in these? Does this influence the way you parent?
For the majority of our time in Southeast Asia, we had a home base in Ubud (Bali). Here we were introduced to a style of Indian meditation, and I can honestly say it changed our lives and we still practice it. We also became very close to other expats, and through them grew a longing to remove our family from what we saw as a very systematic way of life that we had been previously living. This is still our top priority, to give us all a sense of freedom and choice, and to have an eyes-wide- open approach to the world.
What qualities are you raising your children to value, and in what ways do you hope they might contribute to making the world a more beautiful place?
We really hope our kids can understand that not one human is more important than
another and to treat everybody well. We hope they see it as their duty to leave a light
footprint on earth, to protect nature and wildlife, find solutions and spread the love.
Having said all of this though, if they are happy, that will be more than enough.
What is your favourite part of the day?
First thing each morning! I’ve always been lucky to wake with a sense of new beginnings, forgiveness, acceptance, and renewed enthusiasm.
What is the hardest part of parenting?
Oh, for sure being terrified something will happen to them! We are really blessed with our kids though, they are very good at looking after themselves, and they’re the sweetest souls.
Do you have any favourite go-to natural remedies for you and your children?
We try and solve all health issues firstly from within. We believe gut health is the most important aspect towards ultimate health, and we go between being raw vegan and vegan. Also sunshine, movement and saltwater play a crucial role in our healthcare plan!
What are some of your favourite ways to get creative with your family?
Travel for sure. Discovering new places, new people, and new cultures. Also, because we homeschool, every day we are faced with the need to stimulate our kids’ minds and encourage thought and interest. We love taking them on coastal walks and learning through experience.
Tell us a little bit about travelling and living in different parts of the world with your children. And what do you love most about raising your family where you have settled now?
I think the greatest lesson for all of us in travelling has been that if we are together, we are home. We’ve found ourselves in some pretty amazing places over the years, and have many more to discover, but most of all we found our rhythm together. As much as we are free spirits, Mark and I are also obsessed with being successful entrepreneurs. We read constantly, research, ask a million questions… so this is starting to form a need to have a base and an office.
Your business Island State Co describes itself as Australia’s first eco-friendly surf brand for kids. Tell us about your inspirations and intentions in Island State?
Island State Co represents all that we find important. It’s who we are and the people we love, it’s what we love and have loved, and it’s the way we live. We strive to provide ECO, ethical, surf clothing for children, designed to be easy to wear and easy to travel in, and to be worn globally. In our branding and designs, we include our love for island life, Mark’s obsession with marine protection, our passion for raw vegan food, and a long-term connection I’ve had to an old school Indo surf culture. I grew up being taken on the hippie trail along the surf beaches in Indonesia, and that culture is at the core of who I am and who I wish to be. Mark worked from the age of 15-years in the marine industry and sees himself as a bit of an ECO warrior! He is a sailor and would love nothing more than to do a trip with Sea Shepherd!
What advice do you have for other small businesses, or young entrepreneurs who want to operate in an ethical and environmentally friendly way? Tell us about your experience researching and sourcing eco-conscious options.
Being ECO and affordable is totally achievable, it just takes some extra research and monitoring, plus it takes a commitment to not making so much per item. Mark basically does the majority of the research and questioning and I do the designing. I also think the way you treat people is part of being ethical, the way you treat EVERYONE you come across. I see our business as a pie, and we only get a piece of it, the rest we share, and it wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for every single person involved. One very easy thing any brand can do is to work with manufacturers who are GOTS certified. This way you can rest assured of each step being ethical.
What are some of the ways, big or small, your family tries to be ecologically conscious to reduce your environmental impact outside of the business?
Mark can often be found ratting through our garbage bin, mumbling about us not separating out the plastics or veggie scraps for compost. He is relentless when it comes to our home life being as ECO as possible, he’s even refusing to wear footwear now unless it’s been up-cycled from some whacky product! Give it 20 years and he’s going to look like a crazy man, but we’ll still love him. My mum is also big on having an ECO lifestyle. She has a plot at her local community garden and grows everything organically. She has a worm farm and takes any leftover scraps after this to the community garden compost. She’s also been vegetarian for 35 years.
What plans or dreams do you have for your family over the next few years?
In the immediate future, I hope by the end of the year we’ve bought a house, set upan office for Island State, and get some fruit trees planted! Then once we feel we’ve put down some roots, I hope we can start to travel again and find interesting places and people. I hope we never stop travelling, I hope we travel forever. I hope Island State Co becomes a very solid brand that people fall in love with, and I hope we never lose the passion for improving and moving forwards.
‘We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.’
– Anais Nin
All images courtesy of Island State Co.
Photographer credit: Lizz Pennings