Most people consider world travel to be on the top of their bucket list. But what if you had chance right now to quit your job, sell all of your possessions and travel the world. Would you do it? That's exactly what designer, and my ex-colleague Kate Moloney did just over a year ago, when she embarked on the trip of a lifetime with her (now) fiancé Ben.
I followed their progress as Kate and Ben hopped from country to country. I was genuinely blown away by all the amazing photos and couldn't wait to learn more about the trip. So now that Kate's back in London, I reached out to her to discuss her time abroad, as well as her stationery company Little Molo. Read on to learn more...
You recently got back from a pretty incredible trip. What made you decide to quit your job and travel the world?
So Ben (future hubby) and I have talked about going traveling since we got together. It never seemed to be the right time and honestly with living in London we never thought we'd be able to save up enough money to do it.
We actually got to the point that we thought we were ready to settle down and start a family. So we moved to a bigger house in Twickenham (lots of young families) and at that point realised we were NOT ready for that life just yet! So we saved hard for 2 years and planned our trip away. Ben works as a contractor so it was easy for him to finish his project and jet off and I didn't need much persuading to leave my job!
Have you always been adventurous?
Well I'm not sure I'd call it adventurous! I'm definitely a joiner inner and I don't like to say no to stuff. I definitely don't want to miss out either, but I'm a massive wimp! I'll dive into something head first but that's not to say I'm not totally sacred about it, brave face and crack on! You only live once, you have to make the most of it.
Did you plan everything out before you left or kind of wing it along the way?
We had a good idea of our route but didn't plan too much. I'd say we were flying by the seat of our pants!
We knew we would start in North America as we were meeting a couple of groups of friends. Then our first port of call in South America would be Brazil. From there we had a sketchy plan but we were time rich, so we just sort of meandered along at our own pace. We knew we had to be in Colombia by Christmas to meet friends so that gave us a goal. We based most of our decisions on recommendations from people we'd meet along the way. We had never planned on going to Japan or South Korea for example, but made a last-minute decision to do so while we were away. Lots of countries dropped off the list too, we never made it to India or Myanmar so will have to save those ones for next time!
What were some of the favorite places you visited and why?
If anyone ever asks me what my favourite country was, I always say Colombia. We spent six weeks there and it was amazing. The people and the culture are so vibrant and it's stunningly beautiful and so different between the North and South. The South feels very Latin American and the North suddenly becomes very Caribbean. The food, the music, the people, it's quite incredible!
Japan was also top of my list, so peaceful and tranquil but also crazy different too. I will definitely go back.
My biggest surprise was Guatemala. I totally and unexpectedly fell in love with it! It's quite difficult to travel as it's less developed then say South America, but it's totally worth it. The natural beauty there is utterly breathtaking. Hiking the Acatenango Volcano was one of the most physically challenging but rewarding things I have ever done in my life! Sitting at the top and looking out over Guatemala quite honestly took my breath away.
Last but not least, I cant forget the San Blas islands. An archipelago of about 380 islands off the coast of Panama. I'll let the photos speak for themselves, utterly stunning. It was no walk in the park getting there though. Forty hours of rough open sea sailing! This was one of my "adventurous" moments, absolutely frozen with fear the whole time but I couldn't miss out on this adventure!
Oh and one more place... the Yorkshire Dales. I think this has to be my favourite place in the UK. It's just beautiful!
Did you meet any inspirational people?
Without wanting to sound too cliché, we met inspirational people everyday!
I feel incredibly humbled to have had the opportunity to travel to so many places. To learn about other people and their cultures and observe different ways of life. When you meet people, whether they're locals or travelers and start to learn about their stories, you quickly discover that all people are an inspirational to some degree.
To give an example, we met a Canadian couple Kristin and Wes who were doing a similar thing to us, but documenting their trip through their beautiful Instagram account @thisworldmylens. Honestly check it out, if that doesn't inspire you to travel I don't know what will! Aside from their awesome photos, they were just really kind, genuine people and they actually got married in Greece as part of their trip!
On the other hand we met a young student, Anna, in Vietnam. She works hard volunteering to take tourists on boat trips down the Mekong River so she can practice her English. At the same time she's studying hard at school so she can someday work in the tourism industry. To see someone that young, determined and hard-working was very inspirational.
You also got engaged to your lovely partner Ben. How did that happen?
Finally, after eleven years he finally popped the question! Jokes aside, I was not expecting it at all. It was the first day of our trip and our eleven year anniversary. We actually started our trip with a three week tour of UK and the Highlands. So we were camping in Wales and it had been pretty rainy, but on that morning the sun had come out and we were in good spirits. We were having a cup of tea and I was making some breakfast. Ben ate his sausage sandwich really fast and was off in the tent doing something. I didn't think anything of it and cracked on with my breakfast.
Then Ben came back and really seriously said "I need to talk to you about something". My first thought was "please don't kill my vibe and talk to me about something serious and boring". But then he was down on one knee and doing a whole speech, which I only remember bits of because I was so shocked! Of course I said YES!
Has Ben always been supportive of your life decisions?
Ben is literally my rock. He supports me in everything I do. He has been behind Little Molo from the start and continues to support me now while I get it off the ground.
He also supports all of my other hobbies and interests. While we were away, I embarked on a Yoga teacher training course which meant we were away from each other for three weeks. He fully supported that, which meant he went off on his own traveling South East Asia! I am incredibly lucky to have him in my life.
Where are you waving from now?
We're currently waving from his brother's home in Woking. We're so very lucky to have people in our lives who support us, and his brother and wife are kindly putting us up until the end of the year when we will be moving back to South West London. It's actually so nice having this time to spend with family after being away for so long.
What are some of your favorite places to visit around London?
Favourite places to visit around London...
If we're talking food, take me to On The Bab in Shoreditch - the chicken is insane! I have to say though, I'm a sucker for Richmond (where we used to work). I love the park and the river and the way it feels like your so far away from the city but your not. The pubs here are great too!
What inspired you to start Little Molo?
Little Molo started back in 2013. All of my friends started to get married and being passionate about design, it made sense for me to get involved and help out with the stationery. I started to get more interest via word of mouth and built a website as a means for people to contact me and showcase my work, and the work just kept coming in. At the time though I couldn't give it my full attention as I had another full-time job. Once we decided to travel our focus was saving for that so although I had wedding jobs going on in the background, I was still very much working full time trying to save the pennies.
The nature of the work started to develop in that time too. Friends started to have babies and children's parties and would ask me to design stationery for those occasions, which helped me to broaden my portfolio.
Then it was time for the big trip and I put it all on hold. Since I've been back, I have worked hard to rebrand the company and rebuild the website and I intend to put all of my energy in to Little Molo. This allows me to be creative and really work with people on helping their ideas to come to life. It's incredibly rewarding!
Now that you’re home, where do you find inspiration for your stationery designs?
There is such an amazing community of creative people on social platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. Everyone is keen to share and help each other out. Of course I get a lot of inspiration from what I see online, but honestly talking to people is the best! When clients come to me with their ideas, they have so much creativity and we collaborate to bring these ideas to life. They're my inspiration and their imagination allows me to do the job I love.
In addition to that, I feel spoilt living in London. There is creative inspiration around every corner. Small businesses, pop-up shops, craft fairs, wedding fairs, art galleries, exhibitions etc. There is always something going on!
What’s your short term and long term goals for your stationery biz?
Short term goals - get my brand out there. Get noticed and start working on some great projects. Long term - who knows! I love the fact that Little Molo is a small business, I love the fact that its very personable and I love to have close working relationships with my clients. I'd never want to lose that, that's whats important to me.
If you're in the market for some beautiful custom stationery, contact Kate at firstname.lastname@example.org. All images and designs are copyright © Kate Moloney / Little Molo.