For Danielle Bowern, landing her ‘dream job’ as a Sky News weather presenter was the culmination of years of dedicated work. Alongside her PR and journalism degree, she was squeezing in unpaid internships at local radio and TV stations and her first job as a snow reporter for Thredbo was a “dream come true” to the young, eager journalist.
“I was on my way to making it,” Danielle tells Collective Hub. “Or so I thought.”
As it turns out, there was pretty cavernous gap between the dream and the reality of Danielle’ job: from the 3am starts to the isolated offices and lack of contact with colleagues, Danielle decided it was time to find a new path. Here’s her journey from realising a dream, leaving it behind and finding a new one.
[When I was a weather presenter], Thursday through to Monday, my alarm would blast at 3am. And snoozing was never an option. Dishevelled and bleary eyed, I’d stumble out of bed and past my housemates – they’d be coming in from a night out and I’d be leaving for work. I’d usually drive to work in my PJs – one of the positive notes of being the first one in the studio. Turn the lights on, make my first coffee for the morning and then it was time to get TV ‘ready’. Forget, the make-up artists and hair stylists we didn’t have budget for this. I learnt how to do my own hair & make-up and after months of practice, my routine was down to 15 minutes. Around 4am, I’d start my research. Then the technical producer would walk in. I’d be busy watching the radars and synoptic charts around the country. Writing my scripts and taking notes for the national weather reports. There was no tele-prompter, sound guy, camera person; it was all me. Then I’d mic-up, and we’d be live at 5am.
I’d step into the blue screen, stare down the barrel of an automated camera and deliver the weather. A technical producer upstairs would count me in and this began my shift as a weather presenter. For the rest of the day, I was running between the studio and my computer. Checking weather updates and rerecording reports. On the weekends it was me, an automated camera, a technical director and a virtually empty office. There was no-one around to banter with, no-one to have fun with. On top of sacrificing my social life, I was spending my weekends with no-one around. I feed off energy from others and spending 8 hours a day talking to an automated camera in a virtually empty office wasn’t the dream. I’d never felt more alone in my life. Not my kind of dream.
There was a huge misconception between my idea of the dream and the reality. It was one of those [jobs that] looked good on the outside, felt crap on the inside. Whenever I told other people what I did, they had stars in their eyes. At the start, I liked it. Lapped it up. Yet, soon enough the reality of the early hours, weekend work and dehumanisation of it all took a toll. It wasn’t a reflection of who I am. I love being around people. And when I wasn’t interacting, [or] being around others, it all took a toll. This had become my life and I’m not saying it’s not for everyone, it’s just certainly not for me. The starry-eyed moment dimmed in a flash.
I remember crying one afternoon when the barista closed the coffee machine at 3pm; sometimes I was having between 6-8 coffees. I was running off adrenaline and when adrenaline ran out, I crashed. I couldn’t see my friends or family because I was working or too tired. Too exhausted to do the things I love. The final moment came, was when I was asked to sacrifice more. I remember thinking, ‘I have nothing left to sacrifice’. I was seeing a naturopath, masseuse, doctor, kinesiologist all to cope with the hours. You’re meant to give up a few things for your dream, it’s meant to be hard. But I do not believe it should sacrifice all of your health and happiness. I was no longer happy. And for me, happiness had never been something I had to strive for, I could just be.
[Letting go] was probably one of the hardest decisions I’d ever made. I battled with the decision for months and months. Imagine breaking-up with a part of yourself. [A part that] you had created, moulded and carried around with you for years. Every decision was dictated by this dream. Now what? But once I made the decision, it was a relief.
I didn’t jump into this new dream right away. I didn’t know what my next dream was going to be. I just jumped into the flow. I got a job at a coffee shop and started to find things I loved doing. And watercolours happened to be one of them. I’d finish work and in the afternoon, I’d get my watercolours and draw.
[Yoga was a big part of my] huge value reshuffle. I used to turn up to my 9am Tuesday flow yoga class and connect with myself. This was a very big turning point in reshuffling my values. When I practiced yoga and my mind stopped, my body relaxed and I felt a calm wash over me. My mind became clearer and suddenly I knew what I valued. I realised this: life has three precious commodities; time, people and your happiness. When I realised my time was not spent with any of these invaluable resources, it was time for a reshuffle and new dream.
After letting go of my first dream; I decided to have fun. Fall in love with life again and find new hobbies. Watercolours happened to be it. I became obsessed. I was making them as birthday cards and sending them as presents. It was like this whole creative side was unleashed. The more I played with both, the more creative the watercolours became. I was seeing life and it was inspiring. I remember sitting on my black yoga mat one afternoon in Manly, my watercolours splayed everywhere and it hit me. Why couldn’t yoga mats be as beautiful and colourful? And that’s where Bowern was born.
I remember the first mat I ever sold – where the buyer had discovered Bowern on Instagram before I’d even thought about a marketing strategy. She was about to open a yoga studio, contacted me, bought our first sale in person, and then she hugged me. A real hug. The whole time I was in television, I don’t think I ever had a single hug. That’s when I knew I was on the right path.
Even though I launched three months ago, I’ve been working on it since September last year. For months, I’d been pouring all of my energy into this new dream and there were no results. No one knew who I was or what I was doing. I was laughed out of one yoga studio because why would someone buy a no brand if they could buy a big well-known competitor. So, I’d just get up and keep going. I’d make myself proud everyday because results aren’t going to happen overnight.
I had never started or owned a business before or thought about manufacturing anything. So I spent a lot of time researching, going to seminars and getting advice from experienced entrepreneurs. I asked plenty of questions and there were even some stupid ones but I wanted to make sure I knew what I was getting into. I read as much as I could and listened to inspiring podcasts. But the biggest upskill was to learn let go of fear. I’ve jumped in head first, and haven’t looked back. The best piece of advice I was given, ‘Everyone who has ever achieved anything, they are just like you. So feel the fear and do it anyway’.