PEDESTRIAN.TV has partnered with Mercedes-Benz to introduce you to ‘Grow Up‘ – a four part series telling the true stories of how unique people have ‘grown up’ differently and redefined traditions. Mercedes-Benz are constantly innovating and challenging the norm – they welcome these untold stories of challenging the traditional world with unconventional thinking. Head HERE to learn more.
These days, however, we’re moving away from this crusty, neolithic-seeming ideology. Why? Well, besides obvious factors like it clearly being a heteronormative-swinging concept, we’re finally cottoning on to the notion that we should kinda be focusing on living in the now, rather than preparing for a future that might not even exist when we’re expecting it to (read: who doesn’t think about randomly getting run down by a bus?).
Given this shift away from the traditional, what does settling down mean nowadays? And what role – good, bad or otherwise – should it play in our lives? We turned to David Freeman for answers.
Freeman is the entrepreneurial weapon responsible for the healthy shakeup to Australia‘s beverage offering with his brand H2coco (and recently, H2melon). What you might not expect, seeing as these products are strongly geared to the more #fitspo sect of society, is that he used to be heavily involved in Sydney‘s nightlife – having owned / partially owned several clubs in Surry Hills and Kings Cross. This rather drastic life change is why he’s more equipped than most to discuss what settling down means in 2017.
To begin with, Freeman’s had to overcome a whopping amount of adversity. His dad passed away when he was five, and he notes that he’s gone most of his life without the guidance of a father figure. Additionally, his sister is intellectually disabled and required a lot of support from his family. This built a drive in him to ensure his family was properly taken care of – an internal force that’s still clearly visible today.
“Everything I do goes towards the support of my family, to support my sister,” Freeman told PEDESTRIAN.TV.
Freeman’s high school years were spent focused on sport. After graduating, he decided to pursue architecture at uni. Being extremely in tune with himself, however, meant that he knew these academic pursuits were sending him on the wrong trajectory. He had, and still has, a solid grip on what it means to ‘grow up’.
“Life is a process of growth, really. As the world evolves, processes change with growing up.”
“Growing up, to me, has two characteristics. One being physical and one being spiritual. These, the foundations, remain the same but other things change over time. Nowadays, it’s much different to what it was 20 or 30 years ago but the characteristics of the physical and spiritual remain the same. If you can characterise what those are you can really determine your path and growth in life.”
While he was studying, a family friend offered him a gig at one of the clubs on Surry Hills’ Oxford St. As soon as his involvement began, he knew that this was something he wanted to be involved in.
“When I started working there, I had this vision of owning my own nightclub.”
He began at the bottom of the food chain by collecting email addresses for the venue’s mailing list. He thanks these early days as they allowed him to learn everything from the ground up. This dedication, however, meant that he had to sacrifice his more formidable years – the ones most of us spend drinking a lil’ too much, staying out too late – in order to focus on his work.
“When I first started in clubs at 18, I was always working. Everyone of my friends were coming into the venue, enjoying themselves, having a few drinks, but I was there working.”
“When you’re working and committed to something, you’re not really enjoying the benefits of it to that extreme.”
“I treated the nightlife as a business, not a party. Just because you’ve got a party destination doesn’t mean you can party.”
It was obvious that uni wasn’t his jam, and he left his architecture degree after two years.
“I realised that everything that I was doing couldn’t be taught from a text book.”
He moved from the promotions / marketing / events side of the venue game, to general manager, before eventually buying / partially owning several popular nightclubs. Oh, and while all that was happening, Freeman was involved in several other businesses on the side as well. Yes, the man is essentially a professional juggler.
This line of worked consumed Freeman’s life for over 10 years, until Sydney’s nightlife sadly took a turn for the worst – transitioning into the sad state it currently is now. He battled this for a few years but was sensible enough to recognise this wasn’t a battle he was going to win.
Freeman had a new vision as he was battling for his venues. After finishing a Bikram Yoga class in New York, the instructor gave him a fresh coconut to drink. Seeing as he was offensively dehydrated after such an activity, the coconut’s water went down a treat. The teacher explained to him the benefits of liquid, but added that coconuts are probably the most inconvenient things to open on the fly. He began noticing packaged coconut water in NY after this class and realised there wasn’t anything like it on the Australian market.
Wanting to seize this opportunity, Freeman decided to throw himself in the deep end. He noted that his experience was rooted in booze, so there was going to be a lot of self teaching involved to get this up and running. He spent the next three months immersed in research – where to source it, how to produce it – and travelled to manufacturers in Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil and the Philippines to see how he could make it happen. Lastly, he developed a business plan off the back of a template he downloaded somewhere on the internet.
A family member gave him a small amount of funding, which he threw together with his own cash, and the now-thriving H2coco was born.
So, what can we learn from Freeman’s journey? Well, to put it simply, we can learn a shitload.
“Growing up is a time for gathering information. Building habits and attitudes, laying down the foundation for the life that you’re about to build.”
“The stereotypical idea of adulthood that you’re ‘meant to be doing’ – going to uni, getting a job, have kids, settle down – has definitely changed. It doesn’t have to be that way. It’s more about building your own foundations and doing what’s best for yourself, but also understanding everybody else’s position as well. It’s really important to understand and establish your position in the world.”
“You don’t have to go to university to become successful. There’s a lot of people out there who have done so without going. You get to choose your own path these days.”
Freeman also has a pretty solid perspective on what ‘settling down’ means in 2017. He’s a firm believer that settling down isn’t about the whole white picket fence scenario – rather, it’s about getting stuck into your passion.
“Settling down has often meant having kids, bunking down and focusing on their lives. It’s definitely something that I want, but I do believe that life is extremely long and that we’ve got plenty of time to do that. My focus right now, on a personal level, is my business. It’s about establishing a future and making a difference in what I’m trying to develop.”
“My belief is to focus on what I’m currently doing, focusing on my business, focusing on setting myself up, so that when I am ready for that stereotypical kids-family life, I’ll be able to bring a family into an amazing world.”
So, when you think about it, Freeman’s been ‘settled down’ since he started working in the club scene. He’s thrown himself into everything he’s ever cared about, even if that’s come at a cost to what we believe 20-somethings should be doing during those partying years.
“Settling down isn’t a bad thing. I do believe you need to set your vision, and that will help you on your path of settling down or achieving. It’ll help you know when the right time is to settle down. In the meantime, you do need to make sure you enjoy your life. Set yourself goals and ensure that you’re trying to achieve them to the best of your abilities.”
Sure, this isn’t going to be the path for everyone. Some of us need more time to ascertain what our own vision for life is. In saying that, there’s something admirable about this new-age approach to settling down. It doesn’t exclude anyone. Focusing on your goals is, without a shadow of a doubt, a beneficial exercise. From where we’re sitting, this is an ideology we can get around.
In addition to this ethos, Freeman reckons educating yourself (on your own terms) and being surrounded by a tight knit support network are the other two keys to success.
“I’m a big believer of self teaching,” he says. “You can teach yourself a lot by having different mentors, reading online, going to seminars.”
“Surround yourself with a strong, passionate team. Listen to them, ask them lots of questions and actually accept their advice – don’t get stuck in your own mindset. It can be friends, it can be family – ask for advice, don’t be shy.”
We reckon settling down’s never looked this good, folks.
Keen for another perspective? Dominic had life all figured out. The only problem is that his life was her. Now alone for the first time since he can remember, Dominic has to pick up the pieces and begin the most important relationship of all. Watch his story below.
To see even more stories about what ‘growing up’ means, head to Mercedes-Benz’s website HERE.
Photo: @davidgfreeman / Instagram.