Bali the perfect escape from daily grind for Kiwi Janine Hall

Janine Hall shows success can exist alongside flexibility, writes Tao Lin.

Kiwi Janine Hall has found the perfect balance between work and life in running her business in Bali.
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Kiwi Janine Hall has found the perfect balance between work and life in running her business in Bali.

Wellness entrepreneur Janine Hall's special chain of women-focused retreats is launching in Sri Lanka this year following successful openings in Bali, Portugal, Australia and Morocco.

Her Escape Haven business in Bali has been ranked as the number one wellbeing retreat on the holiday review website, Trip Advisor.

But despite all the hard work Hall's success represents, she remains a strong supporter of more flexible work arrangements.

Escape Haven, founded by Hall, is a wellness retreat in Bali for women to unwind.
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Escape Haven, founded by Hall, is a wellness retreat in Bali for women to unwind.

On some days Janine Hall's workplace consists of palm gardens and a 25 metre pool and on other days, she is surrounded by rice paddy fields and her two dogs.

The Kiwi has spent the past eight years in Bali, after a high flying corporate career in marketing roles at Topshop and Topman in London, David Jones in Sydney and The Warehouse in New Zealand.

But she was burnt out by her early 30s, and while doing yoga for the first time in Bali, Hall saw an opportunity for a wellness business.

Based on the increasing popularity of wellness holidays overseas and a lack of a wellbeing community in New Zealand at that time, she chose the United States as her market and decided to base her business in Brazil.

"Brazil ended up being too far ahead of the curve as far as destinations for wellness," Hall said.

She also found out after she arrived that Brazil had poor relations with the United States, limiting access to her key market. 

With just $10,000 left of her life savings, Hall took her dream to Bali, where she faced language barriers, no brand protection, political uncertainty, and volcanic activity. 

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But her business, which was one of just two retreats at the time, flourished and continued to do so as the health and wellness market got more saturated.

"For me, it was about excelling at customer experience," she said.

"Competitors could replicate our product and our pricing but not how we did things and why we did what we did."

The benefit of the internet and technology meant Hall could choose to work almost anywhere she wanted and an increasing number of co-working spaces in Bali gave her, and others, that flexibility.

"People are realising there are other ways of working and living and they don't need to be contained within the four walls of an office in a city anymore," Hall said.

"Many people are flocking to destinations such as Bali, where the cost of living is considerably cheaper and the access to the outdoors and good weather is plentiful."

Working in a collaborative environment meant small business owners could also network and learn off each other and cut costs. 

"It's turning the traditional high cost, restrictive, 9 to 5 model on its head and focusing it more around a lifestyle that works for everyone involved with lower barriers to entry," Hall said.

One of those spaces was Hubud, which Hall sometimes used to do her work and to hold meetings.

Set up by three expats in 2013, Hubud worked on a membership basis and currently had 300 regular members including entrepreneurs, designers and freelancers. 

Co-founder and former journalist Peter Wall said the space was popular with Australians and Kiwis escaping the winter months and they made up roughly 10 to 15 per cent of Hubud's users.

Wall said Hubud was a "mecca" for those travelling and working, especially for the "digital nomads", who were not tied to any particular location for work.

"One of the great things about working in the co-working spaces is you meet people who you might be able to collaborate with, who you might be able to hire or they might hire you," he said.

 - Stuff

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