Home is where the Village is

Here's the thing about Villages. It seems they are with you wherever you are.

Swanbourne beach, Perth

20 years ago, I left a little place called Perth, one of the many places I called home as a child.  I’d taken five weeks unpaid leave from work, and I was going to see my friend George who was working in a place called Val d’Isere, my brother who was working in Prague, and my sister in London.

Of course, 20 years go by in the blink of an eye, and I found myself very settled in London with a husband, two gorgeous boys and a baby business, all somehow surviving, all impressing me incredibly with how they grow. 

In June of last year, we found ourselves back in Perth on Australia’s windy west coast, and due to a collective of family related reasons the only decision we could really make was to move here for a while.

To be honest, I talked a good game about how it was going to be easy (well, not easy, I think I used the word “fine”) running the business side of Village from all the way over there.  The team would all stay on, the warehouse would continue with the practicalities of shipping bags.  We have always celebrated part time, flexi time and remote working, so that would continue.  I worried about team catchups and dare I say “culture” of what we did work-wise, because it’s harder to all be in it together when you’re not, well, together.

We landed here on the 1st of January.  And then I almost immediately returned to London for our usual seasonal meetings with buyers and press, as well as my usual catchups with friends and family.  It’s going to be June tomorrow, and with that I will have now been in Australia for longer than I’ve been in London in 2018, but not by that much.  And a few things have happened in that time that have been entirely unexpected.

My boys are flourishing in their new Australian schools.  No sign of the accent yet with the oldest, but their worlds have become so much larger than they were in 2017.  My husband, now free of an almighty commute to Milton Keynes for a massive job (which most people thought an impossible challenge) has discovered the joy of the chat between front door and school gate as he awaits his visa.  And me, well I’m feeling quite back at home. 

Perth of course isn’t the place I left in many ways – there is an incredible interest in the arts and creativity here, there are things to do and places to go.  But it is the home I left in others – it is an absolute utopia for the young family; parks, playgrounds, beach, sport, sunshine and more sunshine.  My mum, who has quietly spent the last 20 years waiting for me to return can say out loud how delighted she is were here.  My boys have gained a huge amount of extended family to see regularly.  It is an amazing life, and yet, I miss my London, my friends and family who equally made England my home.

And then the business – flourishing even more now we have more of the same. I’ve written before how I tried to start a handbag brand but created an actual Village instead, and that holds true.  We now have staff in Switzerland, new hires in London, a newbie in Seattle and of course a couple here with me in Perth. All women, mostly with families whose needs they work around, all with other passions they feed.  Nearly all working flexibly – getting the job done, to the deadline, but rarely only between 9 and 5 (which is why we’re not very good on the phone).  Esme is finishing her Yoga instructors’ qualification, Lorraine is studying reflexology, Gab has just signed up for a ceramics course, Catie is moving house again. Anne is still trying to work our life in America.  And me, well I get to raise my family – my two gorgeous boys and my one small Village.  And I’m heading to Hong Kong next week for meetings there and shortly back to London for a month in July.  And as the rain pours outside it feels like England in Australia, and I couldn’t be happier. 

It is the weirdest thing about Villages.  It seems they are with you wherever you are.

By Jules Dobson

Village England was born out of a passion for beautiful design and the desire to capture a sense of English style.