Fast to be Slow: Jason Grant, Byron Bay
Text KATE PASCOE SQUIRES
Photography KATE PASCOE SQUIRES
Jason Grant is walking the talk right now. After years of working in the Sydney crush, he finally packed his bags last year and moved himself – and his business – to Byron Bay. It’s no surprise he has flourished even further since relocating up north. He is more grounded, aided by his proximity to nature, but also inspired, both personally and professionally. The Byron life from the outside appears idyllic, but like everything, you get out of it what you put in. Jason tells us all about it…
The Slowdown. How does that resonate with you?
I feel I escaped the city to slow down, but having said that, I am quite efficient with my time – sometimes you need to be fast to be slow I guess…
Just over a year ago, you packed your bags and relocated from Bondi to Byron. The ultimate slow down. Or is it? Tell us what prompted your relocation.
This wasn’t a fast move – it happened slow, over time – but everything happened as it was meant to be. Everything aligned at the right time to make the move possible.
Re: the ultimate slow down… yes and no. Byron is what you make of it, but it’s certainly not a sleepy town in terms of the creative community and energy here. It may sound cliché, but I believe there are places that we each connect with that which inspires us – and Byron is one of those places for me. I’ve always been a bit of a hippy (proudly), even before moving here, although my crystal, candle and incense collection has doubled this year!
Taking all of that into account, the vibe is more relaxed here. I love the proximity to nature, the bush and the beach. I guess because there are less people to deal with, I am also able edit who I interact with more easily than in a big city. I can hide away if I want.
I haven’t necessarily slowed down since moving to Byron, but perhaps I am now able to be better with my time. I have found a better pace and balance of my priorities – hello, we live in a huge warehouse space that combines home, work and creativity only five minutes from the ocean – life is great!
How have you found moving from the big city to a relatively quieter location? Was a slow down something you were looking for?
I literally fell in love with Byron the first time I visited. We were staying at my all time favourite place, The Atlantic, my home away from home before I moved here. We were shooting for my second book “Holiday at Home”, which I guess sums up life here to a degree.
Byron offers everything you would want from a big city – great people, cafes, bars, restaurants, shopping etc, but the there is the proximity to the ocean and hinterlands that makes it so amazing. We are spoilt for options to escape into nature.
How have you found the reality of moving to Byron?
As with all things, what you put in is what you get back. I visited here for a long time before I eventually moved here – some of my favourite people live here and some don’t. When I choose to spend time with these people, it’s quality time, usually talking about ideas and creativity and what excites us. I’ve always been a friendly face that says hello to just about everyone. I love a neighbourhood and I love the sense of community which is strong here – but it isn’t a magical utopia life. The other great thing about Byron is that there is always someone visiting.
How often do you put your slow down into practice?
It is a considered life choice, a way of living. It’s great to be successful and busy, but not at the expense of everything else – life is for living and to enjoy – and I try to incorporate that into all I do.
You may have spotted the subtle reminder I created – a bit of DIY art in my room… “Low Key”.
Do you consciously have to make yourself slow down or is it part of your everyday ethos?
Yes and no. I do things throughout my day in routine, sometimes often and sometimes not. I mediate (thanks to my awesome friends at The Broad Place), practice mindfulness and try not to multi-task. I walk Sophia (my Boston terrier) to get coffee – I love this routine and the regulars I catch up with.
Having a strong morning routine is good for me, as after that, no one day is the same. Depending on what I’m working on, it could be followed by a shoot, an interior project, consulting to a brand, working on one of my collections, collaborations and projects, creating and shooting content for myself or others… or a million other things.
I like to end my work day by relaxing in the evening – trying to be low-fi! Although, having said that, I am fine with always being “on” creatively – some people get this, other don’t. I choose to live this life as a creative and I love it.
Do you connect your slow down to any specific place, time or season – or can you tap into as you need?
Always in or near the ocean – a swim in the sea fixes just about anything and always alters my head space, instantly calming, washing whatever away. I am always in nature – I’m a nature lover, walking my dog, often vague-ing out (I do this honestly quite often, without thinking or meaning to… standing, looking at nothing for ages… I do get spotted occasionally which is good for a laugh).
I like to focus on one task at a time, I like to think about things I am grateful for – it is often hard for my mind to slow down, but I am kind to myself in relation to this. Writing things down always helps – I like to make lists to remember things, as it makes me feel more organised and gets the “stuff” out of my head.
Amongst other talents, you are what we might call “Instagram famous” – how do you manage the world of social media?
Ha, ha… thanks!
I like to think I predominantly operate outside of Instagram/social media.
I think it’s important to take the social stuff for what it is. It isn’t real – it is an edit. Everything is filtered, considered, manipulated and thought about. I don’t live my life on Instagram, you only see a segment – there is a lot of private stuff I don’t share and what is, is all within a brand focus, my work, my style, my vibe and things I generally love and want to share, all from my point of view. Yes, it’s all organic, but still considered, authentic and generally just all the good stuff. And just because I have posted on Instagram, doesn’t mean I’m having a great day – there is an element of a disconnect which I think is good… except for the occasional “loose” moment on stories… !
Do you have any tips for people struggling with the comparison trap on social media?
“Comparison is the thief of joy” is one of my favourite quotes – always look within for the answers.
What are your thoughts on people who say they just don’t have the time, space, money etc. for any slow down practices?
It has nothing to do with the above, it really is a state of mind – you just need to focus.
Do you ever suffer from anxiety and/or stress? If so, how do you get yourself back on track?
Yes and yes – ok, so this is a very personal answer BUT a very important topic to discuss, something we should talk about openly – I’m not embarrassed.
Don’t be too proud to ask for help.
Having any level of anxiety and/or depression doesn’t mean you are weak or lesser than anyone else, it’s important to talk about real things and real feelings – depression, anxiety and stress (which is vastly different to the first two) are still awkward things for most of us to talk about, especially for men and maybe even more so for gay men. It’s important to not ignore these things. There is help available and the best thing you can do is to talk to someone and surround yourself with real friends that support you as your cheer leaders in life.
It’s important to get help when you need it.
Was there a specific turning point in your life that brought about your need for the slow down or is this something you have always incorporated in your day to day life?
I was beginning to not like what I was doing and it’s important to love what you do. It’s great to know you can’t please everyone or be everything to everyone and I’m now fine with this. I am very proud of what I get to do and grateful I get to do it. It may look effortless and easy, but the reality is, it’s hard work and a total hustle… the classic swan analogy…. calm on the surface of the water, but less than so below. There’s no need to pretend, right?!
Does your dog Sophia play an important part in your slow down?
Totally. We have a very special bond – owning and loving a dog is good for you in a million different ways. She never judges (well, maybe sometimes!), but she is always excited to see me and to just be around me. She is the ultimate companion dog – I literally take her just about everywhere with me.
For those of us who are walking our own slow down path, do you have any ideas to share that might assist us on our journey?
As with everything, there is no rush.
I think the most important thing is to be kind to yourself.
Get on board with the adventures of Jason Grant over @mrjasongrant or visit www.mrjasongrant.com.
Jason will soon be launching Store by Mr Jason Grant @shopjgandco – a thoughtful edit of vintage, one of a kind and local pieces along with a few every day staples. Slow shopping at its best.