The College of Life.

I became an entrepreneur by default, not by design. I always thought I would marry a farmer. I loved animals. I loved nature. I loved being outdoors.

But sometimes when you take the road less travelled, you land up in interesting back roads in unexpected territories, often without an exact compass.

Founding a company 25 years ago was an act of faith. At the time, it felt more like an act of wild rebellion.

Some family thought it was an act of delusion.

“What an earth do Friedel and Ali know about running a company? Give them 6 months,” they said.

Now, all these years later, we reflect back on our life and the rich lessons that our entrepreneurial journey has gifted us.

The deep relationships formed, the life – long friendships forged. The product evolution, the thought leadership in our industry, the creativity, the architecture, the landscaping, the birth of showrooms and factories. The ongoing growth of staff over so many years.

Our business has grown, shaped, pummelled and matured us. Its bruising lessons (at times) have humbled us – time and again. Because, in business as in life, you never “arrive”.

You are always journeying forward, one day, one week, one month at a time.

Walking is a metaphor for life.

After we had discovered a major internal fraud in our company, thirteen years ago, we had to rebuild our company, rebuild our systems and rebuild our morale.

We were broken; we were on our knees.

We discovered that our trusted bookkeeper had been defrauding us for 8 long years.

She was part of the family and was loved by everyone.

Incredibly efficient.

Incredibly ‘loyal’ – we were later to discover why she only took two weeks of maternity leave.

She already had a suspended sentence for fraud.

She came through an established recruitment agency; they had not done due diligence.

And so, we began the long journey to rebuild the company.

To ensure that justice was done, to prevent it from happening to anyone else.

That’s why I speak about the bruising lessons of our entrepreneurial journey.

Beyond the triumphs.

Beneath the awards, the television shoots, the magazines.

There were days we simply had to put our foot in front of the other.


One day, one week, one month at a time.

Twenty-five years later, we have a great company with impeccable systems. We have had a great business coach for 13 years, as part of the remarkable GROW Coaching Group.

We are still walking.

Now in measured, far more joyful collaboration.

It’s not chaotic, it’s consistent.

We have an amazing leadership team.

We are still in college.

We don’t believe in retirement because, as creatives, we cannot retire our constant visioning.

It’s what keeps us alive.

Alive in the metaphorical sense.

It’s what keeps us evolving.

The collage of life

The fabric of family

The tutelage of tribes

The legends that build legacies.

The dreamers of destinies



It shapes us…

It chisels us.


The College of life.


Alison Weihe

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