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Meneka Premkumar has strength
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Meneka Premkumar has strength
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Meneka Premkumar has strength
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“I think we’re the custodians of our children. We don’t own them. They come, you give them life, you do the best job you can to make them good humans. But the minute they’re out, they’re no longer yours.”
Conversations
31 July 2018

Meneka Premkumar has strength

Interview by Yasmeen Richards
Photography by Amandine Thomas

Yasmeen Richards on Meneka Premkumar

On the morning we meet, Meneka Premkumar greets me with a warm hug before scurrying back behind the till of The Common Good, the ethical grocery store she started three years ago with her husband, John and four-year-old daughter, Indi. She’s concerned about holding me up while she tends to customers’ last-minute holiday preparations. I’m pleased to have a few minutes to stroll the rooms of the store, each full with thoughtfully-sourced products. I make meal plans in my head, thumbing through packets of organic oats and curry pastes. I bookmark some cookies for later and admire the vibrant fresh vegetables on display. I don’t leave empty handed.

As we walk down leafy Church Street in Hawthorn, Meneka greets at least four people we pass, each by name. When we stop for coffee on the way to her house, she smiles and sits down as if she’s lived there all her life (funnily enough, she did live in the unit upstairs, years back). She’s in her element. Her business is a block away, and her home is around the corner.

Meneka is many things: a wife, a mother, a Sri Lankan, an Australian, a businesswoman, a friend, an activist, an everyday person. When she saw an opportunity for better access to ethical, organic food in her community—and to bring together what she stands for as a person and as a professional—she seized it. She and John manage the store together. They are present in every decision, and know their customers. It hasn’t come easily, but they’ve built it with the support of their community. Even in the face of exceptional trauma, which she and her family endured only very recently with the loss of their premature twins, she creates space to embrace others.

Meneka was one of very few people who knew I was pregnant when we sat together. She guided me through her experiences and the joys that came with them, and sent me home with something: her favourite, dog-eared, methodically underlined book on raising babies. When I too miscarried, her strength in our conversation helped me recover. It became clear in that moment that Meneka is the sort of person who never leaves you empty-handed. Each visit comes with a gift: be it her quick wit, her resilience, her belief that everyone can make the world a bit better if they try, or at the very least, the perfect cup of tea.

This story originally ran in issue #46 of Dumbo Feather

MENEKA PREMKUMAR: Do you want a blanket or anything?

YASMEEN RICHARDS: No, no, I’m so good. I’ve got my cookies, like the best cookie ever!

[Laughs].

Thank you! Okay, so, you’re a partner, a mother, a business owner. It’s 9:30am, what have you already done today?

Well, John my partner is very much the morning person in our house. Not necessarily by choice, but because the other two females in the house make him, I think. So he’s on breakfast duty. And then I meander down the hallway when I can tell the tea has brewed fully! [Laughs]. In half an hour I’ll have done kinder lunches, hairstyles, tidied up the house, rung the shop to make sure Jess is good, and then take something out for dinner. Someone has fed me breakfast which I’m really thankful for. And then today I thought, How am I going to look after Yaz when she arrives!?

Oh no! You don’t have to do that!

It’s okay! Hence a very quick trip to The Common Good store to get you these biscuits. It’s one of the upsides of having our own business and cultivating a life that isn’t crazy in the morning. We don’t have to get to daycare and work and trains. It seems we have a bit of a later start than most people with kids. Most days it’s just juggling Indi ‘til about 8:30am and then opening shop!

Some of that is your deliberate decision to open a store around the corner from your home.

Correct. We did that because

This story originally ran in issue #46 of Dumbo Feather

This story originally ran in issue #46 of Dumbo Feather

we needed to build a business and a life that allowed us to be present in our parenting.

Indi’s now four-and-a-half. She was two when we got the lease. But this idea was born when she was a bit younger. The concept for our store is that we’re engaged, and to be engaged you need to immerse yourself in your community.

Have you always had this sense of community? You grew up in Sri Lanka at quite a turbulent time?

Yeah. I was born in Colombo and came to Australia when I was nine. Look, my memory of growing up in Sri Lanka is a happy one. It was a time of conflict and war. But we were fairly removed from it. I was five when turmoil hit Colombo in ’83. That put the wheels in motion for coming to Australia. We already had family here, but that was the tipping point for my parents, mostly for a better education. Because of all the civil unrest, universities and schools were closing indefinitely. My father’s Tamil, and I’m Tamil. It wasn’t having a major impact on us personally yet, but it was to come. And the ’83 riots were pretty horrific. I remember having to get to a safe place: my grandmother’s house, because she was of the right ethnic background, she wouldn’t have been targeted. I remember seeing some pretty horrific things trying to get there: lootings and bombings and burning people. So after that it was like, “Okay, we must get things happening now.”

That’s when you came?

We came in ’87. It took a few years. In that time my brother and I came to Australia twice. Two of my grandparents already lived here, and aunties and uncles.

So you had a family support system on the ground.

Yeah! We had the means and the affluence to come. My parents had professional credit. But having said that, it was also a time when Bob Hawke was Prime Minister. And it was an open-door policy for migration, a different climate than it is now.

What does it feel like to see what’s happening now? Given your experience coming here.

I was in London when the Tampa affair occurred under John Howard, and I remember feeling embarrassed to be Australian. I get really emotional even talking about it. And since then I’ve had a genuine and close understanding of refugees and asylum seekers. I got to know the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre all those years ago, and in all the workplaces I’ve been in, and my social circles, it’s a conversation I’ve tried to keep open, making people aware. When people feel like we can’t do anything, we don’t have enough money to donate, what do we do? Just keep the conversation open. Keep talking about it. That will take the fear out. Politics does fear very successfully. And

when we come from fear, we don’t show our best selves. We’re so capable of showing our best selves. But fear stops it.

And I feel like that’s what’s going on. John and I talk about it a lot and every time I feed Indi, every time I put her to bed I think, There are children that don’t have this simple safety.

And they’re in our backyard and we so often neglect to lend a hand.

They’re in our backyard! I try to push that through our business, through everything, just by softly saying, “This is not okay.” I love that amazing campaign Peter Drew is doing: Real Australians Say Welcome. We’ve put the posters in our shop. Since opening the store I’ve tried to be as diplomatic as I can to say, “This is our business, these are our values, this is our voice.” But to also be respectful. I live in a very safe Liberal seat. So it’s important to be respectful that we all have our opinions, and to invite them, gently, to have the dialogue as opposed to bark at them and say, “You’re wrong.” I think it’s important to be as honest and open as possible in that dialogue. The days of saying politics and religion are too uncomfortable to talk about are over.

I agree! So tell me about some of the decisions you’ve made building your career. I know you studied marketing at university.

That’s right, and then my career developed into international business, working at The University of Melbourne and Victoria University. I really thrived in that industry. It opened my eyes and my heart and my intellect to all sorts of people. I left when I was having Indi, because I couldn’t keep travelling like I had been. I thought I would have my baby, take a year or two off, and then re-enter the industry.

But something changed in that time!

Yeah! I think children make you more accountable. But it wasn’t just that. For John and I it was kind of a perfect storm. I had Indi, I understood in the journey of being pregnant and giving birth to her the acuteness of your responsibility to care for your children. I don’t have a lot of family that are involved except Dad. John doesn’t have any. But we have a close, small community of friends that are our family who also have small children.

It’s beautiful.

It is beautiful, but the reality that I couldn’t just go back to work and have someone look after Indi dawned quickly. At the time we had already started this journey of breaking up with supermarkets. We were living a more sustainable, ethical life—from our house insurance to offsetting our miles on our car. Indi was getting up to six months. I was finishing my masters, which was incredibly difficult, but possible with John. I just remember he would bring her to me to breast-feed at the table, and go away, and I’d be doing assignments, feeding her. I had all these things in my head saying, You have the capability to do something else. And you have to come up with that quickly. Because time’s running out. We always thought we’d buy a house. Of course, that’s what you do. You buy a house. Everyone buys a house!

[Laughs].

We would work and pay off the house. It would always be about the house. I was just driving with Indi one day and I remember very vividly going to an organic store in Fairfield—we lived in Richmond at the time—to procure everything we needed because I hadn’t been able to get to a farmers’ market on the weekend. And Indi lost her mind. Babies just scream and there’s no real reason for it, and you have to rock them until you get dizzy. And I couldn’t do that because I was driving. I was like, “Oh my God! Why can’t I do this somewhere closer?” I literally just stopped and went, “What? Gap.” That was my marketing business brain going: “There’s a gap and there’s a solution.” I went home that night and said to John, “I think we should open an organic grocery store.” And he just looked at me and said “yes.” We had moaned for so long about supermarkets and the way people buy and live. He said, “If we’re not going to be part of the solution, we just have to shut up.” And it was born like that.

So how does one then say: “Okay, I’m going to find a lease and some good suppliers, and I’m just going to do it!”

I can only tell you how I did it. I got overwhelmed quickly, but John said, “Bring it back, one step at a time.” I had a vision, you know, of a one-stop place. Not just a small speciality store. I was going to deal with a lot of people to bring a lot of stuff into one place. I had this attitude, “We’ll just get it done.”

And John was still in corporate at the time?

Kind of. He was working full time for the Big Issue. He was there when we met, and he’d left a life in superannuation prior to that. So this was huge for us, but possible because I think innately I knew that I wanted to start a business that was good, and that I would do it somehow. There wasn’t a plan B. I don’t come from money or wealth. My father, the true saviour that he is, gave us a small seed of start-up money for the business, but there wasn’t anything we could sell to start it. It was really grassroots. I landed this lease, it was bigger than we wanted. But again I used my negotiation skills and went hard. And then I was like, “What am I going to do with this massive shop? It’s probably double the size of what I originally wanted.” Two years in I don’t have enough room.

[Laughs].

When I spoke to my bank, I gave them the loose business plan and the money that I had and they said, “You’re going to really struggle to set this business up.” I was like, “I should stop talking to you now!” Most of the fit-out for the shop is hard rubbish that John has re-purposed, and second-hand. I’d be on Gumtree driving all over Melbourne getting light fittings and furniture, Indi in the back seat. It was such a crazy time!

And in the face of people like bank managers and advisers planting that seed of fear.

Yeah! Everyone saying, “You’re not going to be able to do this.” Most people didn’t understand that I was going to create a full grocery store. That was the vision: a place to get everything you need. So it was scary. Especially for my father, he just couldn’t visualise what I was trying to do. I think he thought I was going to buy a 7-Eleven or something. It really played with what he thought was best for me. He could see how hard I worked at my career. He was really proud of the trajectory I was on.

Especially for parents who have changed countries, there is that deep desire for safety and security and planting roots for their children. That would have been hard for him to hear you say, “I know I have this job and it’s supporting me and it’s conventional and it’s going to feed my family, but I’ve got to follow my heart.”

Exactly. You know, The University of Melbourne’s a prestigious institution to work for. It was the signal to Dad that I’m okay. That he’s got this child who has arrived at the right place and I’m okay. Married! Having a baby! It’s all good!

[Laughs]. Ticked all the boxes!

Yeah! There wasn’t a time where he was unsupportive. But I think he struggled. Now I think he’s very proud. He comes to the store once a week from Glen Waverley.

Is he your most loyal customer?

Without a doubt. It’s gorgeous. He buys things that he doesn’t need.

But this work is not for the faint-hearted. Australia’s built on small business, besides maybe eight to 12 major corporations. Our business won’t be franchised, with Common Good stores all over Victoria, because it’s a local community concept. And I’m very happy for people to take my concept and do it for themselves all over Melbourne. We’re hoping to inspire other people to do it. They say, “Oh we can’t, there’s a supermarket.” “Yeah, you can. Don’t worry about the supermarket. That’s a different world.” You know? “Give them an alternative world.”

I don’t compete against the giants. And that’s part of unlearning some of my business training.

Who are your competitors? What’s your promotion? What’s your price point? We don’t engage in anything like that. The only business strategy we engage in is attraction. So we make coming to our store a great experience where we give you good service, charge you a fair price—which might be more or less expensive than somewhere else, but it’s the price based on what we need to charge you to pay our staff, for Indi to go to dance class and for me to pay my rent. And we make it a great place and we hope that the law of attraction attracts people. That’s as simple as my business plan is. I tell the staff all the time, it’s not being closed or blinded to what other people are doing by any means. But it’s turning the focus inwards.

And that’s just one part of you bringing every part of yourself to your business, which I think more and more people are doing now. And you know, John has come up in our conversation as not just your husband and a wonderful father to Indi, but also as your business partner. What is that like, to work with your husband?

It’s so corny to say but it’s great. It’s fantastic. It’s actually, for us, it’s like winning first prize. Because essentially when you spend your life with someone you’re crazy about, it’s really hard when you’re not together and they’ve got to work or are travelling a lot. And then when you’re building a life and a business, it feels serendipitous. Of course it’s got its challenges! I boss him around a lot.

[Laughs].

And he doesn’t take that very well. But we have strength. Running a business, parenting, they’re all just extensions of trying to balance a healthy relationship. For us it’s a best-case scenario. It’s also what the business is about: being our own masters and having our own flexibility to be not just there for Indi, but for each other, and to have a life with more meaning because we’re doing it for ourselves. John finished up at the Big Issue 12 months ago. And it was a murky time for us: does he get employment elsewhere? Does he come into the business? Some of it is just about saying, “I’m going to trust the process.” I’m fairly impatient when it comes to things in life, but especially when it comes to business. It’s just the work manner that I have. For John, it was understanding that he had so much to offer the business from a full-time perspective. Then our lives got topsy-turvy earlier this year because we were expecting twins, and early on in a pregnancy, one’s not the most efficient one can be. And when there’s two humans in there, it’s even more crazy! In how fatigued you feel, et cetera. So we just thought, Okay, this is it, we’re having twins. And you need to be in the business full-time because I’m losing my mind a bit.

So suddenly you find yourself in this position where your husband has just left his full-time job, you are in business together, you’ve got Indi who’s four and you’re expecting twins!

Yeah. I was really scared when I found out. I’ll be honest. I was really, really scared. It was a planned pregnancy where we went: “Look, if we’re going to have more children, this is a really nice time to do it. Our business is more established now. It’s going to be scary anytime, but Indi’s four. Let’s do it now.” But I really was scared when I found out.

I knew they were twins straight away. John told me I was mad, but I just had this deeper sense.

Because I was a lot bigger and it was just different. But I was very scared of how I was going to be able to manage that. And juggle a store and a life and space and all the rest of it. But I just surrendered to that journey. I think I didn’t do it as elegantly as I could have, but I did surrender at some point.

What helps you do that?

Finality, right? Just thinking, Well, we’ve got to do this. It’ll be tough for a while maybe but we’re just going to do it. All of these years we’ve just done it, so something will occur and we’ll just do it. And I think for me, faith. I’ve got a Christian faith and believe what’s there for you is written by the hand of God and there’s not much you can do to change that. So you might as well happily accept and be a bit more of a sane human as a result [laughs].

I mean, once I got over the shock and the fear of it, it was exciting. And those few months that I was pregnant, for John, Indi and I, it was quite euphoric. The anticipation, but then also because it was my second pregnancy and I could feel them move because there was not as much room. It was so much more interactive.

Then as you’re going through your pregnancy, you received devastating news.

Yeah. Well, it wasn’t even news, it was just life opened the door one day with a massive bang. At five and a half months my waters broke unexpectedly with one of my twins. I had fraternal twins, they had separate sacs. And it was a little boy—we knew there was a little boy and a little girl. It came from nowhere. I had a scan a few days before and everything was great. It was a really low-risk pregnancy. So my waters broke and unfortunately, they were just too little. So Nelson, my little boy, would have died straight away when my waters broke. Which I innately knew. But my little girl, because she was in a separate sac, was fine. Fine in the sense that she was unhurt. Then I went into labour the next day and birthed both of them. Selma was alive, but just too little. So everything’s formed and she was such a sweet thing, you could see tiny similarities, she just looked like a smaller version of Indi when she was born. She stayed with us for about an hour ‘til her little chest stopped moving. It’s kind of a bittersweet memory. Not just bitter, but bittersweet. It was difficult. But enriching. It’s probably foreign to hear that. But certainly it was. And it’s been a tough five and a half months now. But it’s not an experience I’d change.

When we met earlier you said something that I can’t stop thinking about, which is that you wanted to go through birthing your babies in the same way that you did with Indi, in a natural way, so you could give them what you thought was the same dignity to be present with them.

Yeah, very much so. And I’m thankful that some switch somewhere allowed that to happen in my brain. Because I think while I wouldn’t by any terms describe the point where I’m at now as healed, the journey to healing has been more manageable for me because I was present in that experience. I innately knew when my waters broke that they weren’t going to be okay. I was willing for something else and I was trying to keep my rational brain on, but I know enough about birthing from what happened with Indi, I was really prepared. I was in charge of that labour, which allowed me to be in charge of this labour regardless of the outcome. When I went to hospital I had such little intervention for something that everyone else around me said was such a big thing. My father was like, “Why aren’t there seven obstetricians in the room? Where is everyone? What’s happening?” And you know even professional medical people understand that when it comes to birth there’s a lot that is just left to whatever you believe in: the hands of the universe, the hands of God. Their main concern was about me. And I was fine. They were very kind and open with the information they offered me. But essentially there wasn’t a lot anyone could do. And they wanted my body to do what it would do. I put a lot of trust in that. And I almost felt like I was being given time to just make peace with it.

You have done something that I feel is almost indescribable in loving them with no conditions. And to have seen the beauty in their life, however short it was. And somehow you continued moving forward. Is it innate—that resilience?

I think the guiding hand is faith. Faith in God and faith in myself. Everyone has a different definition of it. I don’t know where you go in a time like this if you don’t believe in something to keep you together. Because it’s very easy to just go to the corner and stay there.

I think we’re the custodians of our children. We don’t own them. They come, you give them life, you do the best job you can to make them good humans. But the minute they’re out, they’re no longer yours.

You’re given a very special role to bring them here—whatever form they come in and for however long. So I felt empowered saying, “This is life and you can’t sign up to the good parts. You have to take all of it.” The very nature of being alive means you expose yourself to every possible emotion and experience. Hopefully most of us experience the good with some grief along the way. But ultimately humans overcome. We see that in the atrocities that happen everywhere: wars, genocides, famine. Those things happen to people. To men and women. And to their children and grandchildren. And somehow the majority of those people overcome, and live, and how well we live and thrive after something like that happens I think depends on self-belief and faith. And I mean, I felt that same connectedness as I did when I birthed Indi. When I birthed Nelson and then Selma about 10 minutes later, it was like an awakening, this sense of something bigger taking hold. Whether it’s Mother Nature or a presence or however we define it. It was very much about saying, “I’m good. I’m here to do what I’m here to do, and I’m good. And this isn’t going to be the thing that breaks me.” I mean, while it’s been really devastating for us and the people around us, because the expectation of a life is so exciting, for me it hasn’t been a bad experience because

I would rather have had the experience of having them for five and a half months than not. I mean, I felt them, they were inside me. I birthed them. They were my children. I’m really happy for that.

And your community came together for you.

We’ve got a community business, you know? And when you’re pregnant with twins, even though I was five-and-a-half months’ pregnant, I looked like I was full term. I was huge! So there’s all the excitement that builds around that. Certainly because Indi was so involved, everyone talked to her about it: “You’re going to be a big sister of two babies.” And so the loss and the sense of grief was felt by many people who were part of that story: people from the shop, our friends. I didn’t hide from that. We had a funeral a few days later. And we closed the shop just for the duration of the service. I put signs on the window that said: “Our shop’s closed for a family funeral, thank you for your support, these are the names of our children,” and was just really open about it. At the hospital when the nurse said, “You might like to organise a funeral,” which are words you don’t expect to hear in a maternity ward, people around me said: “It can just be a private thing” or “we can do whatever you want.” And I remember thinking that even in grief, there is a human obligation to take people with you on a journey. Just because they weren’t the people who were going to have these babies, or they may not have seen them every day and they weren’t going to be their aunties, there was still this expectation that life was coming and they were part of it. And so I felt even in that time you can be inclusive. Just because you didn’t hold them doesn’t mean you’re not sad for them. So I tried to be as encompassing as I could in those weeks, to speak openly about what happened, to just allow people to be sorry.

How has Indi been through it all?

She’s struggled over the last couple of months. Her grief has been really fierce, but I think she’s recently turned a corner. She’s lost a sense of identity around being a big sister and what that means and will she ever be a big sister? She came to the hospital that day and wanted to see them and hold them. And say goodbyes. Instinctively I was like, “That’s not a good idea.” But I just tried to process—this is not even 24 hours later. I realised she needed her own closure. And the midwives were phenomenal and talked her through it. And she got to see Selma and hold her and even in that moment I had to think about the vocabulary I was using with her because…

She’s four. She’s only four.

Correct. So I had to say to her, “When I had you, you were this big. And Selma is only this big. And you can see honey why she’s really little and it was just not the time. We’ve had our babies but it’s not the time for them to stay with us.” All this language around it to show that it is sad, but not taboo.

As seems to be the case with a lot of things.

Yeah! I’ve got a really close friend who lost her little sister when she was three. She’s in her forties now. But she remembers no one explaining anything. And then being at her sister’s funeral and not knowing what was happening. She’s going into the ground, what’s happening? I think there’s a lot of power in knowledge, particularly for children. Just giving them enough credit to know they can understand, in their terms and language. And take it on and break it down in a way that makes sense to them. I’ve said to Indi we’re all learning as a family how to answer the question. Particularly when she’s around and someone asks me, “Is this your only one?” I’ll say, “Yeah, Indi’s our only one here, but we’ve got two babies who are with the angels.” Or, “I’ve had three children.” I myself am getting the words right. But it’s important because

I’ve said to Indi, “You are a big sister. You do have a brother and sister that aren’t here. And that is the story of our family. You must talk about it, you have to own it. This is not something to shy away from.”

Certainly I feel that it is my responsibility to instil in Indi the coping mechanisms of just life, whether it be about grief or making friends.

How do you personally practise kindness? Be that self-kindness, or kindness to others.

It’s a great question because self-care and self-kindness has taken a backseat, particularly after losing Nelson and Selma because our focus has been trying to make sure Indi’s okay. When I see what Indi’s gone through in the last few months, it’s somewhat heart-breaking. But I’ve reconciled it by saying, “While you never choose that for your child, that’s already been chosen.” Somewhere, somehow, Indi’s journey was to experience resilience at four. I can’t change that. It’s her journey, I can’t even make it mine. But I can dive headfirst into that journey behind her.

Generally, the kindness for us is not something that’s front of mind or talked about. It just is. I mean, John takes phenomenal care, like operational care, of us, basically running our house. I’m the main feeder in the house. That happens innately. I think kindness is not a virtue that you can put on your to-do list.

I’m curious about your own resilience, ‘cause you kept going. You kept your business going, you kept your home going.

Do you know, when I came back from the hospital I just thought the most fabulous thing I could do was drink endless pots of tea and lie in bed. It’s very easy. And I think it’s a slippery slope to nowhere. The main thing that kept us going was Indi. No matter what goes on, breakfast has to be done, dinner has to be done—that was an anchor. I remember coming home and thinking, I have to stay present. Because my mind would wander: What if they made it? What would they look like? How would they be? Because I’d seen them after I’d birthed them. But I realised you can’t live for the dead. You have an obligation to the dead to live. They can’t do it and they need you to do it. And I felt that, and I felt that I wasn’t going to rob myself of the anticipation of thinking what would they have been like and romanticising it and yearning for it. There was nothing more poignant than after the funeral, we had the twins cremated and it was just our immediate friends at a little chapel. While their little coffin was being taken, I remember saying to myself, Stay present. Feel your feet on the ground. Because my overwhelming want was to just fly, in a true dramatic movie style, fly onto that coffin and just be there with them and go wherever they were going. Not necessarily thinking I want to die myself, but not being ready for the finality of it. But ultimately the only thing that’s given to you without any guarantees is the moment, yeah? And if you don’t stay present I think you rob everyone. Including yourself. Of course make plans for the future, we make plans for our businesses and our children and our holidays. But essentially all that’s given to you on a platter is the moment.

What are the plans you’re making now, your hopes for the future?

A lot! I’d like to see our business grow over the next couple of years by the people who shop with us. I’d like to see it attract more people who say, “This is a good thing to support.” So my hope is keep hold of this belief that what we’re doing in our community can have a ripple effect. I remember sitting on this couch with the issue of Dumbo Feather that Shelley Panton was in. Shelley being another local shopowner. I call her a friend now, but I didn’t know her then. And I remember reading that story and thinking, This is a woman with drive and determination that opened a shop. And I was already on my way, but it gave me strength to say: “I can do this. And not only I can, I have to do this.”

You’re advocating for a more conscious future, for a future of love and awareness and openness in your life and the lives of people you meet. How do the rest of us start doing that?

I think you just start small. We arrived at opening our store after a long journey. We never thought we’d open a grocery store. We were already on this path before we met each other. It’s weird that everything’s packaged in a supermarket, maybe I’ll just start with going to a farmers’ market. The smallest things. “I’m just going to do a little cleaning up in my pantry and look at what I’m feeding my children.” Or “I’m just going to grow one vegetable.” Slowly your consciousness builds and you start taking a different route.

It’s not just saying there’s this good or bad life. It’s finding the life that has the most amount of meaning for you and for the people around you so that you’re leaving the place better than when you got here.

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