‘Every human is an artist. And this is the main art we have: the creation of our story.’
This quote by Don Miguel Ruiz sits nestled within DUFMOD’s site. Over the past few months, I’ve been getting to know Jenny & Giles Smith, the creative forces behind the free-spirited, bohemian brand. The more I learn, the more my intrigue grows and the more I feel drawn to share a small business that, to me, stands out from the rest. So when, despite being on a fifteen month trip away from home, the couple agreed to an interview, I was thrilled.
For some, business is all about poker faced deals and cutting corners. It’s The Apprentice, it’s Trump, it’s flash suits, fat accounts and seriously cut-throat cash flow. Not that Jenny & Giles aren’t serious, but for them, business is about more than just money. DUFMOD is an extension of their collective passions. A way in which to live a fulfilling life of their choosing, full of travel and enriching experiences, providing for themselves a reliable income while most importantly, taking time to add value back into our global communities. One of Jenny’s business mantras is, ‘Give and do more than is required.‘ This ethos, of looking further than yourself, of giving not taking, is an unusually refreshing approach. Looking forward to the future of the brand, the couple envision a team whose sole purpose is philanthropic work. If that’s not a progressive focus, I don’t know what is.
While widespread philanthropy is on their five year plan, they’re not sitting on their laurels in the meantime. Adding value and sustainability is of major everyday importance to the DUFMOD team:
‘It’s not just about donating and volunteering. It’s about making conscious decisions in our daily activities. We are picky about what we consume into our body, what we purchase and expose ourselves to. We have seen and are inspired by the local people in many countries that live minimally and simply. They conserve, are resourceful in using naturally existing resources to create their daily essential tools, food and homes. They most often live stress-free lives and are incredibly happy. Seeing children doing cannon ball dives into faeces infested waters, laughing and playing with love and life, was truly a humbling experience.’
It was on a trip to Bali and after witnessing first hand the plastic waste problem there, they came across Bottle for Botol, an incredible organisation made up surfers, divers and ocean lovers, striving to eliminate single use plastics. They are working with the school system in Australia and Indonesia to educate students on environmental impact and providing a source of sustainable water. Moved by their mission concept, DUFMOD now donate a portion of their proceeds to Bottle for Botol as part of their ‘Add Value’ Community Projects initiative.
I’m always fascinated as to how anyone ended up where they are now ; the journey and stories that go along with it. Although now based in Jenny’s homeland of Canada, Giles’ story began in Birmingham U.K. His job as a geologist took him around the world until an online encounter through a mutual friend brought the couple together. After eighteen months of seeing each other for three weeks at a time every twenty-one days, their lives freed up simultaneously as Jenny quit her job and Giles finished up his final project.
The pair married just over a year ago in Hawaii and as yet haven’t return home to their now mutual base of Canada. On the road and off the beaten track for over 456 days and counting, they have been re-discovering the definition of ‘home’ and what it means for them. This nomadic existence and admirable pursuit of their dream life can only serve as a positive influence on their expanding brand.
Immersing themselves in aesthetically rich cultures like Jordan, Thailand and India, the couple take time to live within the local culture, allowing it to truly permeate their spirit. They spend their days meandering through market places, discovering hidden nooks and crannies, breathing in the atmosphere and architecture. From flat whites in industrial Turkish cafés to vegetarian bistros in Vietnam, decor inspiration is everywhere amidst their ever-changing backdrop.
Your home is your temple. This is DUFMOD’s principle mantra and rather than aspiring to any particular style icon, the pair continue to be inspired by the cozy but fresh feeling of these independent eateries and commercial spaces they stumble upon across the globe. It’s there they have forged their own definition of boho. To them it means ‘raw beauty with an expression of wildness and freedom‘. An open, tranquil space full of natural materials and unique, statement pieces. Giles’ favourite treasure from his own travels is a hand-carved Ganesh and Shiva collected on a trip to India ten years ago. It’s this mix of collected memories and considered purchases that make an individual home and helps to create a temple-like, personal space to uplift your soul.
The DUFMOD collection is, therefore, simple and well honed. Not just another sprawling online interiors store, Jenny & Giles have pulled together a collection of soulful pieces, organically curated using connections they have personally made around the globe. While travelling, circumstance would bring them face to face with local artisans and husband and wife teams who shared the same set of values. It’s this direct interaction that means when you buy from DUFMOD you are fully assured of its responsible route to your home.
The couple oversee the making process from start to finish in order to approve and ensure its eco-friendly status. They know their makers firsthand and hold a deep respect for both their craftsmanship and their culture. The Smiths are proud to have cultivated such strong relationships with artisans across the globe – they’re not only providing fair opportunity for employment but also helping to retain the cultural legacies of these talented communities.
One of Jenny’s favourite products is the one that started it all, their original Bamboo Diffuser. Her long-term love of yoga, passion for wellness and the couple’s holistic approach to life make this is the ideal product to sit at the core of their collection. Jenny recommends anything blended with lemongrass for a fresh spa-like scent. It helps her to stay grounded and focused which is essential, especially when running a business on the road. ‘Sometimes when I really want to relax I add two drops of fir and a dash of cinnamon for that cozy by the fireplace atmosphere.
When asked the same question Giles’ answer was simply, ‘Anything Jenny likes.’ He’s a smart man.
I say it all the time that in this age of instant, visual gratification, it’s common to take an image and attach to it your own perception. When you see white sandy beaches and a string of exotic locations, you could think permanent vacation. It would be easy to disregard the work that goes in behind the scenes. Running a small business is so much more than a full-time job. When that business is online, operating across all timezones, the lines between on and off are easily blurred.
And while they wouldn’t choose to be doing anything else other than this, the Smiths have worked hard to achieve their current success. Rather than finding their life enviable, I would encourage you to find it admirable. Inspirational. Attainable. Whether your dream is big or small, as Giles says, ‘Stop thinking and do it! It’s scary at times, you will make mistakes, but you will miss all the goals if you never take the shot.’
Right now, wherever they are, it’s safe to say that Jenny & Giles are exactly where they want to be. Keep up to date with the couple’s day to day journey on Instagram and check out their lush collection of home accessories on dufmod.com.