Our 2023 diaries mark the beginning of the 10th year of An Organised Life and we’re incredibly grateful to have you in our community. The AOL brand was founded by Beck Wadworth in 2013, out of a desire to bring structure and organisation to busy lives and has grown into a destination for our community to live a balanced life.
With a background in graphic design and at the time working in the fashion industry, Beck founded An Organised Life after seeing a gap in the market for a functional yet minimalistically designed diary to house everything from personal appointments, work reminders, to-do lists yet worthy enough to take along to business meetings. She designed her first diary, found a printer & bookbinder, produced just 300 diaries & started on a marketing & PR Plan. They sold out in 3 weeks & there was no turning back after that!
For the first 5 years Beck operated An Organised Life while still working her 9 to 5 firstly full time & then part time. She had a lot of goals & learnings she wanted to tick off in her career in fashion before focusing on An Organised Life as her long term career path. For many years she operated the business out of her apartment in Bondi packing orders late into the evenings & every weekend. In 2018 she made the move back home to New Zealand and took the leap to work on the brand full-time while employing a small & mighty team to run operations in Sydney.
We asked Beck to reflect back on the beginnings of the brand, the advice she would give her younger self and the AOL product she can’t live without…
Greatest lesson learnt?
Never stand still, always look forward. I think there is always room to improve & grow when it comes to business. I love constantly being challenged to find new ways to improve the brand & products.
Other lessons I’ve learnt:
- Harness your strengths & outsource your weaknesses
- Be as hands on as possible when you start your business - you can learn so so much from your customers - it’s such a valuable time
Pinch me moment?
I have so many pinch me moments as a business owner. I’m constantly so proud of my team & watching them grow within the brand, & my favourite feeling will always be seeing or speaking to someone who owns one of my products & hearing that it helped organise, inspire or motivate them.
An insight into the beginning of AOL, what do you remember about that time?
I vividly remember my tiny Bondi apartment being packed to the brim with boxes of diaries & my friends & family (who flew over from NZ), coming over to help me individually wrap & pack every single order. I didn’t have a car at the time either, so every day I would take a big box of orders with me on the bus & train to the post office near work! It was definitely a mission, but my passion & drive pushed me through. I learnt so much in that first year & made a list of things I could improve (I actually still do this notion of writing a list of improvements over my summer break each year, so I’m constantly pushing myself & the brand). I took my time in 2014 to learn, educate, & grow my knowledge of areas I didn’t have experience in & then launched the 2nd edition of diaries in September that year. From the start, I was definitely in it for the long run & was happy to take it slow & steady.
Something people might not know?
When I created An Organised Life, I didn’t want it to be just another stationery company. I wanted it to be a premium brand that provided the tools needed to live an organised life. We’re not a brand that outsources or buys ‘off the shelf’ products. I personally design every single page of all our products, from our signature notebooks & cult favourite diaries to our extremely detailed Wedding Planners. I also live and breathe the brand & write a lot of the organisation articles you find on The Journal.
Describe your brand journey in 3 words?
Fulfilling, inspiring & challenging!
Advice to younger self?
Dream big. Getting out of your comfort zone is usually when the magic happens. And I would give myself these two quotes to write in my journal over & over again!
“There is no mountain that cannot be climbed and there are more pathways to the top than we could ever imagine.” - Cleo Wade
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” - Nelson Mandela
Advice to future self?
Never underestimate the power of a positive mindset.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
I think our biggest achievement to date has been inspiring people from all different industries to put pen to paper and building a platform to empower our community with the tools and information to truly harness their best life.
How did you know it was the right time to pursue AOL full time?
It came down to a few things really.
- Firstly, the numbers stacked up that I was at a place with the business that I could go full time.
- Secondly, I knew I had to make a change one way or another as I was exhausted. I would leave for work at 7am, get home at 6.30 or 7pm then stay up until 1am packing orders. My weekends were also dedicated solely to An Organised Life. I knew it was something I couldn’t maintain forever.
- The timing was right. I had decided to make the move back to New Zealand & it meant either going full time on AOL or finding a new job. My passion was my brand so when it came down to this decision it was an easy one.
Looking back, it’s amazing how quickly everything grew once I made the call to go full time. It pushed me into another gear. Firstly because I had time to solely concentrate on the brand but secondly because I wanted it to succeed so badly & I didn’t have my day job to fall back on. It’s the best decision I ever made.
An Organised Life is more than just stationery, have you always had an innate organisational trait?
Always! I live and breathe An Organised Life & I wouldn’t have it any other way. Even before I started the brand, whenever I got stressed, my routine was to get out a fresh notebook, take a deep breath, then reflect, review & refocus. I still do this today!
Can you tell us a little about your creative process and how you come up with new designs?
In terms of products for An Organised Life - I’m always trying to fix a problem or help organise a certain area of our customers life, or hoping to inspire. I don’t have a set rule on how many products I need to launch a year, I keep it pretty flexible so I can ensure they are the best of the best. For example the Wedding Planner took Greta Kenyon & I a year to design & create because we spent the first 6 months interviewing so many people in the industry plus real couples to ensure we made the best possible Wedding Planner.
THE FUN QUESTIONS
Top 3 ways you organise your life:
- I write a daily to-do lists & prioritise my x3 MIT’s (most important tasks) in the morning while I’m feeling fresh
- Most days I also time block my to-do list to help keep on top of my workload & schedule - I even set daily alarms on my phone to keep me on track.
- I’m also a big advocate for giving everything a place. It keeps everything organised from my home, wardrobe, pantry, bathroom & laundry to the apps on my phone & my laptop files. Create a strong system that works for you.
One thing you’re disorganised at:
Deleting old photos off my phone & clearing my desktop screenshots!
If you could use one AOL product for the rest of your life, what would it be:
A Daily Planner
Dream future collab for the brand:
I can’t believe this year marks the 10th edition diary. It’s where it all began for me back when I was a naive 23 year old with a passion for stationery & living an organised life! I can’t thank each & every one of you enough for supporting myself & the brand over the last 9 years. I couldn’t have done it without you & I’m forever grateful. You are the reason I was able to make my dream a reality!