Four years ago today, I was standing infront of the iconic Flatiron Building on Fifth Avenue, New York City. A few days earlier I had left a dream job after burning out and desperately needing to reassess what was next in my life. I’d taken my big messy heart and run away to New York, to volunteer at the 99u conference with the hopes of rubbing shoulders with three of the speakers whose books had changed my ideas of how to live (Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly, Gretchin Rubin’s The Happiness Project and Tony Schwartz’s Power of Full Engagement).
A few boroughs away, Australian Natalie Warner was undergoing her own transformation. She’d left behind her legal career and relocated to The Big Apple with her husband’s job. Finding herself in a new location, untethered to the familiar, she let go of old habits and discovered new ways of seeing herself and her life.
She undertook yoga teacher training, studied integrative nutrition and opened up to the world of wellbeing. Later landing back in Australia, she started Greene St Juice – a next-level cold pressed juice business, hand blending premium organic juice elixirs, which she would later sell online, in her own international award winning retail store, and as a cleanse programs.
Each elixir is a crafted combination of organic herbal extracts, medicinal grade essential oils and consciously sourced super foods to bring make delicious, functional juices designed for good health. They are also paired to complement chakras, and each blend comes with its own mantra to manifest on while you sip.
And in a complete circling back of leap taking, today Natalie’s husband Steve now works by her side in the business.
There’s no denying that NYC has magical powers for allowing you to see yourself differently, cross paths with world-class thinkers and breathe in air made from dreams, boldness and downright badassery.
But reinvention can happen anywhere when you challenge your thoughts to step away from the familiar and open up to the possibility of the unknown. It’s called a New York state of mind for a reason. Pass me a bottle of the Enlightening Liberty and let’s get going!
What did you want to be when you grew up and why?
From as far back as I can remember, I had my heart set on being a vet. I loved all creatures, great and small (and still do). A funny story my mum tells is that when I was very young, when asked what I wanted to be when I grow up, I said, ‘a monkey!’…oh dear.
What did/do you study?
I like to keep an open and curious mind, and consider myself forever a ‘student’ (of life). I’m unsure of the source of this quote, but ‘know nothing, appreciate everything’ sums up my philosophy when it comes to ‘study’. Dropping preconceptions, prejudices and expectations keeps life exciting, fuels my creativity and opens up a whole new world of unconstrained possibilities.
In terms of formal qualifications, I studied Commerce (Finance major) / Law (first class Hons) and I have completed half an MBA (the remainder of which is perpetually deferred!). When I moved to NYC in 2012, I completed a holistic health coaching program at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and a Yoga Teacher certification. It was at the Gerson Institute in San Diego in 2013 where I built on my Integrative Nutrition studies and learned about the extraordinary healing power of raw, cold pressed organic juices. At that time, I didn’t know exactly what it was going to look like, but I knew that I wanted to share my passion for healing the body naturally using the pure gifts of Mother Nature.
What has been your most scary/courageous leap you’ve ever made (preferably in your business/career/life direction)?
My journey from corporate lawyer to organic juice alchemist was layered in fate and synchronicity. It still gives me goosebumps to reflect on the path. It was more of a pull to my right life that unfolded over a two year period, as opposed to one giant leap.
However, when I reflect on the journey, there was one leap that set my path into motion. Before moving to NYC in 2012, I worked as a corporate lawyer in Melbourne. An opportunity came up for my husband, Steve, to do a secondment in New York. It was very exciting – and certainly not something we could refuse – but at the time it was an emotional rollercoaster for me. I was faced with stepping away from a solid career in law where I had worked so hard, for so many years. At the time I had a desirable senior role within a retail company that I loved, I had a fabulous boss that I admired and a great team. It felt like my dream job. Throughout my legal career, however, I must admit that I had many ‘is this it?’ moments, questioning my contribution to society and whether there was something more for me.
I had no idea what fate had in store for us when we arrived in NYC in 2012 and we moved into 95 Greene Street! The next big leap was when we decided that it was time for Steve to join me full-time at Greene Street Juice Co. I admire his courage to take that giant leap!
What were you doing before you made your leap?
I was working ‘in-house’, as a National Workplace Relations Manager where I provided employment law advice, support and coaching to all levels of the business across the spectrum of employment law and workplace relations issues.
Who have been the biggest 3 – 5 influences in your life, in terms of your career and doing work?
Firstly, both my parents. They were immigrants to Australia (Australian citizens now). I am so inspired by their individual journeys to Australia and what they have achieved since setting up their lives here.
Dad arrived in the country travelling alone as a young man with nothing but a small suitcase (he still has that suitcase at home…it’s tiny!). That. Was. It. Everything he had. He had qualifications in architecture from his homeland, but started out in Australia working as a labourer building railway lines during the day and going to English school at night. He was eventually tapped on the shoulder by a supervisor – who he refers to as ‘a very kind hearted man’ – who discovered that dad had professional qualifications and had also noticed his huge work ethic. This man took dad into the office to meet the management. That ultimately led to dad’s long career in engineering architecture in Australia. He stayed with the same company his whole working life (he retired last year). His work ethic and reliability is certainly something that has shaped my attitude to work.
Mum also has a huge work ethic and has a very strong entrepreneurial (and free) spirit! Growing up, she was always encouraging my brother and I to work for ourselves. She constantly talked about business ideas and built a few successful businesses along her journey. She has always encouraged us to follow our hearts and said it’s never too late to change direction and try something new. I credit mum for our ability to grow Greene Street Juice Co. so quickly. When we first started the business, she moved to Melbourne for six months and worked tirelessly day and night with us in the kitchen making juices, keeping us fed and generally keeping the house in order. Making juice is a very labour intensive process and we were all in, giving it all that we had! We truly couldn’t have done it without her!
My husband, Steve, has also been a significant influence. He watched me transition from corporate lawyer, to yoga teacher and then juice maker and supported my decisions every step of the way. I certainly couldn’t have done it without him! Now that we work together, Steve continues to teach me so much – in particular, good time management practices, prioritisation and having a single point of focus (I get easily distracted by the stream of new ideas that flow through me and I find it difficult to say no!). Being a small business, we generate ideas much quicker than we can implement them so re-calibrating our priorities is a regular task (not my forte…I want to do all of the things, immediately, ha!).
Kristina Karlsson, founder of kikki.K, has also been a big source of inspiration and knowledge. She started kikki.K in her one-bedroom apartment! I adore the inspiration filled kikki.K retail boutiques and stunning products. It was such an honour and special moment to connect with Kristina when she became a Greene Street Juice Co. cleanse customer! I initially ‘met’ Kristina over email when she did her first juice cleanse with us. Soon after that she was so kind to invite me into the kikki.K office and share some of her wisdom with me. I admire Kristina’s focus on living a life she loves, every day – infused with education that enriches and inspires her and healthy daily habits and rituals. She walks her talk and her energy and attitude to life (work and play) is contagious!
Finally – it’s not a ‘who’, but it is a big influence on how I approach work and life – the yoga philosophy. There is so much wisdom in the ancient texts that underpin yoga (beyond the mere physical practice of yoga – ‘asana’), which provides insight for living in flow and in harmony – within yourself and with your surroundings. We infuse our business practices wherever possible with this thinking.
What did you have in place before you made the leap?
We started everything from scratch! When we moved back home to Melbourne, we lived in temporary accommodation – a studio apartment at The Cullen – while we planned out our transition. It was on a tiny bench in this studio apartment where we began working on creating Greene Street Juice Co. I bought a cold pressed juicer and sourced organic vegetables from Ripe at the Prahran Market. I started testing and blending our original flavours there. I like recounting this story to aspiring entrepreneurs as I think it demonstrates that you don’t need to know it all, have a particular business qualification or experience or ‘have it all’ to start a business. You will do what it takes when the pull of desire and passion is enough. It’s hard to describe the feeling, it’s like an inner calling that you can’t ignore and it overrides the fear of the obstacles and challenges.
What was your defining ‘I can’t do this anymore’ moment that led you to the leap?
I often say that yoga teacher training changed my life. This was a pivotal moment for me. It was during this time that I learned to follow my heart and be led by my gut (instead of getting all caught up in my mind). By the end of the training program, the urge to want to teach and share my newfound knowledge and serve in this way was greater than a return to the law. I thought to myself, I won’t forgive myself if I don’t give teaching yoga a go and just see where it leads.
It didn’t take me long to get work as a yoga instructor in NYC and things started very quickly falling into place. I started my own small business, inFORM Yoga (my first business!), and I was regularly working – mainly 1:1 with people and with a lot of lawyers (interestingly).
How did/do you overcome/work with the fear that comes with leaping? How do you decide to choose courage?
I get a lot of comfort from the way in which my journey has unfolded so far. It feels very much meant to be. I remind myself of this on those days when fear sets in or the challenges are troublesome.
Having an underlying driving passion, maintaining gratitude, perspective and perseverance are my keys to overcoming the fear. Perspective and gratitude can, in a single moment, turn any situation around, and I am a firm believer that these attitudes and skills are contagious. The more you practise, the more you cultivate. And, steady, unwavering persistence towards a true desire – in spite of obstacles, or discouragement – is essential to taking the leap and fulfilling your purpose.
Launching into the unknown and starting a new business can be incredibly overwhelming and, generally, everything takes much longer to achieve than you think it would – hurdles you never dreamed of pop up frequently and set you back! Passion, perspective, gratitude and perseverance have been the key ingredients that have assisted me with overcoming these and keeping going!
Also, somewhere along my journey something clicked around dealing with stress and fear. I began to understand that stress and fear come from an underlying lack of trust. If you believe in your desires strongly enough, feel worthy of achieving your goals and trust that the universe is working in your favour, the fear dissolves.
Not attaching to what other people think of your decision to leap is also vital. Worrying about what someone else thinks of you is a definite courage killer and will get in the way of you making decisions from your personal truth. Magic happens when you can tap into your truth.
How did you fund your leap?
Everything we have has been poured into our Greene Street Juice Co. vision!
What other leaps have you made?
I studied one year of medical science straight out of high school before transferring across to Commerce/Law. The Medical Science path was my route to becoming a vet but it didn’t take too many lab pracs for me to decide that it was not for me!
How would you rate your level of happiness about making your leap?
1 being sad, 10 being rad.
Absolutely a 10 (and beyond)!
What’s the biggest upside to making the leap?
Pouring all of your effort into creating something that you are passionate about and is having a direct impact on improving people’s lives. It’s an absolute honour and joy to serve in this way.
Also, building our (still small) team has been an incredibly rewarding part of taking the leap – both in terms of what we have learned from our team and also seeing the contribution which Greene Street Juice Co. as a business has made to their individual lives. This is so special.
What’s the biggest downside to making the leap? And how do you get through it?
Working together was new for us and was one of the most challenging aspects during the early stages! (Year one was tough.) Not just challenges around the blurred separation of work and home life, but also in terms of roles and responsibilities. It is fortunate, however, that our skills and strengths tend to be complimentary rather than the same, which has resulted in a reasonably natural division of day-to-day responsibilities. We continue to learn a lot from each other!
Also, when you love what you do, it is easy to live and breathe work around the clock and lose your identity to the business. But we have been conscious about putting in place some structures and boundaries to generate a more sustainable balance of being ‘on’ and ‘off’. I find it also helps for me to think about Greene Street Juice Co. as having its own life force, which can only truly flourish fully if I don’t limit it by attaching my personal identity/worth to it.
What might be your next leap?
We have a number of exciting projects in the Greene Street Juice Co. pipeline which we are BURSTING to share. Stay tuned!
What are your favourite words to live by?
So many! I love inspirational quotes and affirmations! I particularly like these words by Steve Jobs as inspiration to trust and take the first step:
‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life’.
I also love, ‘whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right’ by Henry Ford.
Who do you admire who also made the leap?
My darling husband, Steve, who was courageous enough to leave a senior corporate role to make cold pressed organic juice with me!
I am also fortunate to have an incredible community of like-minded women around me who have made the leap and inspire me greatly (many who are ex-lawyers!)
- Lucy Shahjahan
- Prue Gilbert from Grace Papers (ex-lawyer)
- Melissa Tal (A passionate creator who always follows her heart. She took the leap from a successful fashion business. Mel likes to fly under the radar – she is big on anonymity…sorry Mel!).
- Sarah Holloway from Matcha Maiden (ex-lawyer)
- Samantha Gash (ex-lawyer)
A piece of advice for someone with an itch to leap?
Follow your heart and do it! Even if you don’t get what you think you want, amazing things will happen along the way, things you can’t even imagine at this point in time! You just have to take the first step and get comfortable with not knowing all the answers.
You are enough. You are worthy. If you are looking for a sign, this is it!
Right now I’m:
Feeling so fortunate for the incredible, supportive, inspiring goddesses in my life (I’m writing this on International Women’s Day!)
Hearing: The new Melissa Ambrosini podcast (obsessed)
Eating: I’m currently on a juice cleanse…seriously, I’m on day four of my seasonal juice cleanse and feeling fabulous.
Drinking: 100% cold pressed organic goodness ; )
Reading: Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
Loving: Following my heart and choosing love over fear