There’s no denying it’s been a turbulent couple of years, so what better time for a brand-new focus than the start of 2022? If your dream is to launch a new business, write a book or elevate your life skills, we’ve spoken to the Sussex locals who’ve made it happen and achieved their wildest dreams. Strike now and you could follow in their footsteps…


1. Foraging is good for the soul, believes Sarah Watson, who grew up in the Sussex countryside where she developed a passion for using wild food to create dishes and cocktails. She trained in plant identification, and has taught sustainable foraging for a decade, scavenging in local woodland, hedgerows, pastures and along the coast, and sharing her knowledge through courses held in the Bodiam countryside. ‘There’s something intensely satisfying about discovering edible wild plants and fungi,’ she says. ‘Wild ingredients bring exciting new flavours and creative possibilities. I use seeds and roots as spices, shoots as aromatic herbs, and greens and petals for salads. I infuse hedgerow fruits and herbs in alcohol and make floral syrups for cocktails. Many find foraging helpful for mental health too: being out in nature is calming and grounding, and the process of gathering helps you slow down and be in the moment. Harvesting responsibly deepens our connection with nature - it’s a chance to really appreciate wildlife and the seasons.’


Great British Life: Mark Smith says the sea can aid sleepMark Smith says the sea can aid sleep (Image: Mark Smith)

2. Looking to be at peace with the world? Then it’s time to take yourself to the seaside, says Worthing-based Mark Smith, founder of Kalm Horizons, who relocated to the county from London at the peak of the Covid pandemic. ‘The therapeutic benefits of being in, on and by the sea are well documented – even looking at the sea can calm anxiety and aid sleep,’ says Mark. ‘Add a touch of mindfulness to this and the benefits are doubled. I discovered this meditating to the sound of the waves on the coast at Worthing and have developed a wellbeing concept around this using wave meditation, aromatherapy, breathing and self-massage called Kalm Horizons. Try it yourself. Sit by the sea and bring your attention to the waves for 10 minutes. It’s life-changing.’


Great British Life: Michelle Clarke teaches dance to students aged three to 70Michelle Clarke teaches dance to students aged three to 70 (Image: Michelle Clarke)

Michelle Clarke of Happy Me Dance offers guests dance workshops throughout the year alongside A-list choreographers. After having children, the former assistant director of dance at The Brit School, decided to work closer to her home in Uckfield to open up dance for those aged between 30-70. ‘There aren't many dance classes available for adults to commercial music locally, and the emphasis is very much on mental as well as physical wellbeing,’ she says. 'It's all about the feel-good factor, along with a chance to socialise and support others,’ If you are looking to embrace a new lifestyle, a growth mindset is key, believes Michelle. ‘A positive mentor helps to make your good work accountable, nurturing new goals, habits and disciplines. Everyone experiences adversity at some point, but dance as an art form is a naturally transformative and shared experience that unites us.’


Great British Life: Catkin Wemyss-Bodmer, creator of BrytCatkin Wemyss-Bodmer, creator of Bryt (Image: Catkin Weymyss-Bodmer)

Thinking about launching a business in 2022? Pay attention to your marketing, says Catkin Wemyss-Bodmer, the East Sussex-based founder of BRYT Skincare. ‘As a child I made my own scents, as a teenager I made my own moisturisers using plant oils and essences and as a young woman I was lucky to learn from one of the best names in aromatherapy skincare, Decleor, for who I worked,’ she says. ‘I learnt how and what plants benefitted the skin and our wellbeing. Seven years ago, as a woman and mother in my 40s, I decided to create a range of vegan and plant based skincare products that my teenagers and I could use without costing the earth and with solutions for individual needs. My one tip for those looking to start up a beauty business is to make sure 70 per cent of your budget is allocated to marketing.’


Great British Life: Connect with nature says personal trainer Monique EastwoodConnect with nature says personal trainer Monique Eastwood (Image: Monique Eastwood)

Along with putting celebrities such as Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci through their paces, Chichester-based personal trainer Monique Eastwood also trains local residents and global audiences via personal and live/on demand sessions. ‘Many of my local clients have been with me for years, we have grown together and are still moving our bodies,’ she says. ‘I also love to walk in and connect with nature. Living in West Sussex, close to the sea and the Downs, I walk daily and am almost always inspired afterwards. My advice is to keep movement in your life and try to eat healthily and mindfully 90 per cent of the time, focusing on nourishing your body so that you have energy to do the things you want to do.’


Great British Life: Emma Ross says horses taught her how to listen to her mind and bodyEmma Ross says horses taught her how to listen to her mind and body (Image: Emma Ross)

It was following the sudden death of Emma Ross’ young horse, Jake, that shifted her focus to rehabilitation work. When the trauma of losing Jake surfaced, so did emotions she felt she needed to deal with. She now offers Equine Assisted Personal Development sessions, workshops and retreats for people interested in exploring their personal development with a herd of 16 horses on a farm in Hastings. ‘I began to notice my horses’ behaviour change around me when I became aware of my thoughts and emotional states,’ Emma says. ‘The horses taught me how to listen to my mind and body and find ways to make changes in how I live my life. Horses don't conform to social norms, and help us cut through layers of social conditioning so we can connect to who we truly are and want to be.’


Great British Life: Dream big and do it before you talk yourself out of it, says Rachel WatkynDream big and do it before you talk yourself out of it, says Rachel Watkyn (Image: Rachel Watkyn)

The recipient of £60k investment from Dragons Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis in 2008, Crowborough-based Rachel Watkyn set up Tiny Box Company from scratch in an East Grinstead bedroom 14 years ago, and will turnover circa £10m this financial year. ‘While working in Sierra Leone during the military coup, the extreme poverty I witnessed drove my vision for a Fairtrade business,’ says Rachel. ‘This began as a jewellery company, but the struggle to find recycled and environmentally friendly packaging sparked my idea of Tiny Box Company, supplying businesses with attractive, ethical packaging that wasn’t damaging the planet.’ Against a backdrop of difficulties including cancer, fire, flooding, an IT hack, and now Covid 19, Tiny Box has grown into a thriving company. ‘My advice would be to dream big and just do whatever you dream of before you talk yourself out of it,’ Rachel says.


Having been through several significant life events including fleeing a war zone as a toddler, a number of health issues and the end of her marriage, Karen Abi-Karam of Hart Holistic Support in Forest Row, turned to holistic support and therapy, which she says helped her to move forward and progress in life. Now a milestone mentor and celebrant herself, she recommends finding strength in numbers when looking for empowerment. ‘Join a group of peers and spend time connecting with and exploring your experiences; it could be your life stage, location or personal situation that binds you together,’ says Karen. ‘Meeting regularly will help build a sense of belonging, resilience and empowerment. This is most powerful and transformative when facilitated by someone experienced who can help guide discussions.’


Great British Life: Pilates teacher Anaya GroverPilates teacher Anaya Grover (Image: Anaya Grover)

Men can benefit from Pilates as much as women, assures Pilates teacher Anaya Grover. Based in Hurstpierpoint, Anaya recently set up Men Do Pilates, the first On Demand platform solely dedicated to men, to help transform how they feel about their bodies by making mindful movement more attainable. ‘In recent years Pilates has become more accessible to men, with professional athletes singing its praises of how it has transformed their body, making it stronger and more flexible,’ says Anaya. ‘In turn this has helped them to improve their posture and prevent injury. What hasn’t made Pilates accessible to men is the emphasis on pelvic floor, which women gravitate towards. Men, you have a pelvic floor but Pilates is much more than strengthening this one group of muscles, you need it because it will benefit you in so many ways.’


Great British Life: Live in the moment says Mindful Extracts founder Donal BourkeLive in the moment says Mindful Extracts founder Donal Bourke (Image: Donal Bourke)

Following a near-fatal motorbike accident which left him with life threatening injuries, Donal Bourke, founder of Mindful Extracts, believes that CBD helped him to recuperate. ‘CBD allowed me to wean myself off painkillers, while improving my sleep and mental wellbeing,’ he says. “However, there was a lot of trial and error in finding CBD oils which actually worked – I realised that people needed a brand they could trust, with tested and certified products.’ Donal joined forces with a childhood friend and Mindful Extracts was born. ‘My advice to anyone with an unfulfilled dream or idea is don’t wait for the right time – it never comes. My accident taught me to live ‘for’ and ‘in’ the moment. Write a plan with achievable short, medium and long-term goals. Start small but do something every day, and progress will happen.’  


If unwanted baggage is weighing you down, Brighton-based Maya Zack believes that mindset coaching with the Sedona Method can provide the tools to transform your life. ‘This self-development tool can be truly transformative because it allows you to finally become free of any mental or emotional baggage or limitations you've been holding onto or experiencing that aren't serving you, whether conscious or not,’ she says. ‘It’s a powerful yet easy-to-use technique to help you let go of uncomfortable emotions, negative thinking, stuff you’ve been carrying around or limiting beliefs – often right on the spot. As suppressed emotions dissolve, sometimes even without directly addressing them, profound transformation is very quick, even for life-long issues. You’ll also become more in charge of your mind, be more present and achieve goals far more effortlessly.’


Great British Life: Octavia Coates created her business from wanting to work on the moveOctavia Coates created her business from wanting to work on the move (Image: Octavia Coates)

In June 2021 after lockdown, Sussex-born public relations executive Octavia Coates decided to create a mobile office space where she could merge her love of the great outdoors and travelling, with working from home. A custom-made, large camper van was the perfect option, which she kitted out with luxury fixtures. She was then asked if she would hire it out – this snowballed into her launching The Well Heeled Hippy. A second camper van has since been added to the fleet, with a third on the way. ‘I love how I am able to create beautiful holidays for other people and live my own dream at the same time,’ she says. Inspired to do something similar? ‘Make sure you hire someone who has converted a van before,’ says Octavia. ‘Some people masquerade as professionals but you need a robust, well-made van. It’s key to find the right company.’ 


Launching just a couple of months after the birth of her first son, Brighton-based Abi Selby is the founder of Europe’s leading spa travel company, Since the start she has surrounded herself with people she trusts, has listened to her customers and believes in her business instincts. ‘It has, and continues to be a labour of love,’ she says. ‘It can be tough, but it gives me enormous happiness to see the success of the company, of individuals within it, the joy it brings to customers, and the positive impact we are able to have on the industry as a whole. My advice to anyone starting a new venture would be to follow your gut - listen to others but make your own decisions; surround yourself with good people who are equally invested in your vision, and commit - if you want to make things happen you’ve got to be prepared to work hard.’


Great British Life: There’s no better way to positively impact your personal carbon footprint than by buying local says Nat LoxelyThere’s no better way to positively impact your personal carbon footprint than by buying local says Nat Loxely (Image: Nat Loxely)

There’s no better way to positively impact your personal carbon footprint than by buying local. Sussex-based Vitality Hemp products are crafted using quality Sussex and UK grown hemp and are carbon negative due to the quantity of carbon sequestered during the cultivation of the crop. ‘Switching to hemp for some of your routine items will help to boost your health for numerous reasons,’ says founding director, Nathaniel Loxley. ‘Hemp seeds have high nutritional value – they’re high in proteins and many vitamins – and have been found to lower blood pressure, reduce stress and your risk of heart attacks. Using hemp on the skin is healthier as it is entirely natural, so you’re less likely to suffer adverse reactions. Eating hemp can also aid digestion, relieve dry skin and itchiness, and reduce symptoms of PMS and menopause. Hemp absorbs more CO2 than any other crop or trees, so it is also great for the environment.’ 


Family life getting in the way of your dreams? Hannah Jones went from being a stay-at-home mother-of-four helping with her husband's business, to becoming a self-taught web designer almost overnight. Operating from home in Petworth, she is now bringing in new clients daily. ‘Having grown our family business using social media, I decided to branch out into web design and set up my own agency, Gift of the Gab. Five years later I have a team, workspace and clients around the world.’ The business has slotted in nicely with family life, Hannah, 48, says. ‘Starting a new career later has been a learning curve – make sure you have a good support network around you, because at the beginning everything is trial and error and you can have those 'what am I even doing?' moments. Having people around to lift you up when you're feeling close to giving up is so important.’


Great British Life: Write a page a day to finish that novel says Aliya WhiteleyWrite a page a day to finish that novel says Aliya Whiteley (Image: Aliya Whiteley)

Thinking about penning a novel? Skyward Inn, the literary sci-fi novel by Westbourne-based author Aliya Whiteley was The Times’ Science Fiction Book of the Month in 2021. ‘I’ve been writing for years, but 2021 saw that effort rewarded,’ says Aliya. ‘My novel was reviewed in The Guardian, the LA Times and the Washington Post, which was incredible. When the pandemic started, I stopped writing. I wondered if creating stories could really do any good in such difficult times. Then I realised that it made me feel better to create tales about people and their lives, their futures. Writing is a way to connect with the world. I hope 2022 is the year in which many more people find one page a day turning into the novel only they could write.’


Vision boards can help you get what you want, believes Hove-based emotional eating expert, transformational coach and hypnotherapist Emily Hall. Previously overweight and diabetic, she was bullied at school, fat shamed by partners and suffered depression. ‘Once upon a time dreaming big was something that ‘people like us' didn’t do,’ she says. ‘I’d been brought up to believe that an abundant life just wasn’t available to me. But then I changed my thinking, realising that all those old beliefs didn’t belong to me. I created a vision board of how I wanted my life to be – successful, happy, healthy and abundant. I started to believe that it could happen! I got very specific on what I wanted, and didn’t worry about the how. And that’s when the magic happened – one by one, those things on the board were ticked off. Whatever you focus your mind on you get more of. You can have anything you want; you just have to believe it’s possible.'


Great British Life: Finding a mentor changed everything says etch restaurant owner Steven Edwards-BinghamFinding a mentor changed everything says etch restaurant owner Steven Edwards-Bingham (Image: Justin DeSouza)

Steven Edwards, chef owner of etch by Steven Edwards in Hove, was forced to take big risks when Covid-19 surfaced. ‘The decision to close and refurbish etch felt like a game of poker – we were paying back debts caused by the pandemic and it was an ‘all in’ gamble,’ he says. ‘I’ve always been pretty positive but I was naive in thinking nothing would go wrong: there were points when I thought we weren’t going any further. Meeting my business partner helped to transform my thinking from chef to business owner. It was daunting but I enjoyed the learning a lot more than I thought, and would recommend mentoring to anyone starting or running a business. Your business is nothing without your staff – it’s important that everyone feels valued. When everyone feels part of the journey, standards are raised and goals are easier to achieve.’


With her husband working weekend shifts, Crawley-based Cheryl Jones was bored at home on her own. One day, he brought some expensive bath bombs from a local store which got her thinking – could she manufacture more affordable versions? Cheryl borrowed £500 from savings to buy some stock and started Hubble and Bubble, an eco-friendly business selling homemade vegan bath products. ‘I have Crohns so it has been a godsend being able to work from home,’ she says. ‘Seven years later, I am still going strong – 2021 has been the hardest year but fingers crossed things will get better.’ Inspired to do something similar? ‘If you don't try you won’t know,’ she says. ‘Do what you love and love what you’re selling – it’s not easy being a one-man band as you wear so many hats, but the main thing is don't let it take over your life – family must come first.’


Great British Life: Take time out to find that work/life balance says Jonathan HarriesTake time out to find that work/life balance says Jonathan Harries (Image: Jonathan Harries)

Providing eco beauty products that really perform has been a goal for Jonathan Harries, the Brighton-based creator of Shine Bar and Shine Hair Brighton owner. ‘It’s a common misconception that sustainable beauty means compromising on quality and results,’ he says. ‘The last couple of years has made consumers very aware of the natural world and that we all have a part to play in protecting it. As a hairdresser it was important that my clients could invest in a product that not only lived up to its environmental credentials, but also provided the same results that I would expect from an in-salon product.’ Jonathan knows that working hard also means making time to relax. ‘Taking time out of the salon is so important,’ he says. ‘I’m fortunate to live close to the Sussex Downs and the sea, so when I’m not playing tennis or gold badly, I take my two dogs out and let them choose country or coast.’ 


Great British Life: Spend 15 minutes a day achieving goals in short bursts says Natalie FarrellSpend 15 minutes a day achieving goals in short bursts says Natalie Farrell (Image: Becky Wright)

Crowborough born Natalie Farrell attended the Brit School at the age of 14 – it was here that she discovered her voice and passion as a communicator. Through her work as a writer, podcaster and influencer, she now empowers people to approach life and business the unconventional way. In 2021, she wrote a book and believes you can do the same to transform your business with clarity and confidence: ‘Breathe into the page; take 4 breaths in and out to get your focus,’ she advises. ‘Write for 15–30-minute periods – if you get stuck use nature as your guide, get moving and go outside to get the creative ideas flowing. The writing process isn’t just about sitting in one space, you can find inspiration all around you. While I was writing my book, I would take myself to coffee shops and observe scenes and conversations, helping me to dig deeper into the philosophies and principles I was exploring.'


Great British Life: Hard work, commitment and believing in yourself is key to successHard work, commitment and believing in yourself is key to success (Image: Natasha Olivant)

Based in Goodwood, Natasha Olivant set up the Classical Riding Academy to combine traditional classical horsemanship with a modern understanding of biomechanics. Focused on creating an establishment that was open to both novice and more experienced riders, the Applied Equine Behaviour specialist is committed to welfare and training methods that understand and respect the horse. ‘I never set out to create a riding school in the traditional sense of the word,’ she says. ‘The dream was to promote a riding centre that was more authentic and had the horses’ welfare at its heart. There have certainly been challenges along the way, but everything is about learning, and learning is growth. I relish seeing our business evolving, innovating and knowing that I am improving the lives of horses now and in the future. There is no magic wand when creating dreams; commitment and hard work are essential, and a belief in yourself.’