fanny caloz & haz memom
Have you ever wondered what it would feel like working from a coliving and coworking space that provided panoramic views over the Alps while sipping away at a steaming cup of hot coffee? Or, meeting and connecting with like-minded FDNs in a setting so magical, it almost seemed unreal?
That is precisely Swiss Escape; the coliving and coworking space created and run by co-founders and FDN couple, Haz and Fanny. We connected with them to learn more about their lives working and living together as an FDN couple in Switzerland.
HOW DID YOU AND FANNY MEET, HAZ?
Well, that is a very interesting story actually. We were both studying in Switzerland and met when introduced by a friend. We didn’t end up together at the time, though. We were both busy with our studies and didn’t make the connection right away. About a year later, we got to know each other better and suddenly saw one another differently. That’s about the time when we became good friends. From there on, our relationship developed into something deeper, and we started dating in 2014. We’ve been together ever since.
THAT SHOWS THAT SOME OF THE BEST RELATIONSHIPS STARTS WITH FRIENDSHIP, DOESN’T IT?
Yes, it definitely does. By being friends first, we had the opportunity to get to know one another. That set the foundation for a well-balanced romantic relationship later on.
FANNY, YOU AND HAZ CREATED SWISS ESCAPE TOGETHER. HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?
Haz and I have always loved nature, travel, the outdoors, and exploration. We, therefore, knew we wanted to start a business where we could live and work together in a picturesque setting that would inspire not only us but also our guests. As such, we started our coliving and coworking space Swiss Escape, three years ago after attending a very successful Accelerator Program in Lisbon, Portugal. We put in many hours outlining, planning, evaluating, researching, re-evaluating, and eventually, setting up our business plan.
WAS IT DIFFICULT TO SOURCE FOR FUNDING?
We chose not to go the funding route. We didn’t want to sell the equity and give control to shareholders. Instead, we started Swiss Escape with our own savings. That way, we have full control over our business.
WAS IT DIFFICULT GETTING THINGS OFF THE GROUND?
Yes, definitely. We spent many hours just working and working. That is the sacrifice thought to get to a level of success that will afford you the luxury of traveling and working on your own terms.
ARE THERE MANY FALSE PROMISES AND INFORMATION BEING CIRCULATED, ESPECIALLY TO DIGITAL NOMADS ABOUT THE AMOUNT OF WORK AND SACRIFICE IT TAKES TO START A BUSINESS, HAZ?
Wow! I can’t even get started at the misinformation out there. From our own experience, we know it takes a lot of hard work. Now, I know ‘hard work’ might also be different from person to person. In our case though, we worked from early morning till late evening, and sometimes even woke up in the middle of the night because some ideas popped up during our sleep. It was difficult to create a work-life balance as weekends could sometimes turn into full working days. That’s the name of the game though, when you start your own business. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get things off the ground and earning money from it.
FANNY, WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FOR COUPLES STARTING A BUSINESS TOGETHER?
- Role Definition: When you work with a partner, it is essential to define each partners role in the business. It took some time before we realized we could get things done faster and more effectively if we divided the work between us into equal parts based on each partners skills and talents. If you don’t, you’ll soon be arguing about stuff that wasn’t done and/or not knowing what the other partner is doing.
- Boundaries: As Haz mentioned before, we worked a lot of hours when we just started Swiss Escape. We had nearly no boundaries in place between where work and personal life began and ended. (Something that often happens when couples run a business together.) Not having boundaries caused quite a lot of added stress and tension during the times we were supposed to be off and relaxing after a hard day’s work. Therefore, we decided we needed boundaries. No more talking about work or business-related matters when we finished our workday.
HAZ & FANNY, WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES WHEN COUPLES START A BUSINESS TOGETHER?
- Second Opinion: It’s quite common to second-guess yourself when you run a business; especially a startup. But when you have a partner with whom you can share ideas or challenges, it can help relieve the stress from trying to solve everything by yourself.
- Multiple Skills: Each partner has unique skills, talents, and abilities that can contribute to the success of the business.
- Trust & Relationship Grows Stronger: There is a deeper level of trust when starting a business with your significant other; especially since you share and overcome the daily ups and downs of your business together.
- Quality Time: You have the opportunity to spend a lot more quality time together compared to couples with a regular job who have to commute daily.
WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES WHEN COUPLES START A BUSINESS TOGETHER?
– Less Work-Life Balance: When you work in a regular 9-5 career, most couples only quickly recap the happenings of their day at work when they get home. They don’t over analyze and talk about marketing strategies or budget, for example. But, it’s not uncommon for FDN couples working and living together to talk about work all the time. Not learning to separate work from life can become challenging in an FDN relationship.
– Me-Time: You might find that you have less time for yourself when working and living together.
TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT YOUR COLIVING SPACE, SWISS ESCAPE?
Swiss Escape boasts some of the most fantastic views over the Alps and is set in the traditional fairytale-like Swiss village of Grimentz – complete with ancient cobblestone roads and beautifully crafted wooden houses. Some of the most popular activities FDNs can enjoy is hiking, mountain biking, skiing, or working on your project from atop one of the mountain peaks nearby. There is a ski-lift to the top of the mountain just two minutes away from our coliving space where a restaurant is located with super-fast WIFI. An excellent spot that feels as if you are on top of the world! Swiss Escape also organizes weekly business and social events for the community. This fosters better relationships between the guests staying with us.
HOW DID YOU START OUT AS FDNs?
We both come from tourism backgrounds and have worked in several companies in the industry. As soon as we got a taste of remote working, we knew we wanted to continue living our lives this way, as well as establish new and innovative alternatives into the location independent industry by bringing the coliving element into it.
YOUR TOP TIPS FOR FDN COUPLES WHO WANT TO START A BUSINESS TOGETHER?
- Talents & Abilities: Let each partner handle specific areas of the business as per their skill set, interests, and abilities.
- Work Time: Set aside time to work for each partner. If you are both morning people, great! Work together. But if a partner has different times at which they prefer to work, respect that and let them work at the hours they are most productive.
- To-Do-List: Use an app or calendar where you schedule reminders or to-do lists so that each partner knows exactly what they need to do for the day. We use Slack for this purpose