Founder of Entrepreneurial Women with Purpose Catherine van der Meulen shares a little bit about herself, advice for those wanting to become the best version of themselves and what it means to be the #BestVersionofYOU.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a human being, living one holistic life defined by my values and the things that are important to me.
I am a woman who is constantly striving to be the best version of herself
I am a woman who values education to continue the learning, growth and evolution
I am a woman who is guiding two small humans to be the best versions of themselves
I am a woman who is engaged in a spiritual partnership as a conscious parent
I am a woman continuously on a quest to listen more than I speak
I am a woman who wants to empower and enable other women through their own capabilities
I am a woman who values time in solitude
I am a woman who appreciates the finer things in life
I am a woman who is not afraid to get her hands dirty
I am a woman who is eternally grateful for the great love of her parents
I am a woman who is grateful in the learning of loving yourself first
I am a woman who is always seeking nature, adventure and greenery
We’d love to know more about your journey, how did you get to where you are now?
At age 5, I would certainly have been labelled as a tomboy. I had boy short hair, a rats tail, rode skateboards and skates and apparently started to put all the grey hairs in my beloved mother's hair. My earliest memories of my childhood were at Flemington and Paddy’s Markets in Sydney, our family business warehouse in Ultimo swinging from racks, spruiking to customers to buy t-shirts embellished with Koalas and Kangaroos, and stirrup tights that were not for the faint hearted.
The Family business - SUPRÉ
Growing up in our family business - SUPRÉ taught me so much of what I know today, but with an incredibly inquisitive mind, I was always on a mission to find a better way, another approach and challenged my father on almost every decision that he made. It wasn’t until later in life when I looked back on the family business after it was sold, that I really started to understand why we would always end up in conflict. Our values didn’t align, The alignment of values has become such a strong moral compass for me, it's the only way that I step forward now and do not waste time when that values alignment is off and needs to be re-evaluated. When the family business was sold, I had already left the business, was working from home with two small children, doing a university degree and trying to untangle my identity from the binds of the business that I had grown up in and that gave me a deep sense of purpose but also a deep sense of sadness.
A newfound purpose
Building my own business - THiNK which was focused on supporting small businesses to create growth, meaning and purpose and re-evaluate what success looked like started to open my eyes to some of the deeper skills that I had, that had never been enabled or empowered. The end of my marriage, the grief of the loss of our family business, and the birth of our two children were all catalysts for an even deeper level of self discovery to really connect to who I am, what was important to me and how I wanted to live my life.
Years later, although I had a great life in Sydney, something didn’t quite feel right and I realised that my greatest fear was living a mediocre life, that was bound by others values and that my full potential was yet to be realised. I made the decision to move to NZ solo with my two children to spend quality time with them, nurturing their spirits and finding time to continue to pursue all of my great loves, passions, interests and skills.
Life in NZ is far and beyond anything and everything that I ever imagined. My life, our life is full of meaning, depth, adventure, creativity, wholesome humans, love, energy, clarity and connection.
Sadly we lost our father in September this year for which I needed to make the difficult decision to not return to Australia to be next to him during his final days or the final celebration of his life, knowing that if I did, I would sacrifice all the great things that we had built and a future filled with meaning and holistic success. Covid has certainly thrown humanity a few curve balls to re-evaluate life as we know it, opening up opportunities but certainly the most challenging decision I have had to make in my life.
What inspired you to start Entrepreneurial Women with Purpose?
I was lucky enough to be invited to CommBank’s Women in Focus event in Byron Bay where 200 + women spent 3 days together immersed in life changing conversations, inspiring stories and incredible support to think beyond the known and explore new possibilities. I had finally found a group of women that I would have happily spent another few weeks with. They were like minded, values aligned, successful, status quo challenging women.
I knew that the work that I had been doing in Australia really only allowed me to fulfil about 20% of my self actualisation and I knew I had much more to give the world with meaningful work. I had set it as my New Year's Resolution to work with purpose and full of meaning.
It wasn’t until I made the decision to move to New Zealand that it all started to manifest. It was an idea on paper for a month or so when I met the CEO and his EA of Helloworld Travel. They loved my why, they believed in what I had curated and wanted to be a part of the journey. With one brand on board and many more to follow including Jaguar, Rhind, Dilmah Tea, NZ Post, Ports of Auckland, Miele, NZ Farming, Blunt Umbrellas, The Market, Zip and many more, the project was starting to take shape and gather momentum!
You can learn more about Entrepreneurial Women with Purpose here.
What does it mean to be the best version of you?
For me it really is about living on purpose. Following your dreams, your passions, your great loves and building those into One Life.
It’s a strong sense of aligned values, it's about having the depth of a meaningful life, living to your full potential, enabling self actualisation to fulfil all of your capabilities.
With all the work that I do now, I truly believe I am using 100% of my skills, my passions, great loves and interests.
What would your advice be for those wanting to become the best version of themselves?
It’s an ongoing journey. It’s not just something that you arrive at and feel completed. You need to keep working on it.
Start by getting to know the truth of who you are, what's important to you, how you want to live a meaningful life, how you spend your time. Just remember one of the keys to connecting to who you are is first deciding on a guiding set of values, but these need to be YOUR values. Not ones that you have carried from your parents if you no longer believe them to be valuable or in alignment to who you are as a person and what’s important. This process of discovery of ‘Who am I’ took me a year working with a wonderful kinesiologist in Sydney, reading lots of different books, spending time in solitude, thinking, journaling and meditating. My one piece of advice is just to start.
Spend time doing the things you love and stop wasting time on the things that don’t serve you. Say no to the things that don’t align to your values or enable you on the path to your better self.
We only have one life, we can choose to spend our time wisely on the most meaningful things that give us a deep sense of purpose. Stop dividing your precious time into work, personal and leisure… it's all just time. How do you want to spend your time?
What is next for you and Entrepreneurial Women with Purpose?
One thing that I have been loving working on is our Impact Education Program and Philanthropic Investment Fund which we started a pilot program for a group of women from Vanuatu who are working here temporarily in the region picking grapes during harvest and pruning the trees during winter. Our focus was to support them through education, empowerment and investment for which we have been rolling out a 12 week program that has focused on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, creative thinking, innovation and using their passions, interests, skills, community needs and social issues to build meaningful organisations when they return home to Vanuatu next year.
We recently connected with the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment here in New Zealand and we are in discussions to roll this out to a wider group of women from The Pacific here over summer with a view to activate it nationally next year.
Education is such a crucial aspect of change and positive impact not only for the people we are supporting with their education, but for generations to come.
Finally, we have to ask… What is your favourite Aspect Skincare product and why?!
With two small humans under my wings, the role of a mumma is relentless, rewarding, exhausting and inspiring….with all of those feelings often merged into an hour. So for me to be able to replenish my skin morning and night is one way that I can give a little back to me.
I am always conscious of the lines around my eyes so the Aspect Eyelift 3 is definitely my favourite product which makes my skin feel torte and nourished.
There is a lot of depth, connectivity and stories to be told through the human eye.