When you’re jet setting around the globe, you know how important it is to invest in products that last—and also just how hard it is to find them. Sal Morgan, editor, producer, consultant and former Special Projects & Bookings Director for Vogue Australia, couldn’t find a product that perfectly transitioned between the gym, the beach, work trips and spontaneous holidays, so she created the solution herself. After discovering the durable and versatile neoprene fabric, Sal designed NEO/PREEN, a range of accessories that could protect against sweat, sea and sand, as well as travel seamlessly from the gym to the swimming pool. We sit down with the entrepreneur to chat about how she keeps healthy on the go and her essential travel items.
When exactly did you decide to create NEO/PREEN? I had thought about doing an accessories brand for some time but only started the sampling process two years ago which helped me become clearer on what I wanted to create: a product that would appeal to those all over the globe that are on the go. Those that are starting their day with a walk, a swim or go to yoga or the gym. Those that need an accessory that will take care of the essentials: hold their phone, keys, cards and cash. An accessory that could withstand the sand, sunscreen, the long haul flights and weekends away.
What have been the most rewarding and most challenging moments of starting your own business? The most challenging is getting it off the ground. Starting it and trusting that your brand, vision and product will resonate (and sell!) with other people. The most rewarding moment is seeing people respond to your vision, buy it, and tell you how much they love using NEO/PREEN. Seeing them come back for more is really special.
How did your experience in fashion help the creative process? Being able to call on friends that I had worked with in the fashion industry was a huge help. Sarah Jane Clarke, the co-founder of Sass & Bide, was really encouraging and positive. I called on her and a few others after I did my first round of sampling to get their thoughts on the colours and design. On the downside, I maybe knew a little too much of the industry and was constantly thinking of all the ways it could possibly not work or go wrong!
NEO/PREEN looks like the essential travel item for those on the go. What other items do you never travel without? There’s a few things I have to take with me whenever I’m on the go. First, never underestimate the importance of a good pair of trainers—aside from the fact that they are the most comfortable shoes in my wardrobe, I also like to start the day with a walk or jog because it’s a great way to discover a new destination.
Some of my other key items when I travel: a large scarf or shawl to wear on the plane as an extra layer (for when the air con kicks in); a Turkish towel to pop in your backpack when you are walking or going to the beach; a drawstring backpack that is super light and can be worn each day; a swimsuit, because you never know when you’re going to hit the beach or stumble across the perfect spa; a Merino wool top, because it’s light-weight, breaths easily and can be used for layering; and last but not least, my NEO/PREEN essentials. I always take two large NEO/PREEN for my makeup and toiletries, plus one for iPad, passport, and travel docs; two mini NEO/PREEN for my cards, key, phone, cash, cables and chargers; and one for my laptop and magazines.
How do you keep healthy and maintain wellness while travelling the world? I start the day with hot water and lemon—this alone will make you feel healthy. I follow up with water, and try to get in two litres a day. I get up a bit earlier so that I can walk to or from meetings, and I always take the stairs if I can. It’s about choosing the healthy options where possible—if you do feel like something sweet or savoury, then order it and enjoy it. I meditate for 20 minutes each day. When I’m at home, I walk, run or swim three to four times a week, and practice yoga and Pilates, so I do this when I can while I’m travelling.
What do you look for in a holiday? I do love the beach life, which you can probably tell by looking at the NEO/PREEN Instagram. The sun, sand, salt water and fresh air can cure just about anything for me. I grew up in Queensland, Australia, where most holidays were spent at the beach, and then lived in LA for 10 years where the sky is blue just about every day.
What has been your favourite wellness escape? When I was working at Vogue, I wanted to switch off for a week, catch up on sleep and not travel overseas. A wellness retreat was on the bucket list so I signed up for Gwinganna’s seven-day detox. The food was fantastic, I took part in physical activities that I wouldn’t normally do, and the wellness seminars were really informative. Most afternoons I booked into the spa for some serious pampering. The worst part was leaving!
What apps do you find useful for travelling and wellness? I try to not spend too much time on my phone. I just use the basics on my iPhone: the weather app, the alarm clock, camera and Instagram.
How do you balance business and pleasure, and stop work encroaching on your personal time and space? I try and make sure at least one day of the week, preferably two, are without emails or meetings, just to try and switch off. I did my yoga teacher training with Power Living two years ago and one of the big takeaways for me was: “We need to be selfish to be selfless.” You can’t be the best version of yourself without rest.