January 18, 2016

24 Hours with Chelsea and James Ross

Husband and wife Chelsea and James Ross are the dynamic duo behind Venivici, a company that operates three – soon to be four – women’s boutique retreats in Bali and Japan under the Goddess Retreats brand.

Husband and wife Chelsea and James Ross are the dynamic duo behind Venivici, a company that operates three – soon to be four – women’s boutique retreats in Bali and Japan under the Goddess Retreats brand.

­Having spent many years as a child growing up in Bali, and with a passion for surfing and a background in marketing and life coaching, Chelsea founded the first of the retreats, Surf Goddess, in Seminyak in 2003. Her vision was to empower women through the experience of surfing. Today they welcome close to 600 guests a year. The couple relocated their headquarters from Bali to Chelsea’s hometown of Perth almost three years ago, where they are now gearing up for the opening of their third Bali retreat while also operating a hair colouring salon called ONE Subiaco that specialises in blonde locks. Yorkshire-born James is also a co-owner and Managing Director of Australian watch company Haigh and Hastings, which launched in 2013.

They share a typical day in their lives when they’re at home in Perth.

Chelsea. 5am:I’m an early riser; I think it comes from when I’d be up surfing at four in the morning. I wake up and brain-dump to my To Do list, and then have 20 or 30 minutes of meditation and contemplation and read some inspirational books – something that will help centre me and keep me focused. To be creative, you need to have space in your mind for those ideas to come in. Around six, I wake James with a coffee. We usually chat about the day ahead as we get ready for work.


7am: I head off to the salon and my office there. I like getting in early and working before we open. It’s the most productive part of my day, with Skype conference meetings, strategic planning, big-project work or detail-orientated work like updating websites done before 11. This morning, I have a teleconference with the Bali team and our designer in the US. We’re implementing a new retreat opening in January, which will be aimed at offering a more active holiday incorporating things like circuit training and Pilates.

James. 6am: I’m up and straight into checking emails from overnight and dealing with the ones that need to be actioned. I like to get them out of the way and make sure there are no dramas. I get everything down onto my To Do list – I couldn’t live without my list. Then I head to a training session, something I do three times a week. It’s high-intensity training, so basically it’s like going to a torture chamber and doing six exercises in 20 minutes until your muscles can’t stand anymore. I can get it done quickly and start my day. I think it’s important to look after yourself and get the balance right. With the amount of travel I do and the hours I work, if I didn’t look after that side of things it could get out of control.


8am: I tend to do most things on the road – I’m very mobile, with my MacBook, iPhone and iPad, so my office is wherever I am. Today with Haigh and Hastings I’m dealing with watch colours and pricings – we’ve got a new range launching soon – and also making sure we’ve got the website updated and everything is ready. I came on board the company in June 2013 and became an equal shareholder with founders Simon Haigh and Gene Lilly. I loved the concept of these really cool watches and grabbed the opportunity to be involved, and it’s going from strength to strength. The idea was all about men being able to have some colour on their wrists rather than just the stainless steel bracelet. We wanted to give options. It’s been a very positive experience but also very busy juggling that as well as managing the retreats. I divide my time between the businesses, but right now it’s the retreats I’m spending a lot of time on – because we’re in expansion mode.

Chelsea. 11am: I head off for my power workout. I do this two times a week – I can pack into two 20-minute sessions the equivalent to working out five times a week. It’s so good for optimising health and energy levels. That takes me through to about midday, when I take 30 minutes for lunch.

12.30: I head back to my office at the salon to do the more routine admin stuff. I do all the back-end updating for the websites, making sure everything is current for both the retreats and the salon. I work closely with our web developers on areas like SEO [search-engine optimisation] – that’s my thing. I’m a secret web geek.


James. 12pm: I tend to work through lunch, grabbing something on the run. Then I do a Skype call with Hakuba in Japan, where we have our Snow Goddess ski retreat, just to make sure the team’s organised for this season. I just came back from being up there. Between the retreats and Haigh and Hastings, there’s a lot of travelling. I’m heading up to Bali tomorrow night to make sure everything’s in line for the new opening in January. We’re usually up there one week out of every month, and for the watches I could be in Hong Kong or Europe. Through the afternoon I do some work on the salon as well. I just focus on the commercial and accounting side – I don’t pick the colours or anything like that! ONE Subiaco is a fantastic little business. Like with the retreats, Chelsea saw a niche – something she knew women needed and wanted – and she was right.

Chelsea. 2pm: Around this time my “work brain” slows right down, and so I enter into more “free form” mode. I update the social media postings, catch up on personal emails – day-to-day errand stuff to do with our personal lives. And it’s the time of day I can fit in things for myself, such as a massage.

5pm: I try to get home around this time. It’s when James and I get to spend some time together. We’ll play with our dogs – we’ve got two choodles – and watch the sunset from the balcony while we catch up. We’ll usually take the dogs for a walk, or in summer have a swim or surf. We’re one block away from the beach. That was one of the important things when we were moving back to Australia – we had to be close to the beach.


8pm: We eat early and I’m usually in bed by about eight. I’ll grab a herbal tea and then read or do some contemplation and try to relax. I like to be asleep by nine.

James. 6pm: I try to finish up at work by about this time to make dinner. I enjoy cooking at home – the way I relax is by getting into the kitchen. I’m a bit of a fan of cooking shows – anything to do with cooking I gravitate to. I love French food, but we’re on the Paleo bandwagon – tonight I made cauliflower risotto with French cutlets.

If I’m home, I prefer to cook rather than go out, because I’m always travelling, and it’s a time when Chelsea and I can debrief together rather than just talking on the phone or through Skype. It’s usually when the best ideas come for us.

With the retreats I’m always on call – it’s an area that’s running 24/7 – so my phone’s never far away.

9pm: I collapse into bed and hopefully get a good night’s sleep so I can be up at six to attack it all again.


This article was first published in Business View magazine (Summer 2015). For more articles and interactivity, download the iPad edition of Business View for free via our app, NAB Think.

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