LIFE

How An Aussie Terror Expert Risked It All On A Stationery Startup

The Sydney designer rolled the dice on doing what she loves.

06/11/2016 10:41 AM AEDT | Updated 06/11/2016 4:43 PM AEDT
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Designer Chanel White urges turning your passion into business.

Ready for a career change, but afraid to take a leap into the unknown. Meet Chanel White.

In one of the more unlikely career moves, White has gone from London-based terrorism analyst to successful stationery startup founder, in just 2 years.

For White, who founded Amelia Lane Paper in 2014, trading in a high-powered career to start a creative business was about self-fulfillment.

She says she "always felt a pull between doing something more traditional and corporate or something creative and in the arts, and I've always had a big passion for stationery".

"My experience before was feeling overwhelmed, and I constantly felt like I was trying to play catch up in lots of areas of my life and I wasn't making considered choices about where I was spending my time," White tells the Huffington Post Australia.

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Chanel White has swapped terror analysis for stationery.

"That overwhelmed and burnout feeling made me think, 'what do I need to get back to a lifestyle that I'm enjoying?'."

White says the decision to start the business also coincided with turning 30 and a desire to return home to Sydney.

But that was as far as the planning went.

"A few days after turning 30, I found myself on a plane back home to Sydney, with nowhere to live, depleted savings, two useless degrees, (and) work experience that wasn't relevant to what I wanted to do."

The first few months were tough but the venture, which offers life designers, wedding planners, greeting cards, and notepads, is now going strong.

The designer's advice to others keen to make a big career change is simple -- go for it.

"There are big risks starting any business and you need a lot of self belief and you need to be able to back yourself. You also need to be flexible and modify as you go," she says.

"A lot of people wait for the perfect idea and the right time to strike but I think it's better to start and get going."

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White hasn't looked back after quitting corporate life.

It can also help to have an honest look at your life when trying to summon up the courage to have a tilt at business, the former security analyst says.

A big part of that reflection, White says, was about her attitude to work.

"You've got to choose how you're going to spend your time in your life and if you're truly and genuinely unhappy with what you're doing day-to-day, you've got to figure out how to make that change," she says.

"It's better to get started and even if it doesn't work out you can move on to something else rather than spending five more years being unhappy."

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