Summersite Freelance Collab: Interview with Axel & Ash

What do you get when a travel addict and a wanderlusty writer share their bucketlists with each other? A kick-ass business idea, apparently. For Summersite, I caught up with Hannah Sahlen and Ash Powell - the girls behind the Axel&Ash design and publishing brand - to talk biz, travel, that 'A-HA' moment, living rad, and shitty travel advice.

Axel&Ash, Rebel + Roam, interview, freelance, Shanny Matterson, travel writer
Axel&Ash, Rebel + Roam, interview, freelance, Shanny Matterson, travel writer

Let me start by saying that I've been seriously GirlBoss-crushin' on you both for a long time. As entrepreneurs, what's the biggest hurdle you had to jump over to launch your brand into the world?

Hanna: Aww, you are adorable! That makes us smile from ear to ear!! I (AXEL) would say that the hardest thing about being an entrepreneur is making decisions. There are so many options, designs and choices for everything and I just have a hard time making decisions (which makes things really hard!) If it wasn't for Ash, I think I would still be trying to decide on what business name to go with or which book to design first! But I feel like I have finally learnt to just go with something. If you like it, it's going to be good (and remember, you can't have it all!)

Ash: How to be patient! When you start a business, it can be so exciting with all the things you can do; you’re the boss and choosing the direction. Obviously, you think the business is going to be a success straight away; however, the truth is that you (unfortunately) can’t do everything, and it takes time to build a successful business, develop your brand and for your product to get known in the marketplace.

Whatever you do, ensure you do it the best you can, but don’t spread yourself thin just to get everything done. Exercise a little patience and it will all come in time!


You guys are known for your range of froth-worthy travel journals. Where did your design inspo come from? Were you just as sick of the lame, generic travel diaries lining the walls of airport stores as the rest of us, or was there a deeper desire behind the idea..?

Ash: Spot on! HAHA. Our whole journey started when we shared our bucketlists with each other. We were both incredibly inspired by a book called ‘100 Things’ by Sebastian Terry. The book is such a great read about this guy who stopped himself in his tracks to tick off items on his bucketlist. After reading this book, we were really inspired to write down what was on our bucketlists and to think about what we wanted to do in life.

On a balmy summer's night, we shared our newly-created lists with each other and that’s when we realised that we both had 'Start a business together' on our bucketlists! We were pretty excited that we shared the same dream and thought, "Well, why the hell not?"

Hanna: A few days later, I got the best idea: I'd travelled a lot before coming to Australia, and for years I'd wanted a travel journal that was fun and easy to write in, with prompts and questions that helped you catch all those memories and moments you'd otherwise forget. I just knew that this was IT, that this was the idea we'd been waiting for. I was like, 'Oh, Ash absolutely LOVES travelling and books - her biggest dream is to be a writer!' So I sent her a text saying, 'I got it, I know what we’ll do... and you're gonna love it!'

We haven't looked back since...

Ash:After developing the idea together, we decided our purpose was to create something unique, inspiring and stylish; a journal that travellers could take with them on their journeys around the world...and actually love using it! And the rest is history... {Continue reading interview here}

Words: Shanny Matterson for Summersite

Images: Axel &Ash

With thanks to Olivia O'Connor, Don't Tell Summer

Axel&Ash, rebel + Roam, Freelance, interview, travel writer, shanny matterson
Axel&Ash, rebel + Roam, Freelance, interview, travel writer, shanny matterson