Charlie Thompson of The Clean Collective.
Charlie Thompson of The Clean Collective.

‘Why I gave up my $140k job‘

CHARLIE Thompson was living the dream, having moved to one of the most beautiful cities in the world and scored an amazing job when things started to break down.

In her mid-20s Ms Thompson had a six-figure job in Sydney, was living in Kirribilli and enjoying what she thought was a healthy lifestyle when she started experiencing what she calls her "blackouts".

"With no warning I would get this surge of heat, it would run up my body and my head would explode, I couldn't see and would lose my balance," she said.

After a particularly bad episode that resulted in her falling over during a dawn service at Martin Place, Ms Thompson realised she had to go and see a doctor. She was expecting to be diagnosed with some kind of condition but was shocked at what he told her.

"The neurologist told me it was stress and anxiety and I wasn't looking after myself," she said. "I was taking on too much."

Instead of being diagnosed with a brain tumour or some other life threatening disease, Ms Thompson was confronted with the idea that her body wasn't coping with her lifestyle. The analogy the neurologist gave her was to think of her head as a computer.

"He said 'you're running too many programs and it's doing a forced shutdown on you'."

So there was no diagnosis and it seemed, no easy solution. Instead Ms Thompson was referred to a hypnotherapist and turned up to the appointment with a lot of scepticism.

But within 15 minutes she was in deep hypnosis and suddenly heard her voice, her subconscious, expressing what was wrong.

After that session, she furiously scribbled down everything she could remember about her words and then the first thing she did was pick up Sarah Wilson's book I Quit Sugar.

Ms Thompson, who now lives in Manly, became obsessed with diet and digging out the hidden additives and chemicals that she soon realised were in everything she was eating, putting on her body and surrounding herself with. She adopted a plant-based diet, started doing meditation and using toxin-free cleaning products and natural skincare and makeup.

"I always thought I was living a healthy lifestyle and eating ok and exercising," she said.

"There was a lot of re-learning that I had to do."

Coming from a family with a history of diabetes, Ms Thompson soon realised that she was unknowingly eating a lot of sugar in things like pasta sauce and yoghurt.

Charlie Thompson of The Clean Collective.
Charlie Thompson of The Clean Collective.

"I became obsessed with what was hidden," she said. "I switched out chemical cleaners, then skincare and makeup. I started doing meditation.

"It's a whole new world we're living in and we are not coping with it. Problems are rife like autoimmune disease and anxiety."

Ms Thompson said she also became fascinated with understanding how products she was using and her habits were impacting the planet as much as they were impacting her own body.

However, the information wasn't easy to find and just over a year ago Ms Thomson decided to leave her job, and its $140,000 salary, to use her digital strategy background to develop her own website.

Launched last year with business partner Georgia Lawson, The Clean Collective offers what Ms Thompson says is Australia's strictest toxin-free store offering beauty products, zerowaste alternatives and other eco-friendly tools and information.

She said they took 18 months to ensure all the brands ticked all the right boxes in terms of chemicals and having the right environmental credentials.

"You can shop and not have to double check," she said. "There's no greenwashing. We took quite a while to get to market because all the research took that long."

Charlie Thompson (left) with her business partner Georgia Lawson.
Charlie Thompson (left) with her business partner Georgia Lawson.

Having grown up on a farm in the United Kingdom, Ms Thompson said she was very conscious about the environment and the connection between her own health and what humans were doing to the planet.

"It has to be a holistic approach to looking after yourself and the planet," she said.

"We are both unwell for the same reasons, the same chemicals are causing problems for both of us."

It's one of the reasons she is hosting the Green Friday Festival, an alternative to Black Friday, which she believes has encouraged a "buy, buy, buy" mentality and contributes a huge amount of waste including 114,000 tonnes of plastic packaging that was discarded and not recycled in the UK last Christmas.

Instead, her website will offer a 20 per cent discount until December 2 to encourage mindful and conscious Christmas shopping for natural and plastic-free gifts, while donating all profits during this period to Trees for the Future, with the goal of planting up to 50,000 trees.

About seven years after she first started getting her blackouts and now aged 31 years old, Ms Thompson knows it's not easy to switch from conventional products to cleaner toxin-free products but believes small changes can make a difference.

"I don't have blackouts anymore, my health is good and has slowly over time got better," she said. "I feel better than I ever have been. I feel like I understand my body and mind like I've never done before.

"I'm conscious about what I eat and consume and I feel passionate about helping other people."

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