CEO David Freeman knows a thing or two about living a life well-balanced. From early beginnings in the glitz of Sydney’s nightlife business, the Australian entrepreneur set his sights on the world of wellness – launching his highly successful H2coco brand in 2010. Today, H2coco has 29 products and over 9,000 distribution outlets across eight countries.
With diverse interests ranging from extreme sports to yoga, Freeman is passionate about maintaining a healthy work/life balance. This desire for equilibrium is reflected in his style: laidback smart-casual meets clean-cut business - often complemented by a beachside tan.
We caught up with Freeman to chat about business, style, and finding the perfect balance in everything you do.
You’re known as a successful entrepreneur in the food & beverages industry, and for doing it with style. Please share with us your career journey so far.
I started out in the construction and hospitality industries in various roles, from project management and marketing to events and licensee. By the age of 21, I was an owner and part-owner of a number of venues. When the Sydney nightlife scene started on a downward spiral, I knew it was time to get out. It was then that I decided to travel.
While in New York City in 2008, after a hot Bikram yoga session I was given a fresh coconut by the teacher which went down a treat. The teacher explained the health benefits but said these words, “it’s just so hard to open”. That lightbulb moment was the catalyst to starting H2coco at a time when packaged coconut water didn't exist in Australia or New Zealand.
How would you describe your approach to business, life, and fashion?
The H2coco business is fast-paced and I have to make sure I’m always on the ball, so my style is usually smart casual. I do take pride in my appearance and know that I have to show a level of respect to my team, business colleagues and investors, so while my style is relaxed, I also like to get with the business culture, clean and simple.
Outside of the office, I do enjoy the outdoors and extreme sports like skydiving, but I also combine it with trying to be more Zen by doing yoga and meditation to ensure I have balance in my life. It’s important for me and to instil in my team a work/life balance - we only have one life and it’s to be appreciated.
What drives your ambition? What advice would you give young entrepreneurs just starting out?
Have a go! If you have an idea and you’ve done your research and are willing to work hard at it, start that business. You’re never too young or too old to have an entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurs are made not born!
Don’t be scared or critical of competitors – keep your mind open to new processes and unlock your limits to create opportunities. Competition is healthy for business growth and drives innovation. Finally, take funding only when you truly need it – any profit is true profit that can be reinvested straight back into growth.
How would you describe your personal style?
For a typical day in the office, my usual attire is a plain t-shirt and pants. If I have to change it up for say, a promotional event or H2coco official duties, you will catch me in a casual sport jacket with a t-shirt or one of our quirky branded button-up shirts.
For more formal occasions, I will take it up a notch and wear a casual colour and fitted suit, as I generally try to avoid the norm of a black suit.
Do you remember your first suit, how it made you feel, and the story behind it?
My first suit was grey and poorly fitted. I was 18 years old and I bought it for the races. It didn't make me look or feel very good, but it paid off with its luck.
It was from then moving forward that I said to myself, “If I'm in a suit it must be fitted”.
At Oscar Hunt, we’ve created an environment to make tailoring a suit easy and enjoyable – what was your favourite part about the Oscar Hunt experience?
It has been a real pleasure and privilege to be involved in this collaboration. The guys at Oscar Hunt have been fantastic. The process has been really easy and the end result is a smart-casual, tailor-made suit, with a unique style that I absolutely love.
Fernando, who completed my fitting was friendly and professional. There was a great reminder and follow-up process which I personally loved due to my manic working schedule. There was also a very strong sense of attention to detail and passion coming from everyone.
Made-to-measure tailored suits are unique – tell us more about the fabric and design selection process behind your charcoal grey double-breasted suit from Oscar Hunt.
Learning from my first suit experience, I believe if you are going to be in a suit you should own it. I was looking for something different to what I currently had in my wardrobe – something that I could wear just as an open jacket with pants, or button up and represent in style.
There was an incredibly personal touch of my name on the inside and my nickname under the collar so my close friends could have a laugh. It’s important not to take things too seriously, sometimes.
At Oscar Hunt, luxury is the fit quality of made-to-measure tailoring and the comfort it provides. What is your definition of luxury?
In a nutshell, luxury to me means superior quality. In the same way fit quality means luxury for Oscar Hunt, H2coco beverages are made from the finest ingredients. I built H2coco as an authentic, progressive, on-trend premium lifestyle brand. We are both naturally aligned with the idea of luxury.
At Oscar Hunt, we’re advocates of tailored craftsmanship and care about genuine client-tailor relationships – does this also resonate with H2coco’s beliefs?
Yes absolutely. Genuine relationships with our customers, vendors, suppliers and manufacturers are vital. We have a small but growing team and we always make sure we strive to provide the best experience.
I would say Oscar Hunt’s philosophy certainly aligns with H2coco and we definitely agree about quality craftsmanship and genuinely caring about all our stakeholders.
Made-to-measure tailoring encourages the building of a personalised wardrobe to complement our lifestyles, can you share with us what’s next on your Oscar Hunt wish list?
During all the fittings, I was eyeing off an olive-coloured suit on a mannequin at the Sydney showroom. I feel this brings a point of difference with class, so get ready to see me in that next!