8 min 11 sec

Health Scare Inspires Adventurous Career Change

A longing for independence leads a web designer to create an adventure-themed brand of totes, mugs, and more.
Etsy Product Transition Story

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What It's About

A web designer creates an online store that aligns her life with her values.

Business Model
Skills Required
Design & Marketing
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

Sometimes big life changes can offer valuable perspective. Julia shared: "I am grateful for my illness in 2017 - as crazy as that sounds, and as scary as it was, it was a gift that has totally transformed my life and business."

Fun Fact

2018 was the first year Julia made a full-time income from Aligned Adventure, and she traveled for almost half the year (162 days to be exact!)

Notes from Chris

Episode 1042
One Thanksgiving a few years ago, graphic designer Julia Taylor was recovering from surgery. While getting ready to trudge through the snow—on crutches—to go have dinner with a friend, she received a text from a coworker asking her to look into why one of their websites was down. It didn’t matter that it was Thanksgiving; Julia was the only one in her company's IT department.

Something needed to change.

She had started working as a web designer when the field was just finding its legs. She worked at that job for eight years, through tumultuous changes and layoffs. That Thanksgiving was the last straw, the moment that got Julia thinking there had to be something better.

Over the next year, she picked up freelance web design and development contracts that allowed her to quit her job in August of 2014. That summer was when she first started the side hustle that would become her current full-time passion: Aligned Adventure.

Aligned Adventure is an online retail brand that creates art prints, canvas totes and camping mugs centered around Julia's passions: travel and adventure. Some of her designs feature popular travel destinations, camper vans, and slogans like "I love you to the mountains and back."

The brand started as an Etsy shop, but Julia used her web design skills early on to build her own website as well. Startup costs were minimal: a few bucks to set up her first listings on Etsy, and a couple hundred dollars to order sample prints from a production partner.

In January of 2017, a huge, life-changing event forced her to halt production for a week, and reconsider everything about how she ran the business. That event was that Julia and her mother were both diagnosed with ovarian cancer 27 days apart.

Julia was lucky; her cancer was caught early. She went into surgery, and a mere six weeks later, she was able to go on a backcountry trip in Utah with her husband and some friends.

But Julia's mother’s cancer was more advanced and needed chemotherapy. So Julia flew out to support her. During that visit, Julia drove her mother to the hospital for a blood transfusion, and they camped out there for eight hours, waiting for treatment. While her mother was in a Benadryl haze, Julia worked on her laptop, getting through client orders.

At that moment, the slow-burning realization that had started with her own recent backcountry trip crystallized.

This was what mattered. Being with your family when they needed you, and not shackled to a desk hundreds of miles away, yet still being able to make a living.

Julia was already most of the way to being truly location-independent. But now she was going to make it a priority.

Today, Aligned Adventure is still growing, and the company is on track to make six figures by the end of 2019. Julia is proud to say that she has built a business that supports her dream life, and is using her brand to inspire others to live their lives without compromise.

That's where the name "Aligned Adventure" comes from: Julia believes that if you're aligned with your passion, you can grow and impact the world in ways you'd never be able to otherwise.

Julia is now living her dream of being fully location independent and plans to prove it by traveling the world for eight months, starting in December.

All while running her business, without an office or a commute.


  • Aligned Adventure: Check out Julia's online store at her website.
  • Etsy.com: The online marketplace Julia initially used to sell her products.

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"I am also grateful for my illness in 2017 - as crazy as that sounds, and as scary as it was, it was a gift that has totally transformed my life and business."
—Julia Taylor #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau