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2023 TDC Scholar Olivia Pearce : A Year in Review

Our interview with Olivia Pearce (Undercurrent Studio)


"I feel supported, I have balance and I have new perspectives on how to approach life."


2023 TDC Scholar Olivia Pearce from Undercurrent Studio

As our first international scholarship winner, Olivia Pearce (Liv) has certainly made the most of every opportunity that the scholarship program presented. It's been rewarding to connect this talented, dedicated and driven business woman with our amazing TDC community around the world, and we've been proud to watch her flourish both personally and professionally.


Throughout the year, Liv has made substantial contributions to the various programs and courses she engaged in, infusing them with her unwavering "can-do" attitude that serves as a wellspring of inspiration for everyone lucky enough to cross her path. A steadfast commitment to extracting the utmost value from every opportunity, coupled with infectious positivity and kindness, has seen her grow exponentially throughout the past 12 months.


Recently we sat down with Liv to reflect on her year as the 2023 TDC Scholar and talk about the exciting opportunities ahead.


TDC: Thanks for speaking to us Liv. Wow, what a year! You’ve grown your business, thrown yourself into all of our programs, married in April, and recently you joined us on the Queenstown Retreat. How does it feel to come to the end of your Scholarship year?


LP: Mixed emotions, I’m so sad to be finishing what has been an incredible journey but if I have come away with anything from this course it's reframing the mindset.


I'm immensely grateful to the TDC Team and community for what has been a life changing year for me both professionally and personally. I feel I have all the tools in my belt – geared for whatever challenges are thrown at me. The courses and programs were packed with wonderful resources, all saved on the server, and I'll continuously use these resources throughout my entire career.


When I initially applied for the Scholarship, I needed support – going through the demands of the first year of motherhood and my biggest year of business all at once was a juggle, to say the least, so this Scholarship couldn’t have come at a better time. And now at the end of the Queenstown Retreat, I feel supported, I have balance and I have new perspectives on how to approach life.


The Retreat was a wonderful end to the TDC journey – an unforgettable week.


Liv with fellow Retreat Members Claire and Marcus, at the 2023 TDC Queenstown Retreat

TDC: As part of the Scholarship, you’ve had access to all of TDC's classes, courses and programs. What were the 3 biggest lessons you’ve learned during the past 12 months since starting your Scholarship journey?


LP: First and foremost, the importance of community, and even better, a community within the design industry. Living in rural NZ, I felt my design community was lacking, compared to what I’ve had previously in cities globally.


Initially, I was intimidated by the vast array of talented designers at TDC, but after unpacking all our challenges I realise we're all facing many of the same things and we don’t have to be alone. Sharing knowledge is powerful. I've made some lifelong industry friends. I’ve even booked flights to Australia soon because there's nothing better than connecting in person!


Secondly, it all begins with your why – then everything falls into place around that. This is the key driver for all aspects of life. As part of the Premium Group Coaching Program, we had to share our ‘why’ and our goals with our families and the TDC community. This was a powerful tool in helping others align with our vision in order to feel supported.


Thirdly, Systems and Processes – these are the tools to succeed! Whether it's time blocking, business development, strategy, financial forecasting, or internal processes they are all needed to create balance. Efficiency and measurability in these areas saves time and money – but most importantly stops that horrible feeling of spiralling out of control.


One more thing – outsource things you’re not stoked about… there's no point wasting time trying to learn something you don’t love! Life is too short.


Olivia Pearce from Undercurrent Studio

TDC: It was so rewarding to see you connect so well with the beautiful group of designers at our recent Queenstown Retreat. You had to leave your family behind in nearby Wanaka to participate in the program, throwing yourself into everything 100%. How was this experience for you, and what was the highlight?


LP: Going into a week with a group of incredible professionals was a little nerve-wracking. But I couldn’t believe that within a day or two everyone had wholeheartedly opened up, there were many tears of both gratitude and release. When we're vulnerable, others around us are too and this is what completely blew me away – the deep connection we had instantly. I have genuinely made lifelong friends (I know that can be a rare thing).


The Queenstown Retreat was extremely balanced – from a design perspective we visited outstanding properties and galleries, we were spiritually and emotionally challenged, we ate and drank (and partied) at beautiful places, and we workshopped everything professionally and personally.


I saw my local region through a new lens.


Olivia with Tim and Harry, on their Honeymoon in Bali

TDC: A big focus of the Retreat is wellbeing. Some of the wellness experiences included Wim Hof Breathwork and Cold-Water immersion therapy, yoga, meditation, a Cacao Ceremony and a spectacular Onsen hot tub overlooking Queenstown’s majestic mountains. How did these activities contribute to your Retreat experience?


LP: Oh my goodness, it was fun! It was action packed. Some nights I couldn’t sleep because I was always so excited about what the next day was going to bring.


When I ventured beyond my comfort zone – I gained clarity, silencing self-critical thoughts, and truly listening to my body, fostering empowerment on multiple levels. Witnessing everyone giving it 110% and stepping out of their comfort zones left a lasting impression.


TDC Queenstown Retreat 2023 Wim Hof Cold Water Immersion Therapy

TDC: We’ll soon opening applications for the 2024 TDC Scholarship, of which you’re a judge. What would you say to designers who are thinking about applying this year?


LP: DO IT! Everyone deserves to do something like this. Apply because you’ll never know how much you needed it.


TDC: If you had one piece of advice for the newly crowned Scholar, what would that be?


LP: Stay open minded and have fun! It's 12 months of life-changing stuff you go through. You’ll go into the Scholarship thinking you need something specifically but find that everything is interconnected, the Scholarship is beautifully balanced between your personal and professional lives.


Liv with the members of the 2023 TDC Queenstown Retreat

TDC: When we checked in with you 6 months ago, you spoke about the isolation of living and working in a rural community. How has TDC impacted your sense of belonging and community?


LP: As I mentioned above – thanks to TDC I have a community and have made lifelong friends! The accountability group in the Premium Group Coaching Program has been a lovely way to stay connected throughout the year, to share our wins and to hold each other to account so we can always be progressing.


TDC: We’re incredibly grateful to our Sponsors Est Lighting and Arthur G for helping to make the Scholarship possible. Do you have any words to share with them about your scholarship year?


LP: I am immensely grateful to the sponsors for their impactful contribution. The Scholarship has profoundly influenced my life in ways that words cannot fully capture.


Olivia Macfarlane, TDC Queenstown Retreat 2023

TDC: What are you most excited about this coming year, personally and professionally?


LP: Personally, my husband and I have ambitious goals together. We are big dreamers and get such a kick seeing them come to fruition. As we are both business owners, we are constantly striving for balance amidst the chaos – quality time with our little son Harry will come first and foremost before anything else. This coming year, I know that I now have to tools to achieve the balance I had always dreamed of.


Professionally, I am really enjoying work, I have wonderful clients and a small team of exceptional contractors. Undercurrent seems to be going from strength to strength, so I’d love to see this momentum continue with the support of my newfound community.


Lastly, I want to express my gratitude to Andrew, Jill and the entire TDC team, including my peers—you are all truly exceptional. THANK YOU!


We're so impressed with the way Olivia has thrown herself into every aspect of the Scholarship, and look forward to seeing her flourish personally and professionally. We're incredibly grateful to have her as an integral part of our TDC community.


Once again, we thank our amazing Scholarship Sponsors, Est Lighting and Arthur G Furniture for making this program possible.


Applications are now open for the 2024 TDC Scholarship. Find out more about the program and submit your application via our Scholarship page.


Find out more about The Design Coach: who we are and what we stand for.


Stay well, and believe in you!

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