Recognition of his expertise, Aaron next ventured into the prestigious diamond industry in South Africa starting his own business: AJ Diamond Supplies. Here is where the inspiration began for Think Outside.
Aaron came across Zimbabweans creating rough metal sculptures and after sharing his thoughts on design he continued to keep in touch via letters and sketches. When he returned he was astounded by the amazing progress that had been made. He decided to import these sculptures and in 1998, the first ‘My Piece of Africa’ was born and sold in Australia.
In 2002, My Piece of Africa had a growing customer base and was actively helping people in a developing country – the decision was made – Aaron followed his passion, and My Piece of Africa continued its journey which would then go on to form part of the Think Outside collections.
Not allowing the economic and political challenges of Zimbabwe deter him, Aaron developed his first official workshop and after moving five times in nine years he employed 60 people, built a farm with staff quarters and supplied to more than 300 customers. During this time, he married his beautiful wife Rachel – an advocate and driver for the humanitarian aspects of the business.
Operating within Zimbabwe and experiencing first-hand the economy go from a thriving country to collapse taught Aaron many things about people, business and life in general. While he is now a seasoned businessman, he stays true to his values that through kindness, teaching and leadership you can change people’s lives – and he does!
In 2006, Aaron made the heart-wrenching decision to move the business out of Zimbabwe, opening up a new workshop in Vietnam in South-East Asia – continuing the ethos of upskilling and community building in a developing country – ‘My Piece of Africa’ became Think Outside.
Taking inspiration from his new surroundings, Aaron and his team of six began creating and crafting entirely new concepts for Think Outside. By 2008, the original team members were teaching the craft they had learnt from Aaron to their teams – the formula from Africa was thriving in another third-world country – an achievement that Aaron is very proud of. To this day, 90% of all aspects of the products are proudly produced in-house.
Thriving on the creativity and exploring access to new materials, Aaron was creating new products out of wood, rubber, natural stone and even recycled 44 gallon drums. By 2009, there were over 900 stockists across Australia and New Zealand all waiting for Aaron’s next collection!
It was always Aaron’s intention to share his quirky, unique and remarkable products with the world and by 2012 Aaron successfully launched Think Outside to the UK, Switzerland, Chile and Singapore. A challenging and yet rewarding step came when Aaron decided to tackle the US in 2013, after only 18 months Aaron and his team distribute to over 500 stores via a network of 11 sales agencies who manage 80 sales reps.
One of Aaron’s key drivers for inspiration is that success should help everyone, and that’s where Think Outside holds its roots. Unrelenting commitment to the local global community, experiencing new cultures, broadening new horizons and seeing the remarkable in the everyday encompasses what his products are all about.
Today, Aaron Jackson is the creator, designer, artisan and owner of Think Outside and collections including ee-i-ee-i-o, My Piece of Africa and many more. There’s never dull moment at Think Outside with Aaron travelling to the US, Europe and Asia – hopping between the various countries where his products are sold and strengthening his valued team of more than 300 staff worldwide.
One thing that has never changed for Aaron and that’s his vision is to always strive to create something striking, of mention and worthy of people’s homes and gardens.
Think Outside – enjoy remarkable!