Custom(er) Stories: InStitchu is proud to celebrate the success, passion and style of those who shop with us, exploring the inspiration of innovators, athletes, fun-seekers, curators and experts from all walks of life.
Nathan Charles has done a lot for a guy in his early 30s: he’s had a successful career in professional rugby, realising his dream of playing for the Wallabies, and now holding the role of CEO for Rugby Western Australia. Even more remarkable is that he managed to reach the upper echelons of the sport with Cystic Fibrosis (CF)—at the time, the only person in the world competing in a professional contact sport with CF—proving that perseverance and a positive mindset conquers all. We sat down with Nathan to hear more about his story.
Nathan, you had a long and successful rugby career. What were the highlights?
I have many highlights from my rugby career. First highlight was winning a premiership at Sydney University in 2008. It was my first year in first grade and a big challenge for me being 19 years old. I was surrounded by fantastic people at a club that still holds a place close to my heart. Secondly, my professional Rugby debut for the Western Force in 2010 vs the Stormers. I was 21, playing in front of 20,000 passionate West Australians and fulfilling a lifelong goal. Last but not least, my most significant achievement was starting for the Wallabies vs the All Blacks in front of my home town, family and friends in Sydney in 2014. This is a memory that sits fondly having achieved a goal that I set for myself as a child.
Athletes often have a bit of trouble adjusting to life after sport. How have you managed? What are you up to?
Transition was one of the aspects I feared the most about my rugby career coming to an end. I'm not going to sit here and say it was easy, because you can never replace the feeling, the camaraderie and experiences that I have whilst playing professional Rugby. There is no better feeling than standing shoulder to shoulder with a teammate that you have been in battle with for 80 minutes, embracing after a good win. However, I knew that this career was going to come to an end, therefore made it a huge priority whilst playing to educate myself, ascertain qualifications and gain as much work experience as possible. I was fortunate that I took my opportunities and worked hard at life after rugby to ensure that my transition was (in which i believe a successful one), however, I will continue to develop myself to keep rising up the ranks.
At one point I believe you were the only player in a professional contact sport with cystic fibrosis. What can you tell us about how CF affected your ability to perform at an elite level?
This is a really difficult question to answer, yet one I am asked regularly. Having been diagnosed with this condition at three months of age, I have grown up knowing no different. All I can say is, that everyone in life is faced with adversity, I think you should be judged not on the adversity you face, but how you decide to overcome and succeed. I am so driven to not be judged by a condition, instead recognised for my achievements, understanding that I am the only person to have played an elite contact sport with Cystic Fibrosis is an anomaly, I am humbled by the fact I can inspire and motivate those who want to achieve through adversity.
How have you worked and led the conversations around cystic fibrosis through official and unofficial capabilities, in your footy career and now?
In 2010, I was asked to be the National ambassador for Cystic Fibrosis Australia, a role that I still hold today. I feel as though I have the biggest impact by using my profile, my story of achieving (what some believe) to be the impossible and the power of a positive mindset and never give up attitude. I have use my profile off the field to raise awareness of Cystic Fibrosis, what it is and how we can move towards achieving our vision of 'Lives unaffected by CF'. I do inspirational / motivational talks to corporate leaders and the like to show that through tough times, success can still be achieved.
You’re now CEO of Rugby in Western Australia - what does that role entail? How do you think WA fits in to the rugby union landscape? What are your hopes and plans for the sport in WA?
My role as CEO of RugbyWA entails fostering, developing and growing the game of Rugby in our proud State of Western Australia. RugbyWA is the State Sporting Association for the sport of Rugby in WA. We lead competitions, development programs, education and pathways for our participants. I am fortunate enough to lead a team that is responsible for growing the game at the grassroots. My personal objective is to provide the best experience for all of those male and females to experience the fantastic experiences I had whilst playing this great game. I would not be who I am today without the game of Rugby. The values it teaches you on and off the field have shaped who I am.
What are your passions outside of sport?
I just love sport! Health and fitness is very important for my physical and mental health and I ensure that I am active every single day. I enjoy challenging myself to get better in every aspect, whether it is professional development, physical development or just looking after myself. However, I do enjoy dressing up in a nice tailored suit and going to events on the weekend. I quite enjoy spending time with good people in my life, creating lasting memories and good music at a nice bar having a nice drink.
Talk to us about your sense of style. Given so much of your life was spent in footy gear, has it been an easy transition into more corporate attire?
Although most of my life has been spent in rugby kit and getting dirty, I really enjoy fashion. There is nothing better than putting on a nice tailored suit and walking out the door feeling a million dollars. One piece of advice I was given when I was younger, before you play. "Look good = Feel good. Feel good = Play good". I feel as though this is the same in the corporate world, if I am in well fitting and fashionable corporate attire, it makes me feel good about myself.
How was your InStitchu experience? Did you have a clear idea of what you wanted, or were you guided by your Stylist?
The InStitchu experience was everything and more. I had no idea how I wanted my suit to look and the extent of what can be customised to my liking, I really needed guidance from the stylist, in which I got fantastic support. I am already thinking about my next suit that I want to get and how it can be designed. I would highly recommend the experience.
Take us through the suit you designed. What are the details that you chose and why?
I went for a black tuxedo. I have never owned one and tend to require them fairly often. I chose the less classic option and went with the more on trend. I got a nice blue inner stitching with my initials put on the inside (a really nice / personal touch in my opinion). I had the tux fitted nicely, but also to comfort.