Browsing Tag

interview

Lifestyle

Girlboss Q&A: Bethany James, Founder James Said

11th July, 2018

Businesswoman Bethany James started her first company as child, selling stones, sticks and nuts that she’d spray painted gold to her neighbours. In her twenties she founder her own cosmetics company, Bethany Cosmetics. And now, after struggling to find the kind of furniture she wanted in her work as an interior designer, she started an import business called Regency Distribution. Since then the Perth-based entrepreneur now has three showrooms, James Said, with two in Perth and one in Sydney and now has over 3000 pieces available for purchase on its online store. Here Bethany shares the secrets to her success, learning to let go of wanting to control every aspect of her business and why the drive to work is the most important part of her day.

Where did the idea to start James Said come from?

I was working as an interior designer and I had a specific style that I loved. I couldn’t find the pieces that I wanted in Australia and had to look overseas to find them. I identified a niche in the market so I set up a distribution company and started to import.

What was the process like to start it?

It was very challenging. I had a toddler at home and started the business in my spare room with very little initial start up capital. Juggling motherhood and new business was very hard. I would work most evenings until 2am – simply because I would be child free and able to get it done.  The start-up of my business was completely organic because I had no money for marketing.  In fact when I started I didn’t even have a single piece of furniture! All I had was catalogues and lot of pretty images. I started off as a wholesale business exclusive to interior designers. I went through the designers in the yellow pages online and email them all, one by one, introducing myself. It took me months, but this is how I built my database and started my company. On my own, in my spare room, working to the early hours of the morning. I pre-sold my first container that I imported and the deposits I received covered most of the cost. Even with such a modest beginning I still managed to turnover over a million in sales in first year. Our growth now is snowballing every year, whilst I take it in my stride each day, it amazing to look back on each year to see how far we’ve come.

What’s the biggest business challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

Growing fast without adequate systems. We were unprepared for our growth and didn’t have adequate software to assist us. The result was poor service and unreliable lead times. It feels great to have this sorted. When I look at my business now I continually think – how can I do this better? How  can I exceed my customers’ expectations in all areas of my business. From the range of products, to my sales staff and the customer experience in store all the way through to our delivery service.  What would exceed my customers experience—and that’s what I do.

What’s been the biggest turning point in your career? Why?

Staff. When I originally started to employ staff, they were of little help to me because I was so protective of everything. I wouldn’t delegate, I just didn’t trust anyone to do the job as well as myself.  I was afraid of the commitment of full time salaries so instead kept employing casuals. The result was that my staff were of no assistance to me and I was at capacity so the business couldn’t grow. In the third year of my business was my turning point. I decided to invest all my energy into my staff and delegating everything. The more I put into them the more I freedom I had to grow the company. I now only employ full time staff, almost never casuals. My business moves so fast that I need team members that are fully absorbed in the company each day. I take the time to understand what drives each individual staff member so that I can make sure that their time with the company allows them to feel secure and fulfilled.

James Said focuses on Hollywood Regency style pieces

How do you start each day?

I try to swivel out of bed and have my feet touch the carpet as soon as my alarm goes off, otherwise I end up in the ‘hit the snooze’ cycle.  Then it’s an expresso shot while google home tells me the latest news. Then I spend the next half hour with my coffee browsing social media.

Once out of bed and showered I listen to inspiration podcasts or YouTube videos whilst I do my make up and get ready. Mixed into that I get my son ready for school, fed and we’re out the door. My most valuable time is the drive between school and work. This is my time and use it to ensure that when I arrive into the office I am in the right state.

My energy affects everyone in the office so I make sure that when I walk in I bring high energy vibes with me. During that drive my car is my sanctuary, sometimes I listen to Oprah other times I just crank the music loud, but the outcome is always to leave any negativity behind me so I when I arrive at the office all my staff can feed off my energy.

What drives you?

For me my business is like a sport. Obviously its serious because I employ people and it’s my livelihood but when I dig deeper, I’m driven by pushing to see how far I can take the business.  I am never satisfied with any milestone, I’m always on the next step. I never want to wonder —what if? So I just go for it,  I give it everything I have, every day. I relate it sport because each day I’m faced with new issues or problems I have to solve and overcome, all whilst persevering forward all the time, always feeling challenged. I love it.

What’s your management style?

I know its probably wiser to have a barrier between yourself and your staff, however I’ve never been able to have that separation. I’ve always been the kind of person that brings my personal life to the office and so I develop friendships with my staff. We have a lot of fun, a lot of laughs but we also work very hard. I really consider my staff as my team, I value and care about  them enormously. Finding staff that are the right cultural fit  is an important part of our recruitment process.

What are some tools—whether it be a gadget, an app, a favourite site— that help you manage all your various businesses and projects?

Changing my inventory software was huge for my business. It streamlined everything, made us more efficient and we were able to offer better service to our customers.

As far as apps go Instagram has been a huge part of our growth. It’s how we connect with our customers and drives more customers to my stores than any other marketing source.

What do you think has been the key to your success?

Being brave and consistently persevering through challenging times.  I also have unending energy for my business.  I don’t know where it comes from but it’s just always there. I never run out of new ideas or passion year after year.  I guess if that ever stops that will be my que to move on to something else.

What makes you so passionate about interiors?

I always want to make everything as beautiful as possible. It crosses over into all areas of my life. I need to have a creative outlet to be happy, it’s just a part of me. My interior style is always evolving, I find inspiration everywhere and it’s a great feeling when you create a space that is unique that people respond to.

Bethany says she loves interiors as she “wants to make everything as beautiful as possible.”

What’s the most satisfying thing about working on James Said?

I love sitting in the driving seat of my business because it gives me the freedom to create the next step for the business. Its enormously gratifying to have an idea and take it all the way to fruition.

Where do you hope to take your business in future?

I plan for James Said to be an international brand. I would love stores all over the world.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in your career?

To be authentic. When I launched my business I was doing my own thing. I was laughed at by many of my competitors for selling bright coloured and gold furniture. But I followed my heart and it was immediately successful. From time to time I would look to what my larger competitors were selling and copy. This was never successful.

Now I really don’t pay any attention to my competitors, I just run my own race and sell what resonates with me. I don’t visit other stores in Australia, or check their websites. I don’t want to be influenced in any way and I feel that there’s room for everyone.

Even when I opened my Sydney store, I didn’t visit any other Sydney stores. I wanted my store to be completely fresh and unique, I didn’t want to risk being influenced by what other stores are doing in any way.

What’s your working style? 

I juggle my day with the school run so I’m grateful to have to have staff that can open and close the business. As my business opens at 7am to sync up with the east coast [of Australia], by the time I arrive I’m already behind so most of the day is spent catching up and I’m caught up the day to day running of the business. My true productive time is late at night after my son is asleep. This is when I have clarity to think with out interruption. Anything important is done at this time.

My best creative moments are usually when I travel. International travel always leaves me with a broader and larger view on business.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to anyone starting a business?

I often have conversations with people who tell me they have thought about starting their own business and they ask me for advice.

Starting your own business is hard, it’s financially risky and will most likely leave you without income for quite a while. I discover most people aren’t really prepared for that kind of risk or commitment.

Starting your own business has to be something that you just have to do. It’s not a decision to do, you have to do it. It’s that kind of passion that’s needed to live and breathe the business year after year. If you have that passion then you have to just be brave!

Being an entrepreneur is just part of who I am. When I was a kid I stole my dad’s gold spray paint and sprayed stones, sticks and honkey nuts and then sold them to all my neighbours. When I was a teenager I made earrings and sold them at school. In my twenties I had my cosmetics company. It’s just part of who I am but it’s not for everyone.

Date with Kate, Fashion

Date with Kate: Poppy Delevingne

24th June, 2018

You’ll be familiar with Poppy Delevingne first and foremost as a model. She was first scouted at the age of 15 by Sarah Doukas, Storm models founder and the woman who discovered a young Kate Moss. And whilst she’s modelled for the likes of Burberry and Alberta Feretti, and landed magazine covers for Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue and fronted campaigns for the likes Louis Vuitton it seems she’s found her true calling: acting. She’s starred in King Arthur and Kingsman: The Golden Circle and is appearing opposite Antonio Banderas in Genius: Picasso. However we’re sitting down for a chat for another reason—her Queen of Pop collection with Jo Malone London. The fun, 60s inspired range includes everything from bubble bath to fragrances and has brought Poppy to Sydney to chat about its launch in Australia. Here we chat about working with such an iconic brand, why she loves Aussie labels and the one place in the world that gives her butterflies.

What are you up to and what are you doing in Australia?

I am in Australia for the last leg of my Jo Malone London Queen of Pop tour. We’ve done LA, London, Dublin, Paris, Milan. Now Australia. So this is my last bit, and I’m very sad that it’s ending.

Tell me all about your collection. 

So Queen of Pop… we created our first standalone bubble bath. It’s Jo Malone’s first ever bubble bath. It’s about time. In a much bigger bottle, with three very luxurious fragrances. And then what is bath time without a luxury candle? Which we did in another three fragrances. And then I picked three favourite colognes, which all mean something to me in very unique and special ways. I’m a 60s girl at heart, so we went for quite a Mod aesthetic. I was very inspired by the 60s, and by pop art, and Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. So, bright polka dots, bright colours, gold stripes. We just wanted to do something that was really playful.

And so how did you go about choosing the fragrances? 

So, Red Rose is … Was the first Jo Malone perfume I ever wore, and I started wearing it when I was 18 years old and I always go back to it, it’s like an old friend. Amber and Lavender is the cologne that my husband wears. It’s a unisex cologne and we did these little bottles so I can now carry him around wherever I go. And Peony Blush & Suede is my all-time favourite Jo Malone fragrance because it’s so feminine and light and floral, but has a little edge to it. If I wear it I get compliments.

The Queen of Pop collection is now available in Australia

What is a day in the life of you?

Every single day is so different…. a lot of planes, usually make up a lot of my time. I’ve actually at the moment just started [filming] a new TV show called Riviera, season two. So I’ve moved out to Nice, and I’ll be living there ’til November. Which is super exciting. Every day is a new adventure.

You’ve come from a modelling background, and now you’re focusing more on films and TV. Which genre do you prefer?

I prefer acting. I never really felt like I belonged to the modelling world. I was just always that goofy girl with lipstick on her teeth, tripping over lighting cables. I’m so grateful for the career that I had in the fashion industry, but acting really has my heart.

What was the biggest lesson you learnt while modelling?

Oh my God, to have a thick skin. To not take things personally. How to deal with jet lag.

What do you love most about acting?

For me, I like the challenge of it. I’ve always been someone who likes to push myself and challenge myself in any way that I can. So, for me it’s that terrifying feeling I get before going on set, and then being able to do it and achieve it. That sense of achievement at the end of the day is everything.

You’ve worked on some big films. What has been the biggest pinch-me moment?

I think my biggest victory moment would have to be doing the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in America. And I did that with Steve Martin and Martin Short. I’ve always been  [a] huge fan [of both actors], since I was young. I grew up with [the movie] Father of the Bride. So, for me to be sitting on a sofa with those two comedic greats, and with Jimmy Fallon, who’s also a genius, he’s unbelievable, I was absolutely petrified and I opened a beer bottle with my eye sockets. I was like, “Oh my God, don’t do this, you’re gonna get a black eye!” It was so fun.

What was it like to be on such a big production like the movie King Arthur?

I mean, daunting, but quite incredible. Working with [director] Guy Ritchie is a dream come true. Getting to act with the wonderful Eric Bana and to meet all these incredible actors who I could learn so much from. It was daunting, but magical all at the same time.

What was it like to work with Antonio Banderas in the show Genius: Picasso? 

Incredible. He is such a kind and generous man, and such a generous actor, and to be able to work with someone like him who I could learn so much from and … He was always so helpful and so respectful and I learnt a lot from him.

What’s been the best advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I’ve ever received would have to be from Cinderella, which is, “Be kind and have courage.” I love that.

How would you describe your personal style?

I think my personal style is very eclectic and I would say that I always dress to suit my mood. I like spontaneous dressing.

What are your wardrobe essentials?

For my daily uniform, I always have a really good pair of jeans. I’m obsessed with FRAME Denim or Citizens of Humanity. T-shirts, I love James Perse and Calvin Klein. A leather jacket. I have a gorgeous one by Anine Bing. And then I’d wear these little trainers called Feiyues, which are actually from China. I live in them. So yeah, like jeans, t-shirt, leather jacket and trainers.

What about beauty essentials?

Oh, my God, where do we begin? I wash my face with MBR (Medical Beauty Research) enzyme face wash. I love using Crème de la Mer eye cream and soft moisturizing lotion. That’s basically me done. I like to keep it very simple and quite basic.

What are you makeup daily essentials or are you one of those people that wears no makeup on a normal day?

If I’m not working, I like to do no makeup whatsoever, because whenever I’m working, it’s part of my job to wear it so I like to give my face a day off every now and again.

Are you a flats or heels girl?

Flats, because I’m so tall on my own. I don’t need any help in that department.

Do you like Australian labels? and if so, what are your favourites?

I do. Zimmermann has been one of my all time favorites and it’s come to London now, which is so exciting, because it means that I can basically wear them. I used to love sass & bide. I was so devastated when that stopped, because it was literally like my favourite store in the whole world. Who else do I really love? I’ve got really beautiful things … I can’t remember what she called it now. Her name’s Kit Willow. KITX, she’s got some gorgeous things. She’s a beautiful designer.

What are your favorite things to do when you come to Australia?

See all my Aussie fans, because they’re literally some of my favourite people in the whole entire world. To see them, to drink Aperol Spritzes, be in the sunshine, work on my freckles and shop.

Where is your favourite travel destination?

When I think about Italy, when I think about Positano and I think about having pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner, that gives me butterflies with excitement. And Le Sirenuse Hotel has ton loads of memories. One of my all-time favourite places in the world.

What do you carry in your travel bag?

In my travel bag I have a lovely organic lavender hand sanitizer. Yes, it’s literally the best thing ever. What else do I always carry in my bag? Jo Malone London do a gorgeous lip balm, a gorgeous vitamin E lip balm. They also do a lovely geranium and walnut hand cream that I’m obsessed with. And I’m also really obsessed with Dr. Barbara Sturm, who does these hyaluronic ampules. They’re like acid ampules and you crack them open and put all over your skin and just let it sink it. It’s heaven.

Amazing. I need to try that.

And a silk eye mask.

Really? Do they really work?

Yes. Makes the world of a difference. It’s so bad to leave … you know if you take off an eye mask and you have a mark on your face, as you get older, it’s really bad to do that. My dermatologist told me that. She’s like, “You need to get silk pillows, silk everything, because-yeah, because, it just wrinkles your face so much. I know, right?

I always saw them and thought, “Oh, it’s too high maintenance to wash silk pillows.”

I know. It’s annoying, but a silk eye mask is good enough.

What’s next in the pipeline?

I’ve been finishing off this show, Riviera. I’m filming it till November, and then I think just seeing what comes next. I’m going to be doing a third collaboration with Jo Malone London, so I’m super excited about that. I’m working on it at the moment, so it’s a work in progress, and we’ll hopefully get to tour with it next year.

If you could work on any film or with any actor, what would be your dream role?

My dream would be to work with the wondrous Meryl Streep. I think she can do no wrong. It doesn’t get much better than that.

And any particular character you could play?

I would love to play a character who’s perhaps completely out of my comfort zone. Somewhere where I’d have to really transform myself and really immerse myself and become that person. Anything that’s a real challenge.

Where you see yourself in five years time?

Five years time. Babies, babies, babies. I hope so. Fingers crossed.

BITESIZE:

We went to: Bistro Moncur Mosman

We ate: Pan fried barramundi fillet; Potato & ricotta gnocchi

Poppy wore: Zimmermann

I wore: Maggie Marilyn

Fashion, Lifestyle

Girlboss Q&A: Hermione Underwood, Founder of Atelier Romy and Espie Roche

23rd May, 2018

Being a true girlboss often requires a little multitasking. In Hermione Underwood’s case it’s a bonafide juggling act. Being at the helm of four business endeavours, that include handbag label Espie Roche and jewellery brand Atelier Romy, Hermione manages to make it look oh-so easy. After leaving her beloved Sydney behind to relocate to London, the entrepreneur has flourished in her new home and says it has been the major turning point in her career. Here Hermione chats to me about learning to be a little fish in a big pond, ignoring the doubters and why she thinks a positive attitude is everything.

You currently juggle your brand consultancy, your style and travel blog hermioneolivia.com, Atelier Romy and Espie Roche. How do you manage all four?

I find the busier I am, the more I get done. It just requires some fairly strategic time management and planning. Despite the fact there are multiple businesses, a lot of what I do crosses over so it is manageable.

What’s the biggest business challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

Pushing forth when people told me I was crazy… and then pushing forth when I momentarily thought they might be right!! More specifically, I would say raising capital investment for my fashion ventures and securing the entrepreneur visa in the UK have been recent highlights.

What’s been the biggest turning point in your career and why?

Moving to London was definitely the turning point for me. I wanted a challenge and boy-oh-boy did I get it. I went from being comfortable and supported to being a tiny fish in a big pond, having to build my network from scratch with limited resources whilst pursuing much bigger career goals. Four years later, the gamble is paying off and find it exciting to be working in a big international city on these businesses.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

I’m inspired by people who execute their vision. Those that quietly chip away to see success. Two Aussie friends, Alyce Tran of The Daily Edited and Justin Hemmes of Merivale come to mind… they both have the Midas touch.

How do you start each day?

Usually checking my whatsapp and emails and racing off to a meeting…!

What drives you?

At the end of the day, I just want to do good work that I’m proud of, be challenged and always be learning. I thrive seeing vision come to fruition. I feel very fortunate that my work rarely feels like work because I’ve turned my passions for travel, brands and fashion into businesses.

What are some tools – whether it be a gadget, an app, a favourite site – that help you manage all your various businesses and projects?

I actually run my businesses on whatsapp—it’s obviously immediate and allows my business partners and I to share and easily access documents, references, passwords, designs—you name it—all in one place at any time.

I also use Planoly and UNUM which are Instagram planning and scheduling apps.

What do you think has been the key to your success?

Success is an interesting word. I don’t feel as if I’ve made a success of myself just yet but I would say that I now have the foundations I dreamt of because of hard work, not taking no for an answer and putting my fears to the side.

Where do you hope to take your businesses in future?

I’d like to see my brands Atelier Romy and Espie Roche grow internationally, continue to develop their unique aesthetics and collections and continue learning about the digital/social space to bring them to life online. Recently I’ve acquired a really wonderful group of international clients which I’m helping to infiltrate into the UK and Australian markets which is really exciting for me.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in your career?

Positive attitude is everything and as my grandfather used to say, ‘the harder I worked, the luckier I became’.

What’s your working style? 

I try to have at least 1 meeting free day each week. This allows me to focus on real work. I’m also most productive in the morning so I try to ensure meetings are in the afternoon to give me that time to catch up on Australian clients who have emailed overnight, and to get the most important tasks done before the day begins.

Every day is different for me. If I’m not shooting or travelling, I’ll usually work at Chess Club in Mayfair or at one of the Soho Houses.

What’s your number one social media tip for someone starting a business?

Have a clear vision and aesthetic, know your audience and unwaveringly stick to it. I also think it’s important to not take it too seriously and to let your personality shine through.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to anyone starting a business?

You are going to be faced with countless hurdles and have your decision tested repeatedly so make sure you are truly passionate about whatever it is you are pursuing.

Date with Kate, Fashion

Date with Kate at Australian Fashion Week: Victoria Lee

20th May, 2018

New York City is about as far away as you can get from the rural town Narrandera where model Victoria Lee grew up. As a self-confessed homebody, she says even she’s surprised that she’s now based in the Big Apple and miles from home. However relocating to the other side of the world is the logical next step when you’re one of the hottest models of the moment. Along with walking in last year’s Victoria’s Secret show alongside Gigi Hadid and Naomi Campbell, she is also a freshly minted David Jones ambassador joining fellow Aussies Jessica Gomes and ex-AFL player Adam Goodes. I caught up with Victoria to chat about the secret to a flattering photo, the one beauty product she can’t live without and how she stays fit.

What’s a day in the life of you?
Every day is different, which took awhile to get used to, to be honest. But I’ve since learned to embrace this fact and just go with the flow—as much as I can anyway! In general though, I love to wake up early, exercise in the morning, make yummy food and then get on with my day. If I’m working the hours and location always change but if I have some time off I’ll usually take care of any chores or e-mails, catch up with friends, sort the neverending pile of mail, run errands… it’s always a little different.

What is Fashion Week like for you? 
This is the first time I’ve been home for Australian Fashion Week in a long time so I’m very happy to be home, but also [being here] where I haven’t done the shows. Actually being able to sit and experience the show is fantastic. I’m really enjoying seeing the way the show comes together and to appreciate the collections and creativity of the designers and all their hard work, from the other side.

What was it like to attend Camilla and Marc’s opening show? 
I am such a huge fan of Camilla and Marc and to think it was their 15 year anniversary which was amazing. The show was fantastic—you felt transported to this other world through the lighting, set, sounds and music. Not to mention the collection itself which was stunning—the models looked so beautiful, powerful and strong.

Last year you walked in the Victoria Secret show in Shanghai alongside other supermodels like Tyra Banks, Gigi Hadid and Naomi Campbell. How did that feel?
Surreal. It was so much better than I actually expected. I thought I’d be more anxious, that I wouldn’t be fully present and just enjoy, but did. And I think that’s because of the Victoria’s Secret team and the girls I was there with. Everyone is so welcoming and supportive. They know you’re nervous! They really make an effort to make you feel as comfortable as possible and to just have fun and enjoy yourself, which is what it’s all about. It was very exciting, I really enjoyed the entire experience.

What does it mean to you to be an ambassador for David Jones? 
It’s a real honour. I grew up shopping at David Jones and admiring past ambassadors Megan Gale and Miranda Kerr. To be a part of such an iconic Australian brand is incredible and I’m so happy to be a part of the David Jones family. Especially now; to be alongside Jess Gomes and Adam Goodes is amazing. And to be celebrating the 180th birthday of DJs is really special.

How did you first get into modelling?
I met with agencies after being recommended by photographers when I was in Sydney one time with my family. However I didn’t start going to castings until I finished school.

Was this always your dream? 
No, not at all. Mainly because I grew up in Narrandera, rural NSW. I had no concept of the modelling industry—it was a long way away. Even after I started, I never viewed modelling as a career option. I had no idea what to expect, but I appreciated the fact that the opportunity doesn’t come by every day. I thought I would try it out in between school and university. I’m extremely lucky to have such a wonderful support network that has been by my side every step of the way.

What were you like at school? 
I loved sport and athletics but was also very focused on my studies. I worked hard to get the best possible mark on my exams as I could. I ended up being Dux of my school which I was really happy about.  All my friends from school try to catch up when everyone is home over Christmas which is always a lot of fun.

What’s something that people don’t know about you and would be surprised to find out?
Growing up I was a real homebody—I hated being away from home. Even on school excursions, I would want to go home ASAP. I couldn’t even do sleepovers. So to now live as far away from home as possible is something that still surprises me!

What was your first big break? 
Very early in my career, my first Fashion Week, I walked for Camilla and Marc at Australian Fashion Week.

What has been your biggest pinch-me moment? 
Can I have two?! Walking for VS [Victoria’s Secret] and being named as a David Jones ambassador were both pretty special pinch-me moments.

Who do you look up to? 
I admire my parents and grandparents—I’m lucky to have such a wonderful family whom I look up to. I also admire women like Elle McPherson, Jess Gomes, Megan Gale, Doutzen Kroes, Diane Von Furstenberg, my agent, Doll, just to name a few! Intelligent, hard-working, very genuine women.

What has been the best advice you have ever received? 
My mum always encouraged me to do my best in any situation and not to follow the crowd—be my unique self, always.

If you hadn’t become a model, what would you be doing? 
Probably something in health or nutrition. I’ve always been fascinated by the human body.

As a model, how do you stay fit? 
I love dance-based workouts—I find my body responds well and they are a great combination of strength and cardio. Along with stretching and recovery I make sure to respect my body and to prioritise sleep and recovery as much as my workouts. Along with proper nutrition. I love food and aim to nourish my body in the best way I can.How do you prep for a big show?
I have a healthy lifestyle constantly but leading up to a big show I’ll make sure to drink plenty of water and get as much sleep as possible. I have a sweet tooth so I might cut back a little on the chocolate. But it’s all about balance.

What is it like living in New York?
I love it. It took a while to get used to—it’s a far cry from Narrandera and Sydney. But it’s an amazing city with such a vibrant and eclectic energy and culture. I’m very lucky to be able to live there and call Australia home. It’s the best of both worlds which I’m very appreciative of.

What do you miss most about living in Sydney? 
The wonderful beaches, weather, our laidback attitude, our sense of humour, our fresh food, being close to my friends and family of course. The list goes on… travelling and living away really emphasised to me just how lucky we are as Australians to live here. I know it’s such a cliché, but it’s true—we are the lucky country.

What is the secret to a great photo? 
Oh my gosh—good question!! I guess try to relax and keep your chin down.

What is your number one beauty essential? 
Oils. I’ve noticed a real improvement in my skin since using them. I love Dermalogica phyto replenishing oil at the moment but I’ll change it up depending on how my skin is feeling. They can be used to remove make up, as a treatment, to prep for makeup, during a flight—just make sure you get one that suits your skin type.

Photography: Sophia Athas and Ash Larden

Date with Kate

Date with Kate: Samantha Jade

22nd April, 2018

Catching up with Samantha Jade at Sydney’s China Doll

From winning The X-Factor in 2012 to a stint on Home and Away, playing Kylie Minogue in the television mini-series INXS: Never Tear Us Apart and touring with One Direction, Samantha Jade certainly knows how to excel in multiple artistic endeavours. Having already released two albums, Samantha Jade and Nine, the singer, songwriter and actress’s third record titled Best of My Love has just dropped. An album filled with disco anthems, Samantha Jade says it’s a “tribute to amazing, powerful women who in the disco era became really comfortable with their sexuality”. Here she chats to me about writing songs, dealing with crazy rumours and the strangest thing she’s ever read about herself.

What are you up to at the moment?

It’s funny with music because you make the record and you’re behind the scenes completely [in the]. studio and you’re writing. You don’t have to think about anything because you’re just in this emotional place. So now I’m in that zone of promoting and publicity and performing and actually learning the words properly, learning how to sing it, and learning choreography. So it’s really fun.

Tell me about your new album.

It’s my third album, which is pretty cool to say that I made it to three. The first one obviously was X-Factor, and it was a bit of a postcard from the show. And then the second one I wrote every song, and it was really deep and about my mum [who passed away]. And then this one now is fun. It’s all disco classics that we’ve remade. It’s a bit of a tribute to amazing, powerful women who in the disco era, became really comfortable with their sexuality and being a solo female artist.

So the album’s called Best of My Love. Where did the name come from?

So basically, Best of My Love is that song, “Got the best of my love,” which I’ve always loved. You see it in so many movies and a lot of people have remade it. There are so many disco love songs so you have to pick and choose and that one was my favourite. And to me, it’s the sentiment of the record. You know, giving you the best of my love and being happy.

What a fun album! So what’s a typical day for you?

Lately it’s been insane. We are finishing up all the things with the record, all the ads that we’ve done for TV, and we’re making music videos and obviously all the promo going along with it. A typical day is probably flying in or flying out, and then going straight to rehearsals…along with other side projects that we have going on.

What is the best part about what you do?

I think the travelling is amazing. I get to see the world, which is so great. It’s never for a long time…but I try and extend a little so I can see a bit [of the place I’m visiting]. And meeting great people. Even the ladies I’ve just been working with, Kate Ceberano and the Veronicas and Dami [Im] and Amy Shark and so many great people that I get to talk to about music.

What’s the worst part about what you have to do?

It’s very rare to have time off. I think the weird hours too. If you are writing a song you can be there for like three days and haven’t gotten it yet, so you stay there trying to get it. Especially with choreography, that is hours and hours of time. My family are in Perth, so it’s hard not seeing them.

Do you get a feeling when you know you’ve got the song right?

Yes, there’s a feeling. When we wrote “Firestarter,” which is one of my songs from ages ago, we wrote it, and we knew. And we wrote that in like an hour so it was a pretty fast one which is really rare.

Really? That is amazing. What is the process when you’re writing a song?

I always try to write from personal experience, so it depends what you are doing through at the time. If you are really in love and everything’s going great, you are going to write really happy music. If you are going through break-up, it’s going to be really sad. But, at the same time, it depends on the track, because chords make you feel different things. Minor chords make you feel sad and moody and then major chords make you feel happy, and so, it’s very dependent on the track.

If you had never gone down this career path, what would you be doing?

I love doing make up, so I have a make-up range and I would probably do something [with makeup]. But then I love children, so I would probably love to teach music or singing, maybe have my own little singing school.

Seeing as you have a love of makeup, what are your top beauty products that we need to know about?

Well, I think it’s really important to have a good moisturiser. I think that is something people forget.

Our delicious meal

What do you use?

It’s a French moisturiser [I found] when I was in Paris and I was obsessed with it. It’s Embryolisse and they’ve got a mattifying one and just a moisturising one. On the T-zone I use the mattifying one. It’s never oily and your makeup goes on beautifully over it.

And I have actually found this amazing thing by a brand called The Ordinary. It is cheap, it is easy to get, it is called Caffeine Solution and I dab it under my eyes.

What is your number one fashion tip?

My mum gave me this advice and she used to say that Coco Chanel said, “Always take one thing off before you leave the house”. And I agree…I love simplicity.

Then what would be your wardrobe essentials?

A good black blazer. That’s my uniform for myself every day, like I can wear a T-shirt, with a blazer and blue jeans. But a good blazer that fits on the arms, I think. Those big baggy ones I am not into. And a really good pair of jeans. A good pair of high waisted jeans. Never ever go with straight.

Where is your number one holiday destination?

Well it’s changed, ’cause I just did the whole Europe thing last year and I went to Santorini, and I loved it. I always suggest to stay at Sand de le Hierarch. It is known as crazy. Also I just love the Amalfi Coast. It is so beautiful.

Do you enjoy life in the spotlight?

I do and I don’t. I mean, it’s always hard to read things about yourself that aren’t true and not you have to defend yourself, but at the same time, I have learned to deal with that. If my dad is happy with me, and my brothers, and my important people then I’m doing OK.

What’s the funniest thing you have ever read about yourself?

Oh gosh, I read something about hair from a fan that I keep. That was funny, and then that I was dating Niall from One Direction, for like a year, on and off.

Always great chatting to this lovely lady

How did they get that?

Well, only ’cause I knew him, but I knew him because we did a tour together, and his cousin actually lives in Melbourne, who I know. He’s so young, he’s like my brother’s age, and I was no, god no!

You’ve been with your partner [music exec Pat Handlin] for awhile. How is it having a relationship when you’re in the spotlight?

I’m lucky, ’cause he totally gets it, and he’s totally supportive, so he’s just a dream. But it is hard, because it’s hard to see each other. I mean, he’s always working too, so we have to have date nights.

What’s the secret, do you think?

Making time, and going, “OK, we’re going to hang out now and not have our phones”. So at dinner but we put our phones away.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I hope I have a baby. I love kids. Love them. And my best friend, Julesy, she has two babies who I am obsessed with. I hope I still work in music, because these days it’s really a big accomplishment to still be in the music industry, so I hope that I’m still here.

Do you have a career highlight?

Winning an ARIA was a big one to be standing up there with a reward, that is voted by your peers. Probably that, and I think Nine coming out, ’cause I wrote that album for my mum, and I think that she would have, I never got to play it to her, but I did play her a lovely song while she was in hospital. So that coming out, knowing that she liked some of it.

Bite Size

We went to: China Doll

We drank: Cocktails – “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Mandarin & Kaffir Lime Spritz”

We ate: Cured Hiramasa Kingfish with Avocado & Jicama; Wontons – Pork Prawn & Shiitake with Black Vinegar & Soy; Corn & Zucchini Cakes with Coriander Chilli Sambal; Spicy Sour Assam Fish Curry with Pineapple & Tomato

SAMANTHA JADE WORE a Elliatt suit with a Tuchuzy Chosen top, Tony Bianco heels and Christie Nicolaides earrings

I WORE a Seed Top and Skirt

Photography & Videography: Ashleigh Larden

On the 9th of May, Head Chef Frank Shek at China Doll will head to restaurant China Lane and join Kristian Vale (Head Chef) to cook up an incredible banquet style dinner. Book here: http://www.moshtix.com.au/v2/event/china-doll-china-lane-celebrate-20-years/103346 

 

 

Fashion

Girlboss Q&A: Lucie Ferguson, Founder of Babyanything

4th April, 2018

Lucie Ferguson, founder of jewellery brand Babyanything

Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus have been spotted wearing her pieces; her jewellery has appeared in everything from Cosmopolitan to vogue.com.au and PopSugar and it seems that’s only the beginning for jewellery designer and founder of Babyanything, Lucie Ferguson. Here Lucie chats to me about starting her own brand, what motivates her and creating what could be one of the most covetable engagement rings ever to appear on social media for her sister Elle…

Where does your inspiration for Babyanything come from?

I draw inspiration from my mother and her style in the 70s, she had amazing style. I also use characters from my favourite movies to act as muses for collections: Juliet from Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo and Juliet, Penny Lane from Almost Famous and Lux Lisbon from the Virgin Suicides are my main muses. The zodiac provides me endless inspiration; there is always a nod to astrology and destiny in my pieces.

What’s your earliest memory of wanting to create jewellery?

My grandfather was a boat builder and my mother a dressmaker so I always knew I wanted to work with my hands to bring the ideas swirling in my head to life.

What three words would you use to describe Babyanything?

Whimsical, Timeless, Sentimental.

Where did the name Babyanything come from?

An ex boyfriend of mine was a musician and a talented lyricist and one day he said, “Baby, I’ll do anything for you”. That was it for me; I knew that if I put the words together it would carry the sentiment of love for the brand. When you gift jewellery it can be as a celebration or as an apology so this covers both.

Who is the Babyanything woman?

The Babyanything woman is sincere; she has accomplished amazing things in her life through kindness and bravery. She is chic but also plays with fashion. She uses her jewellery to mark special events in her life and knows it will be there with her on her journey.

Your brand is going from strength to strength. What’s been your biggest pinch-me moment?

Thank you! All of the media attention from Miley Cyrus recently purchasing and wearing the Aurora Luna pendant was amazing for us but it is actually when I take a moment and think how far I have come as a solo business owner and maker that I am really proud. It really shows how hard work, determination and bravery give rewards.

What’s been the most challenging thing about starting your own jewellery brand?

The isolation, it is a male dominated industry and I have had to stay strong and keep turning up in order to be embraced in my field. Also the feeling that other businesses are appropriating our ideas and products is the worst feeling.

A post shared by Lucie Ferguson (@lucie.ferguson) on

How long does each collection take from conception to the finished product?

Sometimes it can take years from when I have an idea for a piece to when it appears for sale. I have travelled to Italy to have Turquoise and Coral carved by master craftsmen for a particular style of ring in the past as I really see my pieces as heirlooms so I need to have every detail perfect. In terms of making the pieces themselves, usually 18-20 hours to prototype the first version of the piece at the bench.

How does it feel when you see a celeb wearing one of your pieces? Who else would you love to see wearing Babyanything?

When I saw Kim K, Miley, Gigi Hadid and Hailey Baldwin in Babyanything pieces my heart ships a beat. It is so surreal to me that these pieces that I have created with my own hands make it so far.

My month was made when Alanis Morissette came into our store in Paddington and shopped for an hour and half. She was the most humble, divine human and I am so grateful she is living life in our pieces.

Your Ceremonial range is a departure from traditional wedding and engagement rings and so fitting for the bride who wants something unique. What made you decide to start designing wedding and engagement rings?

As a manufacturing jeweller I have always made custom engagement and wedding rings but I had not advertised that as a service at Babyanything as the demand was already exhausting me. I had to find a way to offer an engagement suite of styles that customers could pick from in-store and customize easily that was very true to aesthetic but didn’t have the timeline and cost associated with bespoke.

Babyanything’s Ceremonial range is a departure from traditional engagement ring designs

What do you think makes your pieces different from other jewellery?

I am a part of Babyanything, it is my spirit and hard work that has brought the brand to life and I think my customers really love to get that energy in the pieces. We are an all female team and we manufacture in Australia so that is big difference to other brands here.

You created your sister Elle [Ferguson]’s amazing engagement ring. What was that process like for you to create a piece for such an important person in your life?

It was such an amazing honor to know I could do that for Elle and Joel. Elle had always mentioned she wasn’t fussed about a big wedding (having enjoyed mine ) so she just wanted a very quaint ceremony but a huge ring. Joel was beautiful and asked me for her hand in marriage and we started designing the ring right there after the tears had dried. I give all my custom clients my heart and soul when designing and making their pieces but this went to the next level as it was for my number 1!

A post shared by Elle Ferguson (@elle_ferguson) on

What does a typical day for you entail?

Even when I am not a work I am working so I try to spend time with my blue staffy puppy in the morning and evening so we walk the beach at Bondi and I’ll try and have a swim when I can. Then when I get into work it’s customer queries and quotes first then admin duties and I finish the day on the bench making pieces.

Where’s your happy place?

Anywhere with an ocean, the ocean is my home. Byron, Bondi, Terrigal and Hawaii are all very important to me,

What’s your favourite way to spoil yourself?

Right now it is grabbing a quick chocolate fix but I love massages at Venustus in Paddington to help me wind down or a Melanie Grant facial always makes me feel really confident for weeks afterwards.

What’s next for Babyanything?

I am putting the building blocks in with the team now to allow for expansion in the next few years, first to open more stores in Australia then NY and LA.

There will be more of a focus on the engagement and wedding side of the business as our customers are asking for that. I hope this year I can get my working week down to 5 days so I can work on manifesting some more beautiful designs for the collections to come!

Who else would you love to see featured in my Girlboss series?
Date with Kate

Date with Kate: Jimmy Choo

8th October, 2017

His name is synonymous with one of the most renowned designer shoe brands in the world so it should come as no surprise that for Jimmy Choo, creating footwear runs in the blood. As the son of a shoe maker he learned the craft from his father in Malaysia, before moving to England in the 1980s to undertake formal study at the London College of Fashion. He opened his first shop in Hackney in 1986 and eventually co-founded the Jimmy Choo shoe label with British Vogue’s Tamara Mellon who had worked with Choo on the magazine.

After a successful career at the label that included being appointed official shoemaker to Princess Diana and opening stores in New York, Milan and Paris he stepped down from the brand in 2001. Today he is an Ambassador for Footwear Education at the London College of Fashion, is the recipient of an OBE for services to the British fashion industry and is preparing to launch a capsule shoe collection under his Chinese name Zhou Yang Jie. I caught up with Choo during his inaugural visit to Sydney with American Express to chat about the secret to his success, what he does for fun and if he ever finds himself visiting a Jimmy Choo store…

Where did your love of shoes come from? 

I was born in Malaysia and my father is a shoe designer. So, when I was young I saw my father making shoes. After I finished school, I would finish my homework, then help my dad learning the skill.

So many celebrities have worn your shoes over the years. Is there a person who stands out in your mind?

I have to say thanks to the late Princess Diana. Because I had been working with her for seven years, and now this year is the 20th-year anniversary of her passing and all over the world people still remember her and what she did for the legacy. She did a lot of charity events. Not many people do that.

What was it like to create shoes for the late Princess Diana?

She would call me to Kensington Palace to show me all the garments and everything that she was going to wear as she traveled all over the world. So we would look at all the garments and we would match the shoes for her. She was a very nice, very kind person.

What do you believe is the secret to your success?

When people say to me, “You are [a] successful person”, to me it’s not yet. I’m not successful yet. Because growing up my father always said, “One day you still alive, you don’t know what happened yourself”. People can seem [successful] and suddenly disappear, you know… we must, continue to learn all the time. So I’m not [successful] because I’m still learning.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I think, patience is very important. If you have no patience, you’ve lost everything. Because you need to talk to people. Communication is very important.

And what advice do you give to up-and-coming designers?

They still have to have patience. Every time [you] see something new, you mustn’t lose [your] temper and keep your mind open. Also always [ask yourself] what’s the next fashion? If you don’t sell, you must find out why it isn’t selling.

Why are you so passionate about the art of making shoes?

I love designing shoes, I love shoes. Sometimes when I go to factories, or one of my students comes [to me] with some idea [for] shoes, I would start to tear. True, true. You know, some of them are very beautiful and they take a lot of time, the detail and the design.

Although you are not involved in the company anymore. You must feel very proud that the Jimmy Choo brand you created is doing so well all these years later.

Yes I feel very proud. They’re all doing very well. I congratulate them, I wish them doing better and better.

Do you ever go into the stores?

No, I don’t do that. I don’t go in the shop. I never went into the shop. Because I think soul is soul, you wish them the best; you do what you want to do.

What do you do for fun when you’re not working?

For the people, who surround me and take care of me [day to day], I like [to] say thanks to them, I like to organise a holiday for them. I think it’s very important, you know, they are working with me day and night, traveling with me, they haven’t got time for their children and family. So I like to organise so they can go on holiday together. Or I like to invite them to my house. We cook and I love music so I listen to music… Elvis is my favourite.

If you had never gone down this career path of making shoes, what would you be doing?

I would like to be a healer and heal people. You know in London, they have a healing school. You can learn how to heal people with your hands. If you feel pain. They lay a hand on you and you heal them with your energy.

What has been your biggest career highlight?

I would say I’m very grateful to my country. A nine-year-old student, they can see my history in the textbook. Money cannot buy [that]. [Influential] people pass away, and then they talk about them. But I’m still alive.  Thanks to my country and the education minister, the leader allowed my history in a textbook for all the young children to learn as part of their education.

BITE SIZE
WE WENT TO American Express events at Café del Mar, Cockle Bay Wharf.
WE ATE market fish.
WE DRANK Sparkling water.
Lifestyle

A chat with Tutu du Monde’s Andrea Rembeck

7th March, 2017

Sophia and her cousin Rose wearing Tutu Du Monde

Andrea Rembeck is the Sydney-based designer behind the stunning children’s label Tutu Du Monde. Her whimsical tutu designs are my go-to when I’m looking for something special for the girls to wear. Here, I chat to Andrea about her tricks to balancing work and motherhood, what is on her bucket list and the best advice she has ever received.

What is a day in the life of you?I usually start the day either running or swimming at Bondi so I feel like I’ve had a life before I hit the office. No one day is the same at work. However, we generally start the week off with a team meeting where we map out the week ahead, and then I’m often on the phone or emailing partners in the US before they go to sleep. We have a rather large network of photographers, magazines, stylists and celebrities abroad, so I invest a lot of time making sure we’re working harmoniously together.  We have 3 main collections per year, and so we’re pretty much always working on designing, smaller capsule collections and collaborations with retailers or other like-minded- brands. Ideally, I try to find some creative time every day but sometimes it falls by the wayside due to so many other business or PR related obligations. Apart from the creative, I have to steer the business as well and oversee all aspects of it.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Inspiration is rarely the problem, more often it’s the lack of time that’s the challenge. The creative process often starts with travel and scouring vintage stores and markets all over the world in the search for beautiful, timeless pieces with exquisite craftsmanship, which ultimately provide inspiration for my tutus. Once the collection has been designed and sketched I hop on a plane to India and spend a week or two in the workshop sitting with the artisans to transform my ideas and sketches into reality. It’s such a beautiful experience sitting with the beautiful women and seeing ideas take shape.

One of the gorgeous Tutu Du Monde tutus hanging at home

How did you start your business?

Upon the birth of my daughter Alyna, I took some time out to enjoy being a mother. When Alyna turned three and was able to voice her opinion she refused to wear anything non-girly and asked for tutu. I embarked on a quest to find one that was not mass-produced, hot pink and polyester. I couldn’t find anything made from natural materials, cottons and silks – that’s how Tutu du Monde was born, in 2009.

Who do you admire the most?

Successful women in business who follow their vision with passion and kindness whilst trying to keep balance in life such as Zena who is founder of House of K’Dor who keeps a busy schedule and an amazing mother.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

Prioritise, don’t sweat the small stuff, cut out the noise and the unimportant. But most of all be true to yourself and have a clear vision.

As a mother, what is your trick to multitasking?

Thank fully my husband and daughter are very supportive, and I like to compartmentalise my day. When I’m with the family, I’m 100 per cent present and don’t compromise my time with them thinking about work. And then when I’m at work, I focus on managing the team and the tasks at hand. My days are very full, so structure with my great team help!

What is top of your bucket list?

Sumba (Island in Indonesia), Bhutan and Iceland

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Tom Ford, Vivienne Westwood, J.K. Rowling, Grace Coddington, Elon Musk, Sarah Jessica Parker, Tim Walker, Arianna Huffington and Gwyneth Paltrow.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

I would love to rewind and re-live our recent campaign shoot in Palm Springs, California in early June 2016. I think I was so overwhelmed and excited that I didn’t soak everything in.

Every time I reflect on this campaign I get goosebumps (strange considering we were in the depths of the desert). Tutu du Monde took a departure from its signature campaign style to the wild allure of the desert to shoot on location. We were Californian dreaming… carefree, spirited and West Coast cool, and had girls fly and drive in for miles from every part of the States, eager to shine their light and become a Tutu Du Monde model.

The cast and crew drove off the beaten track to parched Californian roads; palm trees, cactus and dusty rocks decorated the landscape. The ground was so dry it cracked under our feet.

There was something so special about watching sequins dim in the dreamy desert light when the sun went down. And well I guess you could say I personally had a moment. It gave me goose bumps- a feeling of achievement where I looked around the room and saw a collection of internationally recognised and fabulous people who had come together to bring this vision we had only weeks ago authentically come to life in the genuine surrounds of the sands.

I’d love to go back except maybe at a slightly cooler time of year.

What is the favourite fashion piece you own?

An amazing white beaded vintage dress from the sixties with ostrich feathers down the sides that I bought some years ago in New York. I’m still waiting for the right occasion to wear it, it’s rather opulent.

Which has been your favourite Tutu du Monde piece?

I love the Cosmic Dust Cape in Cloud and Mink which is collared with playful pom poms and provides a theatrical statement about being spirited, carefree, and cool. It’s part of the new Desert Daze collection and is pure Hollywood glamour. But there are a few pieces in the Secret Garden Baby Collection (to launch in August) that I just love! Including a little dress perfect for [my daughter] Grace. It’s peppermint and features sequinned organza petals embellishing on the bodice and an intricately pleated four-tier ruffle. The whole collection is a tale of wondrous adventure.

What do you like to indulge on?

Tiramisu (occasionally).

What is your favourite room in the house?

We love being outdoors and having people over to our home. The entertainment area is an extension of the kitchen, opens all up and helps bring the outdoors in. We just added super comfortable and stylish oversized beanbags for slouching around. I love foliage and have an assortment of pot plants and succulents in the courtyard- a stunning shell beaded chandelier also decorates the frangipani tree. It’s very mid century-boho-chic. It’s our private oasis.

Stylist- curated_by

Photography: @hayleysparksphotography