Ela and Jackson ~ The beach babe best friends behind this new fashion line


Two best friends + one shared obsession with fashion = Ela and Jackson, a sleek line of swim, beach and yoga wear perfect for the active Perth lifestyle. The Perth Collective talks to co-creators Keely and Ela about fashion, inspiration, and running a successful business when you work full-time.

Tell us a bit about yourselves…
Keely was born in the rural south of WA in a little sleepy town called Pemberton. Growing up on a farm, she is naturally fearless, and confident in demobilising spiders and using firearms. She is also a coeliac so don’t feed her anything delicious with gluten!

Ela was born and raised in the leafy green suburb of Subiaco to Polish parents who migrated to Australia in 1985. Her name is spelt with one ‘L’ which belies her Polish heritage – she speaks the language fluently and loves pierogi.

We also both adore dogs, the beach, travelling, coffee and anything made from potato! Oh, and of course fashion!

Our obsession with fashion came from a young age, with both of us constantly drawing pretty dresses and collecting Vogue magazines. When we met it was like we had finally found another person who was on totally the same wavelength with regards to fashion design and potato-based foods. We would always speak of having our own label and how wonderful it would be to create the clothes we wished existed.  You know what I’m talking about, when you find this piece but it’s not quite right?

How was Ela and Jackson founded?
The two of us met through mutual friends and after initial resistance from being told we would be a perfect match, we actually realised we got along like a house on fire.

We became firm friends very quickly and as we got to know more about each other we discovered that we both had aspirations in fashion. Deciding that two heads were better than one, Ela & Jackson was born.

Where are you based?
Our workshop in based in Wembley at Ela’s house. Keely lives not too far away in the leafy suburb of East Perth, so early morning breakfast meetings are easier to get to.

What inspires your collection?
Ela & Jackson’s spring/ summer 16 collection captures the active seaside culture of our home, Perth. The essence of health, beauty and activity bonded to create swimsuits and beachwear that translates from the great Indian Ocean coast to the sweat dripping onto a yoga mat.

Each piece is an extension of our own personalities, wrapped into the seamless nylon-lycra with a palette of rich earthy tones and attention to detail, and glimmering from the stunningly vibrant silk we’ve hand-sewn into a collection of magical kimonos.

The natural beauty of the female silhouette paired with clean, sharp lines and influences from our yoga practice has brought you a collection that is hardware-free and of the highest quality and, most importantly, comfortable. Each piece can be adapted in various ways providing a wealth of self-expression in form and function. What serves you for flowing in the ocean will serve you for flowing on the mat in your next Vinyasa class

Whether it’s down at Cottesloe Beach, island hopping in the Pacific or in a yoga class, Ela & Jackson can be there with you in spirit joining you on your journey.

Do either of you have a background in fashion?
Ela studied Fashion as well as Public Relations and Marketing whilst Keely studied Design – however we also both have an extensive history within the fashion industry, with involvement in the Telstra Perth Fashion Festival, management in high-end fashion retail and experience working as stylists on numerous occasions.

What is your current favourite key piece from your store?
We are obsessed with the Dhyana Top at the moment because it is just so versatile. A simple shelf bra available in 6 colours, it’s perfect for wearing as is on the beach, or with yoga pants in the studio. It even stands in as a layering piece to give a little more coverage underneath that one dress/ top we all have that is just too much to wear with just a bra as coverage!

Where can we purchase your label?
As well as our online store www.elaandjackson.com, we are stocked exclusively in Merge Clothing in Northbridge. We also take appointments from home via email for our local Perth gals.

Where did your business name come from?
Our business name came actually came from Ela’s partner Bart. He had the clever idea of using Ela’s first name and Keely’s last name to create Ela & Jackson. It rolled off the tongue and it just stuck!

What do you find is the biggest challenge of owning your own business?
The biggest challenge is time. Both of us work full-time and in the early stages Ela was also studying full-time – now we find balancing much easier. Being the faces of our company, we also need to be fit and healthy and always bikini body-ready, and trying to fit all this in with full-time work can be difficult.

What do you do for your full-time jobs?
Ela works at Kookai and Keely works for lululemon – both are companies we love, and they support our aspirations. We do this outside of our full time jobs – basically every spare second we have is put into Ela & Jackson.

What has been the best moment so far in your business?
Being in such early stages of our business, it’s hard to just choose one as so many moments are on par with each other. Some include getting our first order from someone that wasn’t one of our amazing friends, getting our first stockist, and having our first show (Melbourne Cup 2015). However the best moments are when our stock arrives and we see our ideas become tangible in lycra. Then we’re obliged to go straight to the beach to celebrate. Also seeing people wearing our product is probably the most rewarding feeling! It’s solid proof that people actually love what we are making!

Most memorable challenge you’ve had with a client or stockist?
The most memorable challenge would be with the first stockist we had late last year. A customer appropriated one of our bikinis and then posted a photo of herself wearing it on Instagram. Then she actually tagged us in the photo! This was rather emotional as we weren’t able to follow up with any formal kind of action and just had to sit back while she continued to post photos.

Your favourite quote or mantra?
If it is to be, it’s up to me.

Basically if you want something done, work hard and do it yourself. Most things in our business we have learned to do because we had to. For example, Ela built our website from scratch and we think it looks pretty damn good. The more we learn to do ourselves, the more we can control.

Who do you look up to for inspiration or admire for their business growth?
We know so many inspiring hard-working women that we look up to so it’s hard to name one, but if we had to? Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal. She’s a badass CEO who makes no apologies for who she is and where she has come from. She freely offers a whole host of good advice with a huge side of reality to anyone wanting to get into business, plus is all about supporting new talent!

What is your advice to WA women who want to start their own business or turn their hobby into a small business?
If you have an idea then go for it. If you want it enough you will find a way to make it happen! Work at it every day and be realistic about how much you need to do to get there! Also create a support network for yourself to get you through the hard times, because there will be hard times. Plus, starting your own business is probably the most rewarding thing you could do.

What is your vision for your business?
To create a label that truly expresses who we are through classic lines and high quality fabric as well as empowering women to feel comfortable in their own skin. We want to be able to grow from swimwear to resort and ready-to-wear and not limit ourselves with what we might do or where we might go.

Favourite WA coffee –  Tropico , Foam Coffee Bar
Favourite WA fashion label – Natalie Rolt, Morrison, Bruug
Favourite WA homewares– Empire
Favourite WA bar– The Cottesloe Beach Hotel
Favourite WA restaurant– Ingredient Tree
Favourite WA Instagram account – Salty Wings (@saltywings)

25% off with the code EJLOVE25


Edited by The Write Stuff Collective

Cake Lovin – “The cake was over half my height and weighed god knows how much… We needed to use a trolley to take it in.”

Drooling yet? The sweet creations from Cake Lovin are as delicious as they are decadent  – and all crafted by self-taught owner Wella in her very own kitchen. We chat to her about the power of creativity, the women who inspire her, and why aspiring business owners should just f***ing do it!
Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in the Philippines and came to Australia when I was 8 with my mother.  I was always creative from a young age with a drive to make things myself (to draw, sew, glue things together, cook, write poetry…) and I spent a lot of time fantasising about everything magical. I am 32, a wife to an amazing man,  and a mother to two gorgeous school-aged boys, Hayden and Christian, and two fur babies, Harper the British Bulldog and Harley the Basset Hound. I like to eat, food is life!! But not liquorice – it just taste funky.

How did you come to make cakes as a business? 

An avid DIY girl, I started making cakes when I had my kids. Around the time my first son was born eight years ago, family members and friends started having kids too and they requested cakes from me. I’ve always spoken about making the business official so last year I finally got myself into gear and organised all the licenses so I could cater to the growing demand of enquiries from the public.

Tell me a little more about the cakes you create?
Whenever someone orders a cake, I always make it clear to them that I can never replicate the design and that I would always add my flair to each piece. It’s not just about copyright but personal touch. I find making cakes so relaxing. I can have multiple cakes due on one given weekend, plus be doing school runs and soccer drives for my eldest and guitar lessons for my youngest (while being a FIFO mum for nearly two years) and still….there’s nothing like rolling fondant and creating, even at 2am in the morning. It makes me happy…Stressed crazy happy.

What inspires your baking?
The very fact that I love being creative is what inspires me. I am the type of person that cannot function if I cannot create. Secondly, my clients inspire me. Without them, I wouldn’t have this opportunity to put my creativity into motion.

Do you have a background in food?
My mother was an amazing cook. She cooked a lot of traditional Filipino dishes which are very Spanish-influenced,  but also ventured into making up her own creations. I always loved watching her cook. I’ve also worked in hospitality and wouldn’t hesitate to go back to it if I needed to work. I’m always surrounded by people who love to cook  and we all love to eat the food we make!DSC_0036

What is your current favourite cake you have created?
 I don’t even have a favourite to be honest. Each cake I have done has always been quite unique and I always change it up.

What is the most popular cake flavour at the moment?
 Everybody loves my white chocolate sponge cake. I use good quality white chocolate. It’s probably because I love white chocolate that the most love goes into that batter.

Where did your business name come from?
 I wanted something simple- nothing too cakey or girly or pink or ordinary (for me anyway). Cake Lovin seemed fun and just short and sweet. 

What do you find is the biggest challenge of owning your own business?
 Juggling family life and the business.  Being a creative crazy-head, I am also in the works of doing other projects. The cake business was easy to start because I do it from home so it has low overhead costs – but juggling and balancing everything else can be very challenging at times.


Do you do this full-time? 
 Yes, I do the cakes fulltime.

Your best moment so far in your business?
 I couldn’t isolate ONE exact moment really. Every cake is an adventure and to be honest I am always very nervous each time I do a cake because I am self-taught. I rely on YouTube, Pinterest and lots of tutorials. Each time I complete a cake is a “best moment” for me.

Most memorable challenge you’ve had with a client or stockist?

Making my cousin’s wedding cake in 2012 was very challenging. My boys were very small and were still at home. I had to make over 300 handmade rolled fondant roses and maybe double that amount of mini flowers. I used about four or five seven-kilo boxes of fondant, three massive blocks of Styrofoam fake cake, and a normal cake on top. The cake was just over half my height and weighed god knows how much. But by the time each layer was covered in fondant and half of the cake covered in the roses, we needed to use a trolley to take it in the ballroom for the wedding. My hands, wrists and arms were so sore and for the week after I felt like I had been hit by a bus!

Your favorite quote or mantra:
Michelle Bridges: “JFDI”. I’ll let you figure that one out!

Who do you look up to for inspiration or admire for their business growth?

My mother is my inspiration. She was very simple but she did a lot of things that proved a lot of strength in a woman. She left her hometown in her 20s with a little girl in tow (me), came to a foreign country (Australia), worked hard, and eventually brought my little sister over and raised my little brother with so much love. She continued to provide for her family in the Philippines all these years . Everyone she met became so close to her and were always happy to be around her. She inspires me because she was the true definition of LOVE and HARD WORK. I hope I can be like her – love, work hard, and make people happy.

In life you don’t need materialistic things or fame to validate your existence. Loving people and working hard for what is dear to you is what defines you.

What is your advice to WA women who want to start their own business or turn their hobby into a small business?

JFDI!!! There’s no time but the NOW to do what you want. Over-thinking and self-doubt is something that will destroy a creative. If you’re passionate about something then why not just do it? What better way to show the world your talent ? Share your creativity!

I read a lot of Lisa Messenger’s books. She has a whole array of books that are bold and uplifting, and she basically just tells you to do it. If you can feel it in your gut, then go for it.

Surround yourself with like-minded people who are going to support you, and take crticism well – study it and allow it to help you improve your way if it’s positive. What have you got to lose?

What is your vision for your business?
 My vision is to continue to run my business from home. I have had a lot of people offer me retail space to open a shop. But I am a control freak when it comes to my art, so expanding to hire staff just isn’t in my books. I do have help from time to time from friends and family but committing to a shop is a big step. 

 I watched a program about Poh (Masterchef contestant). She sells food at her local seasonal markets with a small team- mainly her family. Her goods sell out quick and are very popular. She has been told constantly to expand and hire staff but she was firm on the notion that creating food was more a passion for her, and not just the business of making money. The moment she decides to enlarge her project, she would lose control of creating her food because she would have to delegate tasks to someone else. I feel very similarly. For me, cakes are an art. It’s about creating and being satisfied with every creation I make myself. 

Once I’ve settled (this year has been insane for me – I’m in the middle of moving into our new home), I would like to venture into offering different types of desserts, and also would like to try some seasonal markets for experience. 

I am also working on taking cake classes to better my skills so I can expand into adding more details to my cake creations. Another thing I would like to do is offer basic skill classes to people – especially mums – so that they can start somewhere and see where their passion leads.

Favourite WA Coffee 
  I’m a hybrid , I drink tea 🙂 I have high blood pressure.
Favourite WA Fashion Label – Aurelio Costarella. I wore one of his pieces as my wedding dress.
Favourite WA Homewares– The Furniture Gallery
Favourite WA Bar– My best friend’s house 🙂 I don’t go out anymore, as  I have the kids in tow and my husband is away for four weeks. 
Favourite WA Restaurant –  Trangs Café- best Vietnamese in perth !!!
Favourite WA Instagram Account – The Perth Collective, my one-stop account to check out other inspiring females in my hood !

20% discount exclusive to TPC
for all 2016 bookings confirmed by the end of May. 





How to save your visual business branding with SOS… Designs

Stylish. Original. Simple. That’s Hayley from SOS…Designs’s mantra, and she applies it to every piece she designs for clients who need a little bit of brand saving. Her clean lines and miminalist aesthetic have helped build the brand identities of a number of Perth businesses, and an exciting new venture makes her designs available to us all…

Hayley has designed the new The Perth Collective website that launches next Friday.We have been so impressed and we can’t wait to unveil it to you all!

Tell me a little about yourself…

Continue reading

The Zest Group WA ~ Effortless coastal-chic events styling


From bohemian tipis on sand-swept shores to rustic weddings studded with fairy-lights and vines, The Zest Group WA creates effortless yet unforgettable events with their styling and for-hire services. We talk to Kate from Zest Group WA about living in Dunsborough, the company’s new Santa Fe-inspired showroom, and why it’s so important to find your signature style…

Tell me a little about yourself…
I am fortunate enough to live in beautiful Dunsborough with my husband Luke, who I work alongside in our business, and our two children – our daughter Havana, 3.5 years, and our son River, who is 1.5.

I grew up in the area and moved away in my 20s to travel and live overseas and interstate. I moved home in 2008 and could not be happier living back in this stunning part of the world.

What led you to establishing The Zest Group WA?
With a background career in interior styling, I created Zest in 2008 after noticing the demand for wedding and event styling in this much-loved area which is extremely popular for celebrating special occasions.

What services do you offer, plus which areas do you cover? Do you ever work in Perth?
Zest offer a complete event design and styling service specialising in weddings and corporate events across Western Australia.

We work with clients big and small to create compelling events that reflect the brand or mark your special occasion with flair and an uncompromising attention to detail.

Our entire collection is also available as a hire-only option for those wishing to do their own setup and styling.

I would say your tipis are a huge part of The Zest Group WA signature. How important do you think it is to have point of difference to other hire businesses?
Our personal style, exclusive event tipis and our ability to customise events by sourcing and manufacturing unique one-off pieces for events definitely provides us with a point of difference and we feel this is very important when offering a service.

How would you describe The Zest Group WA’s style?
Earthy and effortlessly chic.

Your best moment so far in your business?
There have been many special moments in our business over the past few years as it is always such a lovely feeling to see events come to life after months of planning and working with special clients.

We have particularly been enjoying designing our new showroom and office building, which will be completed by the end of the year. This Santa Fe-style creation will also double as an event space to cater for corporate events, dinners, and exhibitions.

What advice would you give to WA women wanting to start their own business?
Hard work and determination is what has made Zest the success that it is today. Also, stick to your own signature style.
Favourite WA CoffeeAlbert & Nikola – a very cool hole-in-the-wall coffee shop in Dunsborough
Favourite WA Homewares: Sensei Pots is a studio and gallery by local potter and ceramic artist Ian Beniston and he has some stunning ceramic plate creations which I just love.
Favourite WA BarI always enjoy having a vino at my favourite local, Caves House in Yallingup
Favourite WA RestaurantEagle Bay Brewery and Vasse Felix Winery have always been two of my favourites. Miki’s Japanese and Tepanyaki bar in Margaret River is also outstanding.



All rights reserved.

The Zest Group WA by Paris Hawken Photography

Editing/ copywriting by The Write Stuff Collective

The Studio Event Design ~ Dazzling Event Styling in Perth and the South-West

Camille from The Studio Event Design can transform ordinary events into fairytale moments (and your Pinterest boards into reality!) After travelling the world and working in high-profile agencies over east, the Perth native has returned home to offer bespoke events styling and management, with a black book of contacts and her whimsically gorgeous style.

Tell us a little about yourself…
I grew up in Cottesloe. My early memories are of frequent long Sunday lunches – where I’m sure I developed my love of entertaining! I love the beach, staying fit, travelling, cooking and poring over pages of home styling magazines. I dislike yellow flowers. Strange but true.

I now live with my husband, 1 year old daughter Cleo, and our completely spoiled Cocker Spaniel, Wellington.

Tell us about your background and experience in event management, and why you stepped away to launch your own business?
I started out in event management 10 years ago when I moved back to Australia after living and working overseas for 5 years. The extensive travel allowed me to gain knowledge of different cuisines and dining styles across the globe, and gave me a strong understanding of the catering side of events. I began my events career in Sydney working on the wonderful Sculpture by the Sea exhibition followed by exciting agency roles working with clients like Nintendo, Vodafone and E! Network.

Meeting my husband saw me shift back to Perth where I had the opportunity to be part of a small management team on a number of music festivals and concerts, which I absolutely loved – but I knew the hours wouldn’t really work with a young family. My love for event design saw me start Studio Event Design so I could finally immerse myself in all the pretty things, and I have never looked back!

How long has The Studio Event Design been established? Do you work from home?
I established The Studio Event Design in 2013 and have been running my business from home. My work takes me to a multitude of venues, across the Perth metro and through the South West so this set-up works best for me at this stage. Although I do plan to take up a studio next year to give me more room to store my ever-growing volume of styling bits and pieces!

What services do you offer?
I offer customised event planning and styling for weddings, corporate and private events. The needs of each event always varies, so I work as best I can to meet the specific needs of my clients rather than offering set packages.

After personally running 3 TPC events, I admire anyone that can have an event styling and management business. It is an incredibly demanding and challenging role. Do you think thats why it’s now popular to outsource wedding and events in WA?
It is crazy how many hours go into planning and styling an event, particularly a wedding. These days many brides have busy and demanding jobs and just don’t have the time to commit to planning their wedding. Hiring a wedding or event manager ensures every item is considered in the planning and allows the client to enjoy the day without worrying about the little details.

Be honest. What is more of a challenge – wedding or event management?
Tough one. They are both with their challenges and benefits. There is always more of an emotional investment in weddings which means a lot more back and forth, however I find the reward is also greater. So probably weddings but I love it.

What do you find is the biggest challenge of owning your own business?
Never being able to switch off!

Your best moment so far in your business?
When I nail the brief for a client and can see it on their faces as they see it for the first time. It makes all the hard work worth it!

You’re a mum too. I noticed you are available for weddings /events down south. How do you juggle this with parenthood?
I have a very supportive husband who luckily doesn’t work weekends or travel for work, so he is usually available to take the parenting reigns on weekends.

Most memorable challenge you had with a client or stockist?
I have been very lucky with my clients since starting my business. I think the biggest challenge is getting some people to understand just how much time goes into planning an event and the costs associated with that.

Your favourite quote or mantra:
When someone tells me “no” it doesn’t mean I can’t do it. It just means I can’t do it with them!

Who do you look up to for inspiration or admire for their business growth?
Nikki from NOOD has done so well in such a short space of time and really developed a great business. Zest Group and Villa Kula have also really raised the bar for event furnishings in Perth.

What is your advice to Perth women wanting to start their own business or turn their hobby into a small business?
I would say just do it now. Get started in some way, even if it is just on the side of your “other” career whilst you find your feet. The longer you wait, the more time your competition has had to forge their way into the marketplace.

What is your vision for your business?
To continue to deliver beautiful events, but with the view to take on more corporate clients down the track. I also hope to be creating my own ticketed events eventually – and the next big event on the Perth social calendar….

Favourite WA coffee: The Other Side in Swanbourne
Favourite WA fashion label: Flannel
Favourite WA homewares: Empire
Favourite WA bar: I don’t get to bars nearly as much as I used to but Asado is always good for a quiet glass of good wine!
Favourite WA restaurant: Tough one. Il Lido has always been a favourite but I love Bread in Common and Propeller as well!
Favourite WA Instagram account: I am a flower lover so the Natural Art feed is always so inspiring





The Write Stuff Collective: why words matter


Stuck for words? The Write Stuff Collective is a copywriting agency that works with businesses to craft their stories and connect with their audiences through words – whether they’re on a web page, in a blog post, or on a product label. Founder Anna Christensen copywrites for The Perth Collective – and will edit the upcoming SALTED mag – so she comes highly recommended from us! 

How was The Write Stuff Collective founded?
I started freelancing about a year ago, taking a leap of faith by leaving my job as a features writer and deputy editor at Scoop Publishing to fulfil my dream of working in my PJs (it’s every bit as awesome as I hoped!) Initially, I was just writing for magazines but I started getting approached by businesses who had read my articles and liked my style. At first I dismissed these type of jobs – ‘copywriting’, they’re called – as something to do on the side, but I quickly realised how much I enjoyed the process – meeting with passionate entrepreneurs, learning to adapt to a range of writing styles, and helping people find the words they struggle to articulate.

I decided to change copywriting from a side venture to the main event, and began skilling up in the art of writing for businesses. I did a course at the Australian Writer’s Centre, trained in what the heck SEO was about, and read anything about copywriting I could get my mitts on.

Then, I came up with a name, designed a logo and website, and – voila! – launched it to the world. I’ve been really surprised and grateful with the response so far. The number of clever businesses coming out of Perth right now blows my mind, and I feel very privileged to help some of them in my own little way!


Is it just you working in your business?
As of yesterday, I would have answered yes. But today, The Write Stuff Collective expanded (and, um, actually became a collective. Ha!)

I’m so excited that Hannah Lawrance is joining The Write Stuff team as our digital marketing guru. She comes to us from Scoop Publishing, where she managed to increase the Instagram following by 350% in just six months. She’s also super sweet and has a killer sense of style.

The Write Stuff Collective is just a newborn, but I definitely would love to expand in the future. Working with like-minded word nerds gives me the warm and fuzzies.

What exactly is copywriting? What services do you offer?
Well, contrary to popular belief, copywriting has nothing to do with copyright! Sorry but you’ll need a lawyer for that. 😉 Copywriting essentially covers any writing that’s done for the intent of a business – whether that’s web pages, press releases, blog posts, fliers, bios, magazines, pamphlets, advertisements… The list goes on!

Where did your business name come from?
I’m a total dag, and love a good pun. The Write Stuff rolled off the tongue and seemed to stick. I’m clearly not the only one who thought so – I learned, a little too late, that the name had been already been registered as a business.  Oops! Having already made my logo and imagery, I decided not to completely change the name and opted to add ‘collective’ to the end to make it unique, with the hopes that I would expand in the near future. Thankfully, I did! (And don’t worry, I learned from my mistake – the new name is registered to me.)


What have you found to be the biggest challenge of owning your own business?
Working from home can be tough, when there are distractions all around (I’m looking at you, laundry hamper!)  It can also be lonely at times, but I’m lucky that I live with my partner, who also works from home fairly often (he’s a music booker and manager). He keeps me sane, and well-fed with his delicious cooking!

Other challenges of the freelance life? Ebbs and flows in business – you can go from having nothing on to drowning in work – and irregular income. Plus, no sick days or annual leave can be a bit of a bitch. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Your best moment so far in your business?
Promise I’m not just sucking up, but creating a relationship with The Perth Collective has been a dream come true! I’ve admired TPC for a while now, and love the way Nikki supports women in small business, and helps the dreamers take their business pipe dreams to reality. The upcoming SALTED mag gives me a buzz every time I think about it (also because I get to work with Jo from Joanne Tapodi Creative, another ex-Scoopie and all-round awesome human).

Adding to the fold today has been another highlight. I know Hannah is going to be an amazing addition to The Write Stuff Collective – and I’m looking forward to having regular excuses to get coffee and doughnuts with her!

Your favourite quote or mantra:
“Change your challenges into opportunities.” 

It’s a little cheesy, but I think it’s so important to remember this. I used to get upset with myself when someone didn’t like what I wrote straight off the bat, but I’ve learned (okay, I’m learning… baby steps!) to embrace feedback and criticism. After all, how else can you grow and get better?

Who do you look up to for inspiration or admire for their business growth?
My dear friend/surrogate sis/mentor Renee Bergere. She created Great About Perth and was my editor at Scoop and – once I got over how intimidatingly gorgeous and talented she was – we became super close. I admire her intelligence, social media savvy,  incredible writing skills, and the way she brokers deals with an iron fist in a velvet glove! She is always there to give me advice when I need it, whether it’s about a pitch, a certain sentence, or how to charge for different jobs.

I also admire Lisa Messenger who created The Collective Hub. She defied the odds of a dying magazine industry, and created a successful product that really resonates with people. Same goes for Louise Bannister and Lara Burke – they bravely launched a magazine when they couldn’t find stuff they liked on the newsstands, bucked the economic downturn, and created Frankie, one of the most widely loved and distributed mags in Australia.

What is your advice to Perth women who want to start their own business or turn their hobby into a small business?
Respectfully disregard anyone who tells you it’s impossible. People who love you will sometimes discourage you from making bold moves because they don’t want to see you fall. But if you’re already thinking about it, chances are the tried-and-true road isn’t for you anyway. Live a little, and take the risk!

But at the same time, make a plan. While you’re still at your day job, do as much work on the side as you can, and stow away some savings. The idea of being in debt gives me the heebie-jeebies, so I made sure I had a decent nest egg before I went out on my own.

Also, think laterally. Make your ideas and talents work double duty, channelling them in different, creative ways.

Favourite WA coffee: Gesha
Favourite WA fashion label:  Rue Stiic
Favourite WA homewares: I love the Rug Studio in Freo. I also like combing Old Values for a vintage find.
Favourite WA bar: Strange Company, The Odd Fellow or Rodney’s Bait n Tackle
Favourite WA restaurant: Jamel’s – it’s tucked away behind Nell’s Emporium in Mosman Park and it’s a cozy, fairy-lit hidden gem. I also love Manuka and Don Tapa.
Favourite WA Instagram account: @theperthcollective, @housenerd, @perthisok


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Francesca GNAGNARELLA + Your invitation to the Emotional Landscape Art Exhibition

Italian artist Francesca Gnagnarella has had a love affair with WA light since she moved to Perth nine years ago. And we’ve had a love affair with her abstract landscapes, which use 23 karat gold to capture that elusive light to stunning effect. The Perth Collective talks to her about her international profile, the one painting she won’t sell, and her upcoming exhibition (you’re invited!)

Tell us a little more about your background. How did you become an artist?
I was born in Italy and studied art between Rome and Paris, then fell in love with an Aussie guy during a ski trip and moved to Australia in 2007. I started exhibiting in group shows before finishing uni in Paris, and held my first solo exhibition in Rome in 2006. Now I am a full time artist, and I have been painting professionally since 2011. 

Describe your paintings – what style would you refer to them as?
I like to call my paintings ‘abstract landscapes’. My works are abstract interpretations of seascapes, beachscapes, or landscapes reinterpreted loosely onto canvas. I don’t work from photographs but only from the memory of a particular place with a vision that is emotional and intuitive, remembering a sunset or a sunrise, looking at the earth and sky in the sunshine or after rain, contrasting splurges of red, magenta, orange, yellow, and blues to recall a sunburnt desert, the clearest waters, the softest sand, the brightest sunsets.


Where do you paint? Do you have a studio?
I paint from my studio in Pakenham Street. It’s a beautifully restored old Woolstores building in the centre of  Fremantle with a collective of about 30 artists. 

What inspires your collections?
I am fortunate enough to live close to the ocean and usually I start my day walking my puppy on the river shores surrounding my home. On my walks I can slow down, observe my environment, take in colours, patterns, textures, and, most importantly, the light, which has a particularly vibrant quality here in Perth and is represented throughout my works with the use of 23 Karat gold leaf.

Who influences your art?
I of course always had my favourites when studying art at school. Definitely the artist I have always looked at for inspiration is the American painter Rothko, I love his use of colour and large scale works. 

How long does it take to produce one of your larger paintings?
Probably 4 to 5 weeks in total. Most of the time I work on two or more paintings at the same time so I can switch back from a piece and while I work on another one, I let the unfinished work rest in my studio so I can observe it and see where I’m going with it. Then when I get back to it I know what I need to add and how to continue working on it. Knowing when an abstract piece is finished is all up to the artist, so sometimes it takes longer to know when a painting is completed.  

In most of your art you use 23 Karat gold leaf. Tell us more…
Since I moved to Perth from Europe I was amazed by the intensity of light that I found only in Western Australia and I wanted to replicate its vibrancy on canvas. I found that the gold leaf does it best, enriching the paintings with a unique luminosity. The play of light of the gold leaf affects the painting in different ways throughout the day, or if the sunlight hits the gold through a window, or if it’s artificial light bouncing off it and transforming the painting as you look at it from different angles. I purchase my gold leaf in booklets of 25 little 8x8cm sheets. They are the thinnest as they are the purest in grade and easily breakable. I always use 23 Karat gold leaf. 

You have just returned from the Singapore Contemporary Art Show. Is this the first time you have exhibited there? 
Yes, it was my first time exhibiting in Singapore and it was a wonderful experience during Art Week, when the city hosts a myriad of art shows and events. I’ve met with many young collectors getting interested in collecting art and received a great interest in my works, including a big name in the hotel industry for which I have put together a proposal for custom made artworks for the hotel bedrooms. I will definitely go back to Singapore to exhibit again.

You also produce resin art. How are these made and why do you add them to your collections?
It all started last year, with a collaborative exhibition with South West-based artist Todd Cleave. Todd and I share a passion for the same colour palette, most often inspired by the blue-greens of the ocean, the reds and oranges of the sunrise and sunset, and the amber and browns of the earth. The resin works are characterised by organic shapes, tactile feel and bright colours. Each piece is unique and, like an original painting, it’s impossible to recreate – and that’s what I love about resin. They beautifully complement the colours and inspirations of my paintings so I love adding a different dimension to my works particularly exhibiting them together. I just adore the way colours come out so brilliantly in resin form.

Do you find you have a bigger response to your art internationally, or is it well-supported locally?
I’ve been exhibiting in Hong Kong for three years and have two international shows each year there, so I’m building a small following of collectors and art lovers in Hong Kong which is incredible. Seeing my pieces find their new forever homes somewhere far from where I’m based is what I love most about my job. It gives a sense of appreciation greater than anything else. I love seeing people fall in love with a piece and just wanting to have it regardless of the name of the artist, since most new clients didn’t know me before the show. I think that’s how art should be purchased, just by what instantly attracts you to a particular piece. It fascinates and excites me. But I am also very grateful to have many local loyal supporters who have seen me growing since I’ve started here in Perth and continue to follow me.  

Where can we purchase your art? Do you have any upcoming exhibitions in Perth?
You can purchase my art from my website www.fragnagna.com (paintings, iPhone cases and resin art) or you can visit my gallery in North Fremantle by appointment. My upcoming exhibition, Emotional Landscape, launches on Thursday 5th May. If you would like to attend please RSVP to info@francescagnagnarella.com – here’s the invitation with all the details.

What do you find is the biggest challenge being a Perth-based artist?
Not being able to travel as easily as when I was in Europe for major art exhibitions that I could go visit on a weekend if I was still living in Rome or Paris. And getting inspirations from different cultures has always been very important for me. I guess my focus and inspirations have really been redirected to our local surroundings now that I live in Perth. 

Do you have a favourite painting?
My favourite painting is ‘Always always always’. It is part of my neon series of works, which wants to show the light that we see in dreams and the thoughts that seem to come from them. It’s the only piece of my works that I have decided not to sell and to keep in my personal collection. 


Most memorable challenge you’ve had with a client or stockist?
My current job with Crown Hotel. I’ve been working with them since June last year, working through colour schemes and samples for 340 hotel rooms! Definitely the biggest and most challenging job.

Your favourite quote or mantra:
Never leave ’til tomorrow what you can do today.

Who is your biggest support?
It is definitely my husband Russell, my biggest supporter since day one. It has been him who pushed me to start my career as a full-time artist and has always supported me along the way. He has always been the source of my ambition to create something better at each exhibition and to move forward. 

Who do you look up to for inspiration or admire for their business growth?
I am very lucky to be surrounded by amazing and talented people that I have met through work but I now call friends and I love seeing them growing and succeeding in their business. Amongst my favourites: artist Anya Brock who I work with at my studio; landscape designer Monica Palmer; fashion designer Jonte Pike; stylist Megan Plowman; and blogger Maya Anderson of House Nerd. 

What is your advice to WA women who want to start their own business or turn their hobby into a small business?
Dedicate your everything to it to make it happen and get ready to work 100 hours a week! But most of all, always trust your heart and trust your dream – it will become your story.

What is your vision for your art?
In June I will start looking for opportunities to take my works over east in Australia, between Sydney and Melbourne, and concentrate more on expanding on the national market. 

Favourite WA Coffee Studio 37, Fremantle
Favourite WA Fashion Label Ethel and Leo, Claremont
Favourite WA Homewares A Cup Of Chic
Favourite WA Bar Mrs Brown, North Fremantle
Favourite WA Restaurant Bread in Common, Fremantle
Favourite WA Instagram Account @housenerd, love sneak peeking into WA homes 

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“We sat in Brooklyn, drinking our margaritas and dreaming this dream” ~ The Calypso Warehouse Story

Calypso Warehouse is a sunny, coastal-inspired store, a one-stop destination for purchasing feel-good gifts – even for the impossible to please! Currently an online store, Calypso Warehouse is set to open a bricks and mortar in Perth in the coming months, complete with a coffee station to re-fuel.  The Perth Collective chats to co-owner Caity about what it’s like to work with your partner, her obsession with margaritas, and how a trip to Brooklyn inspired her to build a business…

What’s the story behind Calypso Warehouse?
My partner Tim and I were on a holiday at the end of 2014. We had just come from a little town in Canada called Banff, where everyone was lovely and everything was within walking distance. Fast forward 10 hours and we had landed in the big smoke, the city that never sleeps – New York. We were blown away at how commercialised everything was, at the number of chain stores and at the complete lack of independently-owned shops. The little Freo hippy inside of me was having a fit at the thought of all the big CEOs living it up in the Bahamas while their poor, grumpy employees were working Christmas Eve and being paid a minimum wage.  Thankfully we were staying in Brooklyn. Ah, Brooklyn – the peaceful, good vibes, hipster-loving Brooklyn. We spent the day going in and out of little independent stores, chatting to the cashiers and sharing stories about where we were from.  After visiting one store and having a chat with the Californian-born store owner, we ducked across to a little Mexican diner to escape the cold. It was there, while sipping our margaritas (we were on holidays after all!) that we decided this was what we wanted. We wanted to take our own piece of Brooklyn back to Australia with us and turn it into our future.  That night we started our business plan and kept working on it until we got home to Perth. Once we were back here, we set the wheels in motion and Calypso opened online in June 2015.

Tell us more. When do you open? Where can we find you? What will we find once we walk in the Calypso Warehouse doors?
When you walk in through our Calypso doors, you’ll be transported to an oasis away from this hustling and bustling world. Step to one side and order a coffee, roasted by Swan Valley legends Fiori. Step to the other side and browse through our range of homewares, clothing and gifts. Want to rest those weary feet but still have a browse? Grab one of the in-store iPads, browse online, place your order and have it delivered to you at your table, with a lollipop and a smile.

Sadly we’re experiencing some delays and setbacks in securing our dream location, so send some good vibes our way and watch this space…

Your partner is also part of the team. What are your different roles within the business? Will you both eventually leave your current full-time positions to run Calypso Warehouse?
When we sat in Brooklyn, drinking our margaritas and dreaming this dream, we agreed that our ultimate goal for Calypso would be for us to both work on it full-time but in completely different ways. Tim is a super talented carpenter and as the business grows, we hope that he’ll be able to spend more and more time creating individual furniture pieces that we will sell in-store. I, on the other hand, really enjoy being at the forefront of the business – whether it be packing up an online order or greeting a customer in person, dealing with suppliers or training new staff. We have really different roles but together we make a great team.

What inspires your purchases for your store? Do you have a particular style?
This is something that I’m still continuing to learn every day. Perhaps it was the influence of the margaritas that fateful day, but I’ve tended to lean towards a bit of a tropical and coastal vibe when purchasing for the store. It could also be the influence of our sunny, coastal life that we’re really blessed to live with in WA. I think so many business owners will agree that finding a style to suit everyone is really hard. Often the things that you think will sell really well end up being the worst sellers. And the things that you buy on an off-chance end up being the most popular. It’s so hard to predict. Moving forward, we will be sticking with our coastal vibe but won’t be hesitant to throw in some Scandinavian bits or some minimalist bobs.

I love that majority of items in your new store will be under $100! What are your top 3 favourite gifts at the moment?
The cone planters by Vessel and Vine are such a cute present to give to ladies (or men if they like!) of any age. They can house air plants, a posy of natives or even nothing at all – they look stylish just hanging by themselves, especially if they’re hanging from a cute hook.

Second for the ladies is a lavender eye pillow by Wheatbags Love. You would not believe the amount of times I have used mine to help me get to sleep at night. In summer, I keep it in the fridge (just writing that I wonder if maybe that’s a bit weird, but it works!) In winter, I pop it in the microwave with a cup of water for a minute. Lay it over your eyes, rest your head on your pillow and head off to the land of nod.

For the guys, you can’t go past a tee by the local legends at Knucklehead Shipping Co. The quality is out of this world and the designs are pretty awesome.

King Raja Organics is king when it comes to the little ones.

You have taken the challenge to open an actual store. Congratulations! It’s a brave move in today’s small business economy. What made you decide to find a space?
Thank you! And yes, it’s a scary move for sure! But having a bricks-and-mortar store was always part of the dream. There’s no doubt that the retail world is really shifting to the online space, but I still think it’s so important that we don’t lose sight of retail the old-school way.  The way where you can go and try something on before you buy it, where you can feel a fabric to test its quality and where you can physically see the size of a vase or a cushion to visualise it in your space. This was also the reason that we decided to create the concept store with a coffee shop inside. Coffee forces people to step away from their computers and out into the wild, and while they’re out there, why not tempt them with a bit of retail therapy?!

Where did your business name come from?
I think it was those margaritas again! 🙂 We have always really liked the word ‘Calypso’. For us it creates a vision of a beach with a lone palm tree – a far cry from wintery Brooklyn and definitely my ideal type of holiday. We toyed around with so many different combinations that would sum up what we have to offer and settled on ‘Warehouse’, although played around with ‘Wareshouse’.  I think it’s worked. We’ve had so many questions from people wondering where our warehouse is –  it surprises them a bit when we say that it’s currently in our spare room haha.

What do you find is the biggest challenge of owning your own business?
There really are so many. Owning your own business isn’t for the fainthearted. The biggest challenge so far has definitely been time. Trying to balance working full-time and running the business as well as having a social life is a real struggle. I salute the mums out there who can throw kids in the mix too! I’ve learnt that time is such an investment. If I put time into social media posts, responding to emails and maintaining the website then I notice the increase in sales. If I don’t make the time to invest in those things then sales lapse and it takes even more time to catch up again. It’s tough but getting that little ‘ping’ to say that a new order has arrived is the biggest reward and reminder that skipping The Bachelor was totally worth it.

What has been the best thing you have done marketing-wise to grow Calypso Warehouse?
So far, the Perth Collective has been huge for us. If we are lucky enough to have a photo re-grammed, then it’s amazing to sit and watch the followers increase, the order ‘pings’ come through, and the interactions increase. We’re in the process of speaking with a PR/Marketing guru and have high hopes for results to come from that.

Work hard, dream big.

Who do you look up to for inspiration, or admire for their business growth?
Although we are in completely different fields and on totally unrelated wavelengths, Samantha Wills is such a huge inspiration. To start out selling jewellery at local market stalls in NSW and grow into a worldwide reputable brand is so admirable. If I’m ever feeling unmotivated, I just take a look at her Instagram feed and feel instantly inspired to keep on going, keep on pushing, and keep on working hard.

What is your advice to WA women who want to start their own business or turn their hobby into a small business?
Set out clear and realistic goals and write them out on a timeline. If you can, have the goals printed and put them somewhere you will see them every day. You can create a business plan if it’s required but having goals that you can tick off makes it so much easier to keep track of where you’ve been and where you’re heading.

There will be people out there who don’t believe you can do it and don’t believe you can succeed – use them as your motivation to kick butt and prove them wrong.

Favourite WA coffee – Lowdown, Perth CBD
Favourite WA fashion label – Anika basics. My collection has been growing and growing since they started selling at the Common Ground Collective in Freo.
Favourite WA homewares – The Hippo and the Pear pots with plants by Little Leaf Co. My house is starting to turn into a jungle!
Favourite WA bar –  The Local Hotel in South Freo
Favourite WA restaurant –  It probably doesn’t count as a restaurant but I’m loving the food being served up at The Federal Hotel. Yum!
Favourite WA Instagram account – I think the Perth Collective is a pretty obvious one 🙂 But I also love seeing the daily blooms from Floral State brighten up my feed.

TPC Tribe members can receive 25% off every order over $50 by using the code TPCTribe at the online checkout.

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Edited by The Write Stuff Collective

Orno Interiors ~ timeless interior design solutions

Could you go into business with your mother? That’s what Gabrielle Sherwood did when she joined forces with her mother Rose to work on interior design concept store Orno Interiors. Their empire now includes a Highgate shopfront, an online store, and a range of custom interior design services – which they manage with only having the occasional tiff! The Perth Collective talks to Gabrielle about why her mum’s her best friend, her love of a good challenge, and why she’s not a fan of trends…

How was Orno Interiors founded?
Rose opened the first Orno Interiors store in Mount Lawley in 2001, and in that format it was primarily Rose’s interior design studio space. In 2012, I was working at an architectural firm and feeling the need for a change in direction. It was from there that Rose and I decided to join forces – and so began the Orno Interiors design concept store in its current format.

Relocating the business to its current Highgate location allowed Rose and I the physical space to display our ideas. Also, the Highgate area was developing and had like-minded creative businesses that we wanted to surround ourselves with. The business has grown rapidly since we opened the Highgate store and with plenty of exciting developments on the horizon, it continues to grow.

How do you share the workload in your business? What are your individual roles?
We are equal business partners, and while we don’t have roles set in stone we definitely work to our strengths.

With Rose’s passion for beautiful textiles, she tends to focus on window treatments and soft furnishings. I tend to focus on furniture and lighting design, and spatial layout solutions.

For stock in the store we again work together, travelling for buying trips and spending late nights reviewing orders to make sure we stock the perfect mix of products.

Essentially we complement each other really well and when one of us is stuck with an idea, the other will come in from another angle to create the perfect solution.

What’s it like to work with your mum?
Mama and I are very close. I know it sounds cliché, but we really are best friends! Don’t get me wrong, we have our tiffs, but we’re a dramatic hand-waving sort-of family – it’s how we express ourselves! It’s different with family though, you say it how it is, and you get over it pretty quickly.

Where can we find you?
We’re in the heart of Highgate at 485 Beaufort Street, and we have the best landmark when people ask, “Where are you?” We’re directly across the road from the Beaufort Local (formally The Beaufort St Merchant), which it makes it a lot easier to explain to people.

You offer an Interior Design Service. What does that encompass and when do most people seek out an interior designer?
Our Interior Design Service has always been the backbone of our business. We work with our clients to create a space that is entirely unique to them and their lifestyle.

We meet with the client to discuss the style of their space and what they hope to achieve. From that meeting, we offer design and style advice to help them bring the look together and create a personalised style pack including a mood board for the client to review.

Some clients engage us if they are looking to give their home, or a particular space (like their bedroom), a fresh look and feel. Others are at planning stage for a new build, and don’t want to make any costly mistakes – so they will engage us from the beginning of their project.

We cater our service to suit our client, and I think that’s so important.

What we do is very personal – we go into people’s homes and their lives to create a space that truly reflects them and their lifestyle. We’re very conscious that we are working in people’s personal spaces. For this reason, it’s so important to us that the client loves the changes that we make.

I was surprised to discover you have a great online store too! What items can we find online?
Our online store is a curated collection of furniture, lighting and homewares that we have hand-selected for design, quality and value.

We just relaunched our website, so you can now shop our products online, custom design your headboards and cushions online (that’s my favourite!), and easily book your Interior Design Consult. Our clients are really busy and our website helps to make their interior design decisions that bit easier.

We often hear from clients how difficult it is to find unique designer pieces in Perth, but our online store offers clients an extensive range of stunning products.Our clients buy online with the knowledge that each product has been designer-approved!

Where did your business name come from?
Rose wanted something timeless and unique, and so the name Orno Interiors was born. Orno is Latin meaning to furnish, adorn, ornament, and decorate.

What have you found to be the biggest challenge of owning your own business?
We have a new challenge every day! Our job as interior designers is finding solutions for our clients – and with every client’s space producing a different scenario, it’s important that we work as a team to create the best possible solution.

At a business level there are challenges yet again, but I think what has grown our business is our ability to adapt and find resolutions. There will always be challenges, but without challenges we wouldn’t grow and improve.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not fun when it’s happening, but when we look back we can’t believe what we’ve accomplished and overcome!
Your best moment so far in your business?
We’ve had lots of ‘best moments’! They mostly occur when we are completely exhausted from a full day dealing with suppliers, deliveries and client installs.

Beacause the best moments are when our clients tell us how much they love our work – I know it sounds crazy, but that’s the best reward!

We also think it’s really important to acknowledge the ‘best moments’ – we call it ‘marking the moment’. It’s just taking a minute out to acknowledge when something great happens.

What are the key interior trends we will see emerging in 2016?
Well, I can tell you gold and metallic accents are popular, as are geometric patterns, and pops of teal and Marsala are still trending. But our design ethos is a little different…

Both in our store and with our interior design projects, we work to create designs that surpass current trends. We offer and create designs that are enduring – because the best designs are not dictated by currents trends. Look at Coco Chanel’s apartment; it’s as fabulous now as it was 50 years ago!

Your favourite quote or mantra:
“No one is you and that is your power.”


 “Things never happen by accident. They happen because you have a vision… you have a dream.” – Oscar de la Renta

Who do you look up to for inspiration or admire for their business growth?
Personally, that’s easy. I look at Rose for inspiration every day – she’s amazing!

In business I look at American designer Kelly Wearstler – she has built her brand on her highly unique and recognisable design style. She is the poster girl for most female interior designers.

What is your advice to Perth women who want to start their own business or turn their hobby into a small business?
Do it! Of course it will always have its challenging moments, and there will be times when you will want to throw it in – but the sense of satisfaction you receive from the high moments are irreplaceable!

Favourite WA coffee: Beaufort Local / @beaufortlocal
Favourite WA fashion label:  33 Poets / @33poets
Favourite WA homewares: Anything from Orno Interiors 🙂
Favourite WA bar: The Standard
Favourite WA restaurant: Dainty Dowager
Favourite WA Instagram account: Easy- @theperthcollective! I love the concept of a platform that promotes & encourages WA owned creative female businesses!


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