Thursday, 26 February 2009

the wall sticker company

Jenny, left, and Fiona from The Wall Sticker Company

Decals can be a bit hit and miss. In theory they're great, especially if you rent, or like to change your interior often. But there are a few nasty versions out there. Happily, The Wall Sticker Company stocks only great designs - and it's an Australian company too! My personal faves: the feather, the dots in the boy's room (ala Damien Hirst paintings - yes, I am obsessed), the elephants, and I love, love, love the quotes. Something I plan to do in little C's room.

Jenny Menz, co-founder
Which five words best describe you? Ambitious, passionate, creative, analytical and happy. What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? Paper delivery - Psychiatric nursing - Business Owner.
What’s your proudest achievement? Being a great Mum and building a great business at once.
What’s been your best decision? To ask my now husband on a date.
Who inspires you? My Dad, my step Dad, my business partner, and my little boy.
What are you passionate about? Creating a happy and beautiful home, looking after the environment, my business.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? Luck comes from hard work.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Gwyneth Paltrow.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Live overseas.
What are you reading?
The New Contented Little Baby Book by Gina Ford.

Fiona Gathercole, co-founder

Which five words best describe you? Relaxed, happy, motivated, determined, content. What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? I worked at Snow Deli as a checkout chick when I was 15 years old, I wore a hideous blue uniform with an orange apron & hat! Not a good look. At uni I studied nursing so worked in general medical nursing for a couple of years & realised it wasn’t for me. I then went back to uni & became a midwife which I LOVED; I worked in Delivery Suite at a large Melbourne hospital for about 5 yrs and then decided to backpack around Europe & Vietnam with my now business partner Jen. When I returned to Australia I decided I did not want to do shift work anymore so got a job in an IVF clinic which was quite fascinating but very challenging dealing with women's hormones!!! After having my children Jen & I started our home-based business (The Wall Sticker Company) to allow us the flexibility to work around family life.

What’s your proudest achievement? Running my first half marathon.

What’s been your best decision? A while ago Jen & I were tossing up whether to “go for it” of throw the towel in & we decided to go for it & thank goodness we did!!

Who inspires you? People who have made something out of nothing by working hard - like my father & my father in law.

What are you passionate about? Things that make me feel good & positive. My family, my friends, my business.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? Don’t be afraid to ask questions. When we started The Wall Sticker Company we had no business background, no design background, no finance background, etc, etc - we have taught ourselves everything. We learnt pretty quick just to pick up the phone & ask stupid questions rather than guessing. And NEVER give up on what you believe in.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Kerryn McCann – I find women like this so inspirational. She lived life to the full, but it's so sad how her life ended so early.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To complete the Noosa Triathlon. In 2006 I trained for five months with my best friend and five weeks out from the race I found out I was pregnant with my daughter!!!

What are you reading? I have started about five books but never get through them.

Images courtesy of The Wall Sticker Company

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

products with heart

After walking around three homewares and gift fairs in recent weeks I've come across some great products. One that I fell in love with instantly is Lark, which I wrote about for Babyccino.

Image courtesy of Lark

Tuesday, 24 February 2009


Okay, so it's not really breaking down too many stereotypes about life in Paris. But it is a beautiful film to lose yourself in for a couple of hours. And I have the biggest crush on Juliette Binoche - I'll definitely be writing more about her soon seeing as I've just learnt that's she's released a book of her paintings and poems, and is in Sydney at the moment with her dance performance show: is there anything this woman can't do!!!

So, back to the film - it follows the lives of 10 characters from a social worker - Binoche - to an African immigrant. It's not ground-breaking cinema but it is competently put together - shot, edited and written well. Well worth a night on the couch.

Monday, 23 February 2009

izzi & popo

I love business ideas that sound like a fantasy that's been brought to life. For example, Bernadette Wyer and her husband Harry have a shop, Izzi & Popo, whereby their dear Dutch friends Daan and Mariette source antiques, second-hand furniture and other beautiful homewares from Europe and ship them to a shop in South Melbourne. What a great idea. What a friendship! And such gorgeous products. There are thousands of images on their website, too, so even if you don't live in Melbourne you can still enjoy the benefits of their business.

Which five words best describe you? Generous. Honest. Spontaneous. Determined. Imaginative.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? First real job was a receptionist for a consulting group that built Parliament House; I was very bad at it. I went on to study at Art School and transferred to fashion design. I had my own fashion business with a friend in the late 80s and went on to have several other fashion design jobs over 12 years. I had several years off doing absolutely nothing; which was a luxury. My husband and I have had the Izzi & Popo store for 4 ½ years.
What’s your proudest achievement? Crossing the finish line of every half marathon I run.
Establishing a successful business.
What’s been your best decision? To work for myself.
Who inspires you? Anyone who achieves their goals when the odds are against them.
What are you passionate about? My husband, my four legged friends, travel and my compost.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? Too many to mention.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Anyone one of the Gainsburg family dead or alive.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Many so here are a few: Launch my new business idea; Run more half marathons injury free and faster; Make a significant contribution to our environment and world peace.
What are you reading?
What I talk about when I talk about running by Haruki Murakami.
The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas.

Images courtesy of Izzi & Popo

Thursday, 19 February 2009

designer mark tuckey

One of my favourite features in a recent Inside Out was the house of Mark Tuckey. (I grabbed the pic of his home from Lucy's feature about it on The Design Files.) One of the things I loved about their home was that it was a rental! So there's hope for everyone who wants to inject personality into their spaces. The feature was to also herald Mark's arrival in Sydney - as he and his family have relocated from Melbourne, and they've set up a beautiful shop in Newport.

Which five words best describe you? Passionate, energetic, tireless, focused, direct.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? Opening gates as a child for my father. He was a vet and I went out to farms with him. My path has been to have a life where I engage in things I would do anyway if I was not doing them for money. Specifically this means creating things... having ideas and creating them... the process of inception to fruition with tangible results is addictive and fun to me.
What’s your proudest achievement? Realising what would constitute a satisfying life (after having a massive catharsis) and actually achieving it... oh, also having happy kids with a big vocabulary.
What’s been your best decision? Working with timber: it's organic, challenging and versatile.
Who inspires you? All the people who create, nature itself, my wife Louella (she is saint-like).
What are you passionate about? The ocean, my children, my wife, my business and life itself, nature. You can never know all there is to know, it's a wonderland, the human brain: it's the most incredible creation.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? Listen to my wife.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Einstein.
What dream do you still want to fulfill? The ongoing dream of having a healthy relationship with my wife and kids, continuing to create things is in there
What are you reading? Emails, interior design mags, manuals for the equipment that runs our boat and stuff on the net.

Images courtesy of Mark Tuckey

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

devastation... then hope

What a couple of weeks it has been. While I have been up to my eyeballs in boxes having moved home recently, Australia has experienced its worst natural disaster, which I wrote about here. But, as is often the case with tragedy, much good follows. Among the scores of people who have donated money and goods, I too have gone through all my clothes and household goods and sent a care package - a rather large one due to my love and need to cull all clutter from my place - to the Red Cross. It never ceases to amaze me how good it feels to give.

Image courtesy of The Guardian

Monday, 16 February 2009

artist barbie kjar

While working on a recent issue of real living magazine I came across the work of Barbie Kjar. One of her etchings was featured in the home of Kathy McKinnon. I fell in love with it instantly. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that not only is she based in Tasmania but her artworks are not that expensive either.

Which five words best describe you? Passionate, energetic, curious, whacky, tenacious.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? My first job at 17 was milking cows then at 21 teaching English at Burnie High School and in the last 20 years I have been a practising artist with some teaching in drawing and printmaking at university in Hobart.
What's your proudest achievement? Guest speaker at the National Print Symposium in Canberra 2007, and my two children Jasper and Luci.
What's been your best decision? To pursue my life as an artist.
What are you passionate about? Overseas travel and dancing, especially salsa.
Who inspires you? The writer
Margaret Scott.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? To live for now, to be in the present and not to be judgemental but most of all to live your passion.
Which person would you most like to meet? American artists
Jim Dine and Susan Rothenberg.
Which dream do you still want to fulfill? To live in Mexico or Spain and speak fluent Spanish.
What are you reading?
The Boat by Nam Le.

Images courtesy of
Barbie Kjar, Bett Gallery and Australian Galleries

Thursday, 12 February 2009

designer jane cumberbatch

I'm always fascinated to know what projects former magazine editors take on once they leave a publication. Jane Cumberbatch is a magnificent example of someone who has created an enviable niche for herself. She is the former editor of the UK's House & Garden and has gone on to write a series of successful decorating books, styled for various esteemed British companies, and produced a beautiful blog and website, which includes a "ask jane" segment.

Which five words best describe you? Happy, emotional, resourceful passionate, open-minded, imaginative.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? My very first job was beauty assistant at Good Housekeeping magazine in London. Since then I have worked as beauty editor on Sayidaty, the first Saudia Arabian women's magazine, followed by five years at British House and Garden, where I developed my passion and honed my skills for all things decorating. For the last 20 years, I have styled campaigns for everyone from Laura Ashley to Habitat, and contributed design features to leading interior publications such as Elle Decoration. More recently I have devoted my time to writing books on design and living.
What's your proudest achievement? My children, Tom, Georgie, Gracie.
What's been your best decision? To leave full time employment and become self employed so that I could continue a better work/family balance.
Who inspires you? It's a long list, and depends upon the projects I'm working on. If I'm thinking about photography, I adore the work of fashion photographer, Tim Walker and Bill Brandt; colour: artist David Hockney; the words of 19C architect, William Morris' "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
What are you passionate about? Nature's colours and textures.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? Carpe diem.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Elizabeth 1.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To write a novel.
What are you reading? Philip Hensher,
The Northern Clemency.

Images courtesy of Jane Cumberbatch

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

gorgeous decorating finds

It's been a crazy week for me. Not only have I been on my first print deadline since being back at real living, but I've moved house. And while my husband was still unpacking boxes on Sunday I ran to my best friend's son's first birthday party. It was a gorgeous, relaxing lunch, but Oliver's present was still packed on the truck. Whoops! Oh, the pic - I found this gorgeous kids' company Cocoon Couture while I was searching for a birthday present.

Image courtesy of Cocoon Couture

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

stylist vanessa macphail

If the opportunity ever arose I think I would want Vanessa Macphail to be my fashion stylist. I just LOVE every single piece she features on her blog The Paper Planes. Of course, that would be underselling her range of talents because she also has a great photographic eye, too. All the images are dreamy. Definitely one of my favourite places to stop and sigh.

Which five words best describe you? Adventurous, creative, happy, petite, inspired.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? My first job was a waitress... but my first real job (and current job) im working as a web/graphic designer. Hopefully this will put me on a good path.
What's your proudest achievement? Getting a job straight out of college would have to be my proudest achievement. I studied graphic design for 3 months after school and have been working for the past year and a bit as a designer. I'm proud I was able to find the motivation to work hard for what I want and figure it all out early.
What's been your best descision? Choosing to study graphic design; I love loving what I am doing.
Who inspires you? My biggest dose of inspiration comes from blogs, I have a list (on my blog) that I visit daily without fail, the people behind them are all amazing with wonderful imaginations and dreams... I also love flickr, I could look at others' photographs for hours and hours. Creative people in general amaze me, I love being surrounded by them, learning how they work and seeing what they create.
What are you passionate about? Life, love, design.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? Not to worry about what others think.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I'm going to have to choose 2.
Tim Walker & Andy Warhol, their imaginations are amazing.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? At the moment I am dreaming of moving to France, travelling Europe, owning my own design studio... And while we are dreaming here, I would love love love to work for Vogue.
What are you reading? I'm not reading anything in particular at the moment. Though I always have
The Goddess Guide and The Goddess Experience by Gisele Scanlon handy - they are beautiful books. I also recently finished reading Bringing Home the Birkin by Michael Tonello, which I loved.

Images via
The Paper Planes

1. from Lolita
2. from
flickr of Sonia Rykiel Spring Summer 2008
3. from
flickr and French Glamour
4. from
Lolita and Patrick Demarchelier

5. from A glamorous little side project and tatielle

Thursday, 5 February 2009

easy decorating idea

I'm loving, loving, loving being back at work. It's crazy busy and it feels like we're always on deadline but it's great being surrounded by amazing creativity all day long. But it's not just the real living team who are bursting with great ideas - it's our readers too, like this oh-so-easy project from Carli Jeffrey.

Image courtesy of Carli Jeffrey

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

designer michelle adams... take 2

A few of you have asked me to write about Michelle Adams' talk today, so here goes...

In the previous post Michelle described herself as:
Motivated - well, I'd say definitely. She not only told us about how she managed to get a job with the holy shrine of interior mags,
Domino, the week after she graduated from college but how she was bursting with enthusiasm to establish her own eco fabric business Rubie Green about a year ago.

Goofy - for sure, and add to that funny. She's quite a comedienne in a subtle, I'm going to be very honest, kind of way. I'm sure she must have been everyone's friend at high school. Michelle was great with the one-liners when it came to talking about everything from how Abercrombie & Fitch is a "big deal" at high school to whispering into the microphone that a designer's work is just a bit "stuffy". Which brings us to...
Honest (too honest for my own good most of the time! haha) - I'd add brave, too, as part of this mix. There are not many people who are sincere enough to get up at a design fair talk and actually be themselves and express their personal opinion (I must add, in an endearing and not-at-all-nasty way). Michelle gave us examples of designers' works that she esteemed but just weren't her taste and similarly with eco design, showed us products that were a little bit too "granola" for her liking. It was like having a one-on-one honest conversation with a great, honest friend. Speaking of which - I bet she's great to take shopping, you know, the type of friend that we all should have who really tells you (for your own good) when you don't look good in something.

Sincere - it was clear that Michelle was very passionate about Rubie Green - creating gorgeous fabrics that, hey, just happen to be eco-friendly too. She champions the idea that eco products should be just as stylish and affordable as other products and exemplifies this with her fabric range.

Passionate - about design, fabrics, the environment, New York, enjoying life... she had me sold on wanting to buy some Rubie Green, especially in the form of her new bedlinen range, which we got to see a sneak peak of - as you can imagine, it's equally as stylish and cheery as Michelle.

Image courtesy of real living

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

designer michelle adams

You must, must, must read this interview with Michelle Adams. You'll be bursting with excitement and energy afterwards. I was. And so now I'm extra psyched for her talk tomorrow at the Australian International Furniture Fair. As former Domino market editor Michelle Adams and founder of organic fabric label Rubie Green, she'll be talking about design. I'm going to burst! Oh, and for Australian readers, Diane Bergeron and <>Oliveaux distribute her fabrics. PLUS, check out her blog M.A. Belle and photography project with Patrick Cline called Lonny.

Which five words best describe you? Motivated, goofy, honest (too honest for my own good most of the time! haha) sincere, and passionate.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? When I was 15 I worked at a pottery shop where I helped the customers (which were mainly groups of children at birthday parties) paint and glaze their ceramic pieces! It was fun - like getting paid to play and paint! As for the path that followed, I worked in the design studio of the
Pottery Barn during college (which coincidentally had nothing to do with pottery- it's a high-end furniture shop - check out the website!) where I helped customers design their homes using products from our store. I worked there for three years in college along with a number of other silly jobs on the side, such as working in our student bookstore and even at Pier 1. I earned two degrees - one in advertising and the other in apparel & textile design with a minor in interior design, (quite the mouthful of words!) and from there I graduated and started working for Domino magazine a week later! Finally in spring of 2008 I launched Rubie Green.
What’s your proudest achievement? To be honest, I'd have to say that my proudest achievement is being asked to speak in Australia! I'm literally typing out these answers in my hotel room right now, looking out the window at the Darling Harbour and thinking WOW. How on earth did this all happen?! I'm absolutely blown away to be here, and couldn't be more appreciative of this opportunity.
What’s been your best decision? To study design. I was half way through college and working on a degree in advertising, but my true passion was in design! I remember one night I was in a bookshop on campus with my boyfriend at the time, and I was supposed to be studying for an advertising exam but instead I had wandered over to the decorating section of the store and picked up a stack of books and magazines! When I came back, my boyfriend said "Michelle, what are you doing? Why are you not studying design when you clearly love it so much??" So the next day I broke the news to my parents that I would be in school for yet another four years, this time focusing on what truly makes me happy. I can't imagine how different (and boring!) my life might be if I had never made the change to follow my true passion.
Who inspires you? My dad. He's the most successful AND the most humble person that I've ever known. He makes people feel good about themselves. He also loves to teach me new ideas and continue learning as well.
What are you passionate about? Gosh - SO many things!! I typically don't "like" things, I LOVE them! I'm passionate about textile design, (which I KNOW, sounds so lame!) sustainability, interior design, my family, my boyfriend, (let's pray he doesn't read this...!) flea marketing - I try to go every weekend, women's rights, and continuing to educate myself throughout life. I never want my knowledge of the world to come to a stand-still.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? Treat people kindly, regardless of what you may want from them. You never know how you can affect the life of another person just by showing that you genuinely care.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Jackie Kennedy. Hands down!
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Hmmm, two dreams! I want to open a Rubie Green store (or tons or Rubie Green stores!) where I sell my products along with vintage and eco-friendly furnishings and home goods. I want it to look like any normal chic decorating shop, but in reality be 100% eco-friendly. My second dream is to have a family. I want a husband that I cannot get enough of, and a couple kids to have fun sharing my life with.
What are you reading? Ha - I'm actually reading a book called
Skinny Bitch! Do you have that in Australia? [ed note: yes, it is] Don't judge a book by it's cover - it's a phenomenal resource for our health! It basically tells you what's in the food that we consume (which trust me is SCARY) and what it will inevitably do to our bodies, and what we should be eating instead. Plus it's clearly written in a way that makes people laugh.

Images courtesy of Rubie Green

Monday, 2 February 2009

designer dani rosen

I don't know if you've caught the latest issue of real living (March 2009) but we feature the home of Dani Rosen. I was lucky enough to interview her for that feature and I got to pour over every pic. I'm absolutely in love with the turquoise fabric covering her stool which sits in front of the white desk. Gorgeous! (Actually I was pretty smitten with the whole apartment.) It's no surprise, then, that I'm also a fan of her colourful range of buttons and hair accessories. Too cute! Oh, and amongst all her many projects she's just started a blog too.

Which five words best describe you? Energetic, loyal, chatty, analytical, visual.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? Retail assistant - My first job out of uni was in a boutique in Double Bay many, many years ago. The owner took me under her wing and taught me the ropes of being a buyer for a gift store, and understanding the needs of her market. While I was working there I started DAN300 which at first was a gift/greeting card business, making handmade cards. Then it transformed into cushions and then everything. The one thing that has remained a staple in DAN300 is FABRIC. All my products have involved fabric... and at one stage a huge proportion of vintage textiles. My path has been uni, then having a dream to create something and selling it; retail gave me the knowledge of customers needs and an insight into the way people think. I worked out when people buy "things" a lot of the time it's simply that they like the look or smell, or feeling when they are with it or simply something that makes them happy in that moment. Most times people enter a store, wanting to buy something... I always say, "I want to make things that people love, they may not need it but they have the absolute urge to own it because in that moment they saw it, it brought them some kind of happiness." I think that this is a huge part of consumer society, and now it is about handmade things with a soul. I have waited a long time for this day as I always made products wholeheartedly in Australia. For a long time I was criticised for not making in China or elsewhere. I always said my things are made with love and they have been thought about... from beginning to end.
What’s your proudest achievement? Well a week ago it was getting in Art Express in my final year 12 art major work and having it displayed in the David Jones window (1992). But now its the real living article that just came out.
What’s been your best decision? Deciding to consolidate Dan300 (to the buttons) and start contracting and designing for other people... and styling. I'm now in my element.
Who inspires you? My friends and colleagues who I'm working with... we all work together and bounce off each other. I'm working with Leah Kress of
Infancy (kids' stores) and kids clothing line, we have designed a new range called Bluebird & Honey... and it's the most amazing experience I have had design-wise, we both have this insane thirst to make cute things and we both work at a very fast pace... and we laugh a lot. My very close friend of many, many years is Cristina Re (stationery designer) - we too inspire each other, always sending things to each other as she is based in Melbourne. Sometimes it is a picture, emails, quotes or a book or advice, spiritual or business advice. And we too have an uncontrollable need to look at and be around beautiful things. I would love to say it was someone famous but the reality is it is the things around me each day that inspire me, food, flowers, nature, people and words.
What are you passionate about? Cooking, fabric, interiors, knowledge and the thinking mind. Oh the two loves of my life, my cats berry (Russian blue) & mousse (dark brown Burmese).
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? When to say no to things... and to stick to what you are good at and do it well... and commit to branding and not to jump onto bandwagons. Hmmm, that's 3 lessons. Oh my answer is "Follow my gut: It's always right" - that's my top pick.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Martha Stewart - she is one clever business woman... except for the stint in jail... I still think that was a witch hunt!!
What dream do you still want to fulfil? My cooking trip to Italy & Paris... next year... (I noticed you read
Italian Joy recently... this book changed my life... I didn't expect it to but it did).
What are you reading? I always read two books at a time... it's strange but I always have. Usually two very different concepts, as they balance each other and don't curb my thinking in a sharp direction (I'm such a Libran).
The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and Simplicity by Edward De Bono.

Images courtesy of Dan300 and real living

diana prichard's "canter"

The red dot belongs to me. I bought this painting at Diana Prichard's recent exhibition. I interviewed her here.


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