My Experience At The Telstra Business Women's Awards


Taking part in the Telstra Business Women's Awards has been the undoubted highlight of my professional year, and until now, I wan't able to say much publicly about it. 

The whole process started months ago, when I was nominated to apply for an award in the Start Up Category. The application package was somewhat daunting - over a week a wrote mini essays on topic after topic to do with my business practices, philosophies, and innovation. It was rigorous, thought provoking, and I really did think that would be the end of it. 

But months later I got a call. I had made the top 10 in my category and was invited to come to Telstra HQ in Brisbane for an interview. I had to submit financial information about my business too, which I found most daunting of all - I had to look up 'amortisation' in the dictionary to realise I didn't have easy answer to the accountancy questions posed.

I prepared for the interview the night before, by having N ask me questions we thought might come up. I was nervous and worried I'd go blank. I reviewed my talking points, jotted down the key values that dictate how I run my business and the ideas that have inspired my path. The actual meeting was more relaxed that I'd anticipated and I found that I enjoyed it. Again I thought the process would end for me there, but I was grateful for what I'd been through to that point - having to distill what I do in that way was an exercise in clarity and left me feeling more purpose driven than ever. 

A day later the phone rang again. I had been named a finalist. I was going to the gala. I had a media training session to attend. I needed to amend my air tickets, cut my holidays short. I needed to find an outfit and write a speech. I was excited - awed really - but still I couldn't tel anyone until the official press release had been sent.

I went away on vacation and didn't think about the awards much. In London, my ma and I went shopping for a minimalist top to match the ball skirt she'd brought from home for me. I came back to Brisbane and, still jet lagged, attended the Telstra networking events and wrote my speech. Two speeches, actually. One to give if I won my category. A second to give in the much less likely event that I won the Queensland Businesswoman of the Year award. 

My husband was too ill with the flu to attend the awards, so I my excellent friend and partner in Homeroom Claire stepped in to escort me to the gala awards dinner. Claire, in her navy cocktail dress, was subsequently named best dressed in the Courier Mail that weekend - it was well earned - she looked amazing!

In the end I didn't win. But that didn't take away from the fun of the night, the honour of being a finalist, or the pleasure of meeting so many amazingly innovative, collaborative women.


I was a little disappointed not to have the chance to give my speech, which I thought was rather good. I'm posting it down below because it's my blog, and I can give it here if I want to! 

Thank you, Telstra Awards team, for this honour.

Good evening.

My name is Catherine.

About a year and a half ago, I opened a concept store called Showroom. Showroom trades in beautiful, artisanal design wares gathered from makers and brands from here in Brisbane, across Australia, and around the world. It’s curated like a magazine, ever changing like a gallery, and of course we’re in the business of selling things like a shop.

I came to Australia from Canada nearly 5 years ago in support of my partner’s career. I had no idea back then that it would be here in Brisbane that I would create a dream and a business of my own.

I’m a professional historian by training; I’m a lover of stories with a soft spot for nostalgia. Although history may seem like an unlikely background for a retail entrepreneur, researching and teaching about the past enhanced my natural curiosity and honed my inclination to seek meaning and connection in ideas, relationships, and material objects.

This is at the core of what I, and by extension my business, am about.

Here’s what I find so fascinating about retail: It’s clear to me that in 2015, our consumer brains have been significantly rewired by the internet and social media. Consciously or unconsciously, we’re all more design literate, more selective, and our appetite for content has grown. We’re more interested in the stories that give objects meaning, and more invested in the notion that our possessions reflect and shape our identities.

This has largely come about because of the way incredibly innovative brands have rewritten the rules of online retail over the past 10 years. But here in the real world, where we all still mostly live, the way stores operate has stayed pretty much the same, and we’re seeing the impact of that with vacant signs up and down our high streets.

This is worrying, because I believe that traditional shop-fronts are essential gathering places that keep our neighbourhoods vibrant and connected. I also believe that it’s important for our communities culturally and economically that artists, artisans and local businesses can afford to work and thrive.

So, with a little experience as a blogger and a few seasons of running my own market stall and online shop under my belt, I decided to see what I could do about re-thinking bricks and mortar retail.

We have a lot going on in my company and at Showroom, but the overarching strategy is pretty simple – Be collaborative on every level. Be aesthetically crisp and clear. Deliver the most connective and inspiring customer experience by taking the best trends from the digital world and amplifying them in store.

As we all know, starting up is all consuming. From the bottom of my heart I want to thank my family for their encouragement and support and my #teamshowroom for making everyday possible. I want to pay tribute to the other women in the startup category whose businesses and approach to business are nothing short of inspirational. And to the rest of the finalists here tonight, my hearty congratulations – I wish you the very best luck!

Thank you.


SEE | The Italian Film Festival is on from October 1 - 18 at Centro James St and Barracks cinemas. I'm particularly keen on catching Leopardi, a biopic about the 19th century poet, radical thinker and philosopher.  

EAT | As the owner of an upstairs CBD shop I'm partial to supporting Brisbane city's hidden gems. Newest among them is Corbett and Claude, a charming and very cool laneway bar and eatery off Elisabeth St that pays homage to the historic Corbett Chambers building whose basement it occupies.

SHOP | I'm incredibly proud of my friend Jessy Cameron, whose opened her second Molten Store Trove at Carindale Shopping Centre at the beginning of the month. Her range of accessories is perfect for those who revel the etherial, the bohemian, and the obscure. 

EXPLORE | Open House Brisbane is on this weekend over the 10th and 11th of October. While there's a long list of buildings worth a visit, I'm most keen to explore the Spring Hill Reservoirs, where visitors can go underground to explore the arched brick interiors of the 19th century structures that held the city's water supply until 1962. 

LEARN | On Sunday, October 18th I'll be presenting a session as part of Peppermint's Magazine School. The full day session is designed to help creatives, makers, start-ups, established businesses and social entrepreneurs build better, more meaningful businesses that lead from the heart. If you're interested in learning more and reserving your place, you can do it here

On Travel, Returns & The Beauty of Disconnection

I’ve just touched back down in Brisbane after an overseas trip that was as restorative as it was exhausting. It’s been awhile since I’ve spent so much time on planes and trains, and awhile since I felt so disconnected from everyday life. It was freeing and difficult, all at the same time.

I’ve yet to experience a trip that didn’t test my patience, positivity, and ability to make dull moments sparkle. For me, the best part of travel has always been the discovery of new landscapes and seascapes. I fall in love with them quickly and completely, and tend to spend much of my time away daydreaming about how to avoid being permanently parted from their unique beauty. I'm the sort of homebody who never wants to choose just one home.

I see traveling as a kind of perceptual paradox. On the one hand jet setting is the stuff of dreams - it's a sort of a glamorous lifestyle (if you gloss over long hauls in economy). It's so easy to look back at instagram moments of sweeping vistas, pretty coastal towns, and fabulous meals in exotic cities and think, “yes, this is really living.”

On the other hand, a trip doesn’t mean much if I don’t come back feeling at least a little bit transformed. Removed from my usual habits I’m more searching, more vulnerable, more open to self-interrogation. It can be conformational, disruptive, even confusing. But no matter what comes up, it’s that inner journey I always remember best when through old albums of trips gone by.

Of course the changes wrought by getting away don’t have to be dramatic. A moment away from ordinary circumstances can surprise you by showing someone you know well in a slightly different light. A week spent in a tiny rural cottage with someone relatively unknown is a surefire way to get to know them intimately. And travelling on your own invariably opens you up to new people and experiences that stay with you.

Travel is also an opportunity to experience disconnection. Whether you’re lost in translation, cut off by distant time zones, or somewhere so remote you’ve lost your wifi signal, there’s something unsettling and so very precious about being unable to work. For me, being forced to trust that things will keep turning over at the shop is always the greatest mental and organisation challenge standing between me and the open road. Yet after the initial panic subsides it feels incredibly good to put away email, social media, and FaceTime.

While spending less time intensively working and more time exploring the wider world is still a life goal, the truth is that nothing can replace real human contact when it comes to working happily and productively as a team. I suppose ultimately that realization is what trips like this are for: to discovering the world and yourself… but most of all to reaffirm a desire to return.

London | Photo Diary

A couple of days before my return flights to Australia, my mother and I caught the train from North Wales back down to London. 

As a city, we both have what I suppose you'd call an affinity for London. After so many visits over the years it feels like a familiar place to us both, but not so familiar as to be unexciting.

I lived in England on and off throughout my twenties and my mother and I would often meet up in London for short visits, just the two of us. Thinking of it now, I wonder if beyond the bustling shops, museums, and monuments it isn't the simple fact that London is the place where so many of my adult memories of being with my mother are set that makes me so fond of the city itself. 

My mother isn't much of a photographer, so one selfie is all the proof I have that I was present for our quick trip. What she is, however, is a great walker and this is something I've most certainly inherited. Through rain and sun, from early in the morning till late at night, we spent those days together, walking. We walked to cafes and galleries and shops and parks. We walked through pockets we know well and explored streets we'd read about sometime, somewhere, and made mental notes to explore someday.

Once again we loved staying in Marylebone, our favourite neighbourhood of central London. We paid our first visit to the magnificent Wallace Collection (and highly recommend their courtyard cafe). We made it over to Shoreditch to check out some boutiques I've been following online (no one will be surprised to hear that I LOVE the curation of Labour and Wait). And we hiked up as far as Primrose Hill, from where the panoramic shot over the cranes of London was snapped. 

North Wales | Photo Diary

North Wales in September is magic. The sun is still warm and the light lingers late into the evening in a defiant last stand against autumn's inevitable turn. The hoards of August holidaymakers have returned to their city lives leaving the towns, beaches, and coastal paths splendidly uncluttered for those of us lucky enough to remain. The lanes are lined with plump ripe blackberries and the orchards are heavy with late summer fruit. The big skies, changing seas, slow pace, and ancient roots of this place make the process of switching off easy - I mean, who could remember to check their email when looking out at a scene like this? 

Hanging Out At Brisbane's First Cat Cuddle Cafe

brisbane cat cafe (8 of 1).jpg

A few months ago I read that Brisbane's first cat cafe had opened and I was S U P E R E X C I T E D. But after screen-shotting this article I sort of forgot to give it another thought ... Until yesterday when Nick arrived at Showroom in the middle of the day with a packet of antihistamines and one last birthday surprise tucked up his sleeve. 

It wasn't until we walked up to the block of shops and I heard the digital meowing sounds being pipped from a basement doorway plastered in puns that I had any idea where we were headed. When I realised I was in for an afternoon of kitty time, I could barely contain my glee!

Bookings are essential at the Cat Cuddle Cafe, open Tuesday through Sunday on Musgrave Road in Red Hill. An hour timeslot will set you back $10.50 per person plus the cost of tea, coffee, and a treat (the selection was actually very nice). 

Run by a charitable animal welfare organisation, the purpose of the cafe is to offer rescue cats and kittens a safe temporary home where guests can fall in love with and potentially adopt their favoured furry friend. Even if you're not in a position to obtain a new pet, visiting the Cat Cuddle Cafe is a super relaxing way to support cute kitties and important rescue work in the city. 

Count To Thirty Three

I had a brilliant plan to take 33 photos of my 33rd birthday, but today's light is fading and I've only made it to 22. A big THANKYOU to my friends, family, Natalie at Kindred Toxin Free Facials and especially to Nick for making this year's celebrations so wonderful... Roll on the birthday week! 

Magazine Editorial | Home Grown


About a month ago, the day before Showroom opened downtown, I took a break from frantically setting up shop to spend the morning helping out on a photoshoot organised by Diana from The Third Row for the pages of Peppermint Magazine. 

Styled and captured by one of my favourite Brisbane photographers, the completely charming Nicolette Johnston, this was the most naturally flowing, least stressful, fun professional shoot I've ever been a part of. I think that ease really comes across in the images. Of course it also helped that the three of us all really loved the things we were tasked with incorporating into the editorial spread.

The theme of the issue in which we've been featured - as well as the photo editorial itself - is slow living. It was the perfect fit for us, as more and more our focus at Showroom has centred on how to scale back, derive joy from fewer, better things, and allow room within our hectic schedules for simple, fulfilling pleasures. 

If you do get a chance to flip through the issue, look out for Showroom's contributions, including ceramics from Antler and Moss, PF Candles, Nukuku slate boards, Fog Linen trays, wooden kitchenwares, and a brass garland, Anise skin care, Iris Hantverk brushes, and textiles by Once Was Lost. You can shop our Peppermint edit here.


Image credit | 1. @swsco 2, 3, 5, 6. @thespringcollective 4. @swsco ft. kitchenware and decor from @shelflife_au@fallingforflorin@elkelucasceramics@woventrail @showroombrisbane and @antlerandmoss 7. @missanwyn  


Day in the Life | Wednesday, September 2nd


5:45am | I almost never set an alarm, but after a late night thanks to Homeroom's inaugural Business Planning 101 Workshop, I need a little help getting going this morning. I pull on my new Lululemon naked yoga pants (the softest, most comfortable exercise legging I've ever worn!) and a thick wooden jumper before making my way to the bus. 

6:30am | Arriving at Southbank as the sun rises higher, I stroll by the river and snap photos of brightly coloured bougainvillaea en route to my breakfast & yoga date at Kiss The Berry.

7:15am | I meet up with a group including Brisbane's top health and wellness bloggers for 30minutes of yoga on the cool grass. Afterwards we're treated to bliss balls and acai bowls from Kiss The Berry's new spring menu. (I recommend the strawberry jam doughnut bowl... it's incredible!) The spread is beautiful and as an added bonus, Anwyn happens to be on hand to capture all the thoughtful details! 


9:45am | Walking on a cloud after an indulgent event, Anwyn and I head across the river to Showroom where things take a bit of a turn. The front door wouldn't open and I have to call an emergency locksmith before we're able to open for the day.

11am | As soon as the locksmith leaves I discover that my laptop has died. Ugh. Maybe it got bumped on public transport. Maybe it was feeling overworked, and under-appreciated. Either way it won't boot up and I almost start to cry. I decide not to trouble-shoot re-installing the operating system myself and make an appointment with an Apple genius. 

1:30pm | After an unproductive morning spent sorting out problems rather than getting down to my real to-do list, I take myself off to Gramercy to eat and regroup. It's a good move... their chicken sandwich with the little pickely bits is the very definition of restorative. 

2:00pm | Staff training session on the new POS system. I've switched the whole store online and offline to Shopify over the past few weeks and I'm so glad I have - it's simple, user friendly, and having one system that covers all aspects of the business is cost effective too. I like running all our sales off the iPad, and the inventory management system is simpler to adjust than Vend's, which is super important given how many products we have pop up and pop out of Showroom. 

3:30pm | At my Apple appointment Sam, my genius, says the four magic words I most wanted to hear... "Your data is safe." Elated, I resit the urge to kiss him, relinquish my laptop for the 4-5 days it'll take to fix, and skip back to Showroom where my team is waiting with tea and cookies, anticipating my despair if things hadn't gone well. 

4:40pm | I decide I need an early mark and catch the bus back home. 

7:00pm | Unable to get on with any work without the use of my computer, I take a bath, finally read the old issue of Cereal Magazine that's been waiting on top of my coffee table for the last 2 months. After a day of highs and lows, the simple pleasure of relaxing at home and away from a screen is exactly what I need and it feels wonderful. 




SEE | Ontario born (just like me!) musician Afie Jurvanen of Bahamas play the The Spiegeltent at this month's Brisbane Festival. 

EAT | Now that Showroom is closed on Sundays, I'm making the most of my newfound weekend morning by working my way through this list of Brisbane's best breakfast dishes. I can vouch for #6, #15, #16, and #29 . I'm dying to try #7 and I'd add the curried lentils on toast at Harvey's on James St. Yum.

SHOP | Brisbane's newest farmers markets at Red Hill seem to be taking off in a big way. I've heard nothing but good things from friends who've already been to check them out, so after breakfast this weekend I'll be heading over to pick up my groceries and discover what else is on offer.

EXPLORE | Stradbroke Island. It's still whale season, and you might just be lucky enough to catch sight of a pod off the coast at Point Lookout. 

LEARN | Work-Shop launched in Brisbane last month with a very cool roster of creative short courses (some of which are being taught by our friends). You can check out their offerings here.

The Copper Edit

Copper's popularity continues to rise in the design world, and it's not hard to see why. These pieces are among my favourites in store and online right now and Showroom's customers seem to be loving them too. 

Working with artisans to bring designs from inside my head into life is one of the most exciting aspects of running The Spring Collective. I especially love those moments in store when customers discover something they've not seen anywhere else - that's when the whole design and curation process comes full circle.

My new Moscow mule mugs and julep cups are the latest additions giving me that thrill. I tried sourcing them for the shop for months from another local business in the end never could find anyone making them in Australia from 100% copper. (I didn't reckon copper plated would wear as well over time.) Not wanting to give up on my vision of the perfect summer drinking vessel I decided to look into having them manufactured aboard. Over the internet I found a small workshop in Jaipur that hand makes copper crockery. The lead artisan and I went back and forth via email, working our all the design details to create the perfect shape and finish. 

They've come up perfectly and I can't wait for the weather to turn a little warmer so I can fill them with crushed ice and ginger beer to be enjoyed out on the verandah. 

Your can shop our copper edit online or in store at Showroom, 104 Edward St in the Brisbane CBD. 

The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up

Minimalism, as a concept, appeals to me.

I find clear surfaces soothing. Clutter has always felt chaotic. I believe that when one is encumbered by too much stuff, it's harder to derive joy from things which are truly precious.  

The trouble is, becoming (more) minimalist requires release. Like most people, I find it hard to throw away things that might be useful someday, that I paid good money for, or to which I have an emotional attachment. 

This weekend I read a book that's begun to change all that. Yesterday, riding high on the motivation of Marie Kondo's The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I began the long overdue process of decluttering The Spring Cottage. 

There are, I'm sure, more relaxing ways to spend a day off than turning my home upside down in order to discard bags and bags of once loved belongings.

But the clutter had brought me to my breaking point. In the wake of Showroom's move from Paddington to the Brisbane CBD, bits and pieces from the old shop that weren't needed in the new one came home with me. Our small house was already bursting at its seams with things N and I have carted from home to home over the past seven years - I can't tell you how much stuff we have from our student days in England still stashed under beds and in wardrobes... Stuff we haven't needed for years and don't even like! The result? Not a whole lot of visible floorspace in the rooms where we come to wind down at the end of a long day.

Marie Kondo's method is for removing stuff in pursuit of a more ideal lifestyle is as sensitive as it is simple, and that's what I like best about it. Here're the basics of her approach.

1. Discard first, store later.

Kondo believes that you can’t organize clutter. The first step is to get rid of everything you don’t need.

2. Tidying is a special event.

What Kondo calls tidying is purging to the rest of us. Her point, though, is that purging excess stuff thoroughly one time results in a shift so wonderfully profound that you'll never end up in a messy semi-hoarding state again. 

3. Storage experts miss the point.

Putting things in drawers and closets creates only the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved. Organised clutter is still clutter. 

4. Sort by category, not location.

Don't tidy room by room. Rather, sort through every item you own by category in the following order: clothes, books, papers, miscellany, then mementos. The idea is to start with the things that are most replaceable with the least amount of sentimental value so you can practice making quick decision about what to keep and what to remove. 

5. The spark of joy.

How do you decide what to keep and what to throw away? Kondo's method is to hold each possession in your hands and think about how it makes you feel. If this item sparks joy, you should keep it. If it doesn’t, don't. NB: Important documents are the one exception to this rule, but there are fewer of these than you’d think.

6. Embrace vertical storage. 

Kondo's method centres around taking care of your possessions by showing them respect and gratitude - crushing things at the bottom of stacks is an organisational no-no: it encourages you to keep too much stuff because you can stack much more than you can store vertically and stacking is hard on the things at the bottom. 

7. Learn how to fold.

Kondo is adamant about proper folding technique, which I love because it enables you to store clothes standing up rather than laid flat. The great thing is that you can see everything in a drawer at a glance when you fold this way, which really helps me keep track of what I have and what my options are for getting dressed in the morning. 

For a demonstration of the Kondo method for folding various clothing items, I like this video series: 

Showroom [re] Launches

It's not often enough that we get to stand in a room, surrounded by people we've brought together, who we like and admire, and who like and admire each other. 

That's what I was thinking during and after Showroom's launch party last Thursday night. That and also how worth the trouble this move has been. The new shop looked beautiful, and seeing it come to life really filled with friends, family and laughter really was the actual best. 

images: Anwyn Howarth

Showroom Downtown


I can't quite believe it's been a month since I last posted - it feels both like an entire era and mere moments have passed since I sat in our Paddington Queenslander, dreaming big city dreams. 


Over the course of four short weeks last month I decided to close my first store, move the whole kit and caboodle downtown to a 1880s loft space in the Brisbane CBD, fit out the new shop, throw a party, and re-open our doors. It's been a crazy, hectic time and as daunting as the process has been, I couldn't be happier with the result. The Edward St store is even more paired back in terms of its styling and colour palate and fits exactly my taste right now.

I'm also thrilled that our downtown launch coincides with the start of a 6 month pop up by Melbourne furniture designers and manufacturers Tait and the 3 week residency of Brisbane's most beautifully curated online ceramic retailer Antler and Moss.  


Showroom 2.0 | We're Moving!

For the past few weeks I've been busy like a duck, paddling furiously under the water while on the surface doing my best to get smoothly on with business as usual. Aside from running the shop and building an updated version of it's e-comerce sister site, I've been negotiating a new home for Showroom and The Spring Shop in the Brisbane CBD. My hardball game was strong and now I can finally announce (giddily!) that the deal is done and #teamshowroom is preparing to close down in Paddington and pop right back up in the city all within the month of July!

As it goes with many big changes, this one came about through a combination of successes and failures. And I think it's important to talk about both, because entrepreneurship really is all about the ups and the down. Success, it seems to me, hinges on how honest and responsive we're willing to be in the face of everything our businesses throw up. Changing won't be easy for us (oh, the packing!) or our customers who love to visit us up on Latrobe, but I know it's the right decision at the right time for the business and all the artisanal brands we support. Here's why:

Over the past year and a half since we opened our doors I've grown more confident as a curator with a keener eye for how I want to represent Showroom aesthetically. I'm proud of the warm, welcoming feel of our Paddo Queenslander, but I have made the mistake of adding products into our mix that didn't quite fit because I hoped they'd cater to broader tastes and generate revenue.

Maintaining the discipline of a strong point of view is something I've learned; our new herritage-listed, loft-style city space will feel just as beautifully welcoming as our first home, but Showroom 2.0 will have a cooler edge that reflects our clean, modern take on heritage and hand crafted design. The downtown shop ticks all the boxes for how I want Showroom to look, and, with the addition of air conditioning, it's going to be such a pleasure helping people find the perfect gifts come the holiday season in this bright, airy new space!

Alongside the factors pulling is into the city, there's also a push away from the suburbs. Simply put, it's been challenging to attract enough shoppers to sleepy Paddington throughout the week. In order to make enough money to take on excellent staff and become everything I envision this business to be, I think it's important to move to a more customer-rich environment - the kind of place where a specialised shop like ours can really thrive.


There are few, if any, beautiful independent designs shops in the Brisbane CBD, so I hope city-goers will find the addition of Showroom to their midsts an exciting prospect! We'll be at 104 Edward St, across from Metro Arts and sharing a building with Le Bon Choix. Close to Folio Books and equidistant from the Queen Street Mall and the Botanic Gardens, we love this little indy pocket of the city and can't wait to be spending our days downtown amid the hustle and busle . 

Key Dates:

Sunday, July 12 | Last day of trading at 135 Latrobe Tce.

Monday, July 27 | First day of trading at 104 Edward St. 

July First | Oh Canada

Stereotypically on July 1st, Canadians who've left the Great White North for school, jobs, or love scramble to secure an adequate supply of Molson's, maple syrup and beloved Tim Horton's coffee - the essentials for ex-pats celebrating Canada Day. Here in Australia, you can add canned pumpkin to that list. 

For me, nostalgia resides less in hometown brands (I don't drink beer or coffee anyway) and more in the kind of hometown cooking that evokes scent memories of lazy summer days up at the lake. All smugness and flag-waving patriotism aside, the long, idyllic days of early summer are the stuff sentimental daydreams are made of and at this time of year I reckon most of us who are far away start to feel the pull.

Since for me life's celebrations tend to revolve around food (who's with me?) I've assembled a collection of links to my favourite recipes that recall Ontario summers down below. Enjoy, and, to my Australian readers... don't forget to hug a Canadian today!

Five Things to Do in Brisbane | July

SHOP | The Finder's Keepers Markets return to Brisbane on July 4th and 5th at the Old Museum in Bowen Hills

EXPLORE | Escape to the country for Warwick's Jumpers and Jazz festival. Queensland's favourite quirky winter festival mixes music and yarn with a dash of Christmas in July - bookings are essential for many of the events on offer, so if you're keen to embrace the Granite Belt chill, be sure check out the full program here

EAT + DRINK | Hot chocolate at John Mills Himself in the Brisbane CBD. It's the best (and t'is the season). 

LEARN | Video is where the future of the web is headed and the most connective medium for telling our stories. Creating good quality clips is a pretty daunting prospect for those of us without much experience planning, shooting, and editing video, so I'm super excited for HOMEROOM's Video For Storytelling Workshop at Showroom on July 17th. Tickets are $395 for a full day's practical tuition and can be picked up here

CULTURE |  Painting With Light, an exhibition of William Bustard's art depicting Brisbane and surrounds, is on at the Museum of Brisbane. Bustard was a 20th century artist, illustrator and stained-glass window designer, whose work portrayed an optimistic view of a changing city and the unique qualities of the Queensland light. Entry is free and there's no real need to hurry - the exhibition runs through January 2016. 

photo  | Anwyn Howarth

The Influencers | Meet Annika & Dean of The Grey Attic


The Grey Attic is a creative concept that merges styling, creative direction and writing. More than just a blog, Annika and Dean love creating longer form articles with more substantial content. In their professional lives the stylish duo help like-minded brands create beautiful content. I met them recently on a photoshoot at Showroom and we instantly connected over shared passions and experience as creative entrepreneurs here in beautiful Brisbane. Not only did they pen a piece about my business, Showroom, on their blog, but graciously agreed to answer my most burning questions for publication here. Enjoy! 


What did you do before starting The Grey Attic?

A | I was a creative director in a fashion retailer’s marketing department. 

D | I did all sorts of things from running my own business to studying engineering, to joining the army. 


What are the key elements that go into creating The Grey Attic’s unique vibe?

We’re pretty particular and (borderline) obsessive perfectionists. We bring lots of attention to detail to everything we choose to collaborate on or feature so make sure that everything we put into the world truly reflects our point of view. Our style is minimal, clean and crisp. We’re really interested in shooting concepts and pushing high fashion boundaries. 


What do you love most about running your own creative business?

Lots of things. Like being able to work together every day. Creating fantasy lands in photo shoots. Challenging ourselves. It’s so rewarding to starting with an idea, watch how quickly it changes, molding it into something that reflects our aesthetic, and translating it into something that works for our clients. We love having control over all the intricate details that go into creating imagery, so from inception to delivery, it’s key that things feel like they work for us. 


How do you define your personal style?

We tend to choose pieces that are effortless, not showy. (Although Dean does like his accessories!) Our personal style is more about uniform dressing and exploring concept than embracing trends. 

Give us some awesome tools that simplify your workflow as a creative and entrepreneur:

1.    Our editorial calendar

2.    Our social media plan

3.    Checking emails first thing and keeping our inbox clear

4.    Having regular meetings with each other. 

We still write endless notes and lists, but we input them all into Excel saved in Dropbox. This system’s been brilliant for pulling together all our client sheets, ideas, and schedules. 

We also find it helpful to have structures in place each day to check in on what’s going on, and what needs attention. Free-for-all creativity still needs some bounds so we all know what the end game is in a work sense. When bouncing ideas it’s great to be endlessly creative, but when it’s about putting a project together you need an actual plan. 


Which other design / creative brands inspire you? 

A | I’m mostly inspired by print magazines like Acme, Paper, Interview Magazine and Industry Magazine. Large print magazines really inspire me because they’re not so functional – they’re print media as print media was originally intended. There’s so much thought put into the paper, the ink, the binding, etc… I love all those details. 

D | I’m inspired by visionaires like Rick Owens and Yogi Yammamoto who know what they wanted and followed through. I’m also personally inspired by buildings and music. I love light and white. 

The Grey Attic 1.jpg

What’s the first website you load when you wake up in the morning?

Gmail. Pinterest.


What’s your favourite hashtag?

A | I don’t like hashtags, but I do search hashtags to find imagery of events I wish I’d seen in real life. 

D | I follow particular photographer’s hashtags so I can see their whole body of work. That’s pretty conveninent. 


Do you feel optimistic about the creative scene In Brisbane? Why or why not?

Yes and no. Brisbane is a fast moving market where people are always interested in the next cool thing. From a fashion perspective, it can be competitive in a way that tends to make people somewhat guarded, simply because there isn’t a huge amount of work on offer here. Still, the fashion scene in Brisbane is more open than in Sydney. It’s exciting to see how much Brisbane has grown and how much great talent is coming out of here. 


How do you like to recharge creatively? (Where do you go, what do you do?)

A | Yoga. Read. Watch TV shows. Take our dog for a walk and not bring our phones. Red wine.

D  | Petting Arlo our dog. Really loud music. Reading. Grabbing a coffee and walking in New Farm Park. 

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Fancy Toast

Fancy Toast

Fancy toast is all the rage and as dead-simple-but-totally-photo-worthy breakfasts go, I think it's just about the best thing since... sliced bread? Here're four versions I'm loving now, all of which start with a couple pieces of fruit toast and a dollop of fresh ricotta.  

  • Ripe Strawberries & Fresh Thyme
  • Banana, Walnut & Honey
  • Blueberry, Pepita & Cinnamon
  • Fig, Slivered Almonds & Hone
Fancy Toast
Fancy Toast
Fancy Toast