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

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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. 

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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. 

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

Gmail. Pinterest. Style.com

 

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

Terrarium Making with That Flower Shop

terrarium making

I recently hosted a 13th birthday party at the shop for a super fun group of girls. The newly minted teenager (my honorary niece) wanted to do something with her friends that none of them had every tried before, so we decided terrarium making would be the perfect party activity. She loved the idea that everyone would make something awesome to take home and we reckoned it was the kind of activity that'd leave lots of room for chatting, snacking, and singing along to Taylor Swift.  

To make pulling the party together easier, I ordered terrarium making kits from That Flower Shop for each girl. They came beautifully presented in a timber box with each element neatly packaged inside. Doing things this way also turned out to be cost effective, as I didn't want to spend heaps of time and money sourcing large quantities of each separate 'ingredient' from local garden stores and the internet. 

If you've ever wanted to make your own terrariums, keep reading for all the materials and steps! 

 

Terrarium Making Materials:

  • glass vessel
  • plants
  • soil mix
    • 2 parts regular potting soil
    • 1 part peat moss
    • 1 part perlite
  • spagnum moss
  • activated charcoal
  • gravel
  • chopstickes
  • scissors
  • moss
  • bark, pebbles, larger stones for 'landscaping'

How To Make A Terrarium

1. Start with a clean, dry glass container.

2. Add a layer of gravel. The quantity will depend on the height of your container and the look you're after. 

3. Spring 2 - 3 pieces of charcoal. Charcoal whips orders away and your terrarium 'clean'.

4. Soak a handful of sphagnum moss in fresh water. Squeeze well and add a layer to your terrarium. This will create a barrier between the soil and the gravel. 

5. Now it's time to add soil and plants! Give your plants a once over to make sure there're no insects or diseased bits. Remove soil from around the edge of the root ball near the base of the plant and carefully untangle the bottom roots. Place the largest plants first, followed by progressively smaller ones.

6. When all the plants are in, firmly tamp down the soil. Cover with moss, orchid bark or pebbles, depending on the look you're after. Using cover like this prevents soil disturbance when watering and reduces evaporation later on.

7. Plants need to be watered in slowly with room-temperature water. Distilled water is optimal because the minerals in tap water can build up in the soil and leave residue on the terrarium glass. The soil is adequately saturated when it becomes dark all the way through. Any excess water that gathers in the drainage layer should be carefully siphoned off. 

8. Using a clean cloth, wipe down the sides of your terrarium glass. Pop your lid on if you have one, and set your terrarium somewhere with ambient natural light, but out of the way of direct sunlight. 

If you'd like to pick up a terrarium kit of your own, they're available on a custom order basis from That Flower Shop in Alderly. Or, if you'd like to buy a ready made version, they're available and ready to take home at Showroom. 

Five Journals We Love

There's nothing quite like nestling deep into a lounge chair with a mug of something hot and your favourite magazine. They're a great help in distracting from "that thing I haven't done yet that I should probably be doing right now", and take you away from the monotonous everyday to exciting places and introduce you to fascinating people. I use each precious moment with a beloved mag as an opportunity to soak up fresh inspiration, to hear and see the world outside, and simply to relax. I put together my top 5 favourite journals of all time, a couple you may know and love yourself, some that might bring new inspiration of your own.

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1. Kinfolk

Founded in 2011, Kinfolk is now the leading independent lifestyle magazine for young creative professionals and also produces international editions in Japan, China, Korea and Russia. Published quarterly, Kinfolk maintains a vibrant contributor base from Copenhagen to Cape Town and hosts hundreds of global events that bring the community together. It is my main port of call for imagery inspiration. 

Smith

2. Smith Journal

Smith Journal is a quarterly, Australia-based publication that takes unexpected, interesting, funny and sometimes complicated stories and tells them the way you would to a bunch of friends at the pub. The minds behind Smith wanted to create something they'd be happy to read themselves. That smart, creative people could peruse without shame, slap down on the coffee table, whack in their favourite old satchel or display proudly on the toilet reading rack. A mag that looked really good, but had substance, wit and inspiration. Smith isn't obsessed with the latest stuff or being first in line. While it does keep an eye on what's current, it's much more intrigued by things that stand the test of time. Smith isn't about being nostalgic. Admittedly, it does love plenty of things from the past but knows that nostalgia can be toxic, so it's constantly looking toward the future too. It happily confesses to knowing nothing, but considers that a positive, because it means it's fascinated by everything.

 

Made

3. Made

MADE Publishers are a boutique periodical and book publisher with offices in Melbourne (Australia) and New York (United States). Founded in 2007 by partners Thomas Williams and Amber Hourigan, they produce editions and books dedicated to design, photography, fashion, art, architecture, health & lifestyle. With an emphasis on quality content and high production values, their publications have been recognized internationally with various awards and accolades. Whilst MADE are committed to producing the highest quality printed publications, they also embrace new technologies and continue to explore the increasingly growing sector of digital publishing, adopting a ‘hybrid’ publishing philosophy that both print and digital can exist in harmony, often enhancing and complementing one another in unexpected ways.

Cereal

4. Cereal 

The magazine, published twice a year, is divided into city-specific chapters. Each chapter comprises features on places, people and products, paired with striking photography. An interlude section, included in every volume, features a selection of style and culture articles. As well their physical publications, Cereal have written up city guides, providing a tightly edited selection of beautiful places in a number of cities around the world. Each online guide comes with an introduction to the city alongside essential information, and features anywhere from 10-20 locations and laid out in an editorial style. Their imagery is to die for.

Fete

5. Fete Press

Fête regular issues – four per year, fête/kids – an annual special issue dedicated to celebrating parenthood and the joys of everyday life with children and fête/holiday – an annual special issue, a go-to guide for busy people wanting to celebrate the Christmas season with easy, achievable entertaining and gifting ideas. Each of their titles are created for people who love to enjoy the small things and good times in everyday life. They write for readers that are on the go, showing them how life can be beautiful in a simple, authentic and achievable way. With a strong design aesthetic, fêteincludes interviews with inspiring everyday people, their workplaces and homes as well as a variety of articles that will inspire you to improve your quality of life and relationships. Delivered in a sensitive and lighthearted narrative, the stories in fête are all personal and real.

The Ultimate Avocado on Toast

The Ultimate Avo on Toast

I'm a big fan of a good Avocado Mash. There is so much to love about avocados, such as their high levels of potassium and fibre, as well as heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Over the years I've tried variations on the classic ranging from average to mind-blowing, but this right here has knocked 'em all out of the water. A little bit of Danish feta mixed into the avocado creates a deliciously soft texture, pepitas and shredded mint leaves adding an unexpected zing and pickled strawberries stealing the show with a fruity bang. 

Avocado Toast with Pickled Strawberries

  • 4 slices of sourdough
  • 1 avocado
  • 20g of Danish feta
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 Tbs of pepitas
  • Jar of pickled strawberries
  • 2 tsp of shredded mint leaves
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Mash together the avocado, feta, lemon juice and seasonings. Spread thickly over toasted sourdough, then sprinkle with pepitas, mint and strawberries. Grab a magazine and a cup of tea and enjoy! Serves 2.

Skillet Blueberry Galette

There's something about baking in a skillet. The sturdiness of it, the feel of the rugged cast-iron handle, a reminder of soul food well earned by the most intrepid of explorers, land workers miles from civilisation, and those who searched for home in the conquest of America's West. Somehow the skillet is charged with these stories of people who worked hard to achieve the things they believed in, and like the passing of the torch, holding it in your hands comes with a sense of possibility and expectation.

The other week, I made up something pretty special in this black beauty that had the whole house in a trance from the heavenly scent of cooking berries and pastry. I thought I'd let you all in on the recipe, you can thank me later.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tsp. salt 
  • 24 Tbs. (3 sticks) plus 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into cubes 
  • 3/4 cup ice water 
  • 4 cups blackberries, blueberries or a mixture 
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice 
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 3 Tbs. flour 

Directions:

Mix the dough 
In a food processor, combine the flour and salt and pulse briefly to mix. Scatter the butter over the top and pulse just until the mixture forms coarse crumbs about the size of peas. Drizzle the ice water over the flour mixture and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Wrap and place in the fridge for half an hour. 

Roll out the dough

Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celcius. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out into a 30cm round. Fold the round in half, transfer to the skillet and unfold round.

Fill and bake the galette
In a bowl, lightly stir together the berries, lemon juice, sugar and flour. Spoon the filling onto the dough, then fold the edges up and over the filling, forming loose pleats. Bake until the filling is bubbling and the pastry is golden brown, about 25 minutes.

The skillet is very hot and heavy when it comes out of the oven, so make sure you have a clean, heat-friendly surface to set it down on nearby. Serve immediately with ice-cream.


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5 Things to Do in Brisbane in June

Apple Picking in Stanthorpe

Well here we are, 3 days into the month of June (and the season of Winter, woot woot!) and let me tell you some pretty cool things are happening in Brisbane. It's difficult for those of us in the hustle and bustle to keep up with the groovy events that go on occasionally around our local cities, so I thought I'd do the research for you and found 5 fun things to in Brisbane over the next 30 days. 

Meet Brigitte May | #teamshowroom

 

Brigitte May is a Sydney-based illustrator, and the creative genius behind the stunning illustrations that decorate Nest the Label's fine bone china teacups and saucers. We had the opportunity to speak briefly with her about her brand.

1. Give us your elevator pitch: 

Nest is about adding a touch of creative sparkle to everyday things that might otherwise be overlooked. 

 

2. What did you do before starting Nest?

We began Nest just after Audrey and I had both graduated from Fashion Design at the Whitehouse Insitute. After three years of intense sewing and clothing focus, we each needed a break from that scene. 

 

3. What made you start this business here and now?

Nest was conceived in a business class at school. And we just loved the idea! Our business teacher, who is now our business mentor, gave us so much encouragement and motivation; she really spurred us to turn the dream into reality. I also think being fresh out of uni is a great time to launch yourself into the industry. You're fearless. 

 

4. What are the key elements that go into creating Nest's unique vibe? 

Nest will always be artistically based. Whether it's my own artwork or Audrey's calligraphy and graphic design, illustration is a key element in the aesthetic. We also love golden, silver and copper accents. Maybe this is a phase, but I know we aren't ready to lose that child-like love of precious metals for a while yet.

 

5. What do you love most about running your own creative businesses?

I love the freedom that comes with the role; not being dictated by some higher body. I'm also really grateful to be a part of such a supportive creative community and being able to pursue collaborations with like-minded makers.

 

6. If you could go back in time to tell your younger, inexperienced self one thing about starting a creative business, what would it be?

Time manage, and only take on what you can physically get done within the time frames. Not that I would have listened! I have a terrible habit of being unable to say no. It has earned me so many all-nighters (but also lots of incredible opportunities).

7. Give us three awesome tools that simplify your workflow as a creative and entrepreneur:

+ Focus- Until recently, I'd let myself be immersed in up to ten various projects each day. It was unproductive and really made my mind chaotic. I now only work on one thing at a time- sometimes this one thing may take days and I appear slack in keeping up with emails or keeping in touch with clients. But in the end, it's more time efficient and achieves the best result. 

+ Lists- I write lists upon lists. I always have my notebook at the ready as I feel it's so important in ensuring work flows in the right direction. I'll jot down potential collaborations, ideal financial situations, the bigger picture, and what I have already succeeded in. This last one is of particular importance. We need to nurture our own spirit and celebrate every little success.

+ Social Media- Being present and authentic in my social media accounts ensures that the people who reach out to me are aligned with my morals and approach to design. Fortunately, this means that I build beautiful relationships with my clients, and don't have to worry about sorting through which jobs I do and don't wish to take on. They're all up my alley!

 

8. Which other design / creative brands inspire you? 

I'm inspired by Blacklist, Spell and Zulu and Zephyr- labels who have strong, confident branding and achieve cult-like followings because of it. 

 

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

My emails. Boring, I know! I always check though, in case my client has had any changes of mind in the project I'll be working on that day.

 

10. What's your favourite hashtag?  

#handmade

 

11.  Do you feel optimistic about the local handmade / #shopsmall scene? Why or why not? 

I definitely do. I'm not sure whether I just associate with similar people.. But I see a huge shift in consumerism. People want to know the story behind the product they're buying, and they want to support friends and friends of friends who have begun their own brand. There's still a long way to go in growing awareness and mindfulness of ethical shopping, but I see it gathering momentum in the years to come.

 

12. How do you like to recharge creatively? 

I go to the garden, the ocean, the bush. I think the best way to recharge creatively is to ground yourself in nature and let that natural energy seep into you.  

Catherine's Own Sweet Potato Gnocchi

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This gnocchi is the closest thing I have to a party trick. 

When my girlfriends and I get together for dinner, wine, and conversation that isn't all about work, this is the dish they always request. To me it's elegant comfort food, perfect for sharing on cosy nights in this time of year.

I like to make gnocchi when I have the luxury of plenty of time to turn up my music and enjoy pottering around the kitchen. And I always double this recipe, because as much as I like serving it up to a small crowd, knowing I have a reserve gnocchi stash in the freezer - and that this particular dinner is always less than 15 minutes away from the moment I cross my kitchen's threshold - is something I'll admit to relying on to restore my equilibrium at the end of the most harried workdays. So yes, this meal is habit-forming. You've been warned.  

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Catherine's Own Simple Home Made Gnocchi Recipe

Ingredients For The Gnocchi:

1 large sweet potato 
1 cup ricotta (I use full fat)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/4 cup grated parmesan or cheddar cheese
3-4 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:

1. Stab the sweet potato five or six times with a fork and pop it on a plate in the microwave for 6 minutes. Flip over, and microwave for another 6 minutes so the potato steams in its own jacket. Set aside to cool.

2. When the potato is cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop out the insides. Measure 1 cup into a mixing bowl or food processor. 

3. Add all the other ingredients into the mixing bowl or food processor and stir, or pulse, to combine. The mixture will be really sticky, but the goal is to add as little flower as possible to create a dough which can be shaped. 

4. On a well floured surface, turn out the lump of dough. Working with one small handful at a time, roll the floured dough out to create a long snake shape the thickness of a 20 cent coin. Cut the roll every 2 - 3cm to form the little gnocchies. 

5. OPTIONAL - If you want to make the gnocchi look more traditional, roll them over the tines of a fork or a wooden paddle like I have to create little ridges. 

6. I often make a double batch so I have leftovers to freeze. At this point, place the gnocchi you intend to save for later on a parchment lined cookie sheet, making sure each piece is well floured and not touching. Freeze them like this, then transfer to a ziplock bag to store in the freezer. This ensure they won't come out as one big lump when it's time to defrost. 

7. Turn two burners on high & put a pot of water on to boil and a skillet with a generous drizzle of olive oil on to heat. Let the gnocchi simmer for 2 - 3 minutes then using a slotted spoon, transfer to the pan to crisp, using tongs to turn them over until all sides are golden. Add in herbs, butter, cheese, and whatever toppings you like (my gnocchi 'dressing' is coming up below' until everything is heated through and serve. 

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Ingredients For The Dressing:

500g red onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts
a handful of fresh thyme
1/2 cup sun-dried tomato strips
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions For The Dressing:

1. Using a mandolin (if you have one) or a sharp knife, slice the red onions as finely as possible. 

2. Put a large skillet on low/medium heat, drizzle generously with olive oil, and add in the onions. Leave to cook down, stirring occasionally, for about 40 minutes. (This can also be done in a slow cooker if you don't want to stand over the stove... when I cook onions this way, I throw the garlic and thyme in right at the start and let it all cook down for 4 - 6 hours without any intervention. I usually have a jar of these cooked onions in my fridge because I use them in so many meals and having them ready to go makes getting the dinner I want on the table really quick.)

3. When the onions are soft and stringy, add in the garlic, thyme and artichoke hearts. Cook until the artichoke has caramelised on each side, then add in the sun-dried tomatoes and turn off the heat (they burn easily). 

4. If you've made this dressing ahead, keep in an airtight container in the fridge until you're ready to use. If you're ready to eat, add it in to your pan frying gnocchi (or toss with any other kind of pasta). Garnish with grated parmesan and fresh herbs, to serve. 

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Five More Gift Wrapping Ideas

A few of the images from our Pinterest W R A P board that inspired our Winter Wrap Edit earlier this week. The first photo is ours and to discover the sources of the rest, just click on the pic. Happy weekend! 


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Meet Madonna Gott of Anise Skin | #teamshowroom

Madonna is the founder and creator of Anise Botanical Skincare, and a firm believer in sourcing organically. Founded by passion over 15 years ago, Madonna's Business draws on her Scandinavian roots with its simple, clean lines and minimalist values. She produces with only the finest, pure ingredients and botanical essences, her skincare contains no artificial fragrances, parabens, sulphates, petrochemicals, pesticide or herbicide residues, synthetic preservatives, fillers or whiteners.

It’s a simple philosophy that I appreciate - as well as how beautiful the packaging looks on my bathroom shelf. So without further ado, meet Madonna, and the skincare that's making my skin glow as winter draws in. 

1. Give us your elevator pitch: 

Produced in Australia from the finest, pure ingredients and botanical essences, Anise Botanical Skincare is a pure and chemical free range of skincare suitable for the entire family. Our simple philosophy is mirrored in our functional glass bottles and matt-white labels. Designed for a modern Australian lifestyle, our products are as beautiful in your home as they are on your skin. 

2. What did you do before starting Anise Botanical Skincare?

I have been making natural skincare for over 15 years but this particular range was launched only 5 months ago. I started my first business at 25 and haven't looked back since then. 

3. What made you start this business here and now?

I wanted to create a range of skincare that was not only pure and high quality but also looked amazing sitting on the kitchen sink. Its not just skincare but a lifestyle and homewares range that suits many different purposes. The products are designed to be multi-use and our labels come with suggestions such as blending our cream and wash together to make a mild face cleanser. It harks back to our pure and simple philosophy.  

4.  What are the key elements that go into creating Anise Skin's unique vibe?

My family on my mothers side are Swedish and I have always been drawn to Scandinavian style and simplicity. This design aesthetic is mirrored in our packaging - simple amber glass with matte white labels. Beautifully functional, pure & simple.

5. What do you love most about running your own creative businesses?

I just love the process. I think a lot of creative people would say the same thing. In the beginning its not really about commerce. You create something you love like you are fulfilling a deep need within yourself and when people respond positively to it then it becomes something you can make a living from. Being able to make money from something that you create with your own two hands would have to be one of the most satisfying things there is. I'd like to say that the hours are flexible and I get my weekends off but its not that glamorous yet. It's a lot of hard work and hopefully you get some little wins along the way to let you know you're on the right track. 

6. If you could go back in time to tell your younger, inexperienced self one thing about starting a creative business, what would it be?

Have some faith! When I look back, I see a person who was always in a hurry to get somewhere - to be 'successful'. I have achieved some really great things both personally and professionally but I was in such a hurry to move to the next stepping stone that I missed a lot of the enjoyment of those experiences. Slow down. The beauty is in the details and some of my biggest mistakes have led to some of my most fortunate situations. Trust the experience.

7.  Give us three awesome tools that simplify your workflow as a creative and entrepreneur.

+ I use Shopify for my website and online store and I am constantly finding more apps and add ons that help me to do the most amazing things. They also have a great blog with lots of business tips. 
+ I use quickbooks online and have the app on my iphone. It is such an easy to use bookkeeping and invoicing program. 
+ I use pack and send online www.packandsend.com.au to send my wholesale orders. They give you a choice of up to 6 freight options with prices so you don't need to be tired to no freight company for all of your needs. 

8. Which other design / creative brands inspire you? 

I am constantly inspired by Yumiko Sekine from Fog Linen www.foglinenwork.com . Her amazing quality linens and simple design aesthetic is just beautiful, I cant ever have enough of it and her style never fades.

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

My emails and my own website..the back end of it anyway. I like to check over the orders I have for the day ahead.

10. What’s your favourite hashtag?

#naturalbeauty I like to think that we attract the kind of customer who aspires to be a natural beauty in many more ways than one..

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

I spend a lot of time alone in my business so I love to meet up with friends who also have creative businesses, share ideas and catch up. I always come home with renewed focus. I am a serial internet researcher as well so a lot of my recharge time comes from seeking out inspiration from this amazing world of creative people that we all live in. Often at 2am and always with a hot cup of tea..
 

Baked Cinnamon Donuts

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Although I'm writing them up as baked cinnamon doughnuts, I've seen similar recipes claim that they're of French breakfast provenance. I like to imagine handsome Parisian families starting off their day in sunny apartments with flowers on the kitchen bench next to the little cakes, although whether it's all true I can't say for sure. What I can tell you that these cinnamon doughnuts pair so well with coffee (or tea) that they're always welcome at my weekend table, and that anyone who's lucky enough to wake up with you is certain to feel the same.   

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Ingredients:

1/3 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup milk 

3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Coat donut pan generously with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

3. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. I do this in my food processor. Add egg; mix well.

4. Sift (if it's not too much trouble) flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg together. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk.

5. Transfer to a piping bag or ziplock bag with the corner snipped off to create a make-shift one.

6. Fill the donut tins half full. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

7. Take out of pan immediately and swirl tops into melted butter, then sugar and cinnamon mixture.

*Makes 6-7 big donuts | These work just as well in a muffin tin, too!

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Winter Wrapping Edit | The Spring Shop

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I recently received a fresh order of tags and twine for The Spring Shop, and after a quick forage around the neighbourhood for some silvery sprigs, Anwyn and I set up an impromptu photoshoot on the verandah and Showroom. A beautifully wrapped gift is so much more fun to give and receive, so over the coming winter, this is how we'll be styling tokens of regard on special occasions. 

Day In The Life | Friday, May 15

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8:15am Today I lay in. Not having anywhere to be this morning, I turn on the electric blanket, dash to the kitchen to make my mug of tea, fly back into a toasty bed, and reach for the issue of Cereal that's been waiting on my night stand for just such an opportunity. 

9:30am Shower. Oatmeal. Laptop time. I work on a new email template for my weekly missives on behalf of The Spring Shop. I've been out of the habit of sending them for quite some time and I'm pulling myself up on it because I know what an opportunity to connect I'm missing out on. I'm excited about my 'new email look' and have the first four weeks already planned out to make it easier getting back in the swing.

10:15am I realise I'll be late if I'm not careful so I close the lid and dress, scrunch a dollop of leave-in-something into my still wet hair, and apply a little makeup. I grab my keys, wallet, phone, and I'm out the door. 

10:35am I reverse down the driveway I take care to avoid hitting the empty bins encroaching on my usual path and suddenly there's a loud EEEEEEERRRRRRKKKKKKKKK! I've got the car on such an angle that I'm manage to graze the brick garden wall flanking the driveway, scraping the sh*t out of my car and breaking part of the wall. I'm so annoying with myself but I'm still in a rush, so I only hope I can sweep up all the crumbled mortar before N comes home. 

10:55am I meet up with my creative intern Anwyn at our appointed grocery store. I've got an ingredient list in hand for the 6 recipes I want to feature here on The Spring Blog over the next few months, and we have an ambitious plan to make and shoot them all this afternoon. I tell her about the car thing. She's getting her licence any day now and I hope the whole 'folly of complacency' message is useful. (Just because you've done something 1000 times, doesn't mean you can't screw it up if you don't pay attention on round 1001.)

11:45am Back at home we sketch out our plan of attack, turn the dining room into a sort of set, and start cooking. I don't want to give away the recipes ahead of time, but they were all a great success and really delicious. Taking all the photos was really fun too. Days like these, away from the computer and outside the shop, when I get to be more creative than managerial or entrepreneurial, are a real treat. 

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4:15pm Having gotten a little behind schedule, we're frantically shooting the final (amaze) skillet dessert before Anwyn has to leave when N comes home. There's still rubble in the driveway. The dining furniture is strewn across the verandah, the sink is piled high with dirty utensils, and there isn't an inch of kitchen counter not given over to something we've been concocting. It's chaos and I've got some 'splaining to do... but not just yet. 

5:25pm I drop Anwyn off at her guitar lesson and head back home to face the very messy music. I put the furniture back where it way, clean the kitchen, and wash what seems like every pan and dish in the house before setting the table with an assortment of all the left overs from the day. 

7:05pm I sit down to check emails and continue working on the email template but quickly realise I've left my power cord at Showroom and my laptop is flat. It's another silly mistake but there's nothing to be done so I brew a herbal tea, pick up my iPad, run a bath, find something to watch on iview, and soak.


Meet Tipi Interiors | #teamshowroom

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I met Jess and Haddy in the middle of last year when they came to Showroom to chat about the homewares business they were in the process of starting. As I've gotten to know them and watch their business plans unfold, my admiration for the enormous task these two have set themselves - and the finesse with which they're actually pulling it off - has grown and grown some more. Not only have Jess and Haddy set out to start their own business, they've become designers, manufacturers, social media experts, photographers, and intrepid travellers as part of the process. And the results are about to be unveiled, later this month at Showroom. I hope you'll all come to the Tipi Interiors launch party on Thursday, May 28th from 6pm to experience the new line for yourselves. In the meantime, I'm thrilled to introduce you to Haddy and Jess who've shared their big dream in our Q&A, plus a little insight into how they're making it happen. 

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1.    Give us your elevator pitch: (describe what your business is all about in just a sentence or two)

TIPI Interiors is a homewares brand that aims to inspire people to create interiors that reflect their personal style, travels and life story. We design and sell unique and timeless homewares, with the entire process from concept and design to production and delivery overseen by the TIPI team.

Our first range (launched at the Pop Up on 28th May) consists of tableware, outdoor living and one-off furniture items.   

2.   What did you do before starting your brand?

Haddy is a Cost Analyst at an Oil and Gas company and Jess is a Psychologist at an Organisational Psychology Consulting business.

We couldn’t have brought together more opposite ends of the spectrum, could we?
But that’s what makes it work. Haddy has a very process driven, operational mind whereas Jess’s strengths lie is understanding the bigger picture and piecing together the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ of our delivery of products, customer service and retail experience.  

3.   What made you start this business here and now?

It has been a nine year dream of mine [Haddy]. I remember clearly – I was in the souks of Fez as an eighteen year old globetrotter and had that ‘ah ha’ moment when I realised what I wanted to make of my life. One day I told myself, I would start a homewares brand that would bring the magic of travelling back into peoples’ homes. 

Haddy then went on to study Uni – both a Bachelor of Business (International Business major) and Masters of Commerce (Finance major), then worked for a few years in both consulting and in the oil and gas industry. Don’t get me wrong, these roles were all very challenging and rewarding but at the end of the day, I wasn’t being true to myself by working for someone else for something I wasn’t passionate about.  

When you think about something day in and night for nine years, it’s becomes part of you and let me tell you, you are so driven to make it happen. I knew though that I didn’t have all the skills I needed to make it a success. So I invited a friend Jess, who also shares a love for interiors, to take the leap with me and make this dream come alive. 

4.   If you could go back in time to tell your younger, inexperienced self one thing about starting a creative business, what would it be?

Don’t drop art class for chemistry in secondary school! 

Keep a journal. I must say I do have many scribbled on napkins and airline tickets that I have jotted on over the last 9 years (I tend to think about business ideas that I could start when I travel!). Having all of these thoughts in the one spot would be priceless to read later in life to see how the brand evolved and came into fruition.    

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5.   Give us three awesome tools that simplify your workflow as a creative and entrepreneur.

Excel – Everything for Haddy naturally gets plugged into a spreadsheet! 

Google drive – Great way of keeping our docs in the one place. Can access anytime and anywhere.

Fortnightly catchup – Jess and I are both still working full time in our professions and so having a regular face to face interaction is crucial to sustain momentum, hold each other accountable, share ideas and foster creativity.

6.   Which other designers or creative brands inspire you?

Megan Morton | Anna Spiro | India Hicks | Sig Bergamin | Walter G

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

Email (Checking in with suppliers in India) |  Instagram | Daily Dream Décor – for inspiration. 

8.   What’s your favourite hashtag?

 #interiorinspiration #bucketlist #incredibleindia

9.   Do you feel optimistic about the handmade / #shopsmall scene in Brisbane? Why or why not?

Definitely!! People love unique things and people still want to touch and feel products before they make a big purchase. The retail experience in person can be a captivating journey too, which is why Jess and I are launching our brand in person via the TIPI Pop Up!

http://tipi-interiors.com.au

Day in the Life | Thursday, May 7

That Flower Shop at Showroom Brisbane

6am | Wake up. Tea and toast. Emails. Jump in the shower. Dress. Realise there's no time to apply makeup or dry hair before I have to be at Showroom to receive our fresh flowers. Before dashing out the door I say my morning mirror mantra, taking in one last look at my rumpled shirt and naked, slightly puffy face... "it's as good as it gets today, and that's plenty good enough." 

8am | Glenn from new Showroom vendor That Flower Shop arrives with buckets of bouquets wrapped in brown paper. They add a stunning pop of colour to the front verandah and it's a beautiful start to the day.

9am | I take a moment with my to-do list to collect my thoughts. It's the new styling intern's first day, I still have a lot to prepare for HOMEROOM's Photography for E-Commerce workshop on this Friday (May 15) and in the evening we're celebrating Showroom's first birthday with a Sip & Shop event sponsored by YELP. It's already been a busy week. I'm under-slept, but I'm so excited to see the store at its best, all lit up and buzzing into the night. 

10am | Kerry, the styling intern, arrives. She's a natural, all smiles and super competent. We walk through Showroom deciding what displays need sorting and get to work tweaking, starting with a new installation on the front verandah which requires both the use of a hand saw and drill. I'm relieved at how readily Kerry embraces our 'DIY ethos' because that's the only way things get done around here. 

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12pm | I spend some time working on HOMEROOM content while Kerry creates new displays for #teamshowroom brands Established Eyewear, The Seventh Duchess, and The Spring Shop. While I tend towards geometrical lines, Kerry's touch is more organic and undone. I love how she presents Showroom's products in way that feels more inviting, tactile, loosened up.    

1pm | Lunch from Java lounge. Kerry gets salad. I get a burger. As we talk though the rest of the afternoon's to-do list she keeps gently reminding me to keep focused on my own work because she's perfectly fine working away independently on her own. I'm unused to delegating without pitching in, and I'm amazed how much we accomplish when our efforts are divided and focused. After a full year, there's still so much about running this business I have yet to master.

2pm | Mel from Antler and Moss pops in to add new ceramics to her display. Lani from YELP is logging some laptop time in our co-working space and Fabienne from YCL Jewels is styling new products on her tables. The shop is a hive of activity, just the way I like it!

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4pm | Anwyn and Claire arrive at Showroom early to help out. The SOFI spritzers are unboxed. The cupcakes from Fiori Bakehouse arrive. Kerry, the youngest, coolest looking person in the room gets tasked with creating the party playlist. We lay the refreshment tables in the WORKROOM and I slip away to apply a bit of makeup before Jo the photographer arrives. Finally, we all take some time to relax on the back verandah as the sunsets and wait to the shoppers to arrive. 

6pm | The Sip and Shop gets underway. It's funny, that no one on #teamshowroom is really shy but we are all confirmed introverts, so mingling in a noisy, crowded shop doesn't come completely naturally. Luckily, heaps of the people who turn up are our favourite 'regulars' and those who aren't are still connected somehow by small degrees of separation. 

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Our Sip & Shop was organised by Lani, the community manager of YELP Brisbane. For those of you who haven't used it yet, YELP is a fantastic city guide website that helps people find cool places to eat, shop, drink, relax and play, based on the informed opinions of a vibrant and active community of locals in the know. It's an easy place to find, review and talk about what's great — and not so great — in Brisbane, especially when it comes to independent businesses. 

6:45 | It's time for my Q&A, and Lani and I elbow each other to see who'll be tasked with grabbing the crowd's attention. A customer helps with a loud whistle from the back of the shop, and we're off. 

I'm asked about my background and why I started Showroom. My thesis, I suppose, I that I wanted there to be a real world venue just as beautiful as the websites where I love to browse for cool stuff made by local artisans. One year in, I want people to understand that supporting local makers isn't more difficult or more expensive than shopping the big chains. Independent shops like mine have something more uplifting to offer, and it's super rewarding to see so many people who believe what we believe rooting for our success. 

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8:00 | We've met in store before, but I finally get to have a proper chat with one of my favourite Brisbane instagrammers, Nicole from @sxswco. She's lovely and a real inspiration for the imagery I create for The Spring Shop, and I hope I didn't embarrass her too much, gushing all about what I huge fan I am!

9:15 | The guests have come home and my friends stay behind for a quick cleanup. 

10:50 | Home at last, still buzzing but the weariness has well and truly crept in. It's been a fabulous night and I'm grateful and proud in equal measure of what we as #teamshowroom have accomplished one year on. I hit the pillow, scanning instagram for pics of the night before finally closing my eyes. 

photo credit: Joanne Theis and Anwyn Howarth

 

Brisbane's Best Breakfasts | Five Places to Take Your Mum This Weekend

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Before I get into my list of Brisbane's best breakfast spots, let me clarify one thing first. In the morning, I do not like waiting to eat. (OK, I don't ever like waiting to eat but in the morning, I like it least.) Since every decent cafe in town will be rammed this weekend, I recommend cooking mum the nicest thing you can and serving it to her in bed (or close to it). Then you can present her with a pack of IOUs promising you'll treat her to a breakfast out at all five of these places over the next few months when the crowds aren't quiet at their peek. 

1. The Jam Pantry | Greenslopes *top pick!*

2. Shouk | Paddington

3. Crosstown | Woolloongabba (for lovers of lunch, not breakfast) 

4. Plenty | West End

5. Billykart Kitchen | Annerley