Positive Changemaking with Carly Wallace

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Carly Wallace has made a career out of inspiring others. A bona fide media maven, she entered the world of radio and television to bring about more positive representations of Indigenous Australia. She is motivated by her heritage, a fierce loyalty to her family and the power of storytelling.

Despite having faced more personal tragedy than most, she channels her diverse life experiences into a positive energy that she shares with others, particularly in her new role as a National Presenter and communications assistant at the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME).

One of AIME’s major fundraising events National Hoodie Day is coming up in the next few weeks, so I thought it was the perfect time to catch up with Carly to find out more about her work with this game changing organisation, but also to dig a little deeper to really understand what makes her tick.

In her own words, Carly talks about how her personal journey has led her to this exciting new role, her commitment to giving voice to everyday Australians through her media work and why we should all be wearing AIME Hoodies on July 10 (and taking selfies in them!)

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(Carly with Catherine Satour & I on the set of ‘Our Songs’ at NITV)

I am a Dulguburra Yidinji woman from the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland. I am now based in Brisbane and have the privilege of working two amazing jobs.

I am a National Presenter and communications assistant for the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) and I also work part time for National Indigenous Television (NITV) as a television presenter.

I get to work with hundreds of Indigenous kids from all over Queensland in my role with AIME, watch them grow and achieve their goals and dreams. I have the opportunity to create positivity and change for our next generation of Indigenous students and that alone motivates me to get out of bed everyday.

I am lucky to have been brought up in a strong family unit where I was encouraged to always give things a go. That motivation to keep striving and achieving and make my family proud inspires me in both of my jobs and in my everyday life.

When I’m not in the office working on AIME’s social media platforms, I’m out travelling as far as Rockhampton, Gladstone, The Sunshine Coast or Gympie, delivering its educational mentoring program.

The best thing about my jobs is that no two days are ever the same. I am often out working with Indigenous students in years 9-12 in my National Presenter role with AIME and I’m also often filming stories for NITV in my spare time. I love being able to travel and meet students and people from all over the state.

After a long day of travel and work, I head home and chill with my little brother who is 17 years old.

Media is a huge part of who I am. When I first began my career in radio, I was a shy teenager, had a lot of self esteem issues and suffered massively from shame.

I have worked in the media industry since I was 19 years old, predominantly in radio and then with NITV over the last few years. I always loved music and talking and telling stories though, so I forced myself to do radio in order to break out of the shame factor.

Over the past decade, media has taken me to so many places and has allowed my self confidence to grow massively. I have worked in both Indigenous media and non Indigenous media. I love the storytelling element of media. I love being able to tell positive stories, especially about Indigenous people. As a teenager, I would get angry with the way media portrayed us on radio and TV so I used this as motivation to pursue a career in the industry with hopes of changing a lot of those stereotypes from the inside.

But at the end of 2010, I lost my mum suddenly and took a hiatus from the media industry to move back to North Queensland from Sydney where I was working for ABC 702 at the time, to start raising my little brother who was 13 years old.

It was a massive shock to the system to walk away from my career to raise my brother but something I don’t regret doing. I missed radio at first and found it hard to get back into working in media due to the location of where we were living in North Queensland.

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I wasn’t sure I’d ever make it back into the media industry and struggled for a few years without work until I moved my brother and I to Brisbane in 2013.

It was then that I started with NITV and began a new chapter in my media career, making the switch from radio to television. At the end of 2014, a job came up with AIME in Brisbane and I applied for it and got the position as a casual national presenter. I felt this job would allow me to use my media skills to help inspire the next generation of Indigenous youth and it worked well alongside my job with NITV.

Over the course of this past year, I have realised that my story and my journey, the good and the bad, has led me to this job with AIME. I am now full time with AIME as a National Presenter and communications assistant where I get to combine my love of working with Indigenous youth and storytelling and use my media skills to run the AIME Twitter and Instagram pages. I am extremely grateful that I am able to do a job that I love where I get to share my story and the message that Indigenous=Success to the next generation of Indigenous youth.

The most rewarding part of my role with AIME is seeing the individual changes that occur in every student from when they first begin the AIME program to when they finish. I get to see kids smash that shame factor.

It’s great to see them go on to achieve everything they want to during school and beyond. To be able to have a hand in influencing young Indigenous lives everyday is something I never take for granted and something I hold close to my heart.

Every AIME site I get to work at, whether it’s Rockhampton, Brisbane, Gladstone, Gympie or The Sunshine Coast, I am always in awe of the students and mentors I meet and work with. I get to witness Reconciliation first hand every day. They all inspire me with their dreams and goals of becoming doctors, builders, engineers, teachers and even Prime Ministers. I get to witness these students finish high school despite the odds they face on a daily basis and continue to create Indigenous success in this country.

National Hoodie Day is AIME’s winter fundraiser and is coming up on Friday 10 July 2015.

It’s a chance for the whole nation to don an AIME hoodie to support our goal of more Indigenous kids finishing school at the same rate as every Australian child. Every limited edition hoodie sold brings AIME closer to working with 10,000 Indigenous kids annually across Australia by 2018.

We also have a national hoodie day competition online using the hashtag #hoodieday15 . For those that want to get involved, you can win some dope prizes just by uploading a photo of yourself in our 2015 AIME Hoodies, posting it onto your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages and using the hashtag #hoodieday15. This year’s hoodies are red, black and yellow and are selling fast so get in quick. You can get involved by purchasing a hoodie from our shop page and wearing it with pride!

If you are a uni student at one of our partnered universities, you can also jump onto our website and sign up to become a mentor for our program.

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One of my personal highlights from the past 11 years has been graduating with my diploma in radio broadcasting from The Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) in Sydney.

I was also lucky enough to win the AV Myer Award for Indigenous Excellence on the same day. Making the switch from radio to television has also been a highlight, as well as being able to travel and deliver radio workshops to Indigenous Broadcasters across Australia on behalf of AFTRS.

I’ve met so many people and interviewed famous musicians and politicians to everyday, inspiring people like artists, teachers and doctors. I have covered many events from National NAIDOC Balls, to the Yabun Festival and other cultural events. I’ve met fashion designers, young people and elders and travelled to some of the most remote places in Australia.

No matter what the event or story is, I always realise how blessed I am to have the opportunity to give a voice to everyday Australians through the medium of radio and television.

Find out more about National Hoodie Day and get involved!

Being Bashful with Teresa Redrup

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Winter has well and truly settled itself into Sydney, bringing with it biting winds and frosty mornings. One of the upsides of the cooler months however, is the stunning selection of styles full of chunky knitwear, lovely layers and diverse textures.

In preparation for the change of season, I like to stock my wardrobe full of colourful cardigans, scarves and tights and as an avid online shopper (the internet is full of bargains!) I am always on the hunt for new stores full of sustainable fashion.

Teresa Redrup is the brains behind Bashful Garter, an online shopping destination that supports local Australian and New Zealand designers. It is fast becoming one of my ‘go to’ sites as it has a unique aesthetic and a strong commitment to quality design, boasting labels like Kowtow, Penny Sage and Romance Was Born (along with a pretty awesome blog!)

Here, Teresa talks about the birth of Bashful Garter and shares her tips on conscious consumption and creating a chic winter wardrobe!

I have been in the fashion, bridal or costume industries my entire working life.

I have also acted in a few roles which saw me having to communicate with a number of offshore manufacturers. In the last few years working in these roles, I came across more and more information about poor working conditions in various places around the world and it made me think about how little I knew about the people I was working with. It also made me realise how hard it is for consumers to get a good idea of what’s going on given they are even further removed from the process. I considered getting out of the industry for a while but I couldn’t imagine what else I would do with myself!

I guess the idea for Bashful Garter stemmed from a desire to work in the field that I knew and loved, but to do so with a clearer conscience and with more control. I wanted my business to be thoughtful and considered as well as beautiful.

I like to think we are creating our own little Bashful Garter feel and aesthetic which is very important to us.

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(photo of Teresa Redrup)

We are guided by the desire to be as responsible as possible, which makes us a little different from many online stores.

We choose to work with local Australian and New Zealand designers that manufacture locally, as the industry here really needs the support. I also feel like I can stand by these products as being well made. We love working with designers who are championing fair trade and organic fabrics and dyes.

It’s also important to me that they manufacture to a certain quality as I want everything we stock to have a decent life-span. I think really highly of all the brands we stock and am pretty pleased to have them in our little shop!

It’s really easy to walk into a mall and find $50 jeans and $15 tshirts at the moment. Sadly, that’s the extent of ‘the story’ shared with the customer.

I think it’s easy to ignore some really poor manufacturing practices when people are so disconnected from the ‘story’ of their clothing.

The garment industry here is not that big and most people today don’t sew at home. That can mean we have less understanding of the process of creating fabrics, dying and printing fabric, creating a pattern, cutting and sewing a garment and that lack of understanding can make it harder to see the value in items of clothing.

I’ve always found so much joy in making things and spending time with other makers. Making is magic to me! It’s a form of meditation and expression. It has been my means of income for years and also my hobby.

I love documentaries about craft and couture and have a shelves full of textile books. To me fashion and textiles was always this really romantic thing. I felt the ‘story’ was great and something that should be shared, not something to be swept under the carpet.

It’s something I am trying to communicate more and more on the website as I feel like it’s a massive part of appreciating things. And I feel that if more people appreciate what they have then fast fashion wouldn’t be the norm.

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There are lots of easy, little ways of being more conscious in how we consume fashion. My biggest tip is to buy the best quality you can afford.

I know everyone has different budgets, but try to think long term and spend a bit extra on things you truly love and will wear regularly. All fashion has some impact on the environment, so make sure that what you do buy is well made so it won’t fall apart easily.

Take care of your things- learn how to darn or find a good alterations place that can do repairs and wash delicate items by hand.

I try to select versatile pieces for the shop that can we worn in different ways in different situations, dressed up or dressed down. I’m not really into dress codes as such. I tend to just wear what I want and put more effort into my hair and make up and sling on some heels if I am attending more of an ‘event’. I don’t like having clothes sitting in my closet waiting for an appropriate occasion. Only buy things you love and wear them.

Merino wool and boucle are big favourites of mine for Winter.

I love the Penny Sage jumpers and big boucle coat. I like the slightly looser shapes for winter so I can layer up underneath. I really like the cold and tend to go to town with layers. My feet need to be warm, my head needs to be warm and my coat has to have pockets!

There is a great material that a few of the designers have used this Winter- a bonded nylon, which is a bit like scuba diving material. I’m loving it as it’s thin and achieves a tailored look. It stands away from the skin but is really insulating. The cold wind doesn’t get through it at all. It’s also really easy to care for, easy to wash and hard to damage.

Lately I’ve been wearing…

The Romance Was Born Mr Bears a-line skirt on high repetition and the Arnley Rivoli dress. It’s the perfect little black dress for Winter as it’s great as a dress with tights and also with nice pants underneath.

And finally, it’s not strictly a style tip, but one winter I couldn’t shake the cold and seemed to be sneezing and coughing for months. A friend recommended I put Vicks VapoRub on the bottom of my feet before putting shoes and socks on. Best advice ever! I do this all the time now and it really does keep my feet warm.

Shop for your winter essentials at the Bashful Garter online store.

Loving the Great Barrier Reef with Liv Metter

Victorian AYCC team at Climate March

Liv Metter loves the Great Barrier Reef. As a young environmentalist and member of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), she is passionate about ensuring Australians truly understand the imminent threats to the Reef’s survival. Although Liv is close to graduating with an arts degree majoring in human rights, she has taken this year off to dedicate herself fully to the fight against climate change.

She, along with a whole host of others, will be giving up life’s little indulgences, to raise money for the AYCC’s new campaign ‘For the Love of the Reef’ which begins on Monday (which also happens to be Liv’s birthday!). Here, Liv talks about her involvement in the climate change movement, her personal fundraising efforts for the Reef (with her team- ‘Charlie and the Fundraising Factory!’) and shares her thoughts on what all Australians should know about one of our most iconic natural wonders.

I have always been concerned about social justice issues, but it wasn’t until I got to university that I began to realise the link between social justice and climate change.

Climate change is an issue that is going to affect everyone but it is already affecting those who are most vulnerable. Understanding that really sparked my motivation to work toward a more just and sustainable future. My passion for this issue has grown steadily, so I have taken a hiatus from study to commit myself to the climate fight with the AYCC. I am still working casual shifts but don’t expect to go back to uni anytime soon. (don’t tell my parents!…)

In 2009, as a high school student, I went to a national summit in Sydney called ‘Powershift’ and was completely blown away.

The summit went for three days and was full of inspirational speakers, educational workshops and even a flashmob at the Opera House. It was here that my mind was opened to the concept of climate change. I came back home with a new found feeling that I can only describe as a mix of fear, hope and inspiration.

I began volunteering with the AYCC and over the years have become more experienced, confident and knowledgeable. I’ve had different leadership roles in the organisation and have been the Schools Coordinator and the Volunteer Support Coordinator.

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Liv speaking at an AYCC event.

I am now one of the Victorian State Coordinators of the AYCC.

I’ve been in this role for about six months and work alongside my best buddy Erica. What I love most about it is the opportunity to oversee what’s happening in a whole state, working closely with the national staff team and Victorian volunteers. I now get to oversee a whole variety of groups that I once volunteered in- to make sure that everyone is happy, confident and carrying out the campaign effectively.

The role involves a lot of strategic thinking, planning, training volunteers, facilitating meetings and coordinating actions and events. I have gained so many skills I would not have learnt anywhere else and I am so grateful to the AYCC for the experience. I hope that I’ve been able to give back to the Victorian volunteers and to the climate change movement more broadly.

Young people have an incredibly strong voice in the climate change fight and AYCC is a place for that voice to be heard.

We are creative, dynamic and passionate. Whilst we are fighting for those who are already affected by climate change, we also recognise that our future and that of our children, will be in jeopardy if we don’t change our ways. We can also tap into new forms of communication and can sometimes be a little bit cheeky when confronting power holders. We have the time and creativity to get things done in new and positive ways.

I’m about to give up coffee, beer and chocolate for the ‘For the Love of the Reef’ campaign.

The campaign is a fundraising challenge where we ask people to give up something they love between May 18-31, to raise money for and awareness of the Reef. We believe stopping the construction of the world’s largest coal port right near the Reef is critical. We are up against some pretty powerful organisations so our campaign needs a little extra funding to make a difference.

All the money raised will go to supplying resources and training volunteers on the ground to help roll out the campaign. The AYCC is a deductible gift recipient charity so all donations over $2 are tax deductible!

The things I’d like people to know about the Great Barrier Reef are that…

It is currently under threat from coal port expansion.

The Reef is already sick from ocean acidification and a changing climate. If plans to expand coal ports go ahead, it could be catastrophic. A major part of this is because of dredging. Dredging involves digging up the sea floor in shallow waters, so that ships can travel through. The process unfortunately stirs the ocean floor, allowing sediment to rise and cloud the water. The cloudy water limits the amount of sunshine coming through which means that coral can’t photosynthesise and the Reef begins to deteriorate. Dredging would be a necessary part of this coal port expansion and the estimated ship traffic would be around 7000 ships a year.

There’s a serious reason why we are asking people to give up coffee, chocolate and beer.

Food security is a major issue related to climate change. It will have devastating effects on agricultural communities around the world. Climate change is already having an impact on the things we love- like coffee beans and cocoa. That’s why we’re saying to people- ‘if you love the Reef, then join us and go without something you love, that will be affected by climate change.’

We need to stop investments coming from Australian banks.

If you are with one of the major four banks in Australia or one of their subsidiary branches, there is a link to Reef destruction. None of these Australian banks have ruled out funding the risky coal port project. This is shameful. Not only is the Reef a national icon, it is also home to thousands of species of marine life and provides 60,000 jobs in the tourism industry. We have seen eleven major international banks rule out funding this project and we are now calling on Australian banks to follow suit. That’s why we’re also running the ‘Dump My Bank’ campaign that calls on Australian banks to simply back away from this project.

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You can find out more about the ‘For the Love of the Reef’ campaign, make a donation and sponsor a participant on their website.

Mindfulness with the Merrymaker Sisters

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May is a month to be mindful. That’s the aim behind the Mindful in May initiative which challenges people to experience the benefits of meditation, while raising money for a very important cause. For a small registration fee, you get access to daily, online meditation support (in exchange for committing to daily practice!) and through sponsorship, raise money for clean water projects around the world.

Mindfulness is something I have a pretty strong interest in. I spent many years learning mindfulness meditation and breathing techniques as a way to deal with stress, improve overall health and combat life in general.

Although I don’t practice it as much as I should these days, I still believe it is an important part of wellbeing.

So do the Merrymaker Sisters.

Emma and Carla Papas (or ‘the sisters’) are health and happiness bloggers, natural real food recipe developers and passionate health coaches. Their vibrant blog is also an online community of people wanting to lead happier, healthier lives. Both Emma and Carla are ambassadors of Mindful in May and here, they talk about why they are putting their minds to this magnificent message.

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Introducing mindfulness into our lives has made a huge, amazing and positive impact.

It has brought more positivity, joy and fun and has also really helped in the running of our business. We now choose to live stress free lives and have tools that we use to avoid becoming overwhelmed. We’re so passionate about promoting mindfulness to our online merrymaker community, so becoming Mindful in May ambassadors just felt right to us! We want to help spread their amazing message and initiative.

Mindfulness is just as important as food and movement when it comes to overall health and happiness.

It allows us all to deal with stress better, which is the cause of many illnesses worldwide. We have both dealt with anxiety before and learning mindfulness techniques means this no longer impacts on our lives.

Us humans have a funny way of setting limits on our lives, believing that we can only achieve a certain amount, but this just isn’t true and mindfulness really helped us realise this and allowed us to have faith in our dreams.

Clean drinking water is something we all take for granted.

When we first started practising mindfulness, our reminder was water! Every time we filled our drink bottles or glasses we’d take a moment to be grateful and to come back to the ‘now.’ So the more awareness this campaign brings, the more fresh water goes to those in need, which is just amazing.

With so many great ambassadors on board and a massive collective social media audience, we have no doubt we’ll be able to bring awareness of this initiative to the masses.

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The top 3 small changes people can make right now, to live happier, healthier lives are…

To enjoy the journey and live in the now.

The moment we understood this and started to live it, we truly became healthier and happier. A huge weight lifted off our shoulders when we realised that there’s no point in reliving the past and that the future never really comes. Yes – we set huge exciting goals but we ensure we enjoy every step and that we stop and celebrate (with our favourite healthy cake).

Follow your bliss.

It was just three small words that changed our entire lives. To ‘Follow Your Bliss’ is the key to truly unlocking the joy filled life ahead. For us, understanding this was like a kick up the bum, an extra push, a huge sign saying ‘Hey Merrymakers! Your truth is this way, do more of what you love, follow your bliss!’.

We have many tips on how to find and follow your bliss but our number one tip is to simply stop and start looking for it. Add new hobbies to your life. They may not be your bliss but they may lead you to it!

Breathe

Understand that being mindful isn’t rocket science. There’s no right way or wrong way.
If you’re new to it, we’d say to focus on your breath for five minutes every day. This will easily bring you into the present moment. From there, you can look into other tools and meditations to strengthen your mindfulness. Remember, this is your journey and it will differ from everyone around you. Do what works for you and what makes you feel good!

We have set some crazy goals for the next year!

Our mission is to spread the Merrymaker message of health and happiness to as many people as possible worldwide. Prepare to see some massive exciting changes come 2016!

As for this year, we’re about to launch our very first hard copy recipe book called ‘Make It Merry’ and we’re also working on a mobile application which is due out by the end of the year. Plus, we have an exciting online program too. So it’s full steam ahead for us!

Follow the Merrymaker Sisters through their website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Celebrating Social Media with Bronte Hogarth

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Fashion Revolution Day is fast approaching (it’s this Friday!) and it’s one of those rare advocacy campaigns that has a truly international feel. On April 24 each year, it aims to raise awareness of the true cost of fashion and celebrate those who are creating more sustainable fashion futures.

Organisers are encouraging people to use the hashtag #whomademyclothes and ask their favourite brand more about their manufacturing practices and ethical commitments. It’s a great example of how social media can be used to bring together a global community of like minded people. It got me thinking about the role of social media in advocacy, campaigning and culture.

Bronte Hogarth understands this world better than most. She is Head of Communications at 1 Million Women, a homegrown organisation that knows how to work the web, make messages meaningful and connect people to power. Bronte is a driver, thinker and social media guru. A self confessed ‘beach girl,’ she is passionate about food, conscious living and turning old things into new things.

Here, Bronte talks about how social media can influence sustainable change and shares some of her own favourite fashion labels and tips!

I’ve been involved in 1MW since the very start and am continually inspired by the work we do.

My mum, Natalie Isaacs, is the founder so the ethos of 1MW has been pretty ingrained in me from a young age. I strongly believe that driving behavioural change is vital if we are to preserve the future of our planet. That’s exactly what 1MW is all about – showing that you can live a full and succulent life, with fewer negative impacts.

I spend a large part of my working life ‘online’ and the use of social media varies greatly depending on the cause.

But…something that’s similar across all campaigns is this ability to build communities of passionate and engaged people who want to share what they are seeing and also share the fact that they are a part of something. That’s how you reach and inspire more people.

Social media is extremely important for 1MW and our community grows bigger everyday (which I hope means we’re inspiring more and more people!) We have members in our community from all over the world, which is something we never imagined would happen when we first started. Our social media engagement has a lot to do with that.

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Humans are curious beings and social media plays to this part of us.

Fashion Revolution Day did extremely well last year in creating interest in the campaign through hashtags and a photo challenge where people took a selfie with their clothes inside out. It’s such a wonderful cause and another example of the online world bringing passionate people together, to tell the fashion industry that business cannot continue as usual.

The internet however is flooded with people trying the same tactics, but what makes something successful is when people can easily connect to it. Most people on the planet can connect with Fashion Revolution and to the issue of ‘who made your clothes.’

I have a few favourite sustainable fashion labels.

The Reformation is one. They use deadstock and sustainable fabrics which otherwise would have gone to waste and everything is produced ethically in L.A. I also love the simplicity of New Zealand based label Kowtow who are 100% certified organic and fair trade. I discovered a fantastic vegan shoe label in Brazil called Insecta Shoes, which recycles vintage materials to create beautiful oxfords and loafers.

I also love vintage and second hand clothing. I ran my own online vintage clothing shop for a while and customised a lot of things myself. About half my wardrobe is vintage, so if you can learn how to sew then you can easily make small changes to vintage pieces, to make them more modern or fit you better. It’s a fun and creative way to recycle rather than buying new all the time.

And finally…

I hope that fashion and the act of getting dressed will become more thoughtful, and perhaps even business models will move away from being reliant on people buying more and more things all the time!

Creating ‘Shop Girl’ with Kerist Klekner

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Shop girl Flower girl is a haven of eclectic goodies in Canberra’s inner north. The place is part florist, part gift store and is always full of surprises. In the few times I have visited, I have bought gorgeous gifts for newborn babies, luscious lip balms and quirky jewellery designs.

The thing that makes this store stand out, is that as soon as you set foot in the place, it feels like you are entering someone’s living room. It is small, inviting and earthy. There is certainly nothing ‘mass market’ about this place and looking around, everything emanates quality.

Owner Kerist Klekner says much of her professional career has been leading her to the point of opening this stunning sanctuary. A lover of the simple and practical things in life, she says she can’t connect to ‘colour, clutter or complicated.’ This sentiment certainly shines through in the space. Here, Kerist talks about her journey into retail and why it’s so important to her that the products she stocks remain linked to their maker.

Having worked in retail for over 20 years, becoming a shopkeeper was a natural progression.

In all the jobs I’ve had, I’ve ended up taking ownership of my positions whether it was in my department in one of my first jobs in Target as a teenager, or working my way up to ‘second in command’ for a local franchise owner. It was my last job working for a shop fittings company that really pushed me forward. Speaking to lots of other small business owners in Canberra filled me with the confidence to try it myself.

My first store, The Style Emporium, which I ran for 10 years, came from a desire to bring something new to Canberra.

There were barely any independent traders at that time and I was excited to build something for myself. Coincidentally, this store also emerged at a time when lots of designers were taking the plunge into production and wholesale.

Over the years I formed wonderful working relationships with my suppliers, most of whom were small business operators, designers, small scale manufacturers and people passionate about what they were bringing to the Australian market. It was these relationships that really clarified what sort of a shop I wanted to create.

I wanted products with a story that went way beyond a factory floor. I wanted products that were well made and ethically produced.

My new store, Shop girl, Flower girl reflects that and takes us to the next level. It’s in our dream location in the heart of the inner north community. Whilst the field has been broadened to include products brought in from overseas, I still only try to source items that have a relationship with the maker.

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The element of flowers and nature really sets the tone for our store and I think that’s what sets us apart.

We love using beautiful, seasonal, old fashioned flowers in the space. We hope to involve the local community in the future and source some of our flowers and foliage from gardens in the neighbourhood.

I’ve never been all that interested in mass produced homewares, furniture and fashion.

I rarely read magazines, although I have embraced Instagram and find it really inspiring. I just love a beautiful product, made from natural materials, that has simple lines and above all-is useful.

I’m a discerning buyer (perhaps a little hard to please!) with a desire to create a beautiful home and a wardrobe that is timeless. I’m a self confessed homebody and the complete opposite of a hoarder.

The three items I couldn’t live without are…

My iPad, knitting needles and sewing machine, as I’m a bit of a maker myself!

Stay up to date with Shop girl, Flower girl on Facebook & Instagram.

Photos courtesy of Shop girl, Flower girl.

‘EnviroTrending’ with Janina Byrne

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A few years ago, Queensland entrepreneur Janina Byrne decided to combine her environmental conscience with her love of practical items to create EnviroTrend. The innovative company offers a range of backpacks, bags and other carry items that aim to bring a more stylish edge to the standard ‘eco green bag.’ Now that summer has well and truly arrived, EnviroTrend have released their new Pack & Go Collection featuring five lightweight (and lovely looking!) bags. I recently caught up with Janina to chat about the launch!

Can you tell us a bit about the new range and what inspired it?

Our new Pack & Go Collection was inspired by our busy lifestyles and designed to have multiple uses.

* SAKitToMe and EnviroChill Maxi are perfect for groceries as well as weekend leisure, such as picnics.
* EnviroChill Mini can be a lunchbox or used to take a 6-pack to a party.
* PAKitToMe Backpacks and FoldAway Travellers can be your ‘around the world’ travel companion, daily gym buddy or sleepover bag. Whatever you use them for, they fold away to almost nothing and don’t clutter your home.

The colours and prints were inspired by spring and summer. The Apple Blossom print is just about as girly and pretty as you can get. The stripes collection, while not specifically aimed at men, didn’t offend the blokes we surveyed who said they’d be happy to carry it for their female counterparts. Both are also easy to spot amongst drab luggage colours on an airport luggage belt!

Can you talk us through how your products are made and what makes them environmentally friendly?

Our products are made from high quality fabrics and workmanship and while they are inexpensive, they are designed to last. Our SAKitToMe bags are specifically aimed at replacing supermarket plastic bags. The fabrics are made using a portion of recycled material and because they are so strong they will last a long time and replace many plastic bags over their lifespan. Not all of our products are purely environmentally friendly –we have a two pronged name – ‘Enviro’ refers to the eco side of our business and ‘Trend’ refers to the groovy, compact and travel products in our range.

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EnviroTrend has been around for a couple of years now. What first sparked the idea?

We first saw a gap in the market around 2006. So many people were using the awful green supermarket bags for so many things other than the groceries. In fact, we did ourselves and from that we came up with the EnviroShopper- a more attractive version of the utilitarian supermarket version. From there we developed the range and branched out into compact products and travel products. We love anything that’s practical and makes our busy lives easier and less cluttered.

What are your favourite products and why?

At the moment, the FoldAway Traveller is my absolute favourite – it has saved me a couple of times recently. Especially with excess stuff that didn’t fit into my carry-on bag which I was able to check in.

Lastly, what are your top 3 tips for people wanting to live a greener, cleaner life?

* Always have a compact bag (preferably our SAKitToMe!) in your handbag, car or attached to your keys so you don’t need to use the plastic bag offered by any shops, not just supermarkets.
* Think about whether you need the bread, eggs and milk you’ve just popped in to buy in a plastic bag. Surely you can carry them to the car and into the house without a bag!
* Recycle and compost. It’s so easy these days!

Shop the full Pack & Range on the EnviroTrend website.

Blogging about Sustainability with Nicky Felton

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One of the reasons I started this blog was to connect with like minded people who are passionate about big ideas for social good. So, when NZ based blogger Nicky Felton emailed me a few weeks ago, I immediately wanted to share her story. Nicky is 21 years old, has a keen interest in sustainability and fashion and describes herself as an ‘ideas person’. With a sparkly and adventurous blog called Little Felton, Nicky is busy documenting her adventures, searching for a more sustainable lifestyle and planning her next career move. Here is Nicky’s story in her own words…

I’ve just finished my Communications Degree and am now looking at what to do with my life!…

I love the idea of sustainability on all levels and as the years tick by, I’m starting to become more conscious of how I can involve it into aspects of my life. I’m starting to feel more responsibility and recognising the ability I have to make choices or do things that can have a widely positive impact on the world. That’s an exciting thought! With a background in business and a keen entrepreneurial flair, I’m looking into ways we can easily incorporate sustainability into our lives. I’m excited that there’s so much emerging interest out there and that young people are starting to create a bit of a movement.

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Although I haven’t worked out exactly what I want to do, I’m starting out by profiling businesses, brands and people, who incorporate sustainability into what they do…

Simply bringing sustainability to the attention of others, will go a long way to improving the culture around this topic.

In the long term I hope to create a business based around social good, working with isolated communities to create handmade goods which are marketable and saleable. I’d love to use my skills to help others.

Through my blog Little Felton, I’m creating opportunities for myself and gaining experience, which are both great things…

So far, Little Felton is a collection of all the things that I love, things I’d like to do and general life thoughts and musings. It’s actually a great way of identifying my areas of interest and a fantastic exercise in personal development.

Behavioural change is so much more achievable and measurable on social media- just think of the ‘ice bucket’ challenge that has taken off this year. People like to be seen to be doing good things on Facebook and it’s so easy to type up a status or share a post, which can go a long way to creating awareness of a cause or creating hype or even fundraising.

My personal style would be a’young professional’ look that is fresh and fun…

I generally try to buy a few quality statement pieces which I’ll pair up with relatively neutral, inexpensive basics to create my outfits.

I love mixing a piece with bold colours or pairing prints with plain white or navy; I love navy!

I’m a big fan of wearing tops and pants rather than dresses for everyday wear, simply for practical reasons- oh and I love jumpsuits!

Keep up to date with Nicky on her blog Little Felton.

Creative Costuming with Jennifer Irwin

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The Sydney season of Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Patyegarang ended last night, with yet another inspired performance on the Sydney Opera House stage. (After being so popular, the season was actually extended!) The show now tours the country, ready to wow audiences the nation over.

I saw the show twice and was blown away by everything from the choreography to the historical tale itself, but as usual, I couldn’t shake my fascination with the style and design aspects of this stunning production.

After having had the opportunity to chat to one of the Bangarra dancers earlier in the season, I was fortunate enough to recently steal a few moments with costume designer Jennifer Irwin, to chat about how she started out in the industry, the creative process of costume design and how she creates style with purpose.

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Firstly, how did you get involved in cosutume design? Is it something you always wanted to do?

I did an art course and then I did a technical theatre course which helped me to connect with a regional theatre company in the late 70s, but my first real job was with the Sydney Dance Company.

I actually majored in scenic art but I knew that I could always sew. I became a costume assistant at the dance company in 1980 and I stayed there for 16 years on and off and that’s where I met Stephen Page. Our generation of people in dance all kind of grew up together. And of course, Stephen and I got along very well and he went off to start his company and through our connection, I had an opportunity to go and work with Bangarra.

I’ve known Stephen for over 25 years, right from the early days when Bangarra were doing very small projects. In fact, I have worked on most of the Bangarra shows over the years from the very first one to now. The thing about working in a dance company is that it’s a little family.

The dance industry is one I’ve been in for years and I guess that’s due to the fact that I’ve just been at the right place at the right time and now, it’s what I know and love.

Can you tell us a bit about the creative process of designing for a show like Patyegarang?

We start with getting together with the creative team- Stephen, the set designer and I. You’ve really got to break down the scenes and the looks at the beginning of the process.

Being a non Indigenous person, I often bring a more abstract design approach because I don’t want to appropriate anything I shouldn’t and I want to remain respectful of protocols. You’ve also got to design for practicality and ask yourself whether someone can get in and of a costume between scenes for instance and balance that with representing the creative vision. It’s really an evolving and collaborative process.

I work with a lot of companies but I particularly love working with Bangarra because it is much more creative than working with drama or other disciplines. Stephen also understands and respects what I do, so I have quite a bit of creative freedom.

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You have worked with Bangarra for a long time, what makes Patyegarang special to you- how would you describe it to people?

It’s special in that its set and music came together so well and when you step back and look at it, you are genuinely happy with what you’ve contributed and know it all works together. It’s very mesmerising the actual show. It’s another incredible story that is largely untold and we are here, sharing something special. It wasn’t a hard one to work on at all. Some productions are, but not this one. I don’t know why. It’s just a great story that works.

What’s next for you?

My next project is doing Giselle with the Universal Ballet of Korea, but it will be an absolutely contemporary version of an old classic. I’m going from one to the next!

You can find out all the dates and venues of the Patyegarang National Tour on the Bangarra Dance Theatre website.

Images courtesy of Bangarra Dance Theatre

Hustle & Scout with Tegan McAuley

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The capital’s Hustle & Scout market is only two days away and once again, is set to be a bustling marketplace of unique, quirky, eco friendly and local Canberra design. For regular readers of this blog, you’ll know that the ’roundabout city’ holds a special place in my heart. It was my hometown for over five years and despite its reputation for being beige and bureaucratic, its creative scene is thriving (heck the New York Times even calls it ‘hipster’). Canberra now has its own fashion week (yes you read right!) and is producing some exceptional talent, like up and coming photographer Sally-Forth.

In my eyes, the Hustle & Scout market is the ACT’s answer to Finders Keepers, but with a truly local twist! I caught up with founder Tegan McAuley to find out more about how she put her stamp on the Australian style scene.

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The Hustle & Scout market is such an innovative idea- how did it all come about?

Early last year, I was feeling an urge to do something with my life that was both creative and bigger than myself. One night, my husband Simon showed me a video featuring the wise words of philosopher Alan Watts, who asks the question, ‘what would you do if money were no object?’ That night, we talked about the things we loved. For Simon it was cricket and coaching and for me, it was all things design and fashion. That week, Simon launched a cricket coaching business and I decided to found a new fashion design market!

Hustle & Scout didn’t just come about from Alan Watts’ motivational clip, it was also born out of months of observing Canberra’s design scene grow and flourish. I came to realise, particularly after attending the inaugural Fashfest 2013, that Canberra was home to a very talented network of fashion designers whose collections I had never had the privilege of seeing up-close. And so, I decided my fashion market would create a space where people could meet these designers, feel, try and buy their innovative pieces and have a fun night out at the same time!

For me, it was important to form a point of distinction from other markets, and this had to be rooted in the way it made people feel. So, I worked to curate an event with atmosphere that provides people with an experience. The market not only showcases Australian designers but also local live music, roaming models, food and cocktails and other exciting things like fashion photoshoots and parades.

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Why do you think it’s so important to support local, homegrown and ethical design through a market like this one?

Today, our shopping malls are full of chain stores selling cheap, ‘fast’ fashion with little transparency into how garments are produced. It’s becoming more and more difficult to buy handmade, one-of-a-kind and sustainable fashion pieces in these retail environments – this is why markets play such an important role in our communities.

Markets represent an important means through which people can come together to speak to designers and makers face-to-face and learn about how a garment was made and the inspiration behind the design. For me, supporting local, homegrown design through a market event is also an extremely important step toward strengthening both our communities and Australia’s fashion industry at large. It may only be a small step, but if we can create more demand for Australian and ethically-made items, hopefully we will see less Australian designers forced to pack-up shop due to the fast-paced pressures of the international fashion industry.

Many people don’t realise that the Canberra style scene is truly on the rise. What do you think makes it such a creative city?

There is definitely a movement happening across Canberra at the moment. As the city expands, so does it’s creative population. Unlike some major cities, Canberra has a wonderful, tight-knit sense of community, which has encouraged people like myself to innovate and collaborate with other creatives. Since starting Hustle & Scout, I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of people who have jumped on board to support the event and get involved in any way they can. Other events such as Fashfest, have really helped to put Canberra’s fashion scene on the map in recent years.

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Your next market is coming up in just a few days- what can we expect from it? Any labels you are particularly looking forward to seeing?

The 5 July winter market will be the largest market to date! It will feature 42 fashion stalls, three local live music acts, roaming models by April’s Caravan and $10 apple cider cocktails by Palace Electric. New pop-up street food market The Forage, will also showcase lots of Canberra’s finest cafes, restaurants and mobile vendors.

New labels I am excited to see include womenswear labels Eva Cassis, Fabboo and Audrey Blue, which all produce beautiful, modern pieces using natural fabrics and sustainable materials. I am also very excited to see some of our new jewellery labels, including Paul Krix and Sarah Bourke.

The thing I am most excited about for this market is our collaboration with Vinnie’s 2014 Winter Appeal. At our upcoming market, the Vinnie’s Night Patrol Van and its volunteers will be taking voluntary gold coin donations and accepting donations of blankets and men’s socks and gloves. There is a serious shortage of these items in the ACT at the moment for those sleeping rough this winter, so I feel very privileged to be able to help in any way I can.

And finally…Canberra is a city that enjoys beautiful wintery weather- what are your top style tips for the cooler months?

My style tip for the cooler months is to layer, layer, layer! Also, don’t be afraid of colour – whether you throw on some red lippy or brighten up an outfit with a vibrant scarf, a splash of colour can totally lift your outfit. Lastly, before heading to the shops to buy that brand new winter coat, consider scouting out some op-shops or vintage retailers first.

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