Interview conducted by Fatema Sitabkhan Photos supplied by Kimberley Ezis of Cute2Hoot
Kimberley Ezis is the face behind Cute2Hoot – a proud South Australian business that specializes in creating beautiful and colorful accessories for kids and adults alike.
Her unicorn headbands instantly caught my eye during the Gathered SA Style Challenge, and after seeing how her accessories could easily be adapted to suit almost anyone (regardless of their age), along with a personal fascination with unicorns, I conducted an e-interview with her to get a better understanding of her beautiful little business – have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you tell me a bit about yourself, Kimberley? Kimberley: I am 36 years old, work part time at a bank as a loans/service consultant, am a mum of a gorgeous 2 year old, and step mum to a beautiful 12 year old. I have always been creative – with my career background mostly in travel, I got to create people’s travel itineraries. After having my daughter almost 3 years ago, I took the leap into creating accessories and clothing, and could not be happier!
Tema: What made you decide on opening up your own business? Kimberley: It just evolved – I had so many hair clips for Grace, and got so frustrated that I couldn’t easily see what to choose from. So I started out by making the hair accessory organizer board, and then after many people saying what a great idea it was, it started expanding into making them to sell, and of course hair accessories were the next to be added. Since then, I have grown to include a range of unique boys and girls clothing. Most items are custom made, and I love being able to create limited pieces.
Tema: What is your range of products that you offer via Cute2Hoot? Kimberley: I make hair accessories such as hair clips, and popular unicorn headbands, dummy clips, zippered & lined tote bags that are perfect for kids library bags, and even for adults, and baby & kids clothing. My mum also creates some adorable crochet beanies – perfect for the coming cooler months.
Tema: While your products may primarily cater to the children’s age group, how do you feel about these products translating into the adult market as well? Kimberley: I see the Unicorn Headbands and Tote Bags are currently very popular in the adult market. I have had dental assistants and aged care workers in particular, who purchase the Unicorn Headbands, and so that is definitely a little buzz for me to know that my creations bring happiness into those environments! In time, I would love to be able to expand into some adult clothing, as I feel there is a gap in handmade teen/women’s clothing.
Tema: What do you think was one of the biggest challenges of setting up your business from scratch? Kimberley: Being able to just get off the ground, and the back-end work that goes into it. From bookwork, to photography of products, management of online store and social media – currently I do it all myself, as I haven’t taken out a loan to get the business going or invested big funds. It is fully self-sufficient at the moment, and I am now getting to the stage of looking to outsource some of those tasks, in order to free up my time more to create, as that is where my passion and strength lies.
Tema: What do you hope for your customers to experience from purchasing something from Cute2Hoot? Kimberley: Definitely when it comes to the hair accessories, they are little pieces of love, and each time little girls get to pick out their bow for the day, I hope they have the same smile on their face that my little girl does. I am sure one of the best parts of her day is getting to choose what bow she wears each day! For my clothing customers, it’s about knowing that the item has been handmade with love and care, and that it will last a lot longer than cheaper store-bought items, and also that they are unique items. I usually only have between 1-10 of the same style/fabric made, so minimal chance of having that ‘oh no’ moment with your friend wearing the same outfit!
Tema: What is it about being a South Australian / local brand that makes it all the more special? Kimberley: I think because customers can meet the creator, talk to them in person about what they would like and know that they are supporting someone in their dream. For me, it is the handmade aspect that makes it all the more special – that I sit in my office or in my home, and create the item from start to finish.
Tema: What are you hoping for 2018 to have in-store for you and your brand Kimberley: Definitely further the expansion of products; in terms of clothing. I would like to develop my own website, and see an increase in sales. I would love to be able to get Cute2Hoot to a stage where I can do this full time and as a stable source of income, rather than a hobby.
Tema: Is there anything else that you’d like your customers to know about Cute2Hoot? Kimberley: I love custom orders and I will always give anything a try! I love when customers share their photos of my creations in use – it really is a warm and fuzzy moment! When you buy handmade, you really are supporting the creator, and we really do a little happy dance. Every order puts a smile on my face, gives a new challenge, and I am so proud of every item I create.
Interview conducted by Fatema Sitabkhan Photos supplied by Lucy Pickering of Pixie & Co.
If you’re someone who LOVES the market scene in Adelaide and religiously attends all the possible markets around Adelaide and its surrounding suburbs, then you would know of the beautiful little business Pixie & Co., which makes an appearance fairly frequently. Owned by Lucy Pickering, Pixie & Co. embodies its unique designs of candles (not to mention their scented candles, which are basically relaxation station central!) and its products are the kind that won’t take too much room, will freshen up the place with its nice aroma, and may add a minimalistic, beautiful touch to the little nook in your home!
Having recently interacted with her gorgeous candles at the Gathered SA Style Challenge a couple of weeks ago, I knew that I wanted to find out more about this business that has slowly but surely gained a generous following over the last 9 months – have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you tell me a bit about yourself, Lucy? Hi, I’m Lucy. I am 28 years old and work as a teacher full-time. I have grown up and lived in South Australia my whole life. I am a firm believer in buying local, especially supporting all South Australian businesses. I lived in the remote South Australian town of Roxby Downs for three years as a teaching graduate. My experience in Roxby taught me a lot about the community and the importance of small businesses in our South Australian economy…as well as the big ones like BHP 🙂
Tema: What made you decide on opening up your own business? Lucy: I having been teaching for five years. I was looking for something to channel my own creative flair and to help me maintain a work ‘teacher’/ life balance. I have always had a love of candles and love to make my house smell like an inviting place. The [candles] offer tranquillity and a sense of calm. This is really important in my busy life. Candle making is highly methodical and soothing. I find it to be an awesome stress reliever. I had thought long and hard for about six months before opening my business (9 months ago now!). I absolutely love the market scene in Adelaide and enjoy spending my Sundays meeting new people and spreading my little pots of joy!
Tema: What is your range of products that you offer via Pixie & Co.? Lucy: I absolutely love interior design and décor styling and could spend hours at Adelaide’s home wares stores. But, one thing that stands out for me in some of these stores is the range of candles. Some mass produced candles lack the creative or styling flair to their jar design and focus more on stocking large amounts of scents. I wanted to create the opposite. My range includes canisters, quotes, limited editions and tumblers. My printed canisters are sourced from suppliers in Australia and New Zealand. I only ever get between 15– 20 of each design and they constantly change. My quote candles remind me of my classroom inspirational walls, that are filled with quotes of joy, hard work, and love. All of my quote candles are designed and printed by myself in my home studio in Norwood. I like playing around in Adobe Illustrator, especially when I see or read something that I think will look great on my candles. I also customize all of my quote candles – I can customize a one-off to really whatever you are thinking / wanting. I have done some weddings / bridesmaids / farewells / birthday designs.
Then there are our limited editions. These jars come and go – just like interior design and what’s ‘on trend’. Having this line lets me change it up constantly. In some designs, I may only get four to six in quantity, but they range in price and size – because who doesn’t want a candle that not only smells amazing, but also fits into the décor of your home!
Tema: Where do you get inspiration for your quotes that you put on your candles? Is it a mix of what’s already out there and what you can think of? Lucy: If you walk into my classroom, you will probably notice the large wall of inspirational quotes above my teaching desk. I work in a middle school. These students often need motivation and inspiration to get through the tough teenage times. I am constantly on the look out for new quotes, or quotes that are relevant to my students and my own life. Building up a growth mindset and trying to have a positive psychology is beyond important for our mental health. My quote range of candles is just a little something that can cheer you up, make your day a little better when you read it again, and makes your house smell great too!
My quotes are a mix of loads of different people and places and things, some are short – ‘Choose Happy!’ and some are long – like my favourite Harry Potter quote ‘Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light’. I usually print them in small batches, maybe 4 or 5 labels at time. As I said above – I can also customize. This can be done through my Etsy store or through my website as well (under events/ custom).
Tema: Can you tell me a bit more about the limited edition candles (love the marble one, btw – how beautiful is it!)? Do you do these for special occasions or like a flash sale (when we least expect it)? Lucy: My limited edition candles are just that – limited edition. Interior style and décor trends are constantly changing. So this range was created for just that! My limited edition candle stock numbers can be as low as 4 of each design or if I am lucky…I got my hands on 30 of the marble jars. However, after Gathered (14th and 15th April) and Gilles at the Grounds (15th of April) I don’t have any more stock available to make – so if you are wanting one of these marble jars, best pop in over the weekend! I get stock in usually when you least expect it! If I see something I like I always buy 4/5, test them, then decide if they are safe and would suit my range.
Tema: What do you think was one of the biggest challenges of setting up your business from scratch? Lucy: The organization and the paperwork! When I started Pixie & Co., I didn’t really have a plan or a vision – just an idea. Over the last 9 months, I have spent a lot of time learning from other people – usually by talking to them at markets and following people online. One of my biggest challenges is maintaining my business alongside my full time work and career as a teacher. I want my business to remain small batch – to constantly change and to be about what I started out to achieve, which is to create stylish candles that suit the interior style of people’s homes. Another challenge would also be time management. I am getting better at this, but am still working on what works best for me.
Tema: What do you hope for your customers to experience from purchasing something from Pixie & Co.? Lucy: A candle that is different and unique. A candle that not only smells amazing, but also looks great. I hope that the people of South Australia share the same passion as me. When people buy our quote candles are gifts, I hope that it sparks the same feeling of joy or love that it brings me when I read these quotes. If you buy them for yourself (which is totally an okay thing to do!), I hope they bring you warmth, calm, peace and a fresh smelling room!
Tema: What is it about being a South Australian / local brand that makes it all the more special? Lucy: South Australia is a great place to grow an idea and a passion like this. I truly believe that I would not have been as successful in places like Melbourne & Sydney. In South Australia, we pride ourselves on our state and I absolutely love that people choose to buy handmade and local. I really enjoy the market vibes in all corners of Adelaide and love spending my Sundays meeting new people and being present with other local designers and makers. It’s hard to really put my finger on what makes it more special – but it mostly comes from community support and the initiative behind South Australians to support our local economy and build up small businesses.
Tema: What are you hoping for 2018 to have in-store for you and your brand? Lucy: While I still can’t believe that it’s already April (!!!), I am overwhelmed and excited at how my business has grown and how much support I have had in the last 9 months. For the rest of 2018, I am hoping to have a re-launch of some of our packaging and tumbler range in the second half of the year. I am also traveling overseas before Christmas and am hoping to gather some insight and reconnect with myself about my purpose and plan for my business. I am also simply enjoying the ride and have a genuine love for what I do.
Tema: Is there anything else that you’d like your customers to know about Pixie & Co.? Lucy: Pixie & Co. was a dream and an idea I had during the school holidays. Without the support of the South Australian market organizers and customers, I am not sure where Pixie & Co would be. From my brief experience in running Pixie & Co., I have learnt that there are a large number of amazing men and women who have built incredible businesses, most of which mainly operate out of the market scene in Adelaide. Many of them have children, work full time and have wives and husbands. They are doing amazing things and all South Australians should be proud that we support all of our makers and small business operators by choosing SA.
Interview conducted by Fatema Sitabkhan
Photos supplied by NaMOI Designs, taken by Haley Renee
She’s one of those designers whose minimalist yet trendy designs caught my attention at the Gathered SA Style Challenge event a couple of weeks ago.
Since its inception in 2011, Australian fashion label NaMOI Designs is run by South Australian Kalila Stewart-Davis. Boasting of handmade clothes that have an intricate level of detail in their designs, NaMOI Designs not only has a shopfront in Glen Osmond, but also makes regular appearances at markets around Adelaide. Her signature designs are the kind that can either be dressed up or dressed down to present with an elegant, comfortable, and stylish overall look. Quality is of top form and it shines through the free flowing wardrobe of NaMOI Designs.
Upon meeting the bubbly lady at the Gathered SA event, I instantly fell in love with her range and knew that I wanted to learn the story behind her ever-growing business. So, while Kalila claimed to be “better on the sewing machine than writing”, our e-interview went swimmingly (if I do say so, myself)!
Have a read of our exchange below and don’t forget to support local!
Tema: Can you tell me a bit about yourself, Kalila? Kalila: I’m 29 years old and I started NaMOI as a hobby when I was 22, whilst studying fashion in Sydney, I always loved fashion! It was really the only thing that I have pursued seriously. I tried a marketing degree, an accounting degree, I have had numerous jobs, but at the end of the day, fashion was the only thing that I was willing to put hours and hours into, without feeling dissatisfied.
Tema: What made you decide on setting up your own label? Were you always into fashion, was it a family influence, or any other reason? Kalila: I always loved fashion – I have sketch books of matching dresses and hats to wear to the races from when I was young. My mum taught be how to sew when I was in primary school, and I ran with it. I love working with my hands, I love the creative process of making a garment or finished product.
I worked for some local designers (George Gross, Harry Who, & others) & I pursued an Associate Degree in Design, where I specialized in Fashion Design at Raffles College in Sydney. NaMOI Designs started as a creative outlet to my fashion design degree, whilst I was studying.
My friend Julia (a Sydney-based artist) encouraged my to do a professional photo shoot and set up a website/ social media and again, a little nudge in the right direction and I just ran with it! When I moved back to Adelaide, I did a series of markets, pop up shops, & the Adelaide Fashion Festival, before opening my shop / studio on Glen Osmond Rd almost 5 years ago.
Tema: How would you describe your range of designs? Kalila: Its all very wearable, soft, and neutral. I try to have simple shapes with clean lines & pay great attention to the finishing details. There are a variety of beautiful textiles like linen, Italian wool, cashmere, & silk, but more often, they are easy to wear, are long lasting basics, and can be washed & worn over & over again in viscose jersey, polyester chiffon, crepe & organic cotton.
Tema: What do you think was one of the biggest challenges of setting up your brand from scratch? Kalila: I decided to let the business grow organically, I haven’t ever invested large amounts of money into production or into the shop. I have invested more time than money into it. I suppose I was skeptical of the industry and always felt nervous about investing so much energy into it, I wasn’t willing to lose $20,000 – $50,000 in the start-up phase. I now have a seamstress (Julie), who works two days a week. I also have a team of casual retail staff, which helps a lot. It has taken 5 years to get to this point. If you choose to invest in large quantities of stock, then you will have faster growth. You will also have the pressure of generating that same level of revenue every season to be able to afford large quantities of stock for the next season. A lot of businesses don’t last more than one or two seasons, because they lose too much money. Now that I am somewhat established, I am looking at growing the business by outsourcing production on some of the range.
Tema: What do you hope for your customers to experience from purchasing something from NaMOI Designs? Kalila: I hope people wear their NaMOI garments over and over again. I love chatting to customers, seeing what they like & don’t like. It’s a great way to carry out the product research & development process. I always ask return-customers if they are getting good wear out of their garments, and a lot of customers say they feel good wearing them & they are on high rotation in their wardrobe. This is very important to me, as it embodies the slow fashion movement of good quality garments, which people love wearing over and over again.
Tema: What is it about being a South Australian and local brand that makes it all the more special? Kalila: We have a fairly small economy in South Australia, compared to Melbourne and Sydney. Being based in South Australia is great – the cost of entry to markets is lower & cost of living is also more affordable. South Australia was a great place to seriously start my business, because I had the support of family & friends. Also, never underestimate the value of word of mouth.
Tema: I see that you have your own shopfront, but you seem to venture to marketplaces as well – what are some markets that you’d like to highlight as your regular / go-to’s? Kalila: I do a range of markets! Stirling Markets on the 4th Sunday of every month – this has been good for my shop front Bowerbird Markets – I launched my business here, so that’s a season favourite.
Over the last year, I have also been doing Gathered, which is really beautiful in the Queens Theatre & The Creative Design Market (formerly known as the Labels Style Market) at Plant 4 Bowden.
Each market offers something different. I see it as market research – attracting new customers, a different stream of revenue & it’s also a nice change of scenery for me.
Tema: What do you think makes your designs stand out? Kalila: I think it’s the customer service. I really value my customers, hearing about their life, & helping them to find something they will feel good wearing. We don’t mass produce, so customers feel they are purchasing something special & short run. They aren’t going to see everyone wearing their top everywhere they go.
Tema: Where do you find your inspiration to create your designs? Kalila: Fabric is an important part – once I have found the fabric, I will start to sketch of visualize which styles it is suited to, what gaps we have in the range, what requests customers have been making, & what I think will be a versatile and wearable garment. I often wear the samples to get an idea around whether the garment works well. Often, those are the best sellers.
Tema: Are there any particular fashion icons that you look up to? Kalila: I like Vivienne Westwood – she had numerous shops before successfully establishing her current label. I love contemporary Japanese designers like Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo. They have a very different aesthetic, they play with western & eastern techniques and I like the elegance & simplicity of their ideas.
Tema: What are you hoping for 2018 to have in-store for you and your brand? Kalila: I have employed Bella, who has just finished studying Fashion at Uni. She has been an enormous help, so I am hoping to get more production organized, I am looking at different retail opportunities & developing my new website / label Kalila, as NaMOI is so often confused a Naomi. I am keeping both brands for now.
We’ll be at Gathered Market, Bowerbird Design Market, and hopefully traveling to Melbourne to retail there. I also plan to do more of an official launch for the Kalila website/ brand.
Tema: What is one of your proudest / most favorite outfits from your brand? Kalila: I always feel so proud of the places my clothes go, they have travelled more than me – the Greek Islands, Times Square in New York, Morocco… it is really surreal. I’ll live vicariously through them [laughs].
I had a hand-painted silk dress on the runway at the Adelaide Fashion Festival the first year I showcased as an emerging designer (2012?). It was cream silk with a plaited collar and deep Burgundy painted details. I also had a jacket in that collection with detailed beading, I sold both pieces! Sometimes, I wish I had held onto them, but hey all in the name of progress!
Tema: What is one solid piece of advice that you’d give to aspiring individuals who want to enter into the fashion industry? Kalila: Have a really close look at your values! Do you want to make clothes or do you want a glamorous life style, because they are different things. If you to take a holiday every year, buy a house, have weekends off, relax on the couch every night, fashion might not be the right fit. There is absolutely no shame in being an accountant, who can afford to buy beautiful things. Write a good business plan / list of how much money you have to earn, and to support your lifestyle & your goals. Factor in the cost of running your business & your personal living expenses … studio space, fabric, holidays, marketing. This will give you a really good indication of how much revenue & profit you have to make to be able to live the life you want, how much each unit will cost to produce, and how much profit you have to make. It will give you a realistic idea of how much work it is going to be. Start somewhere though, social media and websites are so accessible, so give it a go, but keep in mind your long term goals. Never under-value your time, especially if you are doing custom work. People don’t always appreciate it and you will spend far more time & money completing a garment than they are willing to pay, Quote above $500 – if they are serious, they will pay it. If not, they are time wasters.
There is no shame in working for someone else, you will learn a lot. Having a business isn’t for everyone, I have missed so many birthdays, holidays, weddings & days off, because ultimately I am a workaholic who can’t step away from the business, but it is starting to pay off.
If you keep your goals in mind, then even if you’re not achieving everything within the first few years, you will have a bench mark! Keep that in mind on the hard days when you want to give up.
Interview conducted by Fatema Sitabkhan Photos supplied by Sara-Jayne Bellinger of Abode Wares
They’re the kind of home décor accessories that will raise your eyebrows for all the right reasons! Specializing in creating candles and pots with some seriously cheeky character, Abode Wares is a South Australian business that will be making an appearance at A Boutique Fair market on April 8 and at Gathered SA on April 14 / 15. So, if you’re looking for a bright, fresh, and sassy pick-me-up for the house, go visit Sara-Jayne over the next two weekends and grab some seriously awesome gear to spruce up your home!
Having recently found out about her business through the Gathered SA Style Challenge event a couple of weeks ago, I sought out to Sara-Jayne for an e-interview to learn more about her business and her inspiration behind some of her products – have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you please tell me a bit about yourself, Sara-Jayne? Sara-Jayne: My name is Sara-Jayne Bellinger. I am a wife to a lovely man and mother to 3 darling children. I was born in Melbourne, but moved to Papua New Guinea when I was 4 years old. From there, I had a very culturally enriched childhood. Leaving for boarding school in Queensland when I was 12, I stayed in Surfers Paradise after school and graduated in tourism/hospitality. I then came to Adelaide when I was 21 and absolutely love it here! Life is fun, challenging, and has many rewards. I am now at a point in my life where I am at peace with who I am. I have found my tribe and I love them hard!
Tema: Upon browsing through your website, I can see that you offer a range of home décor products – how did you decide on what to include in your range? Sara-Jayne: I started my business 5 years ago, with a home fragrance range of about 5 candles, reed diffusers and melts. Wanting to know what I was burning in my home was what inspired me to start up my own business “Abode Wares”. There are so many candles out there that are fueled by toxins and nasties. So, I wanted to create an all-natural based product. It was originally just for myself, family and friends, but, next thing you know, I started getting involved in the market scene and thought, “Wow! That was fun!”
My products were very well received by the public and I soon found a few stockists. My range grew quite quickly, as I realized that candles were saturated in the market scene. My love for Interior Design has come from working in a family business for over 10 years – styling houses with Bali imports. It seemed like a really smooth transition for me to introduce a few things here and there, after being to the Melbourne Reed Gift fairs many times.
Tema: What’s the process of making candles at home like? Sara-Jayne: The process of making candles is really quite relaxing. I get a real sense of calmness from pouring each one. I’m always striving to get the perfect finish every time. I am in the Adelaide Hills, so I have the bonus of having the perfect backdrop in the form of picturesque vineyards….so that’s a plus in itself.
Tema: Let’s talk about the pot puns – did you come up with them yourself, did you get inspired by what’s already out there…or is it a mix? Sara-Jayne: The Pot Puns……they are so funny and quirky! After being to the 2017 Reed Gift Fair and seeing so many indoor plant themed gifts, I wanted to introduce some kind of plants in my wares. My “naughty” candles are one of my biggest sellers, so it was a natural transition to want to put puns on the pots too. After a few cheeky glasses of wine with my girlfriends and husband, we came up with some great puns. Not hard really. My husband is a dad…..and lets face it….we all have dads with their funny (not so funny) jokes. Seeing my customers have a smile and a laugh reading my pots is brilliant! Putting a smile on someone’s face is priceless. I have seen a few others on the market now too, which is fine. There is plenty of humor to go around and I think a little competition is good for the soul.
Tema: What inspired you to set up your own business? Sara-Jayne: Setting up my own business was really to do with flexibility – to be able to do what I love and work around my family. I do feel very lucky to be able to do this. I also work for my girlfriend, who allows me to choose my hours so, I really am blessed.
Tema: What would you like your customers to know by purchasing your products / supporting your business? How is it impacting you as a business? Sara-Jayne: By purchasing from a small independent business, the owners really do do a happy dance. Unfortunately, there are so many brick and mortar stores closing down, due to the fact they just cant compete with the international market. It is such a shame really. My customers know that by purchasing from me, they are getting genuine boutique products, which are handmade, but are also of fantastic quality. They know that the quality control is there, and nothing leaves my home that I would not be happy with receiving myself.
Tema: What do you think is one of the biggest challenges of starting your own business? And what advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs / small business owner hopefuls about taking that first step? Sara-Jayne: One of the biggest challenges for me was to stick in my lane and TO BELIEVE in myself. To “be bold, be brave, be you”. It is scary, yes! But, it’s also very rewarding. There are highs and lows, but you need to keep your head up. You will always find people who will try to bring you down. My products speak for themselves. I know they are true to exactly what I want to create.
Tema: How did you get involved in the market scene? What do you find most rewarding about it? Sara-Jayne: The market scene is AMAZING! What a buzz of so many talented people! Such a diverse group of men and women! It really is the best way of getting your business out there. The preparation in the lead up to markets is HUGE! For me, it has also been about networking with other people who do similar or completely different things to you. It’s like you become a little family. You all understand what each other has endured to get there. I also love the markets because you obviously meet new customers ALL THE TIME and to tell them about your products, having that one on one is so much nicer than just buying online.
Tema: What have you found resonates with being “proudly South Australian”? How does that make you feel? Sara-Jayne: It is exciting to be a proud SA business. South Australia is full of amazing local producers, retailers and suppliers.
Tema: What are your future plans for Abode Wares? Sara-Jayne: It’s thinking outside the square, following the market, finding growth and new ways of doing things.
Interview conducted by Fatema Sitabkhan Photos by Cara Archer + Fatema Sitabkhan
Having recently attended an event to celebrate the many businesses that will be a part of the upcoming Gathered SA Markets, I was fortunate enough to meet Cara Archer – a lovely South Australian woman, who specializes in body art, henna art, and face painting. Personally coming from an Indian background and loving the art of henna since I was a little kid, it was a no-brainer that I’d be getting my hands decorated by Cara. All it took was 15 minutes to have my hands transformed to traditional works of art and once the henna peeled off, it revealed an earthy maroon color that attracted a lot of compliments over the next week!
I wanted to give Cara’s business the exposure it deserves, so I reached out to conduct an e-interview about her business – Cara Creative -, the services her business offers, and a general overview of how this dream became a reality:
Tema: Can you tell me a bit about yourself, Cara? Cara: I grew up by the beach in regional South Australia. While living in Port Lincoln with my family, I started my face painting career at 14, alongside my mum who is also a face painter and artist. I moved to Adelaide in 2009 to study Architecture. After 6 years of studying, I completed a Bachelor degree in Architecture, a Masters in Landscape Architecture and Masters in Urban planning. Throughout uni, I worked a few face painting jobs, slowly building up my business. I loved being able to use my skills in art to support me financially, so upon completing my studies, I decided to work full time in my business and expand into body painting, airbrush and henna art. When I am not creating art, I am a keen cyclist and rock climber. I love taking long trips on my bike – my longest cycle tour was last year, when I cycled and camped from Scotland to Spain with my boyfriend.
Tema: Are you self-taught in your skills around the different kinds of body art that you do? Cara: I am mostly self taught, yes. I first learnt to face paint thanks to my mum and aunties, who are also face painters. I used step-by-step books in the beginning and copied what my mum did. When I moved to Adelaide, my skills increased dramatically, as I met many other skilled painters and learnt from them. I have attended conferences in Australia and abroad to learn from some of the best face and body painters in the world. Last year, I was fortunate enough to attend the World Body Painting Festival, where I spent a week learning from the best in the world and assisting world no 5 in the World Body Painting competition. I first picked up a Henna cone just over 2 years ago and have taught myself through a LOT of practice. I use Instagram as a main source of inspiration for the expansion of my skills and development of my designs in henna, face painting and body painting.
Tema: What are the kinds of body art that you primarily specialize in? Cara: I do face painting, body painting and henna art. My face and body painting is done with brush and sponge as well as airbrush. The airbrush is a great tool for face and body painting. The paint used for airbrush is waterproof, which makes it much more versatile.
Tema: What do you think are some of the more popular of your services? Cara: Henna is definitely the most popular service at the moment.
Tema: Where do you find your inspiration to create your designs? Cara: Instagram, other henna artists, illustrators, natures patterns, and tattoo artists.
Tema: Can you tell me a bit about the lessons that you offer to your customers (via your website)? What drives your passion to share your skills? Cara: I offer private beginner lessons in face painting, body painting and henna art. I love seeing people skills develop and knowing that my advice and experience actually helps them. It is amazing to see a beginner body artist develop and improve. It is incredible how much someone’s skills can improve in just one session, just by sharing what I have learnt in my years of practice.
Tema: What do you think was one of the biggest challenges of setting up your business from scratch? Cara: Setting up this kind of business relies on repeat customers and building a customer base – this takes a lot of time to establish.
Tema: What is it about being a South Australian and local business that makes it all the more special? Cara: South Australia (being the festival state) is the perfect place to run a business that thrives on festivals and events.
Tema: What are some markets / events that you’d like to highlight as your regular / go-to’s? Cara: Catch me every year at Gluttony Fringe (unfortunately, we have to wait nearly a whole year for Fringe again)! My events are really varied, so I update regularly on Facebook and Instagram with which events I’ll be at. The next market where I’ll be making an appearance is the Gathered SA Markets on April 14 + 15!
Tema: What are you hoping for 2018 to have in-store for you and your business? Cara: I would love to do more body painting and henna art. My goals for 2018 is to do a full bridal henna design as well as a large henna body piece.
Tema: What is one solid piece of advice that you’d give to aspiring individuals who want to set up their own business? Cara: Get started now! Done is better than perfect. Don’t wait until something is perfect before getting it out there. Doing a “soft launch” by sharing with family/friends and getting feedback to continue and improve is a great way to get started.
Tema: Is there anything else that you’d like your customers to know about your business? Cara: I love seeing henna stain pictures! If you get henna from me, please send through a stain photo via any of my social media links (listed below) or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org !
Owner and director Jenna O’Dell has successfully hosted Gathered SA as a mecca of all things South Australian. Now back in its 4th year, Gathered SA hopes to present with an eclectic selection of local businesses that will come together and showcase with pride what our little state has on offer.
Setting up camp in the gorgeous Queens Theatre on Playhouse Lane (just off Currie Street in the Adelaide CBD), the spacious venue offers customers with the opportunity to wander, explore, and discover some true South Australian gems.
Start off your market experience by having a wander and exploring the many, many incredible businesses that will offer products for you to fall in love with. Take in the inclusive, supportive, and feel-good ambience by having a chat with the stallholders about their products. Learn about what their businesses are all about and how they might fit with your ideals and principles.
After adoring all the businesses around the Theatre, stop and re-fuel by visiting one of these lovely businesses for your food / drink needs:
Looking for something for the gentleman in your life? Why not stop by Hommes Uniques, where you can find an assortment of gifts to takes your man’s grooming skills to the next level!
Regardless of your gender, it is important to take great care of your skin, and that’s exactly what the products by Shanghai Lil and the Scarlet Fez, Florentine Gold, and Fae + Wildling aim to provide with you, with their extensive ranges of skincare products, each of which come in unique and minimalist-friendly packaging!
Need something for the kids? You’re in luck – combine some cute unicorn headbands by Cute2Hoot, colorful baby top knot headbands + bloomers by Little Miss Sunshine, and toys that promote imagination play via the adorable fabric / felt material toys by Chook Shed Designs! Looking for something to spruce up the young one’s room – you might find some calming and appealing patterns splashed across wall hangings, cushions, mobiles, and blankets by Marnie + Mister!
There will also be live entertainment by some truly talented musicians – Kat Raynor and Elli Belle – so don’t be shy to get your dancing shoes on and sport on a big, happy smile as the ladies whisk you away in a feel-good acoustic musical universe! Add to the atmosphere by getting some henna art done by the creative talent Cara Archer!
Phew! That’s a LOT of amazing local businesses that have been mentioned, but it is so important to familiarize yourselves with every single business, because there’s nothing like supporting local – especially when their products and services not only promise, but DELIVER with nothing short of top quality for whatever category (fashion / skincare / homeware / food / drink) that aligns with your interests!
If you’re looking for a weekend that has live music, is packed with delicious food and drink, is family-friendly, and runs on the concept of supporting all things local and South Australian, then this Gathered SA is the perfect spot to tick all those boxes!
Full directory of local, South Australian businesses can also be found here.
Special thanks to Cassie Young for organizing the ‘Gathered’ Market VIP Style Challenge, to Aurora Banez for taking me along as her photographer for the event, and to the various stall businesses + the team at Gathered SA for their generous hospitality throughout the event.
Keep an eye out on my Instagram page for more highlights on some of these incredible businesses, which will be popping up on my feed next week. And don’t forget to support local!
Location Queens Theatre
Market dates April 14 + 15 (in 3 weekends’ time!)
August 4 + 5
November 17 + 18
It’s always refreshing to stumble upon the lovely people behind small businesses, so upon visiting Dot Chocolate at A Boutique Life market in Belair a couple of months ago, I was able to enjoy an authentic and delicious range of freshly made cookies, biscuits, and fluffy cakes that basically made me want to melt with happiness!
Owned and managed by South Australian local Megan Charlton, Dot Chocolate specializes in creating baked goods that are not only sourced from local produce, but offer its customers with the opportunity to appreciate the delights with their eyes as well as with their tummies! There is a variety of options – in terms of cookies, biscuits, chocolate bars, granola, and bliss balls (just to name a few)!
After recently taking a step back from the hospitality scene, Megan is currently focusing on Dot Chocolate as a full-time business, in addition to juggling a family life with a devoted husband, an adorable 3 year old boy, and a beautiful dog named Bonnie!
I recently visited Megan at her home, where we discussed about Dot Chocolate and what it’s like to run a business from home – have a read of our interview below and next time you’re looking for some affordable and beautiful baked goods, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Megan for further inquiries!
Tema; What made you start up Dot Chocolate as a business?
Megan: My love for baking and being creative! I love that i can share yummy things that I’ve made with people!
Tema: What do you primarily specialize in making (pastries / cakes / cookies / etc)?
Megan: At the moment i specialize in baked goods. When I’m at markets, I like to take a little bit of everything along – cakes/biscuits/chocolates. My main wholesale product is biscuits and little treats to grab with coffee. However, my background is in working with couverture chocolate – making handmade truffles, bonbons and chocolate bars. I make a few chocolates as part of my product range (peachy block, granola block, truffles). I’d like to work with it a bit more and hope to do so in the near future. Couverture chocolate is such a beautiful product to work with!
Tema: Where / how can your customers buy your baked treats? Are there any markets that you make a regular appearance at, or do you have your own shop front? Megan: A few different ways, actually! My Instagram and Facebook pages have my info on any upcoming markets that I’ll be at (around Adelaide). Private orders are also welcome through email (email@example.com). I also have a number of cafes that stock my product – the most recent one being Fleur| Brew, which is a florist + coffee house based in the Adelaide CBD. No shop front… yet!
Tema: I see that you’ve set up an Instagram page for your business – how do you think it fares as a social media platform for thriving small businesses like yours?
Megan: I feel like it’s a very strong platform for a small business! It keeps me in touch and informed with my customers and brings in new customers continuously. This is so important for me at the moment, especially because I work from a home kitchen and don’t have a shop front, so it keeps me in the loop with the community. It’s also a great way to gauge feedback from followers whilst trialling new products, in addition to providing a way for me to advertise my business and what it has on offer.
Tema: How do you make your baked treats – do you tend to use locally sourced produce? Megan: I work from my home kitchen in Seacliff. Everything I make is in small batches, so my customers get the freshest products. I love using locally sourced products – we have so many amazing products available to us in South Australia, so I always use local where I can. I even get my citrus from my own backyard!
Tema: Where do you get the inspiration to create your baked treats – do the recipes have a family influence, do they incorporate elements that you like personally, or any other such reason?
Megan: My mum was(/is!) the best home baker and taught me how to bake when I was little. I use some of those recipes that we would bake together. I like taking recipes like that and putting new little twists on them – like using pear and fennel together in a biscuit. But, I also love sticking with classic flavours – like lemon and poppyseed and salted caramel.
Tema: Is there anything else that you’d like your customers / our readers to know about Dot Chocolate?
Megan: I love what I do and think I’m really lucky to be able to do what I do! There are so many choices that Dot Chocolate can offer – gingerbread cookies, fairy bread, nut and seed Florentines (just to name a few), and I primarily bring together ingredients that sound interesting when mixed together – such as pear and fennel seed, fig, cocoa, and walnut, and ginger / lemon with pumpkin seed!
Also, since Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, I’ll be selling a limited batch of heart sugar cookies (pictured below), so make sure you get in touch and put your orders in early!