Most of us know your beautiful face as a previous contestant from The Block, but for those of us that don't...tell us a bit about yourself and your family, who you are, what you do and where you live?
I live in Geelong in Victoria. I'm a mother of 2 boys (Van, 2yrs and Shep, 8 Months) and I've been married to my husband Dale for 6 years. I've had multiple careers already (haha). My university degree is in graphic design and I briefly worked in a Melbourne print studio straight out of uni but then went back to uni to get my post grad in primary teaching. I was working as a teacher in Melbourne when we competed on The Block in 2012 but then changed careers again when Dale and I moved to Geelong after the show to buy our first home and to start our family. I worked for 2 years as a brand design specialist in the Visual Merchandising team at Typo within the Cotton On Group before going on Maternity leave when I had Van. And now since becoming a mother, I've been able to combine my love of design and the nurturing of children by creating my business Vines of the Wild.
What has been the best things and the worst things that has come with your brush with fame?
I guess the obvious worst thing is that a bit of your privacy gets compromised. It's basically a non issue now but at the time when the show was on, it was pretty crazy. But I guess even now on the off chance someone wants to chat or a even have a photo (eek), I think "did you have to recognise me while I have trackies on and with spew in my unwashed nest hair wandering around the supermarket?" Haha! But everyone I've ever met has been nothing but lovely and it really doesn't bother me one bit if someone wants to say g'day and have a chat.
How has motherhood changed your world?It's funny because I've always to be a mother and wanted my world to change but it still hits you like a ton of bricks haha. I suppose my priorities have definitely changed, even some of my goals. I used to want to succeed professionally in whatever field I was working in and focus on climbing higher and earning more but now all my energy goes into my children and making sure they're nurtured the way Dale and I had always hoped. For us, that means making the sacrifices we need to make to ensure I can stay home with them for as long as possible.
Tell us a bit about Vines of the Wild. What inspired you to do this business?Well I suppose Van inspired the business most of all. Since becoming a mother, I found myself constantly researching to find natural, non toxic and local pieces for him - whether it be for his nursery, for him to wear or for him to play with and it was becoming such a headache because no one seemed to have everything I needed in one spot. I was sourcing lots of pieces from overseas because no one had natural versions in Australia or I was compromising and just buying bright and bold pieces locally instead of the calming earthy tones I was desperate to surround Van with. Realising there were a lot of like-minded mothers looking for the same things for their children as well as a whole country of incredibly talented mama artisans that wanted to be involved, my first collection of collaborations was born.
Your store is beautifully curated. What do you look for when deciding which products to stock?A lot of people aren't aware that I actually design each and every piece myself from start to finish. I basically look for the gaps that I'm struggling to fill for my own children's needs and start from there. In the beginning when Van was a baby, it was mobiles, sensory rattle balls, nursery prints and building blocks etc. but as he got older, we moved onto puzzles, play-dough, crayons, clocks and bedding. And as he grows and changes even more, so does the business. The next collection is so full of natural exploring aids and play based learning pieces, it's very exciting. Although since having Shep, I'm back in baby world again which I love so expect to see some new injections for really mini ones too. Once I decide on the piece, I look for the perfect local mama business to bring it to life - everything is made in Australia. Each creative I collaborate with has amazing expertise in their individual field and work so hard trialling and sampling to ensure the product is beyond perfect for the store and represent both of our brands beautifully.
Describe your aesthetic and style. Do you have any wardrobe staples? What do you look for in clothing for yourself and your littles?At the moment, I'm all about keeping things simple but beautiful in both quality and style. I always endeavour to dress all 3 of us (Dale is a lost cause haha) in natural fibres, earthy tones and vintage patterns. I like investment pieces that are timeless and translate across seasons and generations. I want to teach my children to value the few things they have especially in a world that promotes disposable 'everything' - I want the kids to reduce their output and minimise waste. Sustainability is a big part of our family's values.
I know for myself it's super tricky to run a business and be a mother...How do you balance motherhood and work?
Yeah it's a balance I never feel like I've got nailed. I know when I'm struggling with time, the business is always the thing that suffers but I wouldn't have it any other way. There's so much more I'd like to put into Vines of the Wild (ideas I'd love to see come to life) but the kids are at such dependent ages at the moment and it's going to go by so quickly that I can only do what I can do with the way things are at the moment and I'm fine with that.When you're not working, where are your favourite places to go as a family?
Simple places; taking the dogs for a walk down at the open reserve by our house or the beach at sunset or visiting family. My parents have a house in Anglesea so we explore the Great Ocean Road a lot. And Dale's mum has a farm in rural Victoria so we're able to give the kids a good dose of both natural aussie environments.
As parents, what qualities, values and traditions are you hoping to instil in your boys?
I don't think we're different to any other parents just wanting the best for their children. We hope that they feel loved and give love. We hope they're kind, generous, compassionate and understanding people. We hope they follow their talents and passions and use their time here on earth for positive change where and how they can.
Are you able to share with us any future plans or projects?
Just that the next collection will be released in October and it's really exciting... eeek!