Here at Early Settler we’ve worked with so many inspiring women over the past year in the world of interior design. We’re delighted to celebrate International Women’s Day by highlighting the successes of some of the most inspirational ladies we’ve collaborated with. Here’s just a few of the hardworking sisters doin’ it for themselves in Australia.
A true inspiration with an impressive career that just keeps getting bigger, Sarah Todd went from international model… to mum… to MasterChef… to opening a restaurant in Goa. Documented in the television series, My Restaurant in India, this led to her opening two more restaurants in India and appearing in six television series! A successful entrepreneur with a growing list of accolades under her belt, Sarah has also written The Healthy Model Cookbook and an e-book chock full of incredible recipes. And she’s accomplished all of this while raising her beautiful son, Phoenix.
In the early days of my career, I had a lot of guilt about leaving my son. People can be so judgemental. But the best advice I can give is to try and eliminate that guilt. Men are free to pursue their careers without judgement, so the same should apply for women. Now I look at the big picture. My son has so much love and we make the most of every moment we have together. We have an incredible bond and I couldn’t ask for a better son. Make the sacrifices, follow your dreams and spend quality time together.
In 2014, Gina Ciancio made the brave move of quitting her corporate job to launch an interiors blog. Armed with a background in marketing and communications, Style Curator quickly started winning awards and drawing attention from around the world. A one-stop shop for all things design related, Style Curator is one of Australia’s most successful interiors blogs, which Gina achieved in between starting her family.
The best advice I can give is to just start! It sounds so simple but generally people delay their own creative journey — either for fear of failure or because they’re waiting for the ‘right time’. Everyone has to start from somewhere so don’t be put off by your own self-doubt. Just start. Fake it until you make it. Over time you’ll figure it all out. And don’t see your peers as competitors, they can be your best allies. Look for ways to collaborate and lift others up around you.
A “serial house renovator” with her builder hubby, Hayley Little has an enviable knack for styling and decorating. This power-mum of three has a large social media following at @mumlittleloves, where she shares her life and interior decorating inspiration. Just about to embark on her ninth renovation (!), Hayley’s incredible homes have also been featured in dozens of magazine articles and blogs.
Read Hayley’s story here.
Find your passion and follow it. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, be yourself, be open to new ideas, be curious, be inclusive, be vulnerable, be determined, but most of all be kind. The world needs more kind people.
Founder, publisher and owner of Interiors Addict, Jen Bishop is a former journalist and magazine editor with a love for all things design and décor. Ironically, she took the leap with Interiors Addict after being retrenched after 13 years as a journalist. Launched in 2011, her blog quickly became one of the most successful interior design blogs in the country and attracts around 100K unique visitors a month. A blogger, speaker, commentator, brand ambassador, event host and featured in countless magazines, in 2014 Jen also ghost wrote Greg Natale’s book The Tailored Interior — all while building her lovely family.
As someone who changed careers in my thirties, I know it’s never too late to start again and work in the area you’re truly passionate about. Hard work and being nice always pay off!
Founder of the digital mood board, Style Sourcebook, Lisa Cousens envisaged this online platform in 2017 after recognising a hole in the Australian market. While renovating her own home, she realised there were plenty of interior design applications around, yet none featured real products from Australian retailers so you could see how your rooms would actually look before purchasing those big-ticket items. Style Sourcebook is an online app with an easy drag-and-drop function housing a massive database of furniture and homewares products uploaded by Australian retailers.
Read Lisa’s story here.
I believe having a passion for the problem that your product is solving is a powerful motivator when you’re starting a business. New products and businesses will usually require a lot of dedication, long hours and overcoming lots of new challenges, so if you can choose an industry where you feel personally connected to the problem, it can help to keep you focused, energised and motivated towards your vision.
A self-described “house nerd” with a background in journalism focusing on houses and real estate, after 10 years in print publishing, it just made sense for Maya Anderson to start her own blog. Quickly sailing up the Google feed to become one of the most successful in Australia, House Nerd offers a wealth of resources for home owners and decorators, along with plenty of before-and-after inspiration.
Know your value. Have confidence in yourself but never stop learning from others. Keep moving — if you feel bored or restless, it’s often a sign something needs to change and you’re ready for a new challenge. When you’re starting out in your field, put your hand up for opportunities, volunteer, do work experience, or if you’re in a creative field, start a blog or a social media page and use it as an online portfolio. Putting in the work to go the extra mile will set you apart from your peers and help you land your first job. Saying yes can lead to wonderful opportunities that you may never have thought of before. Say yes to the things that make you feel lit up inside. Be honest, never be unkind, be generous whenever you can be. It comes back to you tenfold.
In a small coastal Queensland town overlooking the hinterlands, Michelle Ludwig of @our.mountain.life has been building her dream home with her husband. Working tirelessly — between naps and nappies with three kids under four! — to decorate their modern farmhouse in the mountains, the results are truly breathtaking. A working mother (recently having to returned to dental nursing after maternity leave), breastfeeding advocate, interior styling and social influencer, Michelle has accrued a large Instagram following — check out her inspirational life at @our.mountain.life.
Having two daughters myself, my advice for the next generation of women would be to dream big, love your body, believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to stand up for woman’s rights.
Read Michelle’s story here.
International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women as we continue to strive for equality.