eclectic design, Design Anarchy, Eva Trevisan

Dreams Into Reality: An Eclectic Artisanal Design Brand

eclectic design, Design Anarchy, Eva Trevisan
Portrait by David Bastianoni; Photo in background by Bottega53

I first came to know of the beautiful eclectic design work of Eva Trevisan and Clara Boatto when the daughter of a friend of mine was part of a beautiful wedding in Puglia. I loved everything about that wedding, the table decorations, the flowers, the tambourines, the music, the fiat 500, and the music. And just like that, I was a mega fan of the girls who were then known as Chic Weddings. 

Eva and Clara, like the true creatives they are, kept on rolling and creating new versions of themselves and events for lucky folk to participate in from colourful creative workshops to out of this world parties and events known as the Design Anarchy Studio.

Their recent project is one that I think many people dream of and that is creating their own curated collection of accessories crafted by talented artists for soul gifting and memorable hospitality! 

They boldly state, “This is our story, we are different. You either love us or hate us. If you love us, it will be forever.”

I’m one of those lovers! And maybe you will be too?

Today Eva shares her knowledge on turning their dream into a reality.

You’ve had many incarnations as a creative, designing amazing weddings and private functions around the world, stylist, creating workshops for creatives to re-inspire them after a season of giving. What has been a useful talent, skill or value that has helped you bring to your incredible creative artisanal eclectic design products to life?

We always dreamt to create something unique that could express the real “us,” something that could represent our vision and show our audience what we really love but we were always reluctant because the risk was that our tastes would appeal to one particular clientele and automatically alienate another. 

From the moment we understood that, we just wanted to be ourselves and show who we really are. Letting go of our fears, we started running directly towards our online collection of items we love. The collection is for DIY brides, private event organisers, hotels, and restaurants looking for artisanal items for their tables and for all those seeking ideas for presents and thoughts for their guests or for themselves. It is a cabinet of curiosities aimed at showing beautiful pieces made by worldwide artisans. The crafting skills behind some items are incredible. We worked with artists who helped us to bring our ideas into reality and who created, in collaboration with our design, wonderful handmade items. Nothing is produced in big factories and with this, we hope to help the world of craftsmanship to be valued and appreciated more and more.

eclectic design, Design Anarchy, Eva Trevisan, Clara Boatto, Italy
Photo Credit: Design Anarchy Studio
eclectic design, Design Anarchy, Eva Trevisan, Clara Boatto, Italy
Photo Credit: Cinzia Bruschini

Courage is essential when we do something new or dare to move towards something we care about. I love how you embrace the concept of “be uncommon, be you” which is so refreshing in a world that finds it difficult to be themselves and stand out. What role has courage played in your new project, in leaning into your particular eclectic design style and vision, what has motivated you to be courageous with Design Anarchy Studio? 

We always chose to be ourselves even though sometimes it is not always easy to follow this path; it is a choice we made fully when our company grew, and I must admit we are still evolving and shaping into this decision. Sometimes, we feel the pressure from the world — especially the business world — for us to be more commercial, more similar to other companies. A good entrepreneur would probably focus on the business side of his company, while an artist would prefer to keep doing his art (and live on the street)… but we are a bit in between. 

We believe that as much as it is important to run a healthy business and that without a good profit, the business would cease to exist, we still try to run our company (with our vision in mind), always bringing our visions and personalities to our clients. We’re always aiming to meld art, our vision, and our knowledge of the market altogether to make the business more successful in all aspects.

After 15 years in this business, we have seen this market grow enormously in these past years. New agencies have been born and now the market offers different solutions for every budget or taste. We have understood that the only way to make a difference is to be ourselves, to bring our expertise and knowledge to this market with our skills and experience and with our dreams and creative visions. This requires a bit of risk — not every client might like a leopard-print tablecloth at their event, but like everything in life, we believe that risks are always paid back. Only in this way will we attract the right clients for us. 

We might change again in the next 10 years — obviously, we won’t be the same as we are now — but this is the beauty of life. Courage doesn’t come without fears, but when you are motivated by something creative inside, the jump always rewards you with surprises that would not be possible if you stayed in safer waters. 🙂

eclectic design, Design Anarchy, Eva Trevisan, Clara Boatto, Italy
Right, Photo Credit: Cinzia Bruschini; Left, Photo Credit: Design Anarchy
Design Anarchy, Eva Trevisan, Clara Boatto, Italy, eclectic design
Photo Credit: Design Anarchy Studio

You are a renaissance woman moving across so many creative fields. What is one habit, tip, or behaviour that supports your ongoing creativity? What has creativity taught you about yourself? 

Sometimes, I personally don’t feel creative at all. While some days are better than others, I think it is the normal life of a creative person. 

When we were in lockdown in March 2020, I had this idea to create moodboards with items I found at home and to describe each moodboard with the names of an event or a journey. It was a super fun project which helped me and my business partner Clara, to “see” more and visualise more of the items we had at home. To divide in colour palette, to create from nothing…

What I have learnt about myself is that sometimes creativity is an inner talent. You don’t notice you have it but then you realise it belongs to you when you compare it with the world or when a magical idea comes in. A glimpse of creativity comes to me when I am at the cinema (which has a big influence on me, I looove the big screen) or maybe I’m just walking down the street and boom! I get an idea! I am a big observer when I travel and I always have my eyes open, so I think this helps a lot. I observe everything around me, from young generations in the way they live, act, dress to food markets, nature, buildings, and people…

Creativity has taught me that I cannot live without combining items, patterns, and colours together. It also makes me happy.

eclectic design, Design Anarchy, Eva Trevisan, Clara Boatto, Italy
Photo Credit: Alina Danilov
eclectic design, Design Anarchy, Eva Trevisan, Clara Boatto, Italy
Left, Photo Credit: David Bastianoni; Right, Photo Credit: Elisabetta Lilly-Red

Women are often told that at 40+, they are too late to realise their dreams. How has your age and experience been a positive asset in starting this new adventure for Design Anarchy? What would you say to women who need to take their first step?

I think when you are 40+, you need to take your steps more consciously because at this age, you may also have a bunch of heavy luggage with you (children, husband, a house to pay, bills to pay, etc…) so let’s face it, it requires a good business plan. We started to change our company name in 2020 after 14 years in the business. It took a lot of courage but we were tired of being associated with something we were not anymore. We took the risk and now we are happy about our decision. We are not the same as we were 14 years ago, and our company name didn’t represent us anymore so we feel we did the right move.

40s is also the age when a woman feels more empowered with herself, more convinced of herself, and she has started accepting herself differently than during her 20s. It requires lots of constant work when taking the first step in achieving the dreams, hard work, and pragmatism but she also forgives herself easily. If she falls, she rises up again without being too hard on herself. To the women who are taking their first steps, I would say that it is important to plan well and play a lot, to enjoy each journey they have decided to step into, to take their decisions with a smile, and if they don’t work out, it doesn’t matter. To avoid acting like the worst judge of themselves but to be kind. To treat themselves gently. Whatever their dreams are, it is important to value them and to have a clear plan in mind, then once they’ve decided to take that step forward, be aware of all the roads leading to that dream, it is not all glam and fame but it is always worth the journey.

Courage doesn’t come without fears, but when you are motivated by something creative inside, the jump always rewards you with surprises that would not be possible if you stayed in safer waters.

What’s a message, quote, or saying you would like to send out to the world about taking a risk and doing what you love? And why?

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.” — Andre Gide

I think the quote summarizes everything.

eclectic design, Design Anarchy, Eva Trevisan, Clara Boatto, Italy
Left, Photo Credit: David Bastianoni; Right, Photo Credit: Design Anarchy Studio

You can check out the eclectic design work of Design Anarchy Studio here: www.designanarchystudio.com

Their new shop and artisanal range of artisanal eclectic design products here: shop.designanarchystudio.com

And you can follow Design Anarchy on Instagram here: instagram.com/designanarchystudio

A huge thank you to Eva for sharing her thoughts and knowledge.

 

Wishing you a beautiful, creative day.

Carla x

If you want to know how you can live more wholeheartedly, reconnect to your joy, creativity, and purpose, join my Free Training here.

Paula Franco, lifestyle brand, luz editions

Dreams Into Reality: Paula Franco, From Corporate to Creating a Lifestyle Brand

Paula Franco, lifestyle brand, luz editions

Paula Franco is the creator of artisanal lifestyle brand Luz Editions that creates and sells beautiful Portuguese homeware products such as linen wall hangings, ceramic plates, and artisanal knives. 

Paula’s love of photography and her faith in the creative process and listening to her heart has led her on a journey from working in a corporate role at L’Oreal to embracing photography, interior design, and her beloved country Portugal and marrying them together to create Luz Editions, born from nostalgia, made for the modern life’.

Paula generously shares how she turned lifestyle brand Luz Editions from a dream into a reality and her thoughts and insights on creativity, courage, age, and beauty if you dare to follow your dreams.

Many people find it difficult to bring different things they love together. What was your process that allowed you to marry your love of photography, Portugal, your love of the past and interiors to create your extraordinarily beautiful Luz Editions? 

As everyone knows, you can’t create if you don’t start from a genuine feeling. The discovery of old photographs by Artur Pastor was a trigger for me. His work has so much beauty and depth it deserves to be shown. And above all, outside our borders! Seeing these photographs from the 1950’s and 1960’s took me back to my childhood and memories of my grandparents. Because frankly, the Portugal of the 70’s hadn’t changed. Portugal experienced a dictatorship which began in the 1930’s and ended in 1974. The gap that I experienced between my childhood in Paris and my childhood in the summer in Portugal is the basis of who I am now. I understood the importance of roots and how the past and the present are a necessary connection. Giving importance to simple and true things was the idea I wanted to convey and strangely it coincided with the arrival of Covid…

The biggest difficulty was finding a way to reinterpret these photos. I wanted them to be hung on the walls but not in the form of fine art print (too obvious) and I wanted to highlight the vintage side of them… Screen printing and its process — which gives a certain imperfection to the photograph — seemed to be the best way to translate that. And then, the idea of associating a Portuguese word to the image to communicate the essence came to me. I think the result reflects my love for photography as well as for interior design.

Paula Franco
Família, Fé, and Alegria Wall Art decoration pieces / tea towels by Paula Franco
Família Wall art decoration piece / Tea Towel by Paula Franco

Women are often told that at 50+, they are too late to realise their dreams. How has your age and experience been a positive asset in starting this new adventure? What would you say to women who need to take their first step?

First of all, I want to start with an anecdote. In 2012, I was at the bottom of the abyss. I didn’t like my job at all and I only did it for the financial security it brought me. I don’t remember how I found out about your Carla Loves Photography blog and your story of changing your life, changing country for Italy and falling in love… I thought to myself, this sounds a bit like my story! And I just thought, “If she can do it, so can I.”

From there, I joined this community of women who want to dream. In 2016, I lost my father after 4 months of cancer. It was a shock, he was too young to die and he was still afraid of not having enough money at the end of his life. So I believe I learned from both of you and in 2017, I finally quit my job. Then you launched the Yes, Yes, Yes program and it gave me the confidence to go further. I believe that there is no age to reinvent yourself because life is too short. We always find excuses not to start over or to try… not the right moment, not enough money, not enough strength or energy. Yet the secret is to find again the person we were when we were 20 years or older who had no money but wanted to try everything. Find this strength and this determination. Choose a mentor or guide, like Carla, who can support us in times of doubt. As I often say, only death is irreversible.

Courage is essential when we do something new or dare to move towards something we care about. What role has courage played in your new project and has there been something in particular that has motivated you to be courageous with lifestyle brand Luz Editions? 

The whole process of living is an act of faith. The greatest courage that we can have in ourselves is that of refusing to live a life that doesn’t suit us. Some people live a conventional life very well and there’s nothing wrong with that, but when we ask ourselves questions or we feel dissatisfied, we should take it as a sign. Creating my brand, Luz Editions, was simply the next step I needed for myself. There’s no certainty if it will work or last but the real purpose is to be doing something for myself that brings me joy and enrichment in my everyday life. It’s also a way of keeping learning about many things on a daily basis: textile, printing techniques, business, marketing… For example, I’ve joined my passion for photography and textiles by trying different techniques for the future like cyanotype.

Also, the name Luz means light in Portuguese. Choosing a name for your brand is also very important because it will carry all the love you put in it. For me, it was the light after the darkness. A rebirth.

Handmade tea towel / wall art decoration pieces by Paula Franco
The Luz Edition wall art decoration pieces / tea towels are handmade in Portugal and printed in 100% linen.

You are a photographer and you love interior design, what is one habit, tip, or behaviour that supports your ongoing creativity? What has creativity taught you about yourself?

Whether it’s photography or interior design, I have at the base a lot of observation and curiosity about people and their way of life. This curiosity has been greatly satisfied by culture and life, quite simply. I was lucky to be born in France and grow up in Paris where culture and history are everywhere. Since I was young, I have been passionate about magazines and cinema. Photography was the next step in observing the world.

Observation has nurtured me and has developed my sense of requirement because I only like things that have a story to tell and are well made. Today, I still have this curiosity and I do a lot of research to transfer this requirement to my Luz Editions brand. I just don’t want to produce “objects” but to create pieces that people will identify with and be proud to own.

What role has community played in launching Luz Editions? Has it brought a new community into your life or connected you to an already existing one? 

The first important community for me was all the women of the Yes, Yes, Yes program that inspired me and gave me faith. Also people like Julie Gibbs, Claire Lloyd, Domenica More Gordon — or of course you, Carla — are a constant inspiration on starting over or embarking on a project that makes sense. Since I created my brand, I have discovered “my own” community of enthusiasts, whether through the products or the messages conveyed. For instance, Instagram brings me a lot of this community that comments and encourages. I also like to do pop-ups to meet people and get their feedback live. And, I am also very grateful to all the traders who took a risk on Luz Editions through the difficult times we are living.

I believe that there is no age to reinvent yourself because life is too short. We always find excuses not to start over or to try… Yet, the secret is to find again the person we were when we were 20 years or older who had no money but wanted to try everything.

What’s a message, quote or saying you would like to send out to the world about taking a risk and doing what you love? And why?

The only journey is the one within.”Rainer Maria Rilke

Because you are the captain of your life. Nobody will do the work for you and you should always be your first supporter. That’s it!

Artisanal knives and tea towels by Paula Franco
Haja Alegria stoneware plate - Collection Cécile Mestelan x Luz Editions

Congratulations to Paula for all the beauty she has created and for following her heart and bringing this beautiful project to life.

 

You can check out Paula’s beautiful work here: luzeditions.com

You can follow Paula on Instagram here: instagram.com/luz_editions

You can join Paula’s newsletter here.

 

I hope you enjoyed this inspirational story of bringing different loves together. Thanks to Paula for sharing her thoughts and insights on her journey.

 

Love and light,

Carla x

reawaken your lust for life

P.S. If you would like to start the process of finding what is next for you, you can download my FREE workbook Reawaken Your Lust for Life here.

Annabelle Hickson

Dreams Into Reality: Annabelle Hickson Dared to Start Her Own Magazine

Annabelle Hickson
All Photographs by Annabelle Hickson

Annabelle Hickson is one of those gals I’ve admired from afar for a long time. Annabelle’s love of flowers and her ability to bring beauty together whilst moving from one creative field to another appeals to my maximalist heart. Author of A Tree in My House, photographer (her images are like a long table loaded with deliciousness with every detail a work of art), a former columnist for Country Style magazine, coupled with living on a Pecan farm on the border of Queensland and New South Wales, her life feels like one big beautiful artistic moment.

When I saw that Annabelle was launching Galah, a new magazine celebrating country Australia, I couldn’t sign up quick enough. The idea of having a little bit of Australian country arrive on my Parisian doorstep four times a year felt like a beautiful way to connect with all the great things going on in country Australia now. And I knew it would be a visual feast. 

Annabelle shares with us how she turned her dreams into reality.

What was the moment/catalyst/inspiration that turned Galah from an idea into a storyboard and eventually to a beautiful magazine?

I am not exactly sure when Galah went from being a storyboard in my head to something printed and real and beautiful, but I know it came about — at least in part — from the frustration at time and time again seeing regional life portrayed through a lens of disadvantage when my own experience was one of joy and opportunity. I would regularly catch myself yelling at the TV things like, “We are not all simple country folk, sipping tea on a verandah or walking around with a piece of grass hanging out of our mouths,” (although, for the record, I very much enjoy both of those activities). Everywhere I look around in regional Australia, I see innovative, dynamic, complicated, and interesting people. I wanted to read stories that reflected that.

Although to be honest, I certainly wasn’t always like this. I grew up in Sydney, with zero curiosity about where the country boarders came from who I was at school with. When I first moved out to the farm, I did so with a city-centric perspective. I thought it would be the end of my career, I thought it would be the end of my social life. I thought it would be good for my young family, but death for my own ambition. I could not have been more wrong.

Australia is such an urbanised country these days. The myth of the Man from Snowy River hangs on (perhaps by a thread) but the reality is about 85 percent of us live within 50 kms of the coast. I, like a lot of Australians, was not at all intimate with country life and, as is the way when you have no first-hand experience of a place or a group of people, you can make some pretty unfounded assumptions about what happens. Or rather what doesn’t happen. I think a lot of the news coverage shows regional Australia through a lens of disadvantage too — bushfires, terrible droughts, doctor shortages — which adds to a sense that ambition and opportunities exist in the big smoke.

But my own experience of life out of the city has been one of great advantage. To my great surprise and delight, living on a farm an hour out of a town with population 4,000 has been the making of me, not the end. I am surrounded by a strong supportive community, business opportunities — and not just ag ones — are plentiful, there are smart, sophisticated, innovative people everywhere I look. I feel incredibly lucky to live in regional Australia.

Somewhere, somehow, Galah came out of that. I am not sure exactly when. But here she is.

Annabelle Hickson, Galah, Dreams Into Reality
Galah, Issues No. 1 and 2

Courage is essential when we do something new or dare to move towards something we care about. What role does courage play in your life and how does it keep you motivated, inspired and feeling alive?

Instead of asking ‘what do you want to do?’ or ‘what do you want to be?’ (don’t those questions just fill you with dread), I think it is much more helpful to think about what kind of values are most important to you. What are the values you want to live by, no matter what you do? For me, courage is everything. I want to be someone who is not scared to give things a go. And that is something I can take that with me wherever I go, into whatever I do.

I thought I was going to be a newspaper journalist forever. Then I met a farmer. During the first few years of life in the country, I floundered really. If I wasn’t a newspaper journalist at an important paper, what was I? What could I be? I kept asking myself again and again, until I eventually realised that it didn’t really matter was I was going to be. What mattered much more was how I was going to live. What values were important to me. Life takes many twists and turns. You can carry your value system along that path, whereas fixed ideas about wanting to be a doctor or a journalist or a dancer or a really good and happy mother might not be so easy to cling onto for the whole ride. At some stage, it became clear that more than anything else, I wanted to be a person who was willing to give things a go, who was willing to fail and who would dream big. 

Now when I fail, or when some sort of conflict comes up, or when it all feels too hard, I find it really useful to ask myself, ‘Are you giving something a go? Are you dreaming big?’ and if the answer is yes, well good. It means I am living in a way that feels meaningful to me, even if the results aren’t ideal. I don’t know what is more satisfying than that.

Annabelle Hickson, Galah, Dreams Into Reality
The washing line at Annabelle and Ed's farm. Photo Credit: Annabelle Hickson
Annabelle Hickson, Galah, Dreams Into Reality
Left: The Bonshaw Store - a tiny shop in a tiny town 35 kms away; Right: The creek. Photo Credit: Annabelle Hickson
Annabelle Hickson, Galah, Dreams Into Reality
Walking to the letterbox. Photo Credit: Annabelle Hickson

What was an obstacle creating Galah that you needed to find a creative solution for? Were there any Blue Ocean strategy moments when you had to break the traditional magazine mold?

There is something that is so depressing about the traditional magazine model where ‘content’ (what a terrible word that is) is effectively a vehicle for advertising. Magazines are created for advertisers rather than readers, and the goal is to have just enough content to be able to get the ads in front of eyeballs. Perhaps that sounds cynical, but that is how I see it. 

I started wondering what a magazine would look like if it was made for readers rather than advertisers. More of a book model. A high cover price and no advertising. 

(Although, as a side note, isn’t it interesting how we value things: $30 is an expensive magazine, but it’s a cheap book. It’s what I’d spend on a bottle of wine to take to someone’s house for dinner. I also caught myself paying more than $30 for one of those lovely Japanese notebooks that is literally full of empty pages, which made me both want to laugh and cry knowing how much work went into filling the pages of Galah).

Under this model, if I can regularly sell 10,000 copies of each issue, which does not feel too greedy, it’s a great business that can pay contributors, designers, production staff, me and a business partner a wage. I would love the business to grow so that it could employ a number of regionally-based people full-time, as well as providing mentoring and publishing opportunities for up-and-coming writers/journalists/podcasters based in the regions.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it without ads. We’ll see. But first and foremost, I want Galah to be for readers.

Annabelle Hickson, Galah, Dreams Into Reality
Kitchen and cotton and a summer arrangement of flowers. Photo Credit: Annabelle Hickson
Annabelle Hickson, Galah, Dreams Into Reality
Kitchen and cotton. Photo Credit: Annabelle Hickson
Dining table and wattles. Photo Credit: Annabelle Hickson

You’ve had many incarnations as a creative, what has been a useful talent, skill or value that has helped you bring Galah to life?

The ability to complete. Ideas are easy. Seeing them through is the hard bit. Not that all ideas should be seen through to the bitter end. Some should definitely be abandoned, but unless you finish some ideas your work will be, to quote Paul Keating, all tip, no iceberg.

Annabelle on a motorbike with husband Ed and daughter Harriett. Photo Credit: Annabelle Hickson
Ed with the water probe; Annie with Harriett on the buggy. Photo Credit: Annabelle Hickson
Kids at the farm. Photo Credit: Annabelle Hickson

As a writer/photographer/pecan farmer/ex city slicker/journalist/cook reader what allows you to move from one creative field to another.  What is one habit/tip that supports your ongoing creativity?

I think living in quite an isolated spot has forced me to learn how to do things I would otherwise have outsourced. And it’s good to keep those cogs well-oiled because it makes the notion of learning something else seem not too daunting. I think it’s made me more flexible than I otherwise would have been.

When I fail, or when some sort of conflict comes up, or when it all feels too hard, I find it really useful to ask myself, ‘Are you giving something a go? Are you dreaming big?’ and if the answer is yes, well, good. It means I am living in a way that feels meaningful to me, even if the results aren’t ideal. I don’t know what is more satisfying than that.

What role has community played in Galah and how has being part of a rural community changed your life?

Diversity has taken on a more immediate meaning for me now that I live in the country. In a small town, you are all in it together. You all shop at the same supermarket. You know almost everyone by name. And even if you don’t agree with someone’s views, you cannot help but see them as a fellow human because there they are, putting a bag of apples in their supermarket trolley. When I lived in Sydney, there was very much more of a birds-of-a-feather cultural life. You’d congregate with people with similar socio-demographics. Even though the city as a whole was very diverse, I didn’t actually brush up against much diversity in my daily life. So, somewhat counter-intuitively, my small-town rural life has done a lot to teach me about the importance of a diverse cultural, racial, socio-economic community. We are all doing the best we can. We all have a right to be here. We are all humans. It has without doubt made me a more empathetic person.

What’s a quote (about risk) you would like to paint on a road as you move from the city to the country? And why?

This is more a quote I’d like to paint on the road for life, rather than from the city to the country…

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.” – E.B. White

Work with what you have. The conditions may not be ideal, but they never really are. Just start.

The Pecan farm. Photo Credit: Annabelle Hickson
Photo Credit: Annabelle Hickson

You can connect with Annabelle here on Instagram.

You can purchase Galah here and follow on Instagram here.

And check out Annabelle’s beautiful work here: annabellehickson.com.

Huge thanks to Annabelle for sharing her thoughts on bringing this beautiful dream to life.

 

Love and light,

Carla x

reawaken your lust for life

P.S. If you would like to start the process of finding what is next for you, you can download my FREE workbook Reawaken Your Lust for Life here.

Emiko Davies

Dreams Into Reality: Emiko Davies, From Apartment Life to a Village in Tuscany

Emiko Davies
All Photographs by Emiko Davies

Food writer, photographer, and cookbook author Emiko Davies has called Italy home for well over a decade and in that time brought joy to the lives of many through her beautiful cookbooks, words, photos, and stories. 

Recently Emiko along with husband Marco, a sommelier, and their two small daughters left behind apartment life in Florence to create a home in her husband’s natal village of San Miniato in the hills of Tuscany. I must admit I’ve loved every Instagram post she’s shared making her beautiful home. 

Emiko generously shares her insights and thoughts on change, turning her dream into a reality, failure, courage and how creativity helps her navigate daily life.

You’ve lived in many different countries around the world growing up and most recently in an apartment in Florence with your husband and two children. What were you metaphorically ‘moving towards’ in this decision to move to San Miniato in Tuscany and what were you ‘moving away’ from? Was there a moment, catalyst, or inspiration that turned moving from Florence from an idea into taking action?

It’s more we were moving towards rather than moving away, I think! My husband Marco was born in San Miniato and his mum — my girls’ (who are 8 and nearly 3) only grandparent here in Italy — lives nearby. We decided to buy this house during the first 2020 lockdown, but even before then we had been searching for about a year for the right home in the historical centre of San Miniato. So a huge catalyst was being closer to our only family in Italy — that was really important. The other was space! We have been living in typical, tiny cramped apartments in Florence for 16 years — as a couple, OK; as a growing family of four, we were literally busting at the seams! And then there was the question, do we really want to spend two-thirds of Marco’s entire monthly salary on rent (yes, it’s bad in Italy, the salaries are low and the rent in Florence is so high) or can we actually just spend less buying a house in his little old (beautiful) home town and put down some roots? It was a no-brainer. 

Emiko Davies
Image Credit: Emiko Davies
Emiko Davies
The town of San Miniato in the Tuscan region of Italy. Image Credit: Emiko Davies

What is your relationship with the ‘creative process’ (that incredible place of letting go and having faith that something magic will be born from a wisp of an idea)? How has creating on a regular basis changed or enhanced your relationship with big life decisions, projects or yourself?

The creative process has become my every day, I’m constantly thinking, “What will I make today?” What will I put on my blog, on Instagram, what project will I throw myself into now? It’s constant. I think it was always meant to be this way — I had always done something creative: I went to art school, I studied printmaking, then photography, then art restoration but after more than 7 years of study, I couldn’t seem to make it work professionally. I only realised about a decade ago when I was stuck in a boring desk job that I needed to be creating something on a regular basis, no matter what. Around that time I started a food blog, which I just wanted for myself, like a sort of journal, something to work towards and eventually share, but first and foremost I did it just to have something to create every week. Then Instagram came along and that too all started as something I just wanted to do for myself. It’s been very organic but creating regularly has been the catalyst for all my big life decisions since that moment I realised how important it was for me, for myself, to be doing it.

Courage and risk are essential when we do something new or dare to move towards something we care about. What role did courage play in picking up your young family and starting a new life? Was there anything you were/are frightened of and how did/do you overcome this?

I have grown up living in different countries (we moved back and forth to China as a family a couple of times, a total of 8 years, and as a 17 year old, I went off to university in America by myself) so I think my definition of picking up and going somewhere is different from most people’s! My husband has lived in the one place his whole life so it was definitely different to his. I am not scared by change, I think change is a good thing, especially if you have weighed up the pros and cons and realise the pros outweigh the cons. I think (I know!) children can adapt and can benefit from change — and that the whole family benefits when everyone is happier! That, to me, is more important than worrying about the challenges.

Emiko Davies
Emiko's house in San Miniato, Italy. Image Credit: Emiko Davies
Emiko Davies
Emiko's kitchen. Image Credit: Emiko Davies
Emiko Davies
Image Credit: Emiko Davies

You are a writer and photographer of Florentine, Aquacotta, Tortellini at Midnight and your latest book Torta della Nonna. From the outside, a creative life can look like a mystery. What is one habit, behaviour, or tip that allows you to stay on track and create what is important to you? Do you have a ‘litmus test’ if a project is the right one?

I think that creativity has to come from within, you have to be inspired yourself to do it, you cannot be forced to create something you don’t have your heart and soul into — or you could, but it just won’t be as good! I’ve turned down several books that were proposed to me by my publisher because they didn’t come from the place where my books usually come from — which is personal experiences and lived experiences, love and excitement for a certain cuisine or place. If that’s not there I just don’t think I would either enjoy the project or that it would come out well, so I have always fought for what I believed in. When my first pitch for Tortellini at Midnight was turned down, I just worked on it. I found a different angle, I researched more, took trips, took more photos, tested more recipes, tried to tweak it until I had something appealing for them and while staying true to my original vision. I turned down the projects they suggested instead. And I re-pitched it a while later. And it has become one of my proudest achievements. I think my tip here would be: simply don’t give up. If it is something you believe in, find a different angle.

Emiko Davies
Emiko's books. Image Credit: Emiko Davies
Emiko Davies
Image Credit: Emiko Davies

What role does community play in your life online and in real life? How did having an online community change your 2020 experience? 

I guess I have had my life online since 2010 when I started my blog! It’s always been a bit personal, because that’s me. Having a very active Instagram community has been so important to me over the past year, where I have barely even seen my closest friends who live in Florence, let alone my family and friends in Australia who I miss incredibly. My online community is there to chat, to cheer me on, exchange ideas, inspire me — it has definitely helped me feel less alone during this pandemic. The world seems smaller when we can exchange conversations so easily and instantly online.

I am not scared by change, I think change is a good thing, especially if you have weighed up the pros and cons and realise the pros outweigh the cons.

The concept of failure has gotten such a bad rap and I see over and over again the fear of failure blocks people from taking a step towards something they love. What has been a ‘failure’ of yours that has enriched your life and how? 

I’ve tried many projects out that failed, I think that’s just part of the creative process! You have an idea, you try it out, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, you take it apart and try again or throw it in the trash! That’s creating! I think for me, the failure that I mentioned above, my first pitch for Tortellini at Midnight that was not taken well, turned into something even better. My publisher didn’t even want to see the pitch, she just wasn’t feeling it. I was crushed, especially as I was riding a wave of 2 beautiful books produced within a year of each other and felt so confident about this one. But I didn’t let it stop me, I think the motivation to improve it, to make it appealing, to tell the story in another way, was not only what made the book happen but I think it made it into a much better book, and one that has, in a way, defined me.

It was a very personal book, I delved into my in law’s family history, collected family photographs and family recipes, got lost in the State Archives to find birth certificates, I put everything I had into this book because — although I wanted to make a book that I thought anyone would love and use and cook for their families from — I still also wanted to do something that satisfied my creative soul, too. I wanted this book to be something my husband and my children could be proud of, that had the stories of their great great great grandmother’s meatballs.

Emiko Davies
Emiko Davies. Image Credit: Hana Davies

When we take leaps of faith, we imagine some of the possibilities. What has been something unexpected, a beautiful surprise, or an opportunity that this journey to create a beautiful family home in a small town has gifted you?

Well, it turns out that people really, really love home renovation and I had some wonderful exchanges when we started renovating our home. It came with many limitations because it’s from the 1800s and in the historic centre where there are a few rules about what you can do and can’t. We also wanted to preserve a lot of the old features (and we were on a budget anyway!). But whenever a dilemma came up, I’d put it on Instagram stories and within minutes, someone has drawn out a sketch or sent me a video with a solution to the problem, it was amazing and I really loved that connection! It seemed to get people really excited and there was so much generosity, people even reached out to me to offer to help me design the house, I was really touched.

Emiko Davies
Emiko's girls. Image Credit: Emiko Davies
Emiko Davies
Image Credit: Emiko Davies

What’s a quote you would like to share with the world and why? 

There is a Buddhist proverb that comes to my mind every now and then, “Enough is a feast.” I look at it in many ways, from literally — what food you have on your table, we only need to eat “enough” and we’ve had plenty. But when you look at it too in the larger sense, I really think that it is an important concept, a way to live life. The pandemic has also highlighted this for me too, what we need to live comfortably, or happily — we do not need lots of things, lots of objects filling up our homes or our lives, we don’t need too much food that we can’t finish eating, or toys that we can’t play with or clothes we don’t wear. I’ve become a bit minimalist, and wastage is a becoming such an important thing for me — in May it will be 12 months that I haven’t bought new clothes for myself, for example. I have enough. Moving into a new home was great actually for assessing how many things we actually own and I realised — we have enough. We have a feast.

Emiko Davies
The town of San Miniato in Tuscany, Italy. Image Credit: Emiko Davies

Huge thanks to Emiko for sharing her beautiful journey with us and her thoughts, insights,  and tips. 

You can check out her beautiful work here: www.emikodavies.com.

You can follow here on Instagram here: instagram.com/emikodavies

 

Love and light,

Carla x

a fresh start

P.S. If you would like to start the process of finding what is next for you, you can download my FREE workbook Reawaken Your Lust for Life here.

Dreams Into Reality, Laura Reid

Dreams Into Reality: Laura Reid, From Beginner to National Portrait Photography Finalist

Dreams Into Reality, Laura Reid

Laura Reid said on a recent Instagram post, “Dreams do come true (with work)!” I’ve had the joy of knowing Sydneysider Laura for the past six years and watching her photography world grow. I remember when I met her at my inaugural photography workshop in Puglia in Southern Italy, I thought to myself she’s a quiet achiever. 

Fast forward six years, Laura’s love and commitment to photography, her patience, getting up before dawn a couple of time’s a week and photographing the beach whilst holding down a full time job as a town planner, being a mum to beautiful Orla, has paid off. Not only has Laura honed her photographic skills, created an incredible body of work, developed her own visual language and understanding of what she loves and is attracted to, had her work published in leading magazines, Laura has won two incredible accolades. 

Recently named Finalist in the National Portrait Photography Prize and named as one of 100 World’s Best Women Street Photographers, Laura Reid is an inspirational example that ‘dreams do come true’ if you have the clarity of what you want and put the work in to make it happen. Laura generously shares her thoughts and insights on how she turned her dream into reality.

What was the moment/catalyst/inspiration that made you take the first step into learning more or taking your photography seriously?

I have taken photos since I was given my first camera at 11 years of age. I always liked the composition side of it but I always shot on Auto Mode. Then in 2014, I bought your book Italian Joy and totally devoured it. I just connected to it on so many levels. I immediately signed up to your email list (as I wasn’t’ on Instagram at that stage) and one night, I read an email that you had one space left on your Caravan Photography Workshop in Puglia. I said to my husband, if I had no responsibilities. this would be my dream workshop. He just said, “Go.” I signed up and spent the next 4 months before the workshop trying to work out how to use my camera in Manual Mode.

The week in Puglia was intense and exhausting. I remember one fellow participant describing it as though we had just run a marathon. But it was one of the best weeks of my life. Everything changed for me in that week. Photography became an obsession which has continued to this day.

Sun worship. Image: Laura Reid
Sun worship. Image: Laura Reid
Handstand by Laura Reid

You have spent the past six years working on your photography. You were recently named Finalist in the National Photographic Portrait Prize and weeks ago included in a book of 100 of the World’s Best Women Street Photographers. What has been your secret sauce to take you from a beginner six years ago to receiving these wonderful accolades? 

I have always been fairly competent at a lot of things but I never really stood out at any one thing. I just remember thinking to myself after Puglia that I wanted to excel at photography. I have basically tried to take a step each day to improve my skills and knowledge. I go out shooting fairly often, I spend time editing, I am always looking at other people’s images and trying to learn. I go to exhibitions, do workshops, and attend photography festivals when I can. In the last couple of years, I started to enter group exhibitions and competitions and that has connected me to a lot more people and lifted my profile. Instagram has also been an amazing connector for me. So I guess my secret sauce is that I have just kept moving forward every day in a direction which has brought me to this wonderful position of now receiving accolades.

Courage is essential when we do something new or dare to move towards something we care about. What role does courage play in your life and how does it keep you motivated, inspired, and feeling alive? 

I have had a few experiences in my life that have taught me life is short and you have to take opportunities when they come along. Inside, I may be feeling terrified but that gets the adrenaline going, and I know that is a great motivation to help propel me forward. It may appear like courage to others but I feel I am managing fear a lot of the time. I do find it interesting when people find me courageous for entering competitions/group exhibitions. I know life is full of highs and lows, and sometimes you might be selected and other times not. But you will never know if you don’t try.

Laura Reid, Women Street Photographers
Laura Reid is featured in Gulnara Samoilova's book 'World Street Photographers' (Prestel).
Laura Reid, Women Street Photographers
'Women Street Photographers' showcases 100 contemporary women street photographers working around the world.

Women are told that at 40+, they are too late to fulfill a dream. How has your age been an advantage in your photography journey

I think age brings confidence and a certain degree of determination to achieve things. I hesitate less to ask people whether I can take their photograph whereas when I was younger I would have been too shy. I am more prepared to try things even if I fail and, if I do, I pick myself up quicker and try something else. If I get rejected by a group show or competition I have entered, I may feel a little disappointed, but it doesn’t stop me from keeping on trying. I am a lot less worried about what people think and know myself so much better. I often think that I wish I had started my photography career in my 20’s, but the reality is that I feel I have had to live life doing other things to arrive at the point I am now. My career in town planning has played a significant role in the composition of my photography and I am so grateful for my connections with architects which I have formed over the years.

It can be difficult for women to put themselves and their work ‘out there’, whether it be on social media, pitching to magazines, entering competitions or having an exhibition ! Do you have any tips or habits that have allowed your and your work to be visible? What impact has ‘putting yourself out there’ had on you and your photography and what opportunities has it created in different areas of your life?

I feel the more your name is out there, and the more people see your work, the more opportunities will arise. I started on Instagram, and it felt awkward at first, but now I love looking back at how much my work has developed. Through Instagram I saw that Women Street Photographers (WSP) were asking for submissions for a group exhibition at the Kuala Lumpur Photo Festival in 2019. I entered and got selected. From that exhibition 15 of the photographers were then selected for the WSP Annual show in New York City. I went to the opening night and met a number of photographers with whom I have regular contact with. From that exhibition I was selected as one of a hundred women photographers to be in a book which has recently been published by Prestel. If you don’t put yourself out there then no one is going to find you and you will miss out on so many opportunities.

If you don’t put yourself out there then no one is going to find you and you will miss out on so many opportunities.

Your life looks like you go to the beach everyday! What gifts or beautiful surprises have you received from embracing your creativity and putting time, love, and energy into your photography? What have you learnt about yourself? 

I wish I was at the beach everyday, it certainly is my happy place. Photography has confirmed that I am creative, and that creativity has brought great joy. It has also given me much greater confidence and determination. Because I started later in life, I feel I need to work harder so I can achieve a lot of goals I now have with my photography.

One of the greatest benefits is how much photography has opened my eyes. I see so much detail in life that I feel I missed before. I see sunlight and shadows on a wall and it can totally lift my spirits. I am always observing and looking for possible compositions. I admit that can be exhausting and it is hard to switch off, but I feel my life is much richer because I am more present. 

What is one habit, tip, or behaviour that supports your ongoing creativity? 

I know you said one but I have two things: mindset and light. Mindset is something that I have only come to really appreciate lately. Being mindful and positive has really been a game changer for me, particularly with the development of my online print shop. It has also given me much greater confidence to achieve my goals.

Looking for good light has become addictive, even when I am without a camera. I watch the light all the time as it can totally make the difference in an image. I have an app I use (PhotoPills), particularly when I am overseas, which tells me where and when the sun rises and sets and its position during the day. It is so useful and helps me plan where and when I will go out to shoot.

Afternoon by the Pool. Image: Laura Reid
Palm Springs Curves. Image: Laura Reid
Palm Springs Curves. Image: Laura Reid

What role has community played in your photography journey? 

Community is everything. From every workshop I have done, I still have people I either have personal contact with or I at least have contact with through social media. We obviously have a common interest in photography but I think we all want to see each other grow as photographers. They provided great support and encouragement which is often necessary in the creative community where self-doubt can often appear. I am forever learning tips from them to whether it is about locations, equipment or other resources that are so helpful.

Two women have really stood out as mentors in my photography. One of them is obviously you, Carla. You have really taken me from amateur to professional through several workshops, books, and regular inspiration on social media. The other is Luisa Brimble. I have also done workshops with her and she also offers regular advice which has helped guide my career. I think having a mentor(s) has been really helpful for me, particularly as I never studied photography.

Cooling down. Image: Laura Reid
Cooling down. Image: Laura Reid
Surfers' reflection. Image: Laura Reid
Surfers' reflection. Image: Laura Reid

What’s a quote you live by? And why? 

Your time is limited, so don’t waste time living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs

There are plenty of other quotes to the same effect. I spent a lot of time when I was younger trying to please others such as parents, teachers, friends and partners and I became lost. I think it is really important to live you own life and stay true to who you are. To a lesser extent, I am still trying to please others, but I do take more time for myself and to achieve things that will make me happy. Defining boundaries is something that I have learned to do as I get older.

Huge congratulations to Laura for everything you have achieved and a big thankyou for sharing her  thoughts and process.

You can check out Laura’s beautiful work here: www.laurareidphotography.com

Follow her on Instagram here: instagram.com/laurareidphoto

 

Love and light,

Carla x

reawaken your lust for life

P.S. If you want to get reconnected back to a life full of passion and creativity, you can download my FREE Awaken Your Lust for Life Workbook here.