We are lucky that the people who make up our core have such a diverse range of life experiences, skills and personality strengths. So, as we salute the contributions of women from all walks of life, we share a little of our own history, in particular the paths that have steered us toward our love of design and the written word and, ultimately, how we have come together as Wide Open Co.
From a young age I was fascinated by how things worked, frustrated by inefficiency and hell-bent on creating things with which interaction was both enjoyable and purposeful. Right through school, I adored art classes and art theory. I thought architecture was for me, until I studied graphic communication at school - and it became my obsession. After school I worked for a commercial printer and studied Computer Aided Art & Design. In those days, people were just beginning to see the potential of the digital era, and I felt like an early adopter of design software while others clung to the traditional ways.
After I’d done my time with printers, where I learnt a lot about pre-press, I took a turn towards corporate life, and landed a job for a top-tier law firm. Looking back, I grew up at Blake Dawson Waldron - became a professional, if you may. Standards were high, and the pace was furious. I loved it. Eight years flew by, while I fulfilled my role as in-house Communication Designer. Always the planner, I knew I wouldn’t want to return to work when a family came along, so I’d also spent those years growing my freelancing client base and establishing a reputation of sorts.
For some ten years, I balanced working from home and caring for the family before I admitted I was dying for a new challenge. As the kids began school, I delved into a Master of Communication Design (Design Management), studying online with RMIT. I stretched my studies over four years, and ensured I got the most out of every unit - each more exciting, to me, than the last. Once I was done writing essays, I knew it was time to grow my design business, extend my offerings and build up my design skills by working alongside peers.
I stretched my studies over four years, and ensured I got the most out of every unit - each more exciting, to me, than the last.
Thanks to some fortuitous local introductions and complementary goals, Wide Open Co. was born in August 2017. Since then we’ve been happily working for some terrific clients, not on account of their celebrity or any such rubbish, but because they appreciate us and what we offer. Though we’re still home based, there are occasions when we bring the ol’ ‘girl power’ to the fore, and produce something that none of us alone could. I’m proud of how far each of us has come, and quietly confident in the potential we are yet to bring to market.
I’ve always dabbled with a bit of drawing, painting, and writing too. As a teenager I would do pencil sketches of the models in Dolly magazine, and plenty of drawing, especially when we were on camping holidays. I loved art at school but I didn’t ever believe it could be a career option. So, I studied English Literature at Uni, then went travelling for a few years. It was only later, after a series of underwhelming administration jobs that I realised I could actually be creative for a living! So, I returned to study, first part-time then full-time, working the whole while.
My first job as a graphic designer was in a very small studio in Prahran. Because there were only a few of us in the business we all had to muck in and do everything. It definitely gave me all-rounder skills. I’ve always worked in smaller businesses because I love that you get to do everything and learn a lot along the way. If you don’t know how to do something, you teach yourself, or sign up for some study and learn how to do it. It keeps the brain active and makes every day interesting.
I’ve always worked in smaller businesses because I love that you get to do everything and learn a lot along the way.
Over a number of years I transitioned from a permanent position at a studio in the city to working full time for my own business from a home office. I’m lucky to work in an industry where this is possible. The ‘gig economy’ has its downside but for a freelance graphic designer it makes a small home business very feasible.
I joined Wide Open Co in July 2019. The invitation from Meghan, Mark and Joanna came at the perfect time as I was craving a more collaborative approach to my work. It’s so fantastic that we’re able to pool our talents and create this thriving regional business, whilst maintaining many of the home office advantages. It’s a real work-life balance that means family, dogs, exercise and daily chores can sit comfortably alongside running the business. And, with the industry forever changing, there’s always some new app or piece of software to learn. In my world, that combination keeps me happy.
I believe in the transformative power of communication to create connections. Through words, shapes, sounds, images or even a beautiful piece of design, communication connects us to people, places, experiences and ourselves. These connections are powerful because they can create a sense of belonging, nurture hope and even improve a bad day.
A career in what ultimately became communications and media began after I moved to Spain as a teenager. A love affair with the country and its language paved the way for adventures with people from so many places - everyone came together regardless of language to experience, share and connect with each other through any and every type of communication. In what became almost 10 years of shuttling between Europe and Australia, I came to value communication as the most fundamental way to experience the world.
Working in magazines and then with another Australian woman - who was dedicated, inspiring and generous - we grew a business reviving Sea Monkeys throughout Europe. On returning home, I studied communications and public relations before cutting my teeth in the UK, learning from even more talented, creative and passionate women.
In what became almost 10 years of shuttling between Europe and Australia, I came to value communication as the most fundamental way to experience the world.
Since returning to Australia for good, I’ve found a new passion working with small businesses and the not-for-profit sector, the most challenging and rewarding work of my career. The only reason I’ve been able to grow and learn so much as a professional - and as a person - is through the generosity and support of fellow women, whom we celebrate today.