About your journey so far
After graduating high school, I enrolled in the Associate Diploma of Interior Design course at RMIT School Of Design. I had a passion for art as well as a love of math/numbers during my years at Nazareth, and at the time of my graduation, I was equally interested in Fashion and Interior Design. As both sectors were highly competitive with very few courses available in Melbourne for either, I got into Interior Design and luckily loved it! After finishing my course, I contemplated enrolling in a furniture design course, but on a whim applied for a job at a high-end custom kitchen company and landed the position of kitchen designer. I learned so much on the job, and after working in the design industry in Melbourne for a few years, I decided to spread my wings and gain some international design experience, since I had also caught the travel bug.
I had already fallen in love with London, where my sister lived, so I moved there and worked in the design field for two years, which was an amazing experience on so many levels. Shortly after leaving Australia, I met the love of my life whilst travelling through Italy (an American who was on vacation there). After a whirlwind, long distance romance whist living in London (he lived in Chicago), he proposed. At the end of my time in London, I moved to Chicago, where I have lived for over 20 years! Here, I initially worked in commercial Interior Design, designing offices, building lobbies and retail stores. 16 years ago, one of my colleagues and I decided to branch out on our own to fill a void in the market place – bringing the cool materials and finishes we had access to in our design library to the general public.
We opened Urban Source (www.urbansourcechicago.com) in Chicago in early 2005, a business I have run solo for the past 10 years. We survived some tough times, including the Great Recession of 2008, and more recently having to close the showroom for three months last year during the early days of Covid-19. I am proud to say we rebounded both times! I very recently decided to sell Urban Source, to enable me to spend more time in Australia with my family. I am now wrapping up my current design projects, and look forward to splitting my time between Australia and the US once Covid restrictions ease.
During the past 10 years, I have also dabbled in the fashion industry, creating and designing a line of architecturally-inspired handbags called Mooya (www.mooyabags.com). It’s more of a hobby turned business, so I may develop the line further if I can manage to do it while straddling the two continents. For the first time in a very long time, I am taking a breather, which is rare for me, and look forward to coming back to Melbourne and seeing what the future brings. One thing I do know is I can’t sit still for long, so stay tuned!
My first career achievement came at the end of my Interior Design studies, when I was given the 1st prize for Design Excellence for my design portfolio and school work. The competition was juried by members of the Interior Design community.
I’ve had several of my projects published in both Australia prior to leaving many years ago, and also locally in Chicago. My Interior Design showroom was also featured on several occasions in the annual “Best of Chicago” issue of Chicago Magazine, for various categories. I’ve appeared on several TV segments featuring products from my showroom over the years too. But I think my biggest career achievement is the fact that I have worked for so long doing something I have a passion for.
Fondest Memories of your time at Nazareth College
When I think back of my time at Nazareth, I reminisce about the people I was lucky enough to have as classmates, as well as some of our wonderful teachers. At the time that I started at Nazareth in 1987, the school was only a year old, so every single person (student and teacher) was new too. It felt like an intimate experience, since the school didn’t really fill up until I was in Year 11 (and we finally had students in every year level).
I particularly loved art, drama and my Italian classes, so my memories take me back to being in the art room painting and creating every chance I got, as well as fun experiences in drama and Italian classes. Being involved in the annual musicals was also a highlight, particularly Grease (1990?). I was honestly sad when it was time to say goodbye at the end of Year 12, and wished I could stay another couple of years. However, every experience since then has been significant and amazing, so I really can’t complain!
Looking back, is there anything you would change about your time at Nazareth?
I would say putting myself out there more,and going after leading roles in the school musicals (I loved acting and being involved in the productions, but was also shy – sometimes!). But looking back, I think it would have been a great experience!
What would you say to current Nazareth students looking to pursue a career in your field?
Because I have been overseas for so many years (23 so far), I am a definitely not in tune with what the current courses offered in the field are. However, in terms of preparation for studies in the Interior Design field, I would suggest keeping up with either art or graphic design classes, as well as math (not really a requirement, but it definitely comes in handy!), and if possible, doing work experience in the field. At the time of my work experience in Year 10, I was interested in either set design or acting/television work, although I changed direction sometime there-after. I would have benefited from spending time in a design office to see what it is really all about,and having a mentor.
Once enrolled in a design course, I would highly recommend seeking out an internship in a design office during the summer holidays too. I have often hired staff that started out as interns, who then turned into full time employees. It was a great way for me to do a test run with a new staff member, and a great way for them to see if this was an environment they wanted to be in on a daily basis.