Monthly Archives: November 2018

The Network of Possibility

Dr Kim Vella started the Network of Possibility to fill a gap for safe and inspiring networking for women.

Networks. They can inspiring. They can be a talkfest that adds no value to your life.

On a personal front, Kim Vella finds networking where people ‘tell, sell or yell’ frustrating and exhausting so she started her own, for those in the work world and those outside it.

The Network of Possibility is a philanthropic initiative designed to unite community-minded Canberra women who want to use their time, energy and skills to give and learn from others.

‘This is not your typical networking group,’ says Kim who is an accredited executive coach with a PhD in Sociology from ANU.  ‘It’s designed as a neutral and inclusive space focused on your purpose, not your level, status or rank. We don’t shove our business cards down people’s throats. We don’t need to present elevator pitches or prove ourselves. We already know that everyone who comes is worthwhile.’

The Network of Possibility invites a guest speaker to each event, someone who has or is making a significant transition in life. Their stories are truly motivating.

Dr Danielle Klar, owner of Plumery Jewellery

This month, on 28 November, Dr Danielle Klar will talk about her journey to jewellery. Danielle was on a career trajectory and determined to become the Secretary of a department. Then she was diagnosed with cancer and later told she had life-threatening clots in her legs and lungs. She almost lost her life.

At the November Network, Danielle will talk about the process she went through to get to where she is today, which is working part-time as a GP in her husband’s medical practice and part-time with her daughter in Plumery, the bespoke jewellery business Danielle started during her long recovery.

Butterfly Wings Brooch is a brooch and a pendant. Nearly 25cts of ruby invisibly set, and over 1.5cts of diamonds.

Other Network guests have included Kristen Holzapfel who spent several years working as a child protection social worker. While her career was rewarding, it took its toll and nearly broke Kristen’s heart and her body. Kristen turned her experience into something positive, writing a book called Selfless: A social worker’s own story of trauma and recovery.

The Network has also had guests such as Pip Seldon, from the Healthy Tradie Project and Kerstin Oberprieler from Pentaqest which provides gamified experiences.

While many career women attend the Network so do those who aren’t currently working. ‘These could be women on maternity leave, or mental health leave, or someone just taking a break,’ says Kim. ‘Sometimes it’s hard for these women to find an inspiring space. The Network fills that gap because it’s completely non-judgmental. You don’t have to put your wares on display.’

Kim wanted the Network to be purely philanthropic, and so it is. A silent auction is held at each one raising money for three women’s charities—Karinya House, Toora Women Inc., and YWCA Canberra.

It was a light bulb moment that led Kim to develop The Network of Possibility. She was at a ‘typical professional networking awards event’. She sat beside a female lawyer in the public service who was settled in her career but not entirely happy with it. She didn’t want to change jobs but was looking for meaning and purpose, to feel more fulfilled. She said she didn’t know where to find it.

‘This inspired me to create a group where women could come together to get a sense of purpose and meaning with no strings attached,’ says Kim. ‘The Network attracts women who want to expand their circles of influence and drive change in another way. We share defeats and triumphs and learn from others. The Network makes peoples’ hearts sing.’

If you’d like to attend the 28 November Network of Possibility, book here.


The creative minds behind Canberra’s Aeon Academy

Canberra is packed with creative minds. Talented people who enrich our community in so many ways and on so many levels. The line-up of true innovators includes a local artist and a yoga teacher who devote their lives to inspiring kids to learn through creative and active play.

This story begins after award-winning Canberra artist, Teffany Thiedeman, graduated with a Bachelor of Visual Arts from the ANU School of Art and Design. She had a young baby, was practicing her art part-time but needed more. She started tutoring art classes for kids and it didn’t take long before Teffany realised there was a massive craving for her unique approach. She began teaching larger classes from her home studio, Hearth, where Teffany showcases an evolving range of figurative and sculptural work.

‘The classes got so big we even held them in the driveway,’ says Teffany. ‘The kids loved them and so did their parents.’

Hearth Studio: Home is where the art is.

The next chapter of this story sees Teffany’s partner, Mathew Long—a yoga teacher who graduated from the Australian National University in Canberra, majoring in Anthroplogy, Archaeology and History—joining forces with her. Realising the duo was on to a good thing, Mathew recommended that the classes be formalised and that their passion for igniting sparks in young people be transformed into a proper business.

Aeon Academy was born and that was 15 years ago. Since opening, with Yarralumla Primary School its main base, Aeon Academy has seen thousands of kids pass through its foundation and specialised programs for kids as young as three to teens up to 16 years of age.

‘Mathew has always been a game’s master,’ says Teffany, ‘and he was able to bring another type of programming to the table, including dramatic adventures which are so wonderful for learning. We’ve worked hard at developing creative and active play programs that aren’t available elsewhere in Canberra.’

Aeon Academy is famous for its dramatic adventures.

On Saturday, 24 November, Aeon Academy will celebrate its 15th birthday with a big bash at Yarralumla Primary School. All families are welcome from across Canberra, not just those who have kids enrolled at the Academy.

‘We’re all about spurring the imagination and building the compassion of future generations, especially important for not just individual kids and their families, but Canberra as a whole,’ says Mathew. ‘Our before school, after school and holiday programs are unique, enriching and memorable, so much so that several of our current educators were themselves students.’

Today, Aeon Academy is a not-for-profit social enterprise. It runs open houses four times a year, to give back to the community. The upcoming open house celebrates Aeon Academy’s 15th birthday and is going to be the biggest party yet.

The line-up of birthday activities includes a dramatic adventure tournament to raise funds for Freyja Christiansen and her fight against cancer. There will be art activities, including making badges and creating Aeon Academy’s famous cardboard go-carts. Live music will be by Scroggin, a local band made up partly of former teachers and students from Aeon Academy. An exhibition of art created by kids will be held, with fantastic ceramic work the students have made with a bird theme. It will feature bird baths, bird houses and awesome avian animalia.

At the 15th birthday bash, Aeon Academy will announce the winners of its inaugural Scholarship Program, with scholarships being awarded to five children.

 Aeon Academy is all about learning through creative and active play.

Aeon Academy runs free open days around four times a year, welcoming kids from across Canberra and their parents, to enjoy a day of inspirational activities. At this one, a mega birthday cake will top off celebrations.

Canberra is so fortunate to have creatives like Teffany and Mathew who have the courage of their convictions and who are prepared to solely dedicate their lives to building an inspirational place for us all to live.

The birthday bash is part of Design Canberra, a month-long festival rolling our 150 activities across the capital. Teffany hosted an Open Studio in Hearth, as part of the festival, which also included a line of functional wares under her domestic label ‘Fetish Designs’. Teffany works predominantly in clay but also with bronze, fibreglass, paper, stone and wax.

‘Art permeates my every day life and my every day life is entangled with my art,’ says Teffany.

Mathew, Founder and Creative Director of Aeon Academy, and Teffany, Founder and Artistic Director, welcome all Canberrans to their open day,10 am to 4pm, 24 November. More information:

Stay with us at LFW for more profiles of inspirational and hard-working Canberrans who make a difference to our lives in so many ways.




A story of a pear-shaped woman

Lovin’ thunder thighs. Designer Bronwynne Jones with model Swan Ricco at FASHFEST 2017. Image: Avon Dissanayake.

For years, Brownynne Jones was frustrated with fashion, so much so that she started her own label. We all have different shapes—hour glass, watermelon, banana, apple and pear. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, says Bronwynne, the reality is that it’s easier to shop fashion for some shapes than others.

Bronwynne is pear shaped and proud of it.

‘I used to think there was something wrong with my shape because I could never find lovely clothes that fitted just so,’ says the designer. ‘Then it dawned on me that it wasn’t my problem, it was the fashion industry’s problem and so I began making my own clothes. That’s when I started to feel great and stopped worrying about how I looked.’

Image of Tiahna taken at FASHFEST 2017 by Naimat Ahmed.

Thunder Thighs is a label for the perfectly pear shaped, although Bronwynne now knows her designs fit a range of shapes, even the tall and thin. ‘It was fabulous to discover this, although the pear-shaped is still my main aesthetic,’ says the designer.

This Thursday, at M16 Artspace, Brownynne is launching an exhibition as part of Design Canberra Festival. ‘Curvature Couture: Design and the pear-shaped woman’ officially opens at 6 and runs until 25 November. M16 is where Bronwynne has her studio.

The exhibition showcases what Bronwynne does best—focus on shape as a feature not as a flaw. She’ll host a short fashion event using a combination of models with interesting shapes, such as Bec and Trish from HAUS Models. She’ll also use women who aren’t professional models. The common thread is that every woman who appears in the show is in love with their body shape and fashion.

Bec from HAUS Models. Image: Naimat Ahmed.

Thunder Thighs is still a young independent label and Brownynne has learned heaps since presenting her first full collection on the catwalk at FASHFEST in 2017. ‘FASHFEST is a real platform for local designers and an important one,’ says the designer. ‘I was so nervous, but the collection looked amazing on the catwalk and the feedback was  fabulous. The team members behind FASHFEST are so willing to share knowledge and encourage you.’

Sustainability is important to Bronwynne and she’s committed to using new and natural fabrics as much as possible and sourcing interesting roll ends and remnants. She also uses pre-loved garments, deconstructing them and using elements in her designs. A classic example is Bronwynne’s hugely popular ‘Shirt Front Back Top’, which she’ll present at ‘Curvature Couture’.

Bronwynne’s famous ‘Shirt Front Back Top’. Image: Naimat Ahmed.

This shirt is fitted at the top and has a swing back to skim over the thighs, but women who have a tummy love it too. ‘To enhance interest, I include an insert using men’s shirts and, more recently, women’s scarves,’ say Bronwynne. ‘Customers even bring in their own shirts and scarves, ones that hold memories, so the garments I make for them are highly personal and a major talking point.’

At the opening of Curvature Couture, and throughout the exhibition, guests can check out their shape against life-sized panels by String, local artist Paul Martin. The garments on the catwalk will be put on mannequins after the show and form part of the exhibition.

Brownynne presented her first full collection on the catwalk at FASHFEST in 2017. Image: Doug Hall, Studio Vita.

You can also hear Bronwynne talk about her designs at M16 on 15 November at 1pm. She’ll also present a short workshop on dressing thunder thighs on 25 November at 2pm.

In the meantime, join Bronwynne at ‘Curvature couture: Design and the pear-shaped woman’ for the official opening this Thursday, 8 November, at 6pm. The fashion show starts around 6.30.