FROM ORIGINAL works of art through to textiles and fashion accessories, Tarn Mclean’s works are a study in natural beauty, the fluidity of art and a demonstration of her phenomenal talent.

A doctor of philosophy, majoring in painting, Dr McLean’s new collection under her lifestyle brand Ocre – which officially launched in May in Sydney – features 12 stunning original works of art, a derivative collection of fabric and wallpaper designs and a curated collection of handbags with luxurious finishes in 22 carat gold, opal stone and pearl. 

While each of the components work independently, they all derive inspiration from the one source – the floral zodiac – with the 12 evocative works of art each representing a floral emblem of the 12 star signs that form the basis of the collection.

“Inspiration came to me two years ago on my birthday,” Dr McLean said. “I’m a Capricorn and as my birthday is in January I was planning my creative year ahead and wondered what my zodiac flower was. If I had one then everyone had one. The rest, as they say, is history.

“We all know our birth month gem stone but what about our flowers? I thought if I could paint them then I could gift everyone who has ever wondered what their flowers are, in the most beautiful way I could,” she said.

The wallpapers and fabrics, meanwhile, “are a representation of the paintings, but in a more democratic way,” Dr McLean said.

“Not everyone can afford to purchase the original oil paintings, so I use them as a point of departure for making beautiful homewares and accessories. A truthful testament to our dedication of turning art into beautiful designs to wear and live with.”

Currently manufactured in Australia and the UK, Ocre’s fabrics and wallpaper collections are printed to order on the finest Belgian linen and Australian cotton. 

The collection is available, at this stage through Sydney based boutique agency Inge Holst, with expansion plans set to move into global markets including both the UK and the US.

Dr McLean’s passion is for what is known as ‘non-objective painting’ – which is derived from the early 20th Century movement, Russian Constructivism.

“Russian Constructivism has a focus on human behaviour where our understanding and knowledge of the world around us is transferred into experiencing the world,” Dr McLean said. “This is why, in the commercial arena, I have an interest in providing art as turned into beautiful designs for my gorgeous clients to use, wear and live with.

“It is important that both my interests hold a story and if I design a textile or handbag they have heritage and history. The heritage is held in my ancestral line being my great, great grandfather Adam Forster, who was a botanical artist in the early 20th Century and whose works are now held in the Australian National Library, Canberra.”

Dr McLean’s handbags add a fashionable touch to the collection. The embodiment of Ocre’s ‘laid-back Australian luxury’ aesthetic, the bags are all made of the finest materials and are hand-constructed in Australia.

While each design features luxury natural embellishments such as pearl shell, opal boulder rock and 22 carat fittings, they are also all lined with the zodiac fabrics – creating a neat tie-in with the new collection. 

“Luxury handbags have long been an obsession of mine and after studying fine art I realised I wanted to share my knowledge and skills with my friends, but in such a way that they could wear and use my art,” Dr McLean said. “Handbags were the most obvious choice.

“Finding the finest craftsmen on shore here in Australia has been a challenge, but I believed from the beginning, if Italy can have Louis Vuitton and Ferragamo, then Australia can have its own: Ocre.

“And while we’re at it, magnify our beautiful resources – and a culture of laid back luxury.”

www.ocredesigns.com

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By Leon Gettler >>

IT IS hard to believe but Booktopia, now the biggest selling book outlet in Australia, started 15 years ago with a $10-a-day budget.

Co-founder Tony Nash said that was on the instructions of his brother, Simon.

“He’s very generous, my brother,” Tony Nash told Talking Business.

He said he and his team started the venture when they saw a gap in the market after working for Angus & Robertson and saw the retailer wasn’t interested in building an online business.

“With a very small budget, it just kept getting bigger and bigger,” Mr Nash said.

He said Booktopia today remains very focused on customer engagement.

“We asked ourselves the same question and have done so for the past 15 years and that is, what do our customers want, and by asking ourselves that question and answering that question, you’re on a voyage of discovery,” Mr Nash said. 

He said they found customers wanted stock, they wanted the website to be a certain way, they wanted a bookseller that was Australian and supported Australian literacy programs, sponsoring writers’ festivals and readers’ conferences.

AMAZONIAN STRENGTH

Booktopia also found customers wanted faster delivery and wanted books delivered via the Australia Post network.

As a result, the business shifted next to the Australia Post hub in Sydney.

He said Amazon has not made that big an impact on the business.

“We’ve gone from $80 million to $130 million since they announced their arrival,” Mr Nash said.

He does not regard Amazon as a threat because it is everything to everyone, whereas Booktopia is in the business of books.

“It you’re everything to everyone, you can’t be one thing to a vertical market,” Mr Nash said.

STAYING FOCUSED

He said his research found that companies that did well in an Amazon mature market were those that focused on doing one thing really well.

“That way people know who you are and they keep coming to you,” Mr Nash said.

He said this was particularly important when the shop front is a website.

He said when the business was established, people said bookshops were dying, it was the end of the physical book and that Amazon would annihilate the business.

None of that was true, he said, but the key to success was connecting with the customer. 

“It’s not just about having books on your shelf and having people come in, it’s really connecting with the customer in your store,” he said.

Mr Nash said Booktopia tries to do that online with book experts, and interviewing authors and creating unique content.

www.booktopia.com.au

www.leongettler.com

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness

THE Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell has called for more transparency in the collection and distribution of royalties to musicians through the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) before it is re-issued its five-year licence to operate.

“We have asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to take into account a number of conditions that would give Australian small business artists their fair due and make APRA’s reporting obligations more transparent,” Ms Carnell said.

“APRA has a near monopoly on the collection of fees from businesses that play music and the royalties are distributed to artists based upon what is played on commercial radio. 

“This means emerging Australian artists whose airplay is mostly through community radio, background music, internet radio and other broadcasters do not get paid the royalties they otherwise should," she said.

“This approach makes it difficult for home-grown emerging artists to get their fair share of royalties.

“A number of Australian small businesses and industry associations have also raised concerns about how APRA determines its fees for small businesses based on maximum capacity instead of opening times and the actual capacity during those times.

“For example, venues are charged based upon their total capacity rather than the area of the venue that is being used at any point," Ms Carnell said.

“These, and a number of other issues in our submission to the ACCC are critical to the future of Australian small businesses and must be addressed before the APRA licence is re-issued."

www.asbfeo.gov.au

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QUEENSLAND-BASED startup ANTI took home the title of Australia’s Emerging Creative Startup for 2018 at the recent Creative3 event hosted by QUT Creative Enterprise Australia (CEA) in Brisbane.

Creative3 is an annual competition CEA runs to recognise Australia’s most creative startups. 

ANTI is developing a beanie style helmet designed not only for protection but to be both fashionable and comfortable. 

ANTI co-founder Robert Johnson said the ANTI team did not think it was right that in 2018 helmets still do not fit many people correctly – “and many find them so uncomfortable and cumbersome that they choose to not wear one”

“Helmets are life saving devices,” Mr Johnson said. “Nobody drives without seat belts, so why do people shred without helmets? ANTI believes that the answer to this lies in comfort, ease of use and fit.”

As the Creative3 2018 winner, ANTI will participate in the exclusive Virgin StartUp (VSU) mini accelerator, StepUp, in London. 

Following their week-long intensive, the startup team members will travel to Copenhagen to represent Australia as part of the global initiative for creative entrepreneurship and innovation at the Global Creative Business Cup finals (CBC).

“Being Australia’s Emerging Creative Startup for 2018 is an incredible recognition,” Mr Johnson said. “It gives us credibility in the market. A lot of people don’t believe we make soft helmets as safe as anything else. It shows that we can actually do it and be a real company.

“It’s a fantastic recognition for all the work we’ve put in and we’re really proud to have gone against the other teams and to have gone really well in front of all these people.” 

Creative Enterprise Australia CEO Mark Gustowski, said ANTI took home the award because they came up with an elegant solution that solves problems for a lot of people. 

“They have developed a beanie style helmet that is a protective, fashionable and wearable clothing,” Mr Gustowski said.

“Initially marketed to skiers and snowboarders, it actually has applications for bikers, kids and the disabled, and it touches so many people. They won the crowd because of the impact they can have globally.” 

www.creative3.com.au

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THE team behind the landmark ABC-backed documentary David Stratton’s Stories of Australian Cinema received an International Emmy Award nomination in 2018.

The three-part series, broadcast on the ABC in 2017, was nominated for the 2018 International Emmy for Arts Programming, which recognises the world’s best programs dedicated to an art form or artist. The International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in New York announced the nominees. The winners were announced on November 19 and the winner of this section was Israeli film Etgar Keret: Based on a True Story.

“I’m thrilled that Stories of Australian Cinema has received this most prestigious nomination,” cinephile David Stratton said. “Congratulations to Sally Aitken, the writer and director, Jo-anne McGowan and Jennifer Peedom, the producers, and to the ABC for supporting this series, which was more than anything else a tribute to the richness, talent and variety of Australian films and filmmakers.” 

David Stratton’s Stories of Australian Cinema was featured on ABC iview late last year, along with the classic Australian films Careful He Might Hear You, Lantana, Walkabout, My Brilliant Career and Wake In Fright.

In David Stratton’s Stories of Australian Cinema, the revered film critic and former co-host of the ABC’s At the Movies focuses on the films that capture the nation’s true nature with candour, emotion and humour.

Joining him in sharing this story are actors including  Nicole Kidman, Judy Davis, Russell Crowe and Jacki Weaver, along with directors Gillian Armstrong, George Miller, Fred Schepisi, Bruce Beresford, David Michod, Rachel Perkins and Warwick Thornton.

Running through the documentary is the acknowledgement that Australian cinema has contributed to a greater understanding of Indigenous Australia, through films such as Jedda, Walkabout, Rabbit Proof Fence and Bran Nue Dae.

David Stratton’s Stories of Australian Cinema was produced by Stranger Than Fiction Films for the ABC, with the support of Screen Australia, Screen NSW and in association with the Adelaide Film Festival. The series was written and directed by Sally Aitken and produced by Jo-anne McGowan and Jennifer Peedom.

www.abc.net.au

ends

CREATIVE Industries contributed $111.7 billion to Australia’s economy in 2016-17, according to new analysis by the Bureau of Communications and Arts Research (BCAR).

Known by the BCAR as ‘cultural and creative activity’, the sector relates to the arts, media, heritage, design, fashion and information technology.

The BCAR’s new working paper, Cultural and creative activity in Australia 2008-09 to 2016-17, shows a 30 percent increase in the value of such activity, from $86 billion in 2008-09 to $111.7 billion in 2016-17. 

This equates to 6.4 percent of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016-17.

The working paper tracks annual growth in cultural and creative activity, based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

A BCAR spokesperson said the analysis measures the economic activity driven by cultural and creative industries as well as the wages received from cultural and creative occupations. It identifies how this activity has evolved over time, the drivers of change and how it contributes to Australia’s overall economy.

Activities contributing the most to the economy were design ($42.8 billion), fashion ($14.2 billion), and broadcasting, electronic or digital media and film ($9.7 billion) in 2016-17.

Design has experienced significant growth over the past decade, driven mainly by computer system design and related services.

www.communications.gov.au/bcar

ends

EXTRA >>

Watch the animation 

DANIELLE LARKIN has shifted the goal posts with her d+k activewear range. For a start, she is playing a ‘home’ game.

Right from the kick-off, each piece within her brand has been 100 percent designed, produced and delivered from the one warehouse, based in Queensland.

At just 27 years old, Danielle Larkin is bringing ‘beautifully crafted’ disruption to Australia’s massive - and growing - activewear industry. 

Though just 18 months old, her activewear brand d+k has already experienced 257 percent growth in the last six months, with the company positioned to surpass those figures again in 2019.

While the style, functionality and overall aesthetic certainly play an intrinsic role in this success, it is d+k’s significant points of difference that have helped it gain so much traction in such a short time in what is currently one of our most competitive industries.

 “Originally I had planned to get everything manufactured off shore,” Ms Larkin said. “However I wasn’t happy with the standards that I found overseas, so from both an ethical and a business standpoint, the only option that remained for me was to start doing it on my own, right here in Australia.

“That’s when the real journey began. I found an amazing patternmaker, built a great Aussie team, and here we are today.” 

She said d+k was committed to making a difference in the future of sustainable clothing, with each piece proudly made from quality materials ranging from Italian lycra to organic bamboo, incorporating recycled content where possible.

Of course form and functionality are also paramount, with each piece thoughtfully conceived, tried, and tested. Moisture wicking, quick dry, stretch technology, ultra-breathability, muscular support and UV protection are also integrated with these subtle, yet essential, textile details designed to support the wearer no matter their shape or chosen activity level.

“That’s another reason why I started the label,” Ms Larkin said. “I felt that the fitness industry needed to focus on choosing internal wellbeing and self-love, rather than trying to look a certain way or adhere to a certain fitness regime. We want our pieces to make all people feel good. To make them feel strong, supported and comfortable.

“When designing, I work with the shape of the body, and I really take the time to think about how people move and feel in their clothing, and what I can do to make that a better and more positive experience for them.”

This ethos, has also led to d+k’s brand philosophy, she said, “Be Bold. Be Brave. Be You.” 

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