“I was born in Hertfordshire near London. Dad is Irish and Mum is Australian. I’m the second of four girls. We are all born in the UK. Dad loves the sun, and didn’t want the four of us to grow up in the UK, so moved the family to QLD into the Sunshine Coast. My sisters and family still live there.
I never did well in school, and never fitted in. People often ask why the heck I ever moved from the Sunshine Coast, but I didn’t feel like I fitted in. I couldn’t be in the water as I burnt easily due to my fair Celtic skin. I moved out when I was 17, and moved to Noosa.
A few years later, I became involved in my first serious relationship my parents weren’t fans of, so they suggested I visit family for a holiday in London and I stayed 2 years!
I really loved living back in London,, but couldn’t afford it. There’s a definite disparity between people who were tertiary level educated, and those who weren’t. I could never pay my rent. I love the lifestyle, the culture and everything it offered but just couldn’t live there.
After years living in various locations up and down the East Coast, I returned to attend James Cook Uni in Townsville in Far North QLD, as a mature age student studying Graphic Design. After one semester, I was offered a job in Melbourne. A week after arriving in Melbourne, I thought ‘This is exactly where I need to be. It just feels right.’
I fell in love with hospitality and catering while working in Brunswick Street. It was my place. I love the alternative lifestyle, the arts culture, the late nights, and the slightly left from centre attitude that Fitzroy has. While working for Ticketek, I met my husband. We bought our first house in Altona North with a five year plan.
The past 16 years I had very little time off work while having my two gorgeous kids, travelling overseas and renovating our house – which we still live in. All the normal things…, I have always worked full time and this was no different.
After an 8 years stint in Corporate Events with ANZ, then another 8 years with events, live music and live theatre in the city with Marriner Group, it was time for change. I am a foodie. I love cooking. I knew I loved catering and event management, but wanted to take myself out of the comfort zone. I was getting to an age where the world was changing, and people don’t stay in their jobs for eight to ten years like we were taught to. People these days are now upskilling and moving every year or two. I was competing against younger people and needed to change what I was doing, I had become the best at what I did, but it was time to learn new things.
I took a job for Peter Jones Special Events as BDM and Event Producer. I realised once I left the commercial kitchen environment how much I missed it. I launched my own Event Management Company – Footprint Group Events, which would focus on producing events sustainably. All of a sudden I had an opportunity to launch Curtis Stone’s Event Catering in Melbourne which was my DREAM job. I lept at the chance. Eight weeks later COVID hit and events shut down.
During Covid I started baking, just like everyone else. I wasn’t one to sit still and binge NetfIix. I began connecting locals who had also lost their jobs and were struggling for income, and started a group called the Out of Work Bakery. People would come to our house and pick up whatever we had. It was a first-in-best-dressed system and I would sell out each batch.
Other families were selling their specialist products, while I was selling baked goods. We were all putting our special products out on social media, and anyone who needed to make any money they could by baking or cooking could join the bakery. Working and studying from home my family was like living in a friggin’ restaurant, they were having the best food everyday.
I was very aware that my kitchen was not council-compliant, and didn’t want to take anything away from the people who had gone through that process, including businesses who were struggling in the Inner West. It was very much every man for himself, trying to find a balance. I needed to survive but felt that we needed to do it together.
I quickly realised gifting online was a huge thing and the events industry wasn’t going to come back for a long time. Maybe there was a way to work with locals to get us all out of the mess and go with what was working and what the market was calling for.
I started looking at so many small businesses at breaking point in the area, and thought surely we could get something together. I have skills I could put to good use. Sitting at home wasn’t going to solve anything. I started speaking to a few local cafes, and local caterers responded with what they could do best. I knew Linda from the Industry and living locally with our families. Linda loved the idea so we caught up within our 5km. We started throwing out ideas, and focused on marketing stuff that was made in-house. The Positive Feeds service was born. Orders started piling in quickly. We were madly setting up the business AND operating at the same time. We were working around the clock and the Inner West community was incredibly supportive.
Cafes were all turning into local providore stores, and everyone was soon collaborating. Collaboration and connecting with your neighbourhood was a huge thing during lockdown. The Community became close and buying local was more important than ever. People buy people and the word was spreading.
Footprint Group Events and Positives Feeds has a goal in 2021. We are focused on purchasing for purpose, supporting social enterprise and charitable causes. It’s important we donate where we can. I don’t believe in kickbacks, and it doesn’t feel right to me.
We want to continue to support our community, be sustainability-focused in everything we do and work with businesses who have a similar mindset and business goals of giving back. We are all in this together and together we are stronger.”