“I was born in London and under protest immigrated to Adelaide with my family when I was 14 years old. I was quite a tomboy growing up and thanks to dad I’ve always followed Chelsea football club.
Dad is a Turkish-Cypriot and was 41 when he met mum in London whilst she was on a stint travelling from Bordertown SA and they met and ‘BANG it was on!’
Two years later they had me and shortly after my brother Corey. I also have another awesome brother Lev from my dad’s first marriage too.
Zerin means wildflower in Turkish or as mum likes to call me ‘Wild Child!’
My first Chelsea Football Club game was in Mum’s stomach. She was heavily pregnant in standing room and mum feared that neither one was going to come out alive!!
Mum suffered badly with SAD and depression and over the years we had tried every remedy under the sun to make her condition better but it just wasn’t to be. Moving to Adelaide was the last resort as we truly felt as if we would have otherwise lost her.
My parents chose Adelaide as it’s a few hours from where Mum was born and has family. Although it was a very memorable six years for me in so many ways, Adelaide wasn’t really my cup of tea as it was just too quiet coming from London.
Having finished my schooling in Adelaide I landed a job as a family portrait photographer with Olan Mills for 2 1/2 years travelling all over South Australia, I literally went from secondary school to photographer at 18 and I loved it. My love for photography began when I was around 12 during a family holiday in Wales. I just remember something changing in me at that time after capturing two gorgeous sheepdogs peering out underneath a very battered barn door and remembering thinking ‘Wow.. this really makes me feel something’.
At 20 I wanted more than Adelaide has on offer so went back home to London to pursue my passions of photography and singing. The photography I did in London was very product-based with minimal human interaction so I struggled a little and moved onto working for voluntary services overseas (VSO) for a few years sending skilled professions to underdeveloped countries for two years which was absolutely amazing.
Single best experience of my life? I volunteered in Jamaica for three months with orphaned children!
After seven years back in London, the itch returned to go back to Australia so I choose Sydney this time as the international gateway of Australia. Although I had the most amazing job as a wedding photographer in Sydney it was honestly the most challenging time of my life to date. I had the naivety of thinking that everyone was going to be as friendly as they were in Adelaide. But with no family, friends or support, it didn’t take long to feel very isolated and unhappy. After 2/12 years I left the job, the city and the people that were all bringing me down.
I wanted to give Australia one more shot and as there were only two other states that I had friends in, the pick was between Perth or Melbourne. So I visited Melbourne. For four days, I had brunches, Albert Park walks, visited buzzing Degraves Street, cocktails, bars and pub fun and ran the Tan. I found the food and people of Melbourne so much more friendly and it was then and there it had me hook, line and sinker and still does!
When I first moved across my darling friend Winnie put me up in Richmond until I got onto my feet which didn’t take long! I landed a job at Verve Portraits where we would do amazingly fun and dynamic studio shoots of families and their pets. I loved it! Worked there for 2 1/2 years.
With not much photography work up for grabs I did some temping for the Australian Dental council which progressed into another 2 1/2 year stint of being their preliminary examinations manager.
Some highlights for me were seeing and supporting overseas trained dentists and hygienists through the process to enable them to reach a level to be able to practice in Australia.
In 2013 I visited YARRAVILLE for the first time (during the day!) on a search to buy a house and I remember sitting in the corner shop.. thinking although this felt a long way from Richmond… THIS IS IT!!
The village has such an old English country feel about it and I was instantly in love.
Bought a gorgeous Victoria weatherboard house and renovated two years later.
In 2014 I had my first beautiful boy Alfie which was followed 23 months later by Otis. They are both the absolute apple of my eye.
2016 was when the purchase of Heal.Thy Self Co occurred thanks to a lovely friend Electra. I recall walking into the cafe a couple of years prior and asking if they had soy milk and they didn’t so I never returned! That was the first change I made. We currently use Happy Happy Soy Boy it’s locally made and has 31.8% less sugar than Bonsoy.
The business was already doing really well back then and people would often ask me if I had had a background in hospitality. My response is always ‘Hell No!!’ It’s been a very massive learning curve and it still is with so many different dietary requirements to consider from gluten-free and celiac, garlic and onion absorption issues, customers not being able to consume stone fruit, refined sugar-free, soy-free, lectin-free…it literally never ends.
I do get excited planning the menu each season trying to infuse different cultures whilst also holding on fiercely to the healthy ethos that we are known for.
We have to tap into what people want but also what I want!
Being vegan I am really big on nutritionally dense meals. It has to be wholesome and incorporate whole foods, plant-based deliciousness derived straight from the earth to your plate, not tampered with and not processed. I want people walking away feeling great about what they’ve consumed, their customer experience and leave wanting more!
My regulars are like family to me. I know what’s going on in their lives. We hug, and they care for me and likewise, I care for them. Honestly, there is not a day that goes by that I do it feel so blessed to be in the position I am.
With all my enormous amounts of free time (!!) my photography has landed me the job of running all the socials for the Railway Hotel, Yarraville for two years and for the past year I’ve also taken on doing all the photography and social media for the amazing Yarraville traders. It’s a job I take very seriously as this is my community and my home and this sincerely is the most incredible community I have ever experienced. I am never leaving Yarraville!
Owning Heal.Thy Self Co is my small part of contributing to changing the world for the better. Wanting it to be as sustainable, ethical and environmentally friendly as possible whilst also very big on providing this amazing community with smiles, cuddles (post-ISO 29 min hugs!!) laughter and amazing food is my way of making a positive impact on people’s lives.
During this very challenging and powerful year, I’m personally reminded of the speed at which life moves at. We have to remember what’s really important here. It’s not all the materialistic stuff that has such little reaching impact. It’s about connecting physically with the people in your life that you love and care for, and being present in peoples’ lives that mean something to us.
We are never going to get this time again so relish every moment. Make it count. Make experiences and memories that will be spoken about forever. Tell someone you love them. And one of my personal favourites – smile at strangers! You never know how much a smile can brighten someone’s day!”