Amy Bowe is a creative consultant who specialises in styling retail, interior and events. She’s also a member of WorkLife. Amy’s often seen darting through Berry with her young son Artie on her hip and a large flat white from Queen Street Eatery in tow on her way back from location scouting for a shoot or event. Here she sits down for a WorkLife Balance chat; letting us know how she keeps her creative fire flickering, still takes time to see the sunrise and has managed to curate her best life.
How and when did you choose life? What’s your tree change story?
It’s been a dream of my husband Patrick and I for many years to set down roots somewhere else. Every time we’d leave our terrace in Darlinghurst to visit family on properties out of Sydney we’d feel so much happier being away from the city. It was when I went back to work after I had my second child; Artie, that it became clear the fast-paced world of fashion was no longer sustainable for the family or for myself. The pressure of raising a family in the city just wasn’t appealing anymore. I had a craving for something more simple, peaceful and quiet. I wanted to be able to enjoy my children and watch them grow up — not be at work for ridiculous hours. I wanted to get back to the basics. Making the change to a life in Berry was an answer to so many of those problems.
What was your greatest fear about making the leap?
No doubt it was about how I was going to make a career down here. And yet a year on, things are working out so well. The South Coast is chock-full of creative people. My background is in styling fashion, interiors and retail. And there are so many people down here who need that kind of assistance, whether it be editorial work, events, weddings, parties, openings of retail stores, changing over display windows or property styling. I’ve found it’s been a natural flow from one thing to another. There’s a definite need for my skill set which has been so reassuring. It’s lovely for the creative part of me to be working doing these things. So much of it is gained by word of mouth. Introductions and connections have been organic, and they just keep growing.
What’s been the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome?
Matching the lifestyle we want with the amount of work we need to do to sustain it. Without fail, trying to master that juggle is the hardest bit. We certainly don’t eat out as much as we did in Sydney. Yet we’re still paying the same as what we did for car insurance, health insurances and the mortgage is still a reality. It’s put a microscope on what is of real value to us. Yet after all of that, we still choose this life, every day.
How does it work for the rest of the family? What’s been the impact on them?
My husband Patrick is a builder. At the moment he’s working for another builder while he nuts out where his business will fit into a well-established building community down here. In Sydney work was always readily available and demanding. He’s gone from renovating tiny residential terraces where he can’t find a parking spot to working on incredible properties where you can bring the dog to work and still be back in time to pick the kids up from school. My daughter Poppy has started kindergarten at the local public school and has thrived. We watch sunsets and sunrises and have open fires. The kids run around outside and ride their bikes. I’m not worried about traffic. We breathe easier. Being down here has meant I’ve had a year at home with Artie, in that magical time from 18 months on. He’s been my sidekick. Wherever I go, he would. He’s now in daycare a few days a week, but that time was a gift. Watching the kids rumble together is like watching my sister and me when we were young. It’s a childhood where the focus isn’t on the tv. The focus is on just being kids and seeing what trouble you can get up to.
What’s the biggest cliché of country life that’s turned out to be true?
You’re bound to bump into at least three people you know everytime you walk down the main street. It’s lovely, but kind of ridiculous. It’s a cliché, but so, so true.
Is there anything that’s been a surprise to you?
The friendship group has been my happiest surprise. I’ve locked into a group of likeminded people, yet everyone has such different backgrounds. I cherish it. There’s this little community that we’ve created down here for ourselves. I never want to leave.
The hundred-thousand dollar question. When it comes to money, how do you make it work?
My background was in fashion visual merchandising, creating visual schemes with a specialty in opening new stores. With a history working on interiors it’s all melded together to help me relaunch a consultancy as a stylist. I’ve hung up my shingle online at www.amybowe.com.au and keep my portfolio there. I make my coin largely by reimagining retail spaces and events. It’s a big bracket of what I’m doing. Yet both Patrick and I are realistic that it’s probably going to take up to five years to bed down our businesses after such a major geographical shift, so that’s the focus.
What’s your passion project/side gig? Is there anything that you’re hustling on?
My side gig at the moment is as a volunteer teaching ethics at my daughter’s kindergarten class. At the beginning of the year there were 30 kindy kids that wanted to do ethics, but there were no teachers. So I put my hand up, did the training and I’m now really enjoying it.
Picture your book shelf at home. What’s the one book on it that everyone should borrow?
‘This is how it always is’, by Laurie Frankel is one that I just read and loved with my book club down here. We have a monthly girls-only book club. Girls, wine, dinner. The next book on the slate is ‘The Vegetarian’ by Han Kang.
What piece of furniture in your house that makes you the happiest?
Probably my Tessa chair that I reupholstered in 100% wool for my 30th birthday in a 1950’s shade of pea green. It’s been with me for 25 years. It’s the one piece of furniture that has been a constant. It’s my reading chair.
If people come to Berry, what’s the one thing they should eat?
My husband is pretty famous for his roast potatoes. But apart from that, go and have a glass of wine at Silo’s Estate winery and have lunch. Sit up and look over rolling green hills, the vineyard, let the kids run around on the grass and the silos, and eat stuffed zuchinni flowers with ricotta, goat’s curd and truffled honey.
What’s your go-to listen for your trips up to Sydney?
I listen to music. I’ll press play on anything by Angus and Julia Stone, Nina Simone, Amy Winehouse or Lana del Ray. Anything folky with a soul.
What’s your best productivity hack to get the most out of each work day?
I get up early, before my children so I have that time to myself and start the day with my head clear. I’ll often take a walk with our Italian water dog Lola while the sun is rising. I find that works as a walking meditation. On the days that I do that I find I’m at my most productive.
What’s the best thing about your membership to WorkLife?
The bunch of creatives who are there. They are such a diverse group, but everyone is united by a creative vibe. Going there keeps me focused on work and saves me from being pulled into domestic distractions. And it makes me feel like an adult. I get to go into an office space, get dressed like a grown up, put on lipstick, make a cup of tea and get in the zone of getting proper work done. At WorkLife even though everyone is so friendly and chatty, everyone is getting work done.
Imagine tomorrow is a perfect snapshot of your Best Life. What are you doing?
I’m waking up before my children at 6 am to see the sunrise from our view over Seven Mile Beach. Having a cup of green tea and then cuddles with all four of the family in bed. That’s followed by breakfast of roast tomato, avocado, goat’s cheese on sourdough. Then I know I’ve got enough work done during the week, so since it’s a weekend we can take relax and take advantage of where we are. We’ll jump in the car and go and have an adventure somewhere on the South Coast that we haven’t yet discovered. It might be a bushwalk or a new beach. Then we’ll have a big gathering of friends or kids either at our place, or someone else’s where the kids can play and we can all relax with a wine. That’s my best life. (Actually, that’s most Saturdays). I told you things were pretty good here.