collaborators

tea & sympathy

  A banner image from the new Tea & Sympathy website. Photograph by  Emma Byrnes.

 A banner image from the new Tea & Sympathy website. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

Earlier this year Anna from Sweet Polka approached me to work alongside her on the online rebranding of local tea artisan Tea & Sympathy. Anna would be responsible for the overall art direction of the project plus the word-smithing and I would generate the photographic imagery, design the look-and-feel of the new website and then rebuild the whole thing in Shopify.
Tea & Sympathy stocks a limited, hand-picked range of premium leaf teas - from classic blends, to many interesting bespoke Chinese and Taiwanese teas not otherwise available in Australia. Angelina Yannuccelli who founded the brand sees the range as an extension of her own personal tea odyssey and immersion in tea culture.
I first met Angelina when she established the brand back in 2012 so I was aware of the knowledge and passion she applies to her business and the calibre of the range she offers. When I visited her old web site I realised that it did not reflect the authority and perspective that she had garnered over the past five years in the tea business. The site was full of great information but it was cluttered and disparate, having been added to in a piecemeal way over time.

 A banner image from the new Tea & Sympathy website. Photograph by  Emma Byrnes.

A banner image from the new Tea & Sympathy website. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

 We decided to simplify the user experience and elevate the imagery to a standard that matched the quality of the tea for sale. Anna and I spent an afternoon photographing images to create a general mood for the brand - we wanted the feeling to be tangible yet sophisticated to reinforce the brand's authority on teas whilst reflecting the personal touch that Angelina brings.
We would also streamline the way the individual product was presented by photographing the teas in ceramic bowls provided by local homewares wholesalers - Marmoset Found. I must say this was a very pleasurable experience - spending the day with Angelina and her encyclopaedic knowledge of her range, visually honing in on each tea as a separate entity and observing the colours, textures and smells. 

  Chrysanthemum flower tea  in beautiful ceramic bowls by  Marmoset Found.  Photograph by  Emma Byrnes.

Chrysanthemum flower tea in beautiful ceramic bowls by Marmoset Found. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

Once the imagery was finished I built the site and Anna edited the copy. And, as of last week, it is out in the world ready for the next stage of the brand's growth.
I wish Angelina all the best with Tea & Sympathy. Having worked with her I understand that the motivation behind her brand comes from a passion for excellent product and supporting artisan growers and small family farms in tea-making traditions that have been passed down over the centuries. Wonderful!

Em x

PS - If you are in the market for specialty tea my favourite whilst working with Tea & Sympathy was the Jasmine Pearls - just sublime. 

beyond the cloth

 Clara Vuletich at her beloved Bondi Beach. Photograph by  Emma Byrnes

Clara Vuletich at her beloved Bondi Beach. Photograph by Emma Byrnes

"I am equally passionate about fashion and textiles as I am about sustainability. My journey has essentially been to try and make sense of how these two concepts can coexist."
- Clara Vuletich, 2016

These are the words of my dear friend and collaborator, Clara Vuletich and lead us into a wonderful in-depth interview recently posted at Intent Journal for which I have supplied the photographic portrait. Clara's journey is one well worth hooking into - she has much depth to her investigation of the environmental damage and misery caused through fashion’s business activity and her conclusion is that the answer to our woes lies in creativity, innovation and collaboration. What a positive approach to a dire situation! You can listen to a recent TED talk that Clara gave to hear more about her ideas around these principles for sustainability and fashion.
Intent Journal is a fantastic new discovery for me. It features wonderful long-form interviews with people who dedicate their lives to exploring the purpose, impact, craftsmanship, longevity and lifecycle in the fashion and textiles industry. There are some wonderful profiles featuring people who value the story behind our clothing. Be sure to carve out a little time for this one - it is not one of those online spaces that caters to the 3 second concentration span. This project has some substance, as do the ideas explored within it!
Em x

lifestyle travellers

  Our daughter Arkie taking in a street scene in Can Tho, Vietnam. Photograph by  Emma Byrnes

Our daughter Arkie taking in a street scene in Can Tho, Vietnam. Photograph by Emma Byrnes

My husband Pete and I have hatched a collaborative project called Lifestyle Traveller. For six weeks now we have been on the road in Vietnam with our three kids in-tow and the whole "working remotely" gig suits us both down to a tee. We love being free of the constraints of everyday life in Melbourne (read: alarm clocks, school, homework, laundry, dishes) and spending our days with our children, sniffing out wonderful adventures and meeting interesting folk along the way.
And the great thing for us is that our journey has only just begun!
Pete is a journalist who writes about food, travel and lifestyle and if you know me then you are aware that I am interested in visual storytelling on anything related to food, textiles, ethical business and family life. Lifestyle Traveller will bring together all of those interests as well as exploring some ideas around education and unschooling/worldschooling, which I'm particularly interested in (if you'd like to jump right in to that, read this post). Pete and I have been together for twenty years and have never joined our skills for anything vaguely work-related, so it is an exciting occasion for us. If you have a moment, please head on over and have a look around - I'd love to hear what you think. 
Em x

knit one, om one

 Photograph by  Emma Byrnes

Photograph by Emma Byrnes

An article in Knit Wit Magazine's latest issue features long time collaborator, slow textiles inspiration and dear friend of mine - Clara Vuletich. (I was the photographer on this story by freelance writer Neha Kale.)
Clara is a textile designer, sustainability strategist and yoga teacher. She is one of those treasured folk who greets the birds and flowers in the morning with vigour and fills her life with colour and texture, honouring age old craft traditions in the process.
The article in Knit Wit investigates a link that Clara has been ruminating on for many years - the one between meditation and textile craft techniques. Her belief is that there exist similarities between these simple hand-techniques and meditation, both activities that make us feel calm and relaxed. The piece coincides with another article last week by the New York Times about how craft activities promote the development and maintenance of cognitive health.
Her insights motivated Clara to establish Sutra Stitching workshops in 2013 where she teaches both mantra meditation and hand-stitching side-by-side. Her plan this year is to extend these workshops to a much broader audience - so, if Clara's mindfulness bent piques your interest, be sure to follow her journey. Having spent many hours in her company I can guarantee that you will find nourishment and inspiration.
Em x
 

home sewing élan

 Photograph by  Emma Byrnes

Photograph by Emma Byrnes

My friend Nita-Jane always turns heads. Her eye for style and fashion is acute and most of her garments are made from scratch. And when I say 'from scratch' I mean that NJ conceptualises fresh ideas, translates them into patterns and then constructs beautiful one-off pieces. She truly is an original and marches to the beat of her own drum.
And the good news is that she now shares her aesthetic with others as her new enterprise Pattern Fantastique sells sew-at-home digital patterns. The other bonus is that Nita-Jane wants her clients to extend their technique and sewing skills and encourages discussion and problem solving via her blog.
Despite having what at first glance appears to be a fairly limited range of designs available for sale, on deeper investigation you will find that each pattern can be appropriated in many ways with dramatically different outcomes depending on slight alterations and the fabric used. In fact, Nita-Jane is hosting a workshop at Pop Craft Studio in March to explore the myriad of ways the Aeolian tee (pictured above) can be executed and she will guide people through assessing fit, fall, prints and texture. For anyone who wishes to inject élan into their home sewing - this workshop would be for you.

Em x

light filled creative space

 Photograph by  Emma Byrnes

Photograph by Emma Byrnes

My friend Olivia recently launched a new creative space in Melbourne - The Assembly Rooms. It is a light-filled and very serene environment - absolute tonic for the soul and a fabulous place to exercise new artistic muscles.
I have been spending time there taking photographs and am very inspired to step away from the dinner mayhem at our place and sign up for some evening classes. I'd like to give oil painting a go. Those pumpkins are by students who have been painting oils for only 3 weeks! Now that is inspiring. 
I dropped by a Wood Block printing class the other night and the students in that class were also working up some magic.

If you live in Melbourne you might be interested in checking out their upcoming classes.
See you there.
Em x