Week 25 – Brad Holder


Introducing Brad Holder

A note from Kerrie Phipps: I met Brad earlier this year following his nomination by Town Of Port Hedland Councillor Penny Taylor – and I was delighted to find such incredible talent matched with beautiful attitude. Brad looked after all the technical stuff for my workshop for Effective Leaders & Communicators in South Hedland, so I’ve now had first-hand experience of his attitude and flexibility at work!

Penny’s nomination reads – “Brad is a humble and talented performer. The nature of art is that it has to be seen by others. This puts the humble artist in a dilemma. To follow their passion, they have to put their art out and perform. Brad’s maturity and talent makes his work a true art form that deserves celebration and nomination.”

Brad Holder

Brad Holder

Born in the Pilbara City of Port Hedland in the early 90’s, Brad Holder has become one of the most known and respected young people in the region. At just 22, Brad is a talented singer songwriter, Nationally renowned Performing Arts Centre Venue Manager (Matt Dann Cultural Centre – MDCC), Pilbara Representative on the WA Music Regional Roundtable, Managing Director & Founder of Stage Production Business – P.C.C. Productions, the youngest committee member on both the Circuitwest & Techwest Theatre Associations and served as Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and committee member for nearly seven years of the Hedland Youth Leadership Council (HYLC).

How did you get started and when?

I originally started volunteering at my local theatre at around 11 or 12 years old.  I started helping out around the place and eventually became a casual technician. I worked my way through high school doing that, finishing my homework while the film was on the screen. I was involved in the music program and heavily into the performing arts in general. My English teachers would’ve been frustrated because I never got things in on time, but I really enjoyed the performing arts so I just kept going with that. Once high school was finished the theatre offered me a full time position as technician and I did that for 5 years. I have been managing the venue now for about 3 years.

What was your biggest sacrifice in getting your business up and running?

Audio Technician

Doing audio at the
Community Festival

First and foremost was definitely time, I spent most of my high school afternoon’s splicing films, preparing sound and lighting equipment for performances and maintaining & repairing the equipment. Thankfully I had a band at the time also, which helped me have a glimpse of a social life every so often; without that I would probably still be sitting at home, curled up in a ball from not knowing how to interact socially.

What makes Brad Holder‘s story unique?

The most interesting part about what I do is the connection between each of my interests – eg: Through HYLC we have used equipment from my small business – P.C.C. Productions, to host concerts at the Matt Dann Cultural Centre – the venue work at, for acts sourced from my position on the WA Music Regional Roundtable which has given me experience to bring to the table on the Circuitwest & Techwest Theatre Associations. I believe very strongly that collaboration between areas of one’s life is a very important key to success and when combined with passion for doing what you love, it’s unstoppable.

Brad Holder Music

Brad Holder Music

What are you currently working on?

I just recorded my first single at The Studio Couch in Perth which is really exciting.  It was a present from my girlfriend who wanted me to record something.  It was amazing. The song I recorded is actually written for her.  It was very exciting to record a song in the same studio that Birds of Tokyo, John Butler and a lot of really big acts.  I got to work with an amazing producer.  From there I’ve uploaded it to itunes and have just recorded a videoclip for it as well which will be released soon.

Did you have much opposition or support?

Brad Holder

Brad Holder

It’s an amazing community up here (in Port Hedland).  I’ve had support the whole way through the process. I’ve even been nominated for awards – things like that have kept me going. I won the (Port Hedland) Active Citizenship Award twice which is incredible.  There’s been lots of little pushes from the Hedland community to keep doing & to support me in what I’m doing.

What do you love about doing business in your location?

Being based in Port Hedland means our nearest town is Karratha – 200km away, or the other direction is Broome – 600km away. This can create some interesting barriers particularly working in a field where you are quite isolated – there is no other theatre in the Port Hedland area, and only one other professional production company which means you’ve got to get supply orders perfect, you can’t just pop over to your nearest lighting shop and buy a globe to fix your light.

This brings me to my favourite part – the challenges. I constantly work from the old sayings ‘Where there is a will, there is a way – it’s just finding it’ and ‘Improvisation is key’. I cannot emphasize enough how crucial improvisation is.

How does your business contribute to your community?

West End Markets

West End Markets

I often get asked about the benefits of arts in the community; there’s often the perception that arts is just about fun, it’s just the ‘extra’ and isn’t necessary to a community.  If budget cuts happen, it’s the often first thing to go. I beg to differ about that perception – hear me out…

Arts in general can provide an outlet for people to express themselves, whether it is visual art, musical, or simply just writing a poem. The first thing this does is encourage the artist to be creative and think outside the square – growing the brain in a healthy way which can benefit people in other areas of their life such as their work life. Secondly it enables them to express themselves through a safe medium. Thirdly in most cases, it’s social – to be a performer, you need someone to perform to; to be an exhibiting artist; you need someone to exhibit to. This alone encourages people out of their homes and into the neighbourhood where they connect with one another and engage in growing a community rather than just growing a town through markets and festivals.

NWF Battle of the Bands

NWF Battle of the Bands

My last point is probably the most important, the arts create a sense of enjoyment in your community, bringing new faces to town and retaining them. Port Hedland is a mining town with a large portion of it Fly in, Fly Out (FIFO) workers, so enjoyment of arts gives people a great reason to relocate their families to town instead of sticking with the ‘It’s just a working town’ mindset. This boosts the economy of local businesses because suddenly there are new families in town, which need to utilize the town’s local services and it ensures that money being made in the town is spent in the town creating more funding for capitol projects in the future.

To see a theatre full of smiling faces, thoroughly enjoying a magical performance unfold before their eyes is the whole reason I do what I do.

What would you recommend for people who want to live their creative dream?

“Where’s there’s a will there’s a way”. It’s just about finding the way. I think that’s the thing with any situation, just find a way to do it.  Anything’s possible; it’s just how do you make it possible?

Contact Details:

Brad Holder
Matt Dann Cultural Centre
Hamtilon Rd, South Hedland WA 6722
Website: www.mattdann.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/mattdannculturalcentre
P: (08) 9158 9368

Brad Holder
Website: www.pccproductions.com.au
Website: www.bradholder.com.au
Facebook: www.facebook.com/bradholdermusic
M: 0447632936



Week 20 – Amber Joy Poulton


Introducing Amber Joy Poulton

A note from Kerrie – Amber and I were total strangers who started chatting in an airport lounge a few years ago and have kept in touch. Amber shares great insights from her adventures that I believe you’ll appreciate if you’re passionately pursuing the life you want.

Amber Joy Poulton

Amber Joy Poulton

Amber Joy Poulton is a passionate and dedicated country music artist.  She has recently recorded an album in Nashville entitled “Foolish Things” with the first song “Rosalie” due for release in June.  She completed her diploma in Massage Therapy in 2008, was a top 10 grand finalist in the Toyota Starmaker 2009 and recorded her first album “Taking Goodbye” soon after.  She is the recipient of a 2012 TIARA award, two song writing awards & has had 5 songs reach the top 30 on the Australian Country Music Charts. She also toured the country with her touching tribute to the first Queen Of Country, called “Honky Tonk Angels – the story of Loretta Lynn & friends”.  A highlight of her career has been performing with Kenny Rogers.

How do you love to explain what you do to others?
I’m a country music singer/songwriter who gets to travel all over Australia doing what she loves. How lucky am I?

How did you become a singer?
I have always loved to sing and over the years have sung in all sorts of corporate party bands.  During that time I confess that I saw it more as an income and never as a love.  Then I was asked to sing June Carter songs in a Johnny Cash Tribute.  Wow.  Turns out it wasn’t singing itself that I didn’t enjoy it was purely that I hadn’t been singing songs I could connect to until I started to sing country music. That was the moment that I realised I was going to have a career in country music.  Since then I have recorded 4 albums (the fourth recorded in Nashville this year), have happily toured the country with my own band and performed in country music festivals alongside artists like: Beccy Cole, Troy Cassar-Daley and even supported Kenny Rogers on his South Australian tour.

Amber Joy Poulton camera and guitarHow is it that you’re now a Massage Therapist AND singer?
Turns out I can’t sit still for very long.  I like to keep busy and when I was pregnant with my second child I took that opportunity (when I wasn’t singing as much) to study.  I completed my Diploma in Massage Therapy in 2008.  I sat on it for a while because at that same time I entered a competition in Tamworth called the Toyota Starmaker 2009 and became very busy with singing.  Since 2010 I have been working two or more days a week as a Massage Therapist and can work my trips away for singing around my massage hours.  It’s a perfect combination.

Who are your greatest supporters? 

Without a doubt my husband is my greatest supporter.  I don’t know too many partners who would hold the fort while I’m away and to encourage me the whole time.  Four albums and four years of touring on and off and he’s still fully supportive.  He’s the greatest.  I have also always had the support of my parents and also the help of my in-laws.  Both sets of grandparents are very hands on at helping with the kids, which makes life easier.

How does your business contribute to your community?
In my opinion, there’s nothing like country music to lift the spirits and to relay a story of sorrow or hardships that many other people in the community have also been through.  Stories of life on the land, lost love and of course love that has been found again.  Each year there are country music festivals or country music clubs on every weekend somewhere in the country that either raises the community’s spirit and more often than not, raising money for a local charity.

Amber Joy Poulton

How do you move from dreamer to achiever? 

Gosh such a great question.  I always dreamed of being a singer.  I remember wrapping my dads’ old microphone to the broom handle and leaning it against a coffee table so it was on an angle, and using my tennis racquet as a guitar.  So that was “dreaming”.  To make it achievable, I guess it was saying, “yes” to all opportunities.  To learn to preserve your voice by singing correctly is important otherwise it’s a very short career. It’s important to always be thinking outside the box, learning from the people around you who are making it in the industry.  That is a golden lesson.  Oh and to learn that playing the tennis racquet is a lot easier than learning the guitar!

What do you believe are essential qualities of a successful person?
I can only speak on what I believe are essential qualities needed for what I do so here goes;
Drive: Never give up.  It’s constant.  If I have a week or two where I slacken off then it will show up 6 months down the road when I have no gigs booked.

Thick Skin: I can’t please everyone.  It’s impossible.  Some will love what I do and others not so much but I can only go out there and present what I love and what I do and if I get some fans from that, then that’s great.  I can’t change what I love just to please others, then I’d lose my “drive” to do what I need to become successful in my field.
Grace: I think in my industry ego can be a destructive characteristic because you have to be open to criticism and compliments without it becoming an issue, but to also accept compliments when people love what you do.

Describe a significant business (or other) challenge you have faced. How did you approach it?
Airtime.  The only way to take this industry to the next level is to get airtime, both radio and TV.  So the most recent significant business challenge was to make connections and follow up with all radio announcers across the country and overseas and to ensure that if I’m going to outlay my own money to put together a film clip, that I need to do all I can to ensure it gets played as much as possible to make it a smart business decision.  If it doesn’t get viewed, then it’s a bad business decision.  With each video release and single release I need to make sure those key players know its on it’s way.  To make sure they not only received it but ensure they listened to it or viewed it.  I then followed up until it hits the airwaves.  It’s just a constant thing, which goes back to the question above where “drive” is essential.

What did you learn?
I learned that sometimes you have to outlay money and you may not necessarily receive a monetary return from that outlay.  I’ve had to change my way of viewing things by seeing the return may be in other ways i.e.: more exposure, more bookings, more people at my shows – which in the long run would in fact return the money spent, but not directly.

078 copy_1How has the increasing success of your business impacted your personal/family life? 

It’s brought about an increase in income which has been lovely and my family and friends are very happy for me and proud of me.  The negative side would be missing a few things here and there on the home front that would be nice to attend but I’m sure that happens in all careers.

What does success mean to you personally? 

Mainly for me, success means that I am succeeding in doing something that I love and something that I choose to do.  I’ve had jobs in the past that I didn’t necessarily enjoy or relate to or feel invested in and this career as a singer/songwriter is the most gratifying thing I could ever do.

What are the most important things you’ve done to grow your business?
Recording.  To record is a very expensive thing and once I have that CD in my hand I have to go out there and sell it.  Sell, sell, sell until I’ve been repaid and can then make a profit.  The profit from that recording then goes towards my next recording.  I recently returned from Nashville fresh from recording my songs with the best musicians in the world and I feel 100% invested in this new product of mine and it’s now my focus to promote and sell that album and be sure that it achieves as much as it can in the next 3-4 years.  However the beautiful thing about recordings is that they are forever.  They remain in the world forever.  People will hear those songs for as long as they want and that outlives all live performances etc.  It’s a pretty powerful tool.  It will absolutely grow my business and get the word out there.

Here’s to country music!

Amber Joy Poulton
TIARA Award 2012
SA Achiever Award 2009
Starmaker Top 10 Grand Finalist 2009
SA APRA Best Traditional Country Song Of The Year 2009 & 2010
Top 30 Hits – Rising Star, Break Even, Taking Goodbye,
Close Enough, The Lovin’ Is The Easy Part
0411 230 822


Week 18 – Amber Martin


Introducing Amber Martin

A note from Kerrie Phipps – it’s been exciting over the past few years to see Ambers work improve out of sight and to watch her opportunities open up as she becomes recognised as a talented, passionate and empathetic artist. I was so moved by Jeanine’s nomination for our Young Achievers Giveaway as she described “Ambers selflessness and dedication to support groups for ADF (Australian Defence Force) and her empathy. Amber caught my sons Aussie larrikin personality. The painting is him, all that he is. It helps me when he is deployed.”

Amber Martin

Amber Martin

Amber Martin is an Australian War Artist who taught herself to paint with boot polish 12 years ago by creating scenes of rural life on her family’s outback cattle station. Her interests moved from rural images to military artwork because of her own desire to re-enlist into the Australian Army.
After one of her artworks drew the attention of the 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment’s former Commanding Officer, Amber was commissioned by the unit as an Australian War Artist, depicting Sappers undertaking their various roles in current ADF operations.

“A lot of media today focuses on the big stories, forgetting about our troops who are on front line operations,” said Amber. “I feel that they just don’t get the acknowledgment and support that they deserve. What better way to depict their sacrifices, efforts and their stories than through my art?”

Amber has also illustrated of the RM Williams biography “One Piece of Leather” and held a major art exhibition at the Stockman’s Hall of Fame in Longreach. A Montage painting she did was gifted to the US Navy in 2011 and now hangs in the US Navy Seabee Museum and Heritage Center at Gulfport, Mississippi and during that trip; Amber spent a week painting with US Marine Corps Combat Artists in Quantico.
Ambers’ painting “In His Blood” was also a finalist in the 2012 Gallipoli Art Prize. Amber is a member of the International Society of War Artists, and aspires to become an Official War Artist for the Australian Army.

A War Artist with a passion.

How do you love to explain your business/enterprise to others?

Often when I am asked what I do, people seemed surprised.
” I am an Australian War Artist”
“A what?” generally is the response.
So then the questions start rolling in… where I work, do I go on the battle field, have I been to Afghanistan, what kind of images do I paint…etc.

I am self employed and commissioned on a continual basis by an Engineer Regiment, depicting the diggers of the corps of engineers undertaking their various roles in current ADF operations across the world.

I am also contracted out to other Regiments, Defence organisations and companies who supply to Defence. I haven’t had the opportunity to go on a deployment as yet as you have to be ‘sponsored’ by the regiment and there is a lot of paper work involved – as you can imagine. I am currently in the process of re-enlisting into the Australian Army Reserve, so anything is possible.

I am sent images of what they want painted and work from my home in Dubbo. I am also invited to attend fundraising functions and go to events with the regiments. I take part in fundraising for the different regiments and organisations to support Defence Causes as well.

How did you get started in this unique work?

I started out painting rural scenes of my brother in laws property in Wanaaring and had taught myself to paint using boot polish about 12 years ago. I was very successful at this and gained notoriety as “The Boot Polish Artist”.
Due to my passion for the Army, I started painting scenes depicting Australian soldiers on deployment, on exercise and at home in their job roles because I loved it when I was in.US Navy

Initially, I entered a photographic competition on the Australian Army’s Facebook page in 2010 and won the competition, (and an award from the Chief of Army) with a photo of a painting I had done,. It was called “Covering Fire” and was later donated to Brisbane Legacy to raise funding to support family members who have lost a loved one KIA (Killed In Action).
I was then asked by Army Social Media to post my paintings on their page and a few months later, one of my paintings titled “Sapper” caught the eye of the former Commanding Officer of the 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment which is based at Enoggera.

What have you been learning as you become known as an Australian War Artist?

I realised that there was so much more going on than just painting these scenes. There are many issues around Defence that I felt needed to be acknowledged such as health and wellness.

I don’t believe our soldiers get enough recognition for the work and sacrifices that they make. They are out there 24-7…. not just in Afghanistan, but the Sinai, Iraq and Timor just to name a few; in the worst conditions, not having seen their loved ones for many, many months. They could be fighting the Taliban and/or  insurgents and sometimes making the ultimate sacrifice. The issues surrounding this include the injuries; both mental and physical.

I have been able to depict through my art some scenes of their woundings and bring awareness to the general public. It increases support for those suffering from PTSD, anxiety and other mental illnesses and at the same time help raise funds for our amputees to assist with ongoing medical expenses.

I can help raise funds to support Defence organisations such as Wounded Hero’s Australia, Soldier On and Mates4Mates.
I guess it’s a way for them also to know that we are grateful for their service and that they are not forgotten.

This painting, “The Searcher” of a Sapper taken during a patrol in Afghanistan as part of Operation Slipper.

This painting, “The Searcher” of a Sapper taken during a patrol in Afghanistan as part of Operation Slipper.

Some of my achievements have been:

  • During a visit to the USA, I registered as an Australian War Artist with the International Society of War Artists.
  • Attending a presentation in the US of a painting I did which had been gifted to the US Navy seabee’s in Gulfport, Mississippi.
  • Finalist in 2012 Gallipoli Art Prize
  • Contributing two paintings into the Graffitti of War Project in support of Military personnel suffering from PTSD which travelled all over the US in 2012 raising awareness.
  • Being a part of The Joe Bonham Project with the International Society of War Artists which was launched in New York in support of our wounded soldiers who have sustained injuries through conflict that have resulted in disfigurement and amputation.
  • Being involved and contributing artwork to help raise funds for Legacy.
  • Being asked to paint for a well known company called PLATATAC who are passionate about supporting the Commando Welfare Trust.
  • Honouring those who KIA and helping raise funds to support their loved ones.

How has your increasing success impacted your personal life?

To be honest, it was a hard slog in the beginning. I am a single mother of one child aged 12. It has been demanding on both of us in regards to deadlines and sacrifices where I have not been able to take holidays until the end of the year. I started with next to nothing but a few small canvases and had to build up my stock each time I sold a piece. It was financially draining and sometimes really scary wondering how I was going to pay my bills, but as time went by things started to improve.

The upturn impact is that I am able to educate my son in a Private School. This had been one of my goals and I have succeeded in doing that. I still have other goals to achieve like a new car!

I love what I do and I am passionate about it. It’s not a chore and I get excited about starting a new piece every time.

Some of the work I have done has made me realise what I already have: a safe environment, a warm clean bed to sleep in, no threat of terrorists opening fire on my family etc. It’s also made me grateful for the time I have with my own son family and friends. When ADF members have to go on deployment, they are gone for a very long time away from their families; they can’t just call up at anytime and say G’day to their loved ones and there is always that risk that they may not return. It has given me a great appreciation and respect to all those who are serving who keep us safe.

What is your approach to marketing and are you becoming known?

My work has featured in many regional newspapers including Army and Defence News, and the New York Times. I have illustrated two publications; the dust cover of R.M.Williams biography “One Piece of Leather” by Rob Lynn and Defence Family of Australia’s publication “Voices” which has brought a new wave of interest in my art as well.

long time agoI am really grateful for Facebook!! It’s what started my career as a War Artist, and LinkedIn for word of mouth and networking. Anything that involves Social Media is an essential and great word of mouth tool. The great part about social media is that if you have a gallery for your artwork, someone can view it with just a click of a button, so no matter the location, you are accessible to anyone in the world.

What plans do you have to expand your business further?

Re-enlistment is a priority at the moment. I have  the opportunity to enlist with the RAE as a Combat Engineer and hope to transfer later into the Australian Regular Army in a few years time as a Multimedia Technician.

I am painting for PLATATAC as a War Artist also. PLATATAC have given me more opportunities to work in other areas that I thought not possible as a civilian and I am excited about the future prospects of working alongside this great Australian company!

What attributes do people need to become successful?

Essentially you have to have PASSION and DETERMINATION and the willingness to WANT to make a difference in your life and others. You have to love what you do and not let it become a ‘chore’ for you to work it.
You must have drive, motivation and goals followed by action.
When you start doing something you are passionate about, things will fall into place.

Who are your greatest supporters?
My greatest supporter is my son, my family, followed by the Defence Community.

Amber Martin
Facebook – Digger Art Main Website – www.diggerart.com
Other – www.thebootpolishartist.com



Week 17 – Phoebe Maroulis


Introducing Phoebe Maroulis

A note from Kerrie – “How have we not connected before now!” was the question Phoebe & I were asking just recently when we finally met, having discovered many friends and ideas in common as well as passion for creativity, inspiration and connecting. I know you’ll also appreciate Phoebe’s insights from her broad experience and her brave honesty that really encourages those around her.

Phoebe Maroulis

Phoebe Maroulis, painted by Tim Gratton, fundraising for the Pink Angels Calendar, promoting Darling Irrigation.

Cathy Smith nominated Phoebe with these words –  “Phoebe challenges me and how I think in a way that makes me want to achieve more both personally and professionally. Phoebe is relentless and determined. Nothing can distract her from her goals and dreams. These characteristic tend to be infectious to all those around her.”

Phoebe’s life’s journey represents a really diverse mix of personal development, family, community, income generation and passion, and that is just the way she likes it.

With degrees in Industrial Design and Commerce and a career path that has lead her through agripolitics, community development, the arts, running a service station, bioenergy, grazing, online retailing and everything in between, Phoebe’s journey is being enhanced through the blossoming of her business, Cicero Design.

Believing that creativity, connection and communication are the primary means of fostering vibrant rural communities, Phoebe’s passion now lies in creatively challenging the status quo in rural community development, nurturing new connections and communicating the resultant innovation in a manner that can be tailored by communities to meet their specific development needs.  Cicero Design is very much a work in progress making every day very different to the one before.

How do you love to explain your business/enterprise to others?
I don’t see myself as “running a business”, I see it as living a rich life which involves enterprise, family, personal growth & community.  The aim is to create a fluid mix of these components, each blending and complimenting the others.  When the mix is tuned correctly, income flows from these activities but more importantly my family and I enjoy the abundance and joy of life.

phoebe and sam maroulis

Phoebe and Sam Maroulis

There are multiple enterprises that make up the mix.  Darling Irrigation, which I founded with my husband Sam in 2004.  Darling Irrigation was recently named on the BRW top 100 fastest growing businesses and Sam and I are extremely proud of the contribution we are making to sustainable water utilisation throughout regional Australia.
The Macquarie Theatre is an ambitious redevelopment of an old cinema complex in the Wellington CBD.  Following 4 years of challenging work the space is now blossoming as a unique venue for the delivery of Arts based activities and events.

Cicero Design is a service business linking people, ideas and mechanisms for implementation for innovative rural community development. And in between I manage a couple of mixed enterprise properties in Wellington and one in the beautiful Western Division. Underlying all of this is a commitment to serving my local community, particularly in the area of the arts and raising three children to be balanced, resilient, joyful members of their community.

Who are your greatest supporters?
I find that the greatest support often comes from the most unlikely of sources.  As an example I ran an exhibition at the Macquarie Theatre recently that wasn’t as well attended as I had hoped.  The following day I was quite flat and a stranger came up to me in the Supermarket and told me how much she benefited from seeing the exhibition and how it had inspired her to take up painting again after a long period of not painting.  That type of support makes it all worthwhile.

Phoebe Maroulis_Papillon_KGIts corny but my kids offer amazing support.  They seem to know when I am doubting myself as a Mother and wondering if the mix is too heavily balanced away from them, and they remind me of the benefits they enjoy from having a Mother who is fulfilled, inspired and giving her fullest contribution to the world.

How does your business contribute to your community?
I am a firm believer in social capital.  I think of my life as a blend of interconnected facets.  I am fortunate that in that mix is a family business that generates enough income to allow Cicero Design to be heavily philanthropic.  I believe real joy stems from giving and I feel very fortunate that through all our businesses, but particularly Darling Irrigation, we are able to make generous contributions of time and resources to our community.

How has the increasing success of your business impacted your personal/family life?
I balance the imposition on time generated by Cicero’s increasing success with the knowledge that the ability to show my children the joy that comes from pursuing one’s passion and making a contribution to others more than balances this negative impact.  Viewing life as a blend rather than as a set of distinct demands helps enormously.

Describe a significant business (or other) challenge have you faced. How did you approach it? What did you learn?
As one who has a mind full of ideas and a burning desire to make an impact in the world outside the four walls of my home, I have found the roles of Mother and Wife very challenging at times. Recently this challenge has presented as acute panic attacks, often at the most inopportune time (such as in the middle of the children’s school swimming carnival).  The gift in these attacks is that I am now taking the time to get to know myself properly and as a result I am learning how to be kind and loving to myself.  Some days are easier than others but I am secure in the knowledge that the more aware I become of my inner realm, the greater the contribution I am able to make in the outer realm, and that makes me really excited!

Phoebe Maroulis
Cicero Design
36-42 Swift Street, Wellington 2820
Mobile – 0409 311 893
Email – phoebe[@]cicerodesign.com.au
Website – www.cicerodesign.com.au
Twitter – @PhoebeMaroulis



Week 16 – Matilda Julian

Matilda (Tilly) Julian

Matilda Julian

A note from Kerrie Phipps – I first met Matilda in a cafe in Dubbo in 2009, when she was making an offer on a property in nearby Geurie … and I’ve since reconnected with Matilda as she launched an art exhibition. Her latest big news is yet to be revealed, but there’s a significant exhibition that Matilda’s been invited to participate in… watch this space 🙂

Matilda Julian grew up in Bilpin, near the Blue Mountains, went to a public high school and went straight to Uni after finishing year 12. Matilda studied International Studies/ Law at UTS including spending one year living and studying in China. A recent move back to her property in Geurie has been welcomed by many in the creative community of the western region.

Law and Art, Lifestyle and Making a Difference

How is it that you now work as a lawyer and an artist?

I volunteered with the Aboriginal Legal Service in Dubbo, to be admitted as a lawyer and moved to Dubbo for my first job as a criminal law solicitor. I remained there for three years but became disillusioned with my limiting role as a lawyer so in early 2012 I moved to Alice Springs for a job as a youth worker. There, I felt I wasn’t using my skills, even though I was in a role to assist young people which is what I felt most strongly about at the time. I returned to NSW because I realised I should be using my skills and strengths. I moved back home to Bilpin, enrolled in a fine arts course at COFA, and obtained a role as a solicitor in a Community Legal Centre (CLC). I lasted one day at COFA and became quickly disillusioned at the CLC, because of the confinement of the role. It all made me realise I needed to help and use my strengths in my own way. I then set up my business as a sole practitioner to work from home in Geurie, and started to paint and draw again by myself and set up a studio/ office in my house.

Tilly Painting OutsideMost recently I self-funded and organised my own solo exhibition as an artist in Dubbo with Alister Dyson-Holland from Suburban Coffee Co. as a pop-up art exhibition/ espresso bar ‘Fields and Flowers’. It was a great success and made me feel that anything is possible and that I am on the right path.

What do you love about doing business from your regional location?
Working from home in Geurie, near Dubbo allows me to do all the non-work things I want to do in life such as be a foster carer, maintain my garden and vegetables, and look after my animals. I can take my dog down to the river or have a cup of tea with my neighbour Anne in my breaks. Because I live and work in regional NSW, my living expenses are low so I can afford to have this kind of balanced life.

How do you move from dreamer to achiever?
I always thought of myself as more of a dreamer. My ideas have always come and gone. I have always though had high expectations of myself and what I want to achieve so I am always sharing my ideas and trying to get others excited by them. I made the decision to work for myself because leading a balanced life is very important to me. I believe in and trust myself which allows me to make brave decisions. I also don’t have significant financial or other commitments which allows me to take bigger financial risks.

Matilda (Tilly) Julian - ArtworkOpening ‘Fields and Flowers’ though could not have been possible without collaboration. The other people involved in the project made it happen and made it successful. I feel my enthusiasm and collaboration is what can turn my dreams into achievements.

What do you believe are essential qualities of a successful person?
Success is different for everyone because everyone has different strengths and goals and dreams. I believe success comes with achievements of those dreams and using the strengths that have been given to you.

What does success mean to you personally?
My strengths are my artistic ability, my ability to communicate, and compassion. I feel successful because I am using my strengths in everything I am doing, and I have started achieving my goals.


Matilda Julian
Artist and Lawyer
Website – www.matildajulian.wordpress.com
email – matilda.julian[@]gmail.com

Check out other young achievers in the Arts and Entertainment.


Week 1 – Bethany Simons


Introducing Bethany Simons

A note from Kerrie Phipps – I’m so excited to introduce (if an introduction is needed) the darling Bethany Simons, whose creative work and rise to success I’ve been following for about 4 years now. Bethany was nominated by her ex-drama teacher from her high school days in Dubbo. Enjoy the inspiration! Connect with Bethany on facebook and cheer her on!

“Bethany has always been creative and insightful– with a beautiful and inspiring approach to performing individually and as part of a group. Recently, I have been impressed by her willingness to take risks and use her talents to write, produce and perform in her own play ‘The Weather and Your Health’. It is a moving and beautiful piece of theatre – and her approach to storytelling may just change the face of Australian Theatre!” – Sarah Kelly

Bethany Simons is a Green Room Award nominated writer and performer based in Melbourne. Her original one-act play The Weather and Your Health has toured extensively throughout Australia, in both regional and metropolitan settings.

Bethany Simons

Bethany Simons

Born and raised in Dubbo, NSW, Bethany is a graduate of BA (Acting for Screen and Stage) (Honours) at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga. Her first play, The Weather and Your Health, debuted at the 2007 Melbourne Fringe Festival and, after touring Central West NSW, enjoyed a sold-out season at La Mama Theatre in Melbourne in 2009. The play received funding from Arts Victoria for an 8-week tour across regional Victoria in 2011 and was most recently selected for the 2012 VCE Drama Playlist.

Her latest original work, Reception: The Musical – a cabaret-style comedy collaboration with pianist Peter de Jager – is inspired by her real life experiences as an administration assistant. The show has been performed at Melbourne’s The Butterfly Club and the Australian National Academy of Music.

Finding her inspiration in the everyday, Bethany Simons believes that nothing is funnier or more beautiful than real life and true stories. As a theatre-maker she is committed to creating new work for the Australian stage that is honest, uplifting and entertaining.

Bethany is a freelance producer, assistant director, Master of Ceremonies, voice over and recording artist. She also directs drama and playwriting workshops throughout Australia and is a regular contributor for Australian theatre networking site, AussieTheatre.com

1.    What makes your business/story unique?
One of the first things I do when I meet people is tell them that I’m from Dubbo. I’m proud of this fact, and have found that it’s quite memorable! Regional life has played a large part in my work, so I think it’s important to set this up from the first meeting. I’m glad that I studied at a regional University, and I’m so thankful for the lecturers and mentors that surrounded me at that time. I was always encouraged to be myself, so when it came time to write my first play I remember thinking that I should write what I knew. I love my family and their stories, and am proud of my upbringing, and my beliefs. (I quickly noticed that these qualities were fairly rare in someone my age!)

The Weather and Your Health was an unlikely front-runner during a state touring forum in 2010. Following our excerpt performance, almost 40 venues from across Victoria voted to have my play as part of their season. This response gave great weight to our funding application for a regional tour. We received the full amount from Arts Victoria, meaning that I was able to undertake a professional tour as an independent producer, writer and performer. The 2012 national tour followed on from this. Once again, we performed an excerpt of the show – this time at the national touring forum – and received a similar response. Our funding came through, and we were able to take a little play about my Nana and the town of Gilgandra to venues across the country!

2.    Who are your greatest supporters?

My family back in Dubbo is so incredibly supportive. That’s what you need when you’re working in such an unstable industry – a strong foundation to draw upon. I never know what opportunities are around the corner, never know where the next job is going to come from, spend a lot of time working away with no money coming in. I’m blessed that I’ve always been able to save my money and support myself, but it’s also a huge relief to know that if it all turns pear-shaped, I’ll be welcomed home with open arms. It’s great to be able to share my struggles, day-to-day details, as well as my successes with the family. My friends and mentors are also incredible encouragers. It sounds like a cliché, standard answer, but I can’t stress how important it is to surround yourself with people who are genuinely happy for you and will love you no matter what. They will freely rejoice in your successes and support you through the tough times. As much as I may work for myself, it’s nice to know that I’m not in this alone.

The Weather And Your Health Rehearsal3.    Describe a significant business (or other) challenge you have faced. How did you approach it? What did you learn?

Following the news that The Weather and Your Health had been selected for the 2012 VCE Drama Playlist, our itinerary grew, but our funding amount was fixed. During the pre-production phase, it became apparent that there was a significant budget shortfall that was threatening our ability to complete the tour. As an independent, this was a very daunting position to be in. I had to raise $16,000 in two months. At times I thought it would be much easier to give in and give up, but I made a conscious decision to focus on a solution, surround myself with mentors, and make the impossible, possible. I looked into crowdfunding and was able to secure $4000 through an online campaign that targeted my network of friends, family and faithful audience. The rest of the money came in via private donations from arts lovers and philanthropists. I was so overwhelmed by people’s generosity and belief in what I do. People don’t give to things, they give to people and causes. I learnt a lot about my work, my audience and myself during this time. It pays to be humble. What began as a nightmare, steadily became a miracle. I’m stronger for having been through something like this.

4.    What are the most important things you’ve done to grow your business?

Networking and Opportunities
An important skill in any field, but especially the arts, is networking because it’s incredibly true that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. This used to scare me, but I now see it as a challenge: connect with as many people as you can, but keep it genuine. Being interested in someone else first, and not approaching with an agenda is the key. I’ve always looked for opportunities and worked hard to make sure that I’m open to learning and sharing skills. You have to say yes to things, I’ve had to take risks and I’ve had to be patient.

Staff Expansion
Working alongside others during the regional and national tours was an exciting development to my practice. Having a Tour Manager/Co-Producer and fellow actor to share the load, bounce off, and rely on was incredible. One of the touring party during the 2011 tour said, “Wow, Beth, you’re our boss. We’re your employees!” I hadn’t thought of myself like that until that moment!

Community and Audience Development
Connecting with my audience and creating a community experience for people has not only been rewarding as a writer and performer, it has been good for business. There is so much interest out there for what I’m doing and going to do next. Through engaging with my audience I’ve been able to build mailing lists, promote future works, network and expand on my practice through the delivery of workshops that accompany my performances, and make a contribution to regional and remote communities across the country. What a privilege!


Bethany Simons
PO Box 497 Collins Street West VIC 8007

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