A couple of well chosen words to sum up Donna Peterson? Generous, warm, and CALM. Perhaps it stems from her background spanning both the hospitality and retail industries, but personally I think it’s something innate; Donna has that lovely and somewhat rare gift of making complete strangers feel totally at ease.
I first met Donna when we were studying Interior Design together and even though she was juggling work with full time study, I just remember her being so CALM! Then I was fortunate enough to work with Donna, and got to know her on a whole other level - a great listener, a hard worker, and a talented, gentle soul who actually took a deeper interest in her client’s design experience, she managed to build a loyal customer base in a relatively short period of time.
When I arrived to ‘interview’ (i.e. chat and giggle) with Donna on her day off (she is currently Store Manager at Vast Interior in West End, Brisbane, as well as their Product Development Officer), she was the perfect host - generous with her time, refreshments on hand, and oh so very calm...
So Donna, what’s your Sunshine Coast story? What brought you here and how long have you lived on the coast?
I came to the coast back in 2003 having left the capricorn coast where I had my own restaurant for nearly threes years, then I relocated to Maleny to take up the managers position at the Terraces Seafood Restaurant (great Chowder!). After a while I felt that I really needed a break from hospitality so I moved down off the range, into Maroochydore and started working for Vast Interior. One of my passions has always been homewares and interior styling - I had been doing an Interior Design course via correspondence over several years so I really wanted to finally get into it. I worked for Vast Interiors Maroochydore for four years, in the role of Store Manager and then Operations Manager then had a break to, then went back - but I’d always had this inner desire to have my own textile range. So, after receiving a sewing machine as a Christmas gift, I started making bottle bags, and it just progressed from there.
What inspired your bottle bags and table top range?
The bottle bags? Well, being a bit of a wino and liking to go out for dinner often, and some places are BYO, you rock up to these places with either plastic bags or these big, oversized, bulky things and I thought, there has to be a way to walk in elegantly with the bottle - having a cute bag that you can fold up and conceal in your handbag later. So I just tinkered with the design and made a few working prototypes. People would see them when I went out and ask me where I got them, so I made some for these people - who became clients - and it just kind of grew from there.
The table top range... well, I’ve always had a real love for fabrics, and being a very tactile person I cant’t walk into a store with out touching anything that has a bit of texture to it, or shine, or something! So, teamed with my hospitality back ground and the whole concept of hosting and dressing a table and being able to inject my personality into it, this was basically how the table top range came into being.
Are there plans in the pipeline for more crafty designs?
There are! I’m looking to expand the napery and table mat ranges, and move into cushions and a bedlinen range.
Do you prefer using a particular type of fabric?
Something that has a little bit of warmth to it - natural linens and organic fabrics, fabrics that feel like they have come from the earth, not synthetic or mass produced with no heart or soul. I don’t like things that are solid in colour. I like things to have imperfections in them because I’m far from perfect, and I like the things I create to have that element as well.
Where would you like the business to be in a year’s time? Two years?
In a years time I’d like to be fully up and running online - in two years time having my table top range featured in Belle magazine!!
What fuels your creative process?
The end product - looking at what I’ve made and thinking my gosh, that came from a scrap of fabric or a pattern that was sitting in a bolt of fabric on a shelf, and it has turned into something that I’d buy! I love that.
On a personal level, what do you get out of the creative process?
A sense of achievement. Making something from start to finish that someone out there will love and cherish is a nice feeling.
Sunshine Coast Pop Quiz :)
Fav Sunny Coast designer/artisan? Mandy Shadforth’s art - her artwork is young and vibrant, her inspiration and style comes from the coast.
Fav Sunny Coast retail outlet/s? Vast Interior, Freedom, Watermelon Red in Coolum, Willow & Bird in Cotton Tree…
Fav Sunny Coast cafe/restaurant/foodie paradise? I like Micky’s on Duporth Ave, for it’s cosy urban feel, their food is really rustic and authentic.
Fav Sunny Coast weekend routine? Taking my two puppies down to Alex beach for a long walk...
Fav Sunny Coast icon/landmark? Loo with a view!!
Fav Sunny Coast hangout? (please don’t say loo with a view!!) (Laughs). No, I think actually my house - at the moment I love just hanging out at home. I feel comfortable here, and the house has a great outlook. With having to commute to Brisbane everyday for work, I’ve become a bit of a homebody lately.