With the press, advertising agencies and every other major company throwing the term ‘environmentally friendly’ around so carelessly these days, there has been much cheapening of the term. What does it actually mean, and how does it equate to our everyday lives? Take heart - there are two inspiring women living right here on the coast who are doing their bit to educate the masses about what we can do as individuals. And they, and their ‘Junkies’ magazine, are going places with their mission.
In March Tara Arkins and Samantha Morley launched the first edition of their groundbreaking ‘Junkies’ magazine; their blurb aptly states ‘Junkies’ is a magazine for “people who have an environmentally sustainable living ethos as well as strong creative and design inclinations - a place to share ideas, inspire thinking and creativity in sustainable ways with an emphasis on reusing and recycling”. It’s a smart, stylish and ultimately inspiring read. How in the world do you turn junk into something beautiful and functional with soul? These two women, and their collective of talented designers and feature contributors showcased in the magazine, can show you how. Upcycling, recycling, reusing, repurposing - as well as handy hints for healthier living and clever craft, fashion and design ideas - it all comes together in this unique publication.
As with most great partnerships, these two women just work well together - their personalities bounce off each other but also compliment each other perfectly. Openly friendly, vivacious and just plain fun to be around, Samantha and Tara walk the walk - Samantha excitedly showed off her recycled clothing pieces and her handbag made out of recycled hession bags and discarded lining material, while Tara too ticked off the list of the recycled garments she was wearing, as well the gumnut necklace she had strung together, and the plastic bag headband (yes, that’s right!) she had made that morning. Not only do they walk the walk, these women make the walk look exceptionally stylish...
Tara and Samantha have a great idea, solid ethics, are passionate about what they do, and they are having fun doing it; is this not a perfect combination for success, on all levels? I’m going to go out on a limb here to say I think these two woman are going to be the next big thing, not only on the coast, but way beyond. They have a kind of vibrant, enthusiastic energy which inspires you to take being ‘environmentally friendly’ up a notch - in a whole new, design savvy way.
Tara and Sam, what are your Sunshine Coast stories? What brought you here and how long have you lived on the coast?
Tara: I’m originally from Boston, Massachusetts and I’ve been here for 11 and a bit years -
Sam: Because she married a sunny coast boy -
Tara: Yeah, a Palmwoods boy!
Sam: I’ve been here on and off for years. My parents moved here when I was in grade 11 so I did high school on the coast, then I moved away for uni, then got married - we had a farm at Kingaroy for a while and then we moved back here, so I’ve been back on the coast 6 years this May. I’d always spend time here though - when I was at uni, and after - between Kinagroy, here and Brisbane is my stomping ground.
How did you guys meet?
Sam: Through mutual friends - we kinda knew each other for ages but didn’t talk to each other. I thought she was a snob (laughs all round), and Tara thought - I don’t know what she thought!
Tara: No! It was because I was too shy, everytime I’d speak people would go like ‘what?’ Growing up in Boston it’s a little bit different - over there it’s not rude to ask people what they do but over here it is so, when you meet people and they think you’re rude you kinda shut down, so I shut down a bit...
Sam: Way back then I used to dress a little bit more conservatively too and I think you thought I wasn’t in to what I was in to! (they both laugh) But then we got to talking about gardening and found we had a mutual interest - and then we went to each others’ houses and went ‘I love that, I love that, I love that!! (laughs). So we became friends, but then Tara moved away to Airlie Beach for twelve months - we’d talk on the phone all the time, and since she’s moved back to the coast we’ve been joined at the hip!
What are your design backgrounds?
Tara: My background is pretty much Photography… but I’ve always liked to decorate. I just get what I like and I can just fit it all together somehow -
Sam: She’s really an Interior Designer without the technical qualifications! Tara’s just bought a farmhouse and it was all white -
Tara: To me it was like the perfect canvas, all white and primed -
Sam: I swear it was a week later and I walked in and oh my gosh! The colour, and the furniture, and just how she put it altogether - wow! It’ll feature in the next issue of the magazine, so you’ll get to see it!
My background? For me, I actually - funnily enough - studied International Business at Uni and, on graduating, landed a position as a marketing manager with an international company. Then I decided I hated it because I need to be working with my hands, so I quit and studied cabinet making at TAFE where I got my qualifications in cabinet making, wood machining and french polishing -
Tara: You name it she’s done it - she can do anything, it drives me crazy!
Sam: Yeah, I have all the tools! (laughs) Then I had a brief stint working for furniture companies - because I did graphics at school and technical drawing I’d do these for the companies too. I was offered a carving apprenticeship at one point but turned it down to get married and have children - and then, somewhere amongst all that, I worked for a craft company designing stamps and papers… I also had a craft shop at Buderim which I eventually sold… I’ve alway just done creative stuff -
Tara: She puts me to shame -
Sam: No - you can do photographs - can’t do photographs -
Tara: One thing!
Sam: Are you serious - that’s everything!! The magazine is filled with photos!! (laughs all round) And you are brilliant at design… Anyway, I was always a creative child, but got railroaded into business, and then found my way back to being creative again.
Congrats on the first edition of Junkies Magazine - a gorgeous read with a great message :) What inspired you to take the leap and start the magazine?
Tara: We just got to talking one day and, it was like, we know so many creative people who run their own businesses and have stalls at the market - what can we do?
Sam: And I said I’d always wanted to produce a magazine -
Tara: And I said that’s it - we’re doing that!
Sam: It was just a bit of a fly away idea for me but Tara just ran with it -
Tara: - so I’m calling her everyday, “what about this name and this name!” Rethinking, reusing and recycling - this just fits us, and there’s a growing awareness. There’s no magazine out there doing this so we though “let’s just do it!”
Sam: We have ethical issues on consumerism, how things are done and made, so it was a great thing to be able to share these ideas and put them in the magazine - the environmental side as well as the fact that we are Mum’s with children, balancing finances, so we need to be creative with what we do and find.
Tara: Its perfect because we don’t get bored - we can do whatever drives us!
Sam: I compartmentalize what we do -
Tara: - and I kinda go with the flow!
Sam: The magazine is a real mix of both of us - often we come from opposite ends of the idea, but we always arrive at the same creative goal.
Tara: It all comes together in the end - with the name ‘Junkies’, anything goes! But really, it’s our first issue - we’ve never produced a magazine before, and it’s just the two of us. Most magazines have a team of what? Six or eight or more… and we’re Mums too so it’s a juggling act!
Sam: Yep - a lot of what has been created in the magazine has been created from our phones or ipads...
Where would you like to see the magazine in a years time? Two years?!
Tara: In our minds it’s huge! Billboards at the airport!!
Sam: I’d love it if it could finacially support itself (laughs) and provide us with a little bit more money to buy more junk! But also I’d like to see it as a really solid platform where people can come to for resources and to network - I see more the social implications… We’ve now got the Sunshine Coast, Morten Bay and Brisbane councils involved, we’re networking with Lifeline nation-wide, and then all the little designers in between, so we’re really trying to bring everyone together because alot of these people don’t know each other - together we can achieve more, I really do believe that.
Are there any designers/artisans/crafts people that you’re particularly loving at the moment?
Sam: This is such a hard question - it’s like trying to choose a child, you really can’t! They’re all so different and unique, and the spirit which they put into their product is all so personal from their own journeys.
Tara: I totally agree.
Sam: That’s what it’s all about - it’s that heart and soul, the connecting and getting that sense of community back, of buying local.
What’s your social media preference?
Tara: Facebook - we are surviving on it! We put out a magazine without a website, can you believe it? It’s coming, it’s coming! But really, once it gets out there on Facebook, stuff can just take off -
Sam: I don’t really use Facebook personally, but as a business tool it can be really effective. Actually I’m the one pushing for a website, probably because it’s more of a traditional thing… but really you can do most everything you need to do from Facebook - message people, post updates, you can blog on Facebook!
Tara: I love Instagram too - we tell all our advertisers if they can’t afford professional images just take a pic on your phone, Instagram it, and send it to us! Instagram always makes pics look awesome...
Sam: Pinterest is great too. For Junkies it’s a way we can pin all the collective ideas together under headings and people can check them out and get gazillions of ideas, so it’s great for us as well.
What are the best things about being your own creative boss?
Tara: You can do whatever you want, whenever you want!!
Sam: We can work when we want - late at night usually when the kids are in bed! We do the business stuff that needs to be taken care of first then at about midnight the creative impulses kick in and it’s on until about 3 in the morning!
Tara: All these crazy ideas flow out, and then the next day we edit!
Sam: Yep, I guarantee it - try going to bed at 3 o’clock every night and the world will be a much funnier place!! But really, being our own creative bosses is all about working when we can and when we want. It’s also being able to say what goes into the magazine and how it goes in.
Do you have any future ventures planned that you’d like to share with us?
Sam: TV is in the pipeline (laughs) but the next step is Junkies' shops everywhere so all the designers who are part of our magazine can sell through a shop front. Instead of buying mass produced stuff that comes from China, which LOOKS vintage but is really soulless, imported, throw away crap that uses new resources and just ends up in landfill, we’re trying to get all those fabulous designers out there together in one spot so that people can come to a Junkies shop and buy a handbag, or furniture, clothing -
Tara: Junkies' Interior Design!
Sam: Junkies' Home and Lifestyle! So that’s the next project which we hope will be up and running in the new finacial year...
Fav Sunny Coast designer/artisan? I
I can’t choose! See 'Junkies' magazine for details…!
Fav Sunny Coast retail outlet/s?
Sam: Rosetta Books in Maleny is my favourite bookstore - just heaven... The Pantry at Palmwoods - the lady who runs it churns her own butter, divine! I do love shopping local...
Tara: Hmm, if I could get out more often maybe I’d have some favourites! Probably Lifeline at Kunda Park?
Fav Sunny Coast cafe/restaurant/foodie paradise?
Tara & Sam: Homegrown in Palmwoods!
Tara: Also, Kind Living…
Sam: Up at Maleny, they do really good vegan and raw food.
Fav Sunny Coast weekend routine?
Tara: Getting in the car at 6 in the morning, hitting the markets, then the tip shop or garage sales on the way home!
Sam: Starts on Friday night, having Mexican at The Lane in Palmwoods and then a bonfire at my place with some friends. Then Saturday morning markets and shopping, then home projects in the afternoon...and then another bonfire at night, and more eating! Then a sleep in on Sunday, and just chillin’ out for the rest of the day…
Fav Sunny Coast icon/landmark?
Tara: It’s not up yet but when it is - the Junkies billboard!! Hey, you gotta dream big! (laughs all round)
Sam: For me probably Buderim Waterfalls - I got married at Harry’s and we had our wedding pics taken at the Buderim Falls so we take the kids up there often. The walkways are just gorgeous, it’s a special place with special memories we go to as a family.
Fav Sunny Coast hangout?
Sam: Probably The Lane in Palmwoods at the moment… I just love the relaxed, social atmosphere...
Tara: Yeah, The Lane with the fairy lights, kids running around… or home!