If I am completely honest, this is the first time I’ve had a dedicated creative space. For a long time, it was a combination of warehouse, storage, office, studio and anything else you could think of.
Luckily since relocating to my home state, I have been able to branch out a little and not be so constricted with space, separating studio from warehouse.
Those who know me, know that music is not exactly my strong point. Don’t get me wrong I love a variety of tunes, ranging from blues to rock, hip hop to pop, but more often or not, I know the song itself - and not the name or artist. But that’s hardly important when the music itself is doing exactly what it was intended to do, inspire.
Which is why it is one of the most crucial components in my design process.
Every year mum gave my siblings and me 5 records from her own personal collection along with a card giving reasons as to why.
Most of mine related to making it in the US (film & television is another passion of mine) and of course Tinka, with honourable mentions going to Gloria Estefan for, “inspired by Tinka and you” and Madonna for, “she models Tinka well”.
Now I don’t know whether this is something I need to point out, but full disclaimer, Madonna is NOT wearing Tinka the Label on this album cover and as far as I know, Gloria Estefan is not inspired by me.
But thanks, mum!
My mum is a collector. She’s always had a great eye for antiques, art, and collectibles, and as my 3 siblings and I have become older, it has become the reason for fights as each sibling claims “dibs”. Or, it could be because mum has gifted it to one child, only to forget and then regift it to another child years later…but we won’t go into that. So, for now, I’ll just go with that I’ve “borrowed” this artwork until my personal collection is framed.
Having said that, the oriental-themed art is mine, which I collected from a trip to South East Asia in 2011. I was very much the backpacker in my late teens to my early twenties, collecting only jewellery and art from practically every country visited.
Minnie Mouse ears
Some of you may remember part of this story from a few years ago. It’s a long one, so I’ll try and be succinct as possible. I had worked close to 24/7 for 18 months straight with literally only 4 days off during that time. It was the start of my business and I was addicted, excited and driven. But like all things, sleep deprivation and working tirelessly with no downtime, begins to take its toll. I was without a social life - a mere catch-up here & there- my relationship was suffering and I didn’t know life outside of Tinka. I was at breaking point.
Not one to dwell, I took action and decided the best way to free up time was to outsource. I was self-taught in web development, however, there were one or two things I didn’t know how to do, so I found a freelancer to finish what I’d started. In hindsight, I would have been better off continuing to self teach, but the whole purpose was to free up time.
...Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
In short, the work was not getting done and after 4 weeks of little communication and no progress, I asked for a refund so that I could use that money to employ someone else. Eventually, he agreed and that was that.
Or so I thought.
Where I thought I had revoked his access to my online store, in fact all I had done was logged him out; a simple mistake causing a painful yet valuable lesson. In the course of a few short minutes, he managed to single handily erase months of my work with one simple click of a button.
And just like that, everything was gone.
The next few hours were spent trying to recover my website, my sister assisting me any way she could, if not just to sit by my side and provide comfort. But unfortunately what was done was done. The next day I woke up and went straight to my computer to rebuild only to discover that he and his 8 friends had taken it upon themselves to write malicious comments on my Facebook page. Now anyone could see that 9 men, all from the same town of Pakistan, with abusive, nonsensical comments would see that I was merely the victim of cyberbullying, but it didn’t matter.
I later discovered that he intended to hold my site ransom (which is why he was constantly claiming to need my personal log in details), but thankfully even in my burnt-out state, I knew not too. This is how he retaliated.
Over the next two days, I rebuilt my website and had one of my best friends, Kate, return from overseas. We stayed up all night, catching up over 1 or maybe 2 bottles of red (who’s counting) and that morning booked a holiday to The States. I left my business in the hands of my sister, set off for two weeks and for the first time in a long time, let my hair down thinking only of life, not business.
After this, I made a conscious decision to find a healthy balance in both work and life. This is to remind me of that.
I received this trophy as a finalist for “Manufacturer of the Year” for the Optus My Business Awards in 2018 and it has been in its box since. Now, I admit I am terrible at celebrating my wins, no matter how small or big, and am constantly being reminded by those close to me that it is important to do so.
I guess you could say this is me finally, albeit slowly, listening to their advice…something I should have done a long time ago.
Some of you may recognise the crate all these special goodies sit on, and for those of you who don’t, it’s from my first brick and mortar boutique at Eastland in 2017. The shop fit-out was a collection of second-hand furniture with a large portion custom-made in Victoria from recycled timber. Only this and a table remains.
Some may call this a mood board, decorated with snippets & magazine cut-outs, but the main source of its inspiration comes from the letters and notes written to me. Some from loved ones, others from customers; they are heartfelt messages of love and support, and that will always inspire me more than anything else.
This was custom made for me, as a present, by one of my best friends Ruby. I have known Ruby for quite a long time, a friendship that began when we were both living & working in Canada. Although we don’t see each other as much as we’d like, she is one of my dearest friends. There are very few people who can put me in stitches as she can, even 1000 sit-ups can't achieve the ab workout I get from a conversation with Ruby, so naturally, I wanted it at my desk as a reminder of the person who fills me with such uncontrollable laughter.
I don’t know about you, but most female teenagers of the early naughties – myself included - experienced a Blue Crush phase, and having grown up on the Gold Coast, it only seemed natural to learn how to surf. In all honesty, I have not surfed – and I say that loosely - since I was a teenager. However, being back in my home city, I thought it was about time I dusted off its cobwebs and put on display, as a daily reminder to get back out on the board in hopes to someday soon cross it off my bucket list.
This may just be one of my most memorable moments in business. It was Summer, unbearably hot, and to make things worse, we were outside of Queen Victoria Market under a hot tin roof. I had spent the entire week, right up to the early hours of the morning, running around like crazy to prepare. With practically no sleep and stomach full of butterflies, I attended my first market ever “Made In Melbourne”. I was optimistic (or delusional, take your pick) that it was going to be crazy busy and everything was going to sell like hotcakes, so my dear friend Skuzzi (or as her birth name states, Courtney) offered to help. Let’s just say it was less than busy, and the heat persuaded market-goers to be anywhere else but. Needless to say, it was a pivotal moment for Tinka, and I was lucky enough to share it with one of my nearest and dearest.