Throughout life (if you are lucky enough) you get to have people in your world like the beautiful Ness. Ness is the epitome of ‘lovely’. She is a super talented artist and she is the most ridiculously kind person I have the pleasure of knowing... I am blessed to have her as a friend and pumped that she agreed to be interviewed for this months Playful People Profile. She is an inspiration to me and I'm sure you will just love her...almost as much as I do!
Her personal journey has had more than a fair share of shade in the light, with the loss of loved ones including her mum as a teenager, yet despite all that shade, she continues to sparkle, and her sparkling goodness, is contagious.
Ness, who lives in a beachside nook in the Perth burbs, is the Mumma of four beautiful babes (go team four kids!) who you will see funky images of over on her instagram account Four Cheeky monkeys, which by the way has a crazy huge fan base of over 13k followers! Shimmy on over and have a look at it & you will not be surprised why…her insta feed is insta-fabulous!
Not only does she juggle maintaining such a snazzy instagram feed with motherhood, she also writes - a blog and a few articles for online mags, designs kids decor including the cutest little softies, prints and fabrics and is an interior designing goddess who’s mission is to spread light and goodness and make the world a brighter, happier and more mermaid-y place to be!
We caught up over the phone, in between school pick ups, nap times and doing the dishes.
Can you tell us, what is Four Cheeky Monkeys and The Monkey House and how did it all come about?
Four Cheeky Monkeys and The Monkey House is my business. Four Cheeky Monkeys is the name of my instagram feed and The Monkey House is my online store.
Basically it started when I started hearing all sorts of things about people making their own business’s online, with instagram etc. During a very difficult time when my husband’s business went under, I wanted to do something to contribute, but something that could allow me to work from home, hopefully generate some income, so I thought I’d just start and see what would happen. I didn’t really have a plan, I was just hoping to contribute.
I have always wanted to open an online store but I was never sure what it would be exactly. I studied interior design, that was when Toby was a baby and I really enjoyed that…I have always loved creative design, so I guess it’s something I am just drawn to. But for me it’s not about ‘stuff'. It’s about creating a space that you enjoy being in, with people you love, it’s about feeling comfortable.
I believe the space you are in can change your mind set and your mood, it can influence how you go about your day.
Dark places lead to dark moods, happy spaces create happy vibes. Space can definitely influence, and change vibes and moods. Creating space that feels, bright, warm and friendly helps create those kind of moods.
After having Indi, my youngest, I thought about focusing on interiors but specifically children's decor, I wanted to do something that drew on my skills as mum and an early years teacher as well as interiors. I would love to, later down the track, when the kids are older focus, on a broader field of interiors but for now I really am happy focusing on children related designs.
What about your creative space? Do you have a place or space where you get your creativity on?
Hehehehehe, Well, no not really, my ideal space would be somewhere filled with natural light and it would be peaceful, but my work space...it's actually on the dining table and kitchen bench! My work times revolve around kids sleep times etc. so at the moment it has to be accessible and fit around my family and with me being a mum. My house, though is filled with loads of natural light and it works well as a workspace… creativity on the move…I’ll call it a flexible work space!
What does your creative process look like?
I have so many ideas and things I want to do so I keep an ideas notebook. The first thing I do is jot down ideas in my book…it’s filled with things I’d love to do, create or design. Then I go through my book and choose what I think is realistically achievable. I’ll then sketch or draw a design idea, and have a go at painting an initial design. All of my fabric designs are from original watercolour artwork, actually all my designs apart from the text based stuff is original artwork, it’s only in designs where you see text that have been generated by computer. I started experimenting with text based stuff earlier on, but now I’m leaning more towards doing as much hand painted design work as possible so it’s more personal and original. After I am happy with the designs, which can take quite a bit of playing around with, I’ll start the process of getting the designs made.
How do you play?
Oh, well, I like to play by spending time with the kids and my family, by going to the beach together.
I just love the beach, it’s my happy place, my favourite place to be.
I find the beach find so relaxing, soothing and quiet. I can’t think of a better place to play.
Who or what inspires you?
The person who has really inspired me to do what I’m doing would have to be my Mum. My Mum passed away when I was in high school but she was the most creative, artistic person I have ever met. She was so creative…you know, once she tried to start her own interior business… but it didn’t get off the ground.
My Mum is my biggest inspiration.
It’s also because of what happened with my mum that, well…I’m a worrier, I worry about a lot of things, Mum was a worrier too, but I do try to look on the brighter side of life and remind myself about the concept of gratitude. It’s so important for me to think this - and I want other people to know too, that no matter what happens in your life there is always, always something you could be grateful for…I always try to find 3 things every day that I’m grateful for, if you do that your happiness can increase. My mum had depression, and I can’t help but think that if maybe, if I can try and help the sun shine a little bit brighter for someone else…well, then that makes me happy too. For every mermaid softie that sells part of the proceeds are donated to organisations supporting, raising awareness and working in the area of depression and anxiety.
What are the challenges of the playful work you are doing?
Access to local services that can do what I want them to do. I would love to be able to go 100% Australian made and use all Australian suppliers and printers etc. but, as an example, to get fabric it’s been difficult to find what I want and for it to be cost effective, so accessing suppliers etc is tricky…but I’ll keep working on that, trying to find and sourcing what I want. I am big on eco friendly and use environmentally conscious, water based ink etc. My fabric is currently printed through an organisation in the USA and they are eco friendly and use environmentally friendly waste elimination practices - so I will choose sustainable wherever I can.
I have to say though that at the moment, time is most challenging factor. I’m a mum so running a household, a family and all the things that go along with that housework etc make it tricky to fit everything in, but I just keep woking in the time I have and I am good at being flexible hahaha!
I am writing too, but I’m working on this because I am not really a writer at all, so what might take someone a couple of hours takes me a couple of days hahahaha…it’s a challenge for me and I think I’m getting better at weighing up what is worth investing in.
Words of wisdom?
Be careful with social media it’s great but can be really daunting - don’t let that get to you, just be true to yourself and find your own little niche…don’t be afraid to be yourself and don’t give up. Look at tweaking and changing what you keep trying. Be flexible and open, because this is how new ideas can come to light, but if you are not open to these ideas you might miss them.
I really love to support other people in what that are doing, especially on instagram, but when you are following 1000+ people, you miss out on some things, but I try not to worry too much about that. I’d say also, with online businesses it’s important to give yourself time away from it, I try to not to work when the kids are around. Just be true to your own strengths and personality and do what works for you and fits in with your life, which is different for everyone.
Don't be afraid to have a process of trial and error.
You can get your mittens on Ness's fab kids decor and suss out her instagram and blog by following the links below.
Keep a look out for our next Playful People profile...it's a doozy!
Have Fun - Get Happy