The Australian - Wish Magazine - - Q & A -

Becker Minty came about with Christo­pher Becker, my orig­i­nal busi­ness part­ner, who has since moved on. We were both at a bit of a turn­ing point in our lives; I had fin­ished work­ing for the air­lines as a flight at­ten­dant. I had spent my life over­seas and shop­ping for my­self and every­one else. He had worked in fash­ion and had a jew­ellery store and we just de­cided to give it a go. The space in Potts Point be­came avail­able way be­fore we were ready and we just de­cided to take the plunge.

We wanted to cre­ate some­thing that was dif­fer­ent for Syd­ney, some­thing that was unique, un­ex­pected, had prod­ucts that nowhere else had. I had seen so many amaz­ing stores over­seas dur­ing my trav­els and was al­ways find­ing great lit­tle trin­kets. But I al­ways thought, where do you find this in Aus­tralia, where does it ex­ist? That was al­most 10 years ago.

Our goal was to bring the best of ev­ery­thing from around the world into Aus­tralia and see what hap­pens. The busi­ness has changed a lot over the last 10 years. In the last two years, it has been a lot about art and home­wares. In the be­gin­ning, it was a lot about jew­ellery and fash­ion. We have grown with the mar­ket and with the de­mand.

I think the art di­rec­tion of our busi­ness was a lit­tle un­ex­pected but it makes to­tal sense given we are all about help­ing peo­ple cre­ate beau­ti­ful spa­ces with unique and one-off things. Art re­ally falls into that cat­e­gory be­cause ev­ery work is in­di­vid­ual. It is re­ally ex­cit­ing be­cause we are hav­ing 1950s-60s fash­ion and celebrity photographer Mark Shaw’s work ex­hib­ited in­store in Au­gust. He was the of­fi­cial photographer for the Kennedys and did ed­i­to­rial work for Life and Harper’s Bazaar.

We do lots of travel in search of pieces for our store. We prob­a­bly do four or five in­ter­na­tional trips a year as well as do­mes­tic trips. I wan­der the streets; I go to the trade fairs. I now have a nice lit­tle col­lec­tion of sup­pli­ers all over that I would visit reg­u­larly in cer­tain cities. They know what I like. You also stum­ble across things, on the in­ter­net or walk­ing down the street in Paris or New York.

Paris is a reg­u­lar yearly trip as is New York, LA and Hong Kong. I have done buy­ing trips to In­dia and Sin­ga­pore and I used to go to Spain and

South Amer­ica. It evolves and changes over time. We might see Africa [emerge as a des­ti­na­tion], I would like also to visit Viet­nam. I love the travel. It is com­pletely ex­haust­ing and very stress­ful if you can­not find things but it is the fab­u­lous part.

I spent 12 years in the sky with Qan­tas as an on-board man­ager. I took a re­dun­dancy. I was re­ally lucky be­cause to­wards the end it was 50 per cent fly­ing and 50 per cent on the ground. I worked with chef Neil Perry and launched the first-class prod­uct, trained all the crew on his prod­uct. That was a big part of my life – train­ing and re­cruit­ment. It was a great bal­ance. I had a re­ally stable life­style and then I would get on a plane and go for three months.

I shopped when I was over­seas. In the past, as a flight at­ten­dant you would have a lot of days off, so we would shop. I would buy for my­self, for my part­ner, for my flat­mates, for my fam­ily; peo­ple would say, can you pick me an out­fit? A girl I lived with for years com­pletely trusted me to buy her wardrobe. And I loved it. Becker Minty is an ex­ten­sion of that shop­ping habit.

I won a schol­ar­ship to China to study Man­darin in 1989. I was in Bei­jing at the time of the Tianan­men Square mas­sacre; I was ac­tu­ally in the square the night be­fore. I was evac­u­ated and came back on a Qan­tas flight. I got chatty with a few of the crew mem­bers and thought, wow, this job would be fan­tas­tic. I came back home to Ho­bart and rang up Qan­tas and they told me they had a re­cruit­ment freeze on. I was forced to go to univer­sity – prob­a­bly not a bad thing – where I did a Bach­e­lor of In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness Re­la­tions. Two or three weeks be­fore I grad­u­ated, Qan­tas put an ad in the pa­per look­ing for Asian lan­guage-speak­ing flight at­ten­dants. It was the per­fect fit.

I bought an apart­ment block in North Ho­bart 10 or 12 years ago. I de­cided to keep one [flat] for my­self to stay in for hol­i­days. But the more I went down, the more I thought this is in a re­ally good po­si­tion. If I could turn it into short-term ac­com­mo­da­tion, it could be re­ally good.

The first apart­ment is al­most fin­ished. We will fill it with beau­ti­ful things and art­work from the store. It will be a good rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Becker Minty, with a retro twist. The life­style con­cept store has been around for at least 10 years and so I think this is the next phase: hav­ing a space that peo­ple can rent and stay in that you can also shop in.

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