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Manuela Whitford

Founder of domestic violence not-for-profit, Friends with Dignity.

Manuela Whitford is an incredible Gold Coaster creating a safe space for people experiencing domestic and family violence through her not-for-profit Friends with Dignity.

After working in prisons and coming to understand the prevalence of domestic violence, Manuela knew she had to do everything in her power to make a difference. And make a difference she does.

We sat down for a chat with Manuela about the ripple effect of domestic violence and how we, as a community, can do our part to help.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I settled on the Gold Coast when I emigrated from South Africa ten years ago.

What do you love most about living here?
Having the best of both worlds, working but always feeling like I’m on holiday. The relaxed lifestyle, being close to the beach and the gorgeous hinterland. We’re spoilt for choice really.

Tell us about Friends with Dignity…
Friends With Dignity is a national not for profit organisation assisting men, women and children who have been displaced by domestic and family violence. It is community based, relying on volunteers and the community to take action in making a difference to someone seeking a new start in life.

How did you come to create such an incredible organisation?
I had been working in the prisons and was shocked at how many women were in some way affected by domestic and family violence. Without any options they would simply just return to what they knew, I was horrified to think that some women were committing crime and seeking refuge in prison. Having done some research, it was horrifying to think that so many people were at risk in their own home, a place I consider safe. To think that people stay in abusive relationships because of material things, I had to do something in my capacity to make a difference.

Why is this work so important to you?
It’s important as we all have a duty of care to each other. It’s easy to say it’s always someone else’s issue but it’s not! The ripple effect that any violence has on not only the victim but their families, friends and community is extensive. I emigrated from South Africa due to violence and there was no way I was just going to sit back knowing the statistics and do nothing.

What would you say to anyone who might be experiencing domestic violence?
Reach out, tell someone, there is hope and you are not alone.

How can people help or donate to Friends with Dignity?
People can join as volunteers, host work place drives, assist with events. Whatever your talent is, we would love to have you on board. Visit our website www.friendswithdignity.org.au.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Beach: Too many to mention but must say Burleigh is very high on the list
Café: Goji Cafe in Clear Island Waters, although I love supporting most local and never disappointed with a great coffee along our lovely coastal roads, this one is just a walk down the road and it also stocks dog ice cream.
Restaurant: Edgewater Dining
How does your time off usually look: I’m always quite busy as I really do have some level of FOMO, so my weekends, if not helping with a sausage sizzle to fundraise are consumed catching up with friends, gardening, love a day on the beach, movies and if there’s time a relaxing day at home with the family and fur babies.

Sophie Spratt and Rose Lamont

Rose Lamont and Sophie Spratt are the sweet sisters responsible for the creation of one of the Coasts’ favourite yoga and Pilates studios, Ritual Palm Beach, for which we can all be grateful.

We sat down for a chat with the longtime Gold Coast locals about the realities of working with your family on the daily and why yoga and Pilates are something we should all introduce to our lives, ASAP.

How long have you been Gold Coast locals?
We grew up here on the Coast, so always!

What do you love most about living here?
The lifestyle on the Gold Coast is second to none, we love the pristine beaches, the people, the amazing food, the growing live music and arts scene and of course our prime location being only 45 minutes to Byron Bay and an hour to Brisbane. On top of that we love the diversity of the landscape; within the space of an hour you can be at the beach and then out in the Currumbin Valley or the Hinterland.

Tell us how your studio, Ritual Yoga and Pilates came about?
We began dreaming up Ritual over five years ago, we’ve always shared a passion for yoga and Pilates and our dream was to create a community space offering quality classes and a place where people could be themselves. At the time we were both studying at University so it always felt more like a big dream rather than something that could be a reality. Despite this, we’d talked about the idea so much over the years that when a space came up for rent in Palm Beach we decided to enquire, not thinking we’d actually go through with it, it was more of a ‘fake it til you make it’ kind of thing. Amazingly, lots of things fell into place at the right time, which led to us eventually signing the lease and going for it. It was a huge leap of faith and involved converting a solicitors office with 16 rooms and grey carpets into a spacious, light-filled studio with wooden floors and two rooms, all while we were both in our last semester of Uni. We did this with the help of our Dad, who basically did the renovations himself, along with the help of some of our amazing friends and family who all helped create the beautiful space that is now Ritual. When we first opened up we taught all 60 classes per week by ourselves, today we have 12 incredibly wonderful and knowledgeable teachers plus the amazing community of students who make Ritual the warm, welcoming place it is! Looking back it was a crazy decision that took a lot of hard work and commitment but man has it been worth it!

Why do you think incorporating yoga and Pilates into our lives is so important?
With the proliferation of the fitness industry and rise of social media it seems that collectively our focus is on ‘looking good’. However, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that health is about more than just looking good, it’s also about feeling good and understanding ourselves so that we can have healthy relationships in all areas of our lives. This kind of inner and outer work is exactly what the practices of yoga and Pilates provide, namely they offer physical and mental practices that are a platform for self-exploration and growth. From a physical perspective, they are excellent ways to keep your body in great physical health as they incorporate strength, balance and mobility, but we believe the beauty of these practices lies in their holistic approach to health. We are living in a time where we are being fed lots of information about who we should be and what we should look like and the practices of yoga and Pilates offer an antidote to the obsession of looks. They are for everyone and they invite us to explore the potential of our body-mind complex and provide powerful tools that help us find stability and confidence within ourselves rather than looking outside.

What’s the best thing about going into business with your family?
We can fight like cats and dogs and then just call and say sorry and it’s done and onto the next thing.

What would you say to people thinking about starting their own business?
Go all in, running a business takes 100% commitment. Don’t worry about the ‘how’ just focus on the goal. Find mentors who have your best interests at heart and who can hold you accountable. Make sure your passionate about the work you’re doing, then it’s not work at all! Spend your energy wisely.

Besides classes, what else can people do at Ritual?
Ritual offers retreats, yoga, meditation, Pilates training and lots of amazing workshops spanning over a variety of different topics with some excellent guest speakers from Australia and around the world. We also run yoga philosophy club once a month.

Final workshops for 2018:
Yogic Spring Clean with Brooke Elliston 16/11
Handstand Workshop with Brooke Elliston 17/11
Sound Healing Meditation with Matty Rainbow 25/11
Pain & Consciousness workshop with Mitch Hunter 8/12
Yoga Philosophy Club with Rose Lamont 15/12

What’s happening for the rest of 2018?
We’re in the middle of running our Pilates Matwork course which has been so much fun! After that we’re heading off to New York for a work trip to go check out all of the studios there and undertake some training! Apart from that we are making final arrangements for our Yoga Teacher Training beginning in Feb 2019!

Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Beach: The Alley
Café: Barefoot Barista, of course!
Restaurant: Etsu Izakaya
How does your weekend usually look: Classes, beach, family, friends 🙂


Tim Glasson

Image by Declan Roache.

He’s one half of the team behind your favourite Broadbeach tiki bar, Aloha Bar and Dining, and Tim Glasson is on the verge of opening a second.

Taboo Tiki is set to swing open its’ doors in Surfers Paradise in mid-October, bringing a tropical flair to Orchid Ave.

We sat down for a chat with Tim about all things tiki and his plans to expand even further in 2019. 

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
It’s been nine years now, almost to the day.

What do you love most about our city?
As a hospitality person, I love the community. Everyone knows each other and everyone gets along, we’ve got a great growing bar and dining scene. The lifestyle and the weather are great aswell but for me it’s the hospitality community.

How did you come to be co-owner of Aloha?
I was at Palazzo Versace for four years. I went on a holiday overseas and realised that what I really wanted was to own a small business and get back into small bars. While I was there I was offered a job in a restaurant in Mermaid Beach and while working there, I think it was probably on a drunken night, I had a conversation with the owners and we decided we should all open a bar together. That was Aloha. It was only going to be a pop-up because there was only a short lease available on the space so we were just going to see how it went. We were able to keep negotiating a longer lease and now we’re coming on three years.

Where did the idea for such a unique space come from?
Funnily enough, London is actually a real hub for tiki bars. I guess because of the dreary weather, people really want that escape into something tropical and different. I fell in love with them living there. I thought the Gold Coast would appreciate a tiki bar because they have a pretty laidback vibe and the drinks are really approachable. I’d come from the more fancy, waist coast and suspenders sort of bar tending and it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing and I don’t actually think it’s that much fun for the consumer either. Whereas with tiki, you can be really serious about your cocktails, but you serve them in a holed out pineapple and put a parasol on them so it’s fun and it’s approachable, the best of both worlds. Serious cocktail enthusiasts can appreciate the drink but so can people who may have never had a cocktail in their life.

Tell us about your new venue, Taboo Tiki…
Taboo is going to be another tropical sort of hideaway. It’s located in the heart of Surfers but it’s down a bit of an alleyway and it’s quite a bit bigger than Aloha, maybe twice the size and it will have a late night bar license. We don’t want to be a club, we want to offer something different; that laidback, approachable style with quality drinks, seated table service and fun music but in the middle of Surfers Paradise. I think they’re ready for it in there, it’s always so busy, there’s a lot of stuff happening in there. I think Surfers is on its way back.

What will we see on the menu?
It will be a similar style to Aloha. We’ve got Smashed Burgers in Broadbeach and we’re doing another one in Surfers around the same time too. It’s got quite a big kitchen so we’ll use that to service Taboo, which means we can change the offering a bit. There’ll still be lots of share plates, platters for functions and things like that but we’ve got that option of doing pan-fried things and a few different styles. We’ll keep it light and relatively healthy. Drinks-wise, again, similar to Aloha. The focus will be on the cocktails and that tropical, fruit-driven, light-flavoured vibe.

When do you think Taboo Tiki might be open?
We’d really like to be open for GC600, which is the 19th of October. I think it’s doable; most of the heavy lifting of the build is done so we’re pretty much down to decorating. I’m hoping for mid-October.

Any other exciting plans in the works for 2018?
Nothing set in stone. There’s a couple of other opportunities around we’ve been speaking about but I don’t think it’s likely anything will happen this year. Next year we’ll definitely have something happening.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Elk Espresso and ESPL
The North Room and Lupo
How does your weekend usually look:
I’ve got two dogs so I spend time walking them and with my son. I try to check out new restaurants and bars but I don’t really have much of a weekend to speak of

Cleo Massey

She’s the Gold Coast gal who began her acting career on much-loved series H20 Just Add Water and from there, Cleo Massey’s career has absolutely skyrocketed.

Not only has she starred in a web series created by her Mum (talented fam), she’s also recently written her very first comedy feature and produces a blog to spread her good vibes far and wide.

We sat down for a chat with Cleo about growing up in the film and television industry and hosting her very own event in the coming weeks. 

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I moved up from Tasmania just after my fourth birthday! I’ve lived here ever since.

What do you love most about our beautiful beachside city?
The beaches and the relaxed vibe the whole city gives off. 

Tell us how your acting career began…
I was always into drama inside and outside of school. When I was 11, I auditioned for a show, H20 Just Add Water. I got the role, and filmed it for four years! After such an amazing experience on H20, I was sure I had to continue acting and was cast in a few different series, films and commercials. I secured some great representation in the U.S. and was sponsored for an acting visa. Over the past three years I’ve been back and forth between the Gold Coast and LA for pilot season, meetings and writing sessions. I recently filmed a comedy pilot, Cursed funded by Screen Queensland, which was so fun to film! The majority of the actors cast were comedians, which made the set a hilarious one to be on.

What have been some highlights of your acting career?
H20 Just Add Water was really special and still to this day, gives me so many opportunities moving forward in my career. Stage Mums was also definitely a career highlight.

You had a starring role in a web series created by your Mum (Stage Mums), what was it like working so closely with her?
It was so much fun! She created this series four years ago and worked so hard to get it off the ground. It was so interesting being a part of it and watching the process behind the scenes for so many years. Well, hard work does pay off! Stage Mums has just been picked up by Network 10 and will air on Channel 11 later this year! We want to show people in the TV and film industry that if you believe and persist, you can make incredible things happen. We’re so excited for Australia to see Stage Mums!

Your blog is a very inspirational space, why did you start it and why is it important?
I started my blog, Pass Around the Smile, four years ago to help myself get through some hardships I was facing within the Film and TV industries. After a few blog posts, I realised I was helping other people, and that felt so good. Four years later I’m still creating feel good blogs and I have just sold out my first Pass Around the Smile event! My goal is to inspire and encourage people to realise their full power and potential. I write and talk about all things positive, I love teaching people about the law of attraction, self-love and meditation. I want to spread positivity as far and wide as I can! Having a positive outlook on life is so important and I want people to realise they can change their life by changing their mindset.

Tell us about the comedy feature you’ve written recently…
I discovered my love for screenwriting while in the States waiting around for auditions. I decided I would create my own dream role and the story just fell into place around that. It’s been finished for a while now, but it’s constantly changing after having incredible people in the industry read it. It’s so important, whatever industry you’re in to utilise your contacts and accept constructive criticism. I’ve learnt so much that way.

What’s on for the rest of 2018?
My first Pass Around the Smile event is next week! I’m so excited, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I can’t wait for people to feel inspired, relaxed and confident in themselves. The event is being held in a beautiful candle factory and I have so many amazing creatives helping me make it the most perfect night.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast:
Beach: Miami/Tallebudgera Creek
Restaurant: Oh no, this is so hard. Can I choose two? Gemelli and Lucky Bao!
Cafe: Hand Coffee in Broadbeach! The best coffee and the BEST jaffles ever!
How does your weekend usually look: Coffee with the fam, walk my doggy, dip in the ocean, bit of a read of whatever feel good book I’m on, and a night out with friends.

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