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Matthew Stiegler

Matthew Stiegler (image supplied)
Matthew Stiegler (image supplied)

You may or may not have heard of relatively new Australian natural skincare company called CANNABELLA. And if not, let us introduce you to the products taking Australia by storm. And naturally, with any local Gold Coast start-up, we wanted to meet the person behind it. Enter Matthew Stiegler, one of the men behind the company who is fiercely devoted to sharing his products with not just us Gold Coasters but nation-wide. We speak about the love he has for CANNABELLA and the GC.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I’ve been living in Burleigh Heads for over 2 years now. Ever since I was a little kid our family had always holidayed in Burleigh Heads, even my grandparents would bring my mum up here for holidays since the 1950’s, so it’s always been home away from home.

What do you love the most about the Gold Coast?
There is so much to love about the Gold Coast. From the beaches to the hinterland – but the main thing I love and spend the most time at would have to be Burleigh Headland. It’s a magical place that has everything from a mini rainforest to a eucalypt forest where you can spot koalas! Also, the history of the Kombumerri people that lived here for thousands of years is incredible, and if you look close enough you can still see remnants of the past. It’s amazing!

CANNABELLA Products (image supplied)
CANNABELLA Products (image supplied)

Tell us how CANNABELLA came about.
Back in 2017, I began researching natural skincare alternatives to help alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy, when my Mum was being treated for cancer that year. I researched online the incredible healing properties of hemp, and began experimenting by melting down mum’s skincare products and adding hemp oil and natural botanical extracts to them. The results were astounding. Mum immediately saw dramatic results in her skin, which began to heal, feeling soothed and supple again. Friends and family members with chronic skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and acne were keen to try our homemade products, and they reported astonishing results. This inspired us to refine and perfect our products, and in 2018, CANNABELLA was born.

What’s your proudest entrepreneurial moment?
Winning product of the year for our Renewal serum at the Australian Cannabis Business Awards in 2020. Since the very beginning of starting CANNABELLA, we wanted to shine a light on the health benefits of Hemp and how it can help people and the environment in so many ways. So to be recognised with so many brands doing positive things in this space was definitely a very proud moment of mine.

What’s the most popular Cannabella product?
It would have to be the Hemp Jelly. It’s the ultimate multi-purpose all-rounder for face and body! This versatile botanical balm works to soothe, nourish, protect and heal a variety of skin conditions and locks in moisture for maximum hydration. You can use it as an overnight mask, lip balm, cleansing balm, or to heal sunburn and skin rashes. It’s your go-to skin saviour!

CANNABELLA Products (image supplied)
CANNABELLA Products (image supplied)

What’s your personal favourite product from Cannabella?
Hard to pick as I love all the products, but at the moment as I’ve been surfing lots, I have been using our La Tropica Body Serum as it contains aloe vera and watermelon seed. So it’s great for when I get out of the surf, as it makes your skin feel hydrated and fresh, plus it smells amazing. Also, the Renewal Serum on my face at night time before bed makes my skin feel super nourished.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Café for breakfast: Most mornings I’ll grab a green juice or smoothie from James Street’s The Fruit Shop. Love the number 8 juice with a green shot.
Coffee spot: I’m not a coffee drinker but during winter I don’t mind a Chai from Paddock Bakery.
Restaurant for dinner: There are so many amazing vegetarian/vegan restaurants on the Gold Coast so it’s hard to pick! But if I’m looking for healthy options I’d have to pick The Cardamom Pod at Broadbeach.
Bar or pub for a drink: I like Miami Marketta as there’s always something on or Mo’s Desert Clubhouse to see some live music!

How do you choose to spend your weekends?
With running a start-up business, weekends really just don’t exist. If I can though, I’ll go for a wave in the morning or go for a swim at Tallebudgera.

Evette Hess

Evette Hess (image supplied)
Evette Hess (image supplied)

If you haven’t heard of esmi Skincare in one form or the other, what have you been doing? Since its inception, the brand has developed quite the cult following with its cruelty-free, Australian-made, high quality and 100% ethical skincare products. We had the opportunity to sit down with the Gold Coast woman behind the brand, Evette Hess, and speak all things from beauty career to her local loves.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I’ve been on the Gold Coast since my family moved from South Africa in 2004.

What do you love most about living here?
I honestly love EVERYTHING about the Gold Coast, I think it’s the best place to live. The beaches, the weather, that we can swim all year around, everyone is down to earth and it’s also become a hub for new businesses which I really enjoy seeing. It also has a really relaxed atmosphere which is my vibe for sure. You have to live where you can work and enjoy your life at the same time. I’m a massive advocate for this country and the Gold Coast, we are so incredibly fortunate to live here and have all the opportunities in the world at our feet.

Tell us about your career thus far.
I became a beauty therapist in 2006, then went on to teaching beauty therapy, which then lead to me having a job doing advanced skin treatments. All along I fell more in love with people, making them feel good and trying to find solutions for vulnerabilities they were facing daily. I found that treating things like skin issues really required a great skincare AND makeup routine to go hand in hand with these treatments to see benefits. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything that really hit the mark for recommending to my clients, so I decided to create a product that I thought they would find useful. Fast forward to 2021 and we have created over 200 products for our customers now.

esmi Skincare (image supplied)
esmi Skincare (image supplied)

What’s your proudest entrepreneurial moment?
I am so proud of the business and the culture we have at Makeup Cartel. I am proud every day, and I feel incredibly fortunate and lucky that I get to work with the team I work with. They are all amazing at what they do, they are first and foremost amazing humans. So, I am humbled daily by the people that choose to give so much of themselves to our business and that they love what they do. It means everything to me. I am also incredibly proud we are able to encourage, support and add value to people’s lives in a very real way. It’s something I have always enjoyed doing (in Beauty Therapy) but it was always limited to one person at a time – now with esmi and poni cosmetics we can make a real difference in people’s lives through giving them the support and encouragement to believe that real beauty lives inside of us. By providing them a product that encourages self-care, self-love and achieving results they can see resulting in a more confident person.

Tell us about esmi.
esmi is a Vegan, Australian Made, Cruelty-free skincare product. The brand is all about exceptional customer care, making every customer feel like the pieces of gold they are. esmi is about a value exchange where after all our bills are paid, customers consciously choose to spend what is left to ‘treat’ themselves on our product, so we better make it worth their while. esmi is about breaking the wheel of traditional ‘beauty’ products and business society (men in high buildings) telling us what is beautiful. Having a daughter of my own, today has become more important than ever to instil the self-worth and self-love that starts from her behaviour and treatment of others (not appearance) to prepare her for her future.

esmi Skincare (image supplied)
esmi Skincare (image supplied)

What’s by far the most popular esmi product?
We have a few, the Uncomplicated Cleanser, Hyaluronic Hydrating Serum and 24K Gold Nourishing oil.

What’s your personal favourite product from esmi?
This would be like asking which is your favourite child – it’s impossible.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Café for breakfast:
There are a few but I love Le Jardin in Main Beach
Coffee spot: Paper Cup in Southport
Restaurant for dinner: I love Mamasan, Rick Shores and Etsu
Bar or pub for a drink: Rick Shores
How does your weekend usually look? It varies depending on the weather, if the weather is nice, the beach for sure, visiting friends, or if it’s cooler then we might head to Tamborine to a winery or stay home.

Joel Rea

Joel Rea (Image supplied)

He’s a world-renowned Gold Coast artist whose oil on canvas stand somewhere between genres of hyperrealism, photorealism and virtuosic Renaissance realism. Put simply, it’s captivating and we won’t blame you if you get a little lost in Joel Rea’s incredible pieces.

We sat down for a chat with Joel about how he plans to incorporate the current social climate into his work and what inspires him to create such unique art.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
My family moved from England to the Gold Coast when I was 2 years old, 1985. I’ve lived on the Goldie ever since.

What do you love most about living here?
The natural diversity and the perfect range of weather temperature. I love a blue sky and shining sun, not too hot, not too cold.

Talk us through how you came to be an artist?
I was aiming hard at an art career from senior high school, from there I went straight into Griffith University on the Gold Coast studying fine art and finished my degree at The Queensland College of Art in Southbank, Brisbane. A guest speaker at the campus recruited me when I reached out shortly after graduating, I worked at their artist-run gallery until I gained enough momentum to be solely painting.

How would you describe your work?
Most of my imagery comes across as surreal and a juxtaposition of elements. It is vivid, photorealistic and highly detailed.

What inspires you to create such pieces?
I’m fascinated by a lot of varying subjects, so becoming an artist who can investigate many fields and creatively interpret ideas and questions worked out quite well from me. I’m never bored, and in all my art I repeat in some way the same personal agenda that awareness of existence is paramount. In childhood, you easily surrender to the wonder of nature, so part of my artwork is always to remember those early bonds. In those relationships of pure creative freedom a real truth resonates, often extinguished by the burdens of adulthood if one can fight to keep those portals open you can draw from them and use them like I have to create and communicate.

Joel Rea (Image supplied)

Are there any current social issues you plan to depict in upcoming pieces?
The weird thing about the global pandemic was a year before COVID happened I started painting scenes from outer space looking down on our planet, I had this eerie feeling for a while that something global was going to happen and in my mind, I kept dreaming of our planet silently sitting and waiting with a sense of foreboding. I thought that perhaps another global financial crisis was coming and we’d all be shook again. Now I suppose my future themes will again incorporate a sense of ‘hanging on’, that all worthwhile pursuits come with discomfort.

What is your plan for the rest of 2020?
Just painting more and spend time with my wife and four young kids, they are 8, 6, 3 and 10 months old.

Any advice for upcoming artists who dream of becoming professional?
All I really know is what has worked for me, speaking your truth, push your limits to reach your maximum abilities and being humble enough to approach everyone and anyone for advice, insight and guidance. Don’t get stuck on any particular hurdle just work hard and hustle.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast:
Cafe for breakfast: Stable Coffee at Cornerstone Stores in Currumbin
Coffee spot: Dust Temple in Currumbin
Restaurant for dinner: Zipang Japanese in Currumbin
How does your day usually look: Normal work hours in my home studio in Tallebudgera, playing with my kids in the afternoons, skateboarding, kids sport – nippers and touch footy and my mid week fitness check-in at Boonchu Muay Thai Gym in Burleigh.

You can catch Joel at an Artist Talk at Mint Art House on Thursday October 22nd. Grab your tickets here.

Dion Parker

He’s been a Gold Coaster for the past 25 years but 2018 is the one he’ll never forget because just last week artist Dion Parker was crowned co-winner of the Neumann Family SWELL Sculpture Award.

His sculpture, created with fellow artist Andrew Cullen, Prickles the Unhugable Bear, stands 3.5 metres tall on the sands of Currumbin Beach as part of the 2018 sweSWELL Sculpture Festival.

We sat down for a chat with Dion about the message behind the giant teddy bear and how the piece of art went from conception to creation.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
About 25 years.

What do you love about living here?
I love the lifestyle. I’ve spent most of my time on the southern Gold Coast, I love the beaches and the hinterland. I now live in Tallebudgera Valley, it’s really peaceful and quiet and I love that you don’t have to drive too far inland and to feel like you’re in another world.

Tell us about your sculpture in this years’ SWELL Sculpture Festival…
Prickles the Unhugable Bear was created by myself and another local artist, Andrew Cullen. We came up with the concept over a few beers and decided the idea of a giant barbed wire teddy bear was a good one. The statement we’re trying to make with the piece is that teddy bears are generally quite huggable, you think of love and affection when you think of a teddy bear. Kids are given teddy’s and they might give them a name and go on adventures or tell the teddy their secrets and to do all that sort of stuff, they use their imagination and creativity. These days it seems like kids are just handed things like tablets, phones and video games to play with and I believe they don’t encourage that creativity and imagination. When teddy bears get worn out, someone might stitch the eye back on but these days when something breaks, it gets thrown out and you get a new one. It’s not really a good thing to be encouraging children to create a throw away society.

Why do you think Prickles’ message is an important one?
Both Andrew and I have children and we both grew up without the Internet. I remember when Sega Master Systems and the original Nintendos came out, Mum always told me not to spend too much time on them and to go outside and play. I think that’s even more important these days.

What does it take to build a sculpture like yours?
It’s quite a process and months and months of work. Once we had the idea, I sat down and did a sketch, then we made a maquette that was 25cm tall and a very close representation of the Prickles you see on the beach. Both of us have entered SWELL about 15 times between us and we’ve learnt a lot as artists about what can help to have a successful festival. It was at least two months of sculpting, we made the body in six pieces then transported each one to the beach separately, wired it all together and had a crane lower the head on.

How did it feel to win the Neumann Family SWELL Sculpture Award?
Both Andrew and I believed we had a piece that, if we could make what we thought we could, we were in with a chance but when we saw the quality of the other sculptures, we realised it wouldn’t be an easy thing to win. It was a massive surprise and relief when they read our names out, we were so happy.

What are your thoughts on the Coasts’ growing art and culture scene?
I started taking art seriously in 2011 and since then the scene has grown amazingly. I think the Coast has a really strong underground arts scene and it’s a really good time to be an artist on the Gold Coast at the moment. There’s a lot of new creative spaces appearing and a lot of support for artists. I have a studio behind Dust Temple in Currumbin and there’s a really good community there. Festivals like SWELL bring thousands of people in because it’s such a beautiful location and I think lots of people who might not go to an art gallery go for a look and that brings money and awareness into the local community too.

What’s on for the rest of 2018 for you?
Andrew and I plan to enter some more festivals interstate with Prickles. I’ve just got a job with HOTA, installing exhibitions, so I’m really excited about working in a creative industry and doing something I’m really passionate about.

What’s the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
The harder you work, the luckier you get and I really feel like that has been the case with us at SWELL this year.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Beach: Definitely The Alley
Café: Dust Temple
Restaurant: Zipang in Currumbin
How does your weekend usually look: I spend time hanging out with my son, lots of time at the studio the last few months so I’m excited to have some leisure time for the next few weekends

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