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Stephanie Coutts

Owner at Currumbin’s Parker and Persia.

If you’re a lover of vintage furniture, Moroccan homewares and local art, get excited because we have unearthed an absolute gem in Currumbin.

Parker and Persia is the baby of Stephanie Coutts and her husband Sam, and it’s filled with beautifully refurbished vintage furniture (the work of Sam), authentic Moroccan rugs and wedding blankets and, you guessed it, local art.

Because all of those things are our absolute favourites, we sat down for a chat with Steph about Moroccan honeymoons and furniture collecting.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
About ten years, I moved from Brisbane when I was 20-something and I’ve lived here ever since.

What do you love most about the Coast?
The relaxed lifestyle. Having the ocean at your front door, there’s always something to do, even if it’s just a walk on the beach. I just love it. 

Tell us about your store, Parker and Persia…
We started out collecting retro pieces, nothing that’s of the same quality we have now, but Sam and I would find things on Gumtree and we fell in love with sourcing them. Sam would do them up and then sell them on again. We had part of our honeymoon in Morocco and fell in love with these rugs because they’re so beautiful. Sam’s Dad actually owns the complex of shops we’re in now and we just had so much furniture but didn’t have any room in the house, or the garage or Sam’s parent’s garage anymore, and this shop was vacant. We weren’t even thinking about opening a store, we wanted to open a gourmet sandwich shop and were focused on that but needed to make room in our house, so we put the furniture in here as storage. Eventually I just stepped back from it and realised we already had a shop right here. So it just kind of happened.

Where do you source everything from now?
All over Australia. Gumtree, eBay, word of mouth, deceased estates, plus we’ve got a couple of drivers who scout around South Australia, Sydney and Melbourne because it’s difficult for us to be out picking things up from everywhere obviously.

What are your professional backgrounds?
I was working full time at an Audiology clinic, which I loved, and Sam owns Currumbin Alley Surf School. He wanted to be able to do something creative too because it’s tiring being in the water all the time and this just kind of happened organically.

How does the refurbishing process work for you?
We want everything to look as original as possible. The sideboards and tables and things like that are easy, you can look at pictures or just tell the varnish and oil they’ve used. With reupholstery, it’s a bit more challenging. We have an idea in mind of what we like and what we think other people will like but it’s hard to choose fabrics sometimes because you can never really be sure. It’s so much fun though.

Tell us about the art you stock at Parker and Persia…
At the moment we’re stocking a local artist called Todd Claire who lives in Palmy. We’re going to try and bring in new artists every couple of months and we’d love to keep it local.

Have you always loved vintage pieces for your own home?
I have but the things I used to love were a lot different. I always liked really eclectic things but I think back to my first couch and it wasn’t good. My taste has definitely evolved.

What’s the plan for the rest of 2019?
We’re having a baby in March and we’ll close the shop for a little while and then we’ll just see what happens after that.

Any advice for someone wanting to start their own business?
I think it’s just about being confident and believing in yourself. I was worried this wouldn’t work at first but you can always try and even if something fails at least you tried. Everyone is super supportive down here though so that’s great.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast..
Café: I love Portside
Restaurant: There’s a collection of restaurant in Tugun I love Kahani, Luna Rossi and Sala Thai, they’re quiet little local places and they’re so good
How does your weekend usually look: Sam works every single day, especially in summer, I’m here on a Saturday but any time we get, we usually go to the beach, maybe head down south to Fingal or something

Naomi Spies

She is one of the most prominent businesswomen on the Gold Coast due, in large part, to her thriving business Ruby Communications, a media relations, social media event management and corporate communications agency.

After nine years in business, Naomi and the Ruby crew have amassed a slew of big name clients and rolled out incredible local campaigns for which they’ve won countless high profile awards.

We sat down for a chat with Naomi about winning the 2018 Gold Coast Young Entrepreneur for PR and Media Award and her big plans for expansion in 2019.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
For more than 30 years 

What do you love most about our seaside city?
The outdoor and relaxed lifestyle while being an exciting entrepreneurial hub, particularly the arts, cultural and tourism industries.

Tell us how your PR career came about?
I always wanted to be a producer for ABC Four Corners growing up. When looking for a graduate position a publicity assistant position became available at a local PR agency and I loved the diversity, fast paced and exciting working environment of PR, I was hooked.

You own local PR company Ruby Communications, how did the business come about?
I started Ruby Communications almost nine years ago to spread the wings and to keep up with the changing face of the media landscape at the time.

What have been some of your proudest moments with Ruby so far?
The growth of the Gold Coast office, opening our Brisbane office two years ago and our expansion into the Sunshine Coast which is currently underway. Also winning Best Community Campaign and Spirit of the Gold Coast Awards at the Gold Coast Regional Media Awards was a great moment. Recently winning the 2018 Gold Coast Young Entrepreneur for PR and Media Award and the 2018 Business Achiever Award at the Gold Coast Women in Business were humbling moments also.

What does a day in the life of a Publicist look like?
It varies but always involves reading, watching and listening to media, lots of storytelling for our amazing clients, client meetings, planning events, photo shoots and lots of fun!

Any advice you’d give to someone looking to start their own business?
Look after people and I find they will always look out for you, always say yes to any opportunity and set realistic and achievable goals.

You recently won huge honours at several Gold Coast awards ceremonies, what’s next on your to do list?
We have huge growth planned in 2019 with the opening of our Sunshine Coast office and plans to double both on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Cafe: BSKT
Restaurant: Ristorante Fellini
Beach: Surfers Paradise
How does your weekend usually look: Pilates, having fun with my two little boys, great food, wine and company.

Morgan Walsh

She’s the brains behind two of your favourite local venues, Bonita Bonita and Poké Poké, and now the busiest gal on the Gold Coast is at it again.

Get excited gang, Morgan Walsh is opening a Chinese diner called FuFu and it’s going to blow your minds. It’ll taking up the (rather large) Mermaid Beach space where Burger Fuel, Bernie’s and Ashby Bines Clean Eating Kitchen once lived.

We sat down for a chat about Chinese bento boxes and in-your-face pink velvet.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
It has been nearly 12 years now, time goes so quickly these days. I moved over here from Auckland because I’m not really a big city girl. I like the sun, the beach, warm weather and I think once you get a taste of this lifestyle, it’s hard to go back to the hustle and bustle when you can do the same things in a beautiful place. 

What do you love most about living here?
Definitely the lifestyle, it’s just so relaxing. I think being in this industry, there are lots of great opportunities to open venues that have a point of difference and suit the Gold Coast market. Gold Coasters have a certain style; you don’t really find places like Poké Poké in Melbourne and Sydney. People like that restaurant vibe here so it works perfectly with the style of businesses and direction I want to go in.

Tell us about your latest venue, FuFu…
Yes FuFu. Originally the idea was to go Chinese but you always start somewhere and things change. It’s now more of a Chinese diner in style. The fit out is going to be a little bit crazy, definitely in your face and will definitely stand out from the crowd. There’s lots of great modern Asian inspired restaurants already, so rather than compete with that market, I want this to be in the same vein as Poké Poké with that casual feel to it where you can walk off the beach and come grab a quick bite. Nothing fancy just really laid back and fast food made friendly. So the food will be things like bao burgers and cheeseburger spring rolls and a little play on bento boxes. So Chinese style bento boxes which will be a meal for one that has say sweet and sour pork, wonton, fried rice and all as a package, so you don’t have to share and at a really good price. Dining has gotten so expensive so having places that people can come to more often is where I want my businesses to head. We’re going to have Chinese inspired cocktails and some ridiculous milkshakes, all in the same diner vein.

Your venue interiors are always beautifully quirky, any insight on what FuFu will look like?
Think pink velvet because I like the ridiculous. We’ve got a really beautiful service window so we’ll be bringing that out into the middle of the seating area and it’s all very casual. So you’ll go up to order and it will be similar to what you’d see at a market stall. There’ll also be a really beautiful spot to take a photo.

Why Chinese?
All my food tends to lead back to Asian influences. I’ve always wanted to do an old school type of Chinese restaurant. Growing up in New Zealand we always used to go to a little local takeaway and it had all your dirty classics. I didn’t really feel like anyone was doing that style of venue so it’s very much going to play on my childhood. It will be old-school Chinese dishes made funky and fresh.

What inspires you to come up with such unique ideas?
I have a crazy brain. I want to do things other people aren’t doing so I see ideas from lots of different places and try to mould them to fit food that I can cook and food that I think will suit Gold Coast people and what they’ll like. You always start somewhere and it ends up taking a different direction. I thought a Chinese diner was definitely something no one else was doing so let’s do it.

How did your foray into the restaurant biz come about?
I’ve grown up in the industry, my parents have always had little cafes and restaurants back home in Auckland. It was never something I grew up wanting to be as a kid but I got stuck doing it and realised I’m okay at it so I’ve run with it. It’s really rewarding building something and watching it grow from scratch and I’m really proud of all the styles of venues I’ve opened but being in the restaurant game made me realise other passions and things I want to get into too. This will definitely be the last restaurant, there’s no more.

What are your thoughts on the Coast’s rapidly growing foodie scene?
Four years ago when Bonita opened there really wasn’t too much around which is why I got the idea. I wanted the style of venue people my age could go to that was affordable, casual and fun. Since Bonita days, the growth has been a bit crazy. It’s great because it always forces you to stay on your game and you can’t ever become complacent. It forces you to always be better and be pushing to try new things. Competition is good for everyone I think.

Best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
I think these days what probably resonates more is having balance. It’s good to be driven and want to achieve more but to have down time and really appreciate that is important too. Life isn’t a competition but as you get older you realise you don’t have anything to prove. For me, this year is definitely about down time, spending more time at home, cooking at home, going to the beach more and having more of a life. Just finding some balance.

Being a Gold Coast local, we have to ask your favourites…
Café: I love All Time Coffee, Background – I’ve started going there heaps and they’re really lovely people and Alfred’s has been one of my favourites since day one.
Other than Bonita, I love the crew down at 8th Ave Terrace, they do everything so well
Beach: I live in Mermaid Beach so that’s definitely my favourite
How does your weekend usually look: Really busy. My weekends are usually Monday and Tuesday, which is nice because there are usually less people around and it’s a little bit more chill. I prefer to be at work on the busier days, I like it when it’s chaotic

Manuela Whitford

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.

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