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Tomas Steenackers

He might just be the one person who loves your pet as much as you do and recently, due to that exact passion, Tomas Steenackers was awarded the honour of 2018 Gold Coast Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Tomas is the founder of National Veterinary Care, an ASX listed company with over 90 clinics across Australia and New Zealand whose aim is to stay connected to the communities they operate within.

We sat down for a chat with Tomas about how it felt to take out the prestigious honour and why progress is more important than perfection when starting out in business.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I have been on the Gold Coast since 2003. I’m originally from Canada and I was looking for a good location where I could surf in board shorts all year round.

What do you love most about our city?
The unbelievable opportunity and lifestyle the city and wider region offers to people who are keen to work hard. The community supports local businesses really well and the talent pool available to develop high performing businesses is great.

Tell us about your business, National Veterinary Care…
National Veterinary Care (NVC) is one of Australia and New Zealand’s fastest growing veterinary groups. NVC owns and operates 93 veterinary businesses and has another 420 independent clinics interacting with its Management Services Division. Plus, NVC has established two custom built Veterinary Training Centres in Melbourne and Queensland with a third to open in New Zealand in early 2019. These training centres offer practical training workshops to the entire veterinary industry, delivering on topics including dental, pathology, radiology, surgery, behaviour, surgery and much more. NVC invests significantly in the ongoing training, education and support of our clinics and employees, as we believe this is the foundation for empowering veterinary excellence.

How did it feel winning the Gold Coast’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award?
It was really exciting. I didn’t expect to win considering the calibre of the entrepreneurs. NVC has grown really quickly from five employees to 1200 and from one clinic to 93 clinics, all in three short years. Sometimes you don’t stop to realise what you, the team and the business have achieved. Winning the Gold Coast Young Entrepreneur of the Year made me realise that we have built a great sustainable business and the future is really exciting.

What’s been the secret to your business success?
Working really hard and making sure I’m well supported by my team.

Any advice for other young entrepreneurs who might be thinking about starting a business?
Progression not perfection. Business will evolve and trying to reach perfection will slow you down. Find people that support you and believe in your vision and dreams.

What’s on for the rest of 2018 for you?
NVC has recently purchased 25 clinics in New Zealand and we need to integrate them quickly into the NVC community. The team has developed a great integrations plan to make sure we can support the new businesses and their additional 300 staff members, so we can truly recognise all the benefits of the acquisition.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Beach: Burleigh Beach
Cafe: Commune Cafe
Restaurant: Rick Shores
How does your weekend usually look: I love to park the car in the garage on Friday night and spend time enjoying the Gold Coast lifestyle (beach, surf, bike, run, coffee shops around Burleigh) with my wife and three kids.

Scott Imlach

Scott Imlach has the midas touch when it comes to opening venues locals love and he’s about try his hand again with the opening of Nightjar, a dive bar in Burleigh Heads.

We chat to the man who brought you Barchino, Nobby’s Arc, Bine Bar & Dining, Hideaway Kitchen & Bar and Soho Place about what it takes to create these gems and what we can expect from the Burleigh newbie.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
Probably 12 or 13 years now. I was in Melbourne for a year before I came here and in London for 10 years before that.

What made you decide to open your first venue here?
I was just looking to open a business of my own when we got Barchino. I always worked in big companies and came across Barchino, I liked the location and the fact it was a locals’ place and I really wanted that. There was no such thing as bars back in those days, about 12 years ago, so I thought I’d give restaurants a go. I opened Freshly Stacked in Broadbeach next (a burger restaurant) then Nobbys Arc, Bine, Hideaway and Soho after that.

Where do you come up with ideas?
I travel a lot and pick up ideas for little bars, I always take lots of photos and get a picture in my head and run with it. I love coming up with unique ideas that haven’t been done before. I look at magazines throughout the world and keep in contact with friends overseas to see what’s hot and what’s not. When I find an idea I just go after it.

Why do you think people love what you do so much?
I think it’s because our venues are a bit more laid back; they’re not up really up market. We look for the right staff to manage each venue and my Managers are all really friendly and like working for a small business. I try to keep my them all pretty reasonably priced and I also try to make people feel welcome – Bine for instance is a very local bar, I definitely try to create that local feel.

What can we expect from Nightjar? 
Nightjar is an unusual bar design I saw in the States. It’s an idea I’ve always had in the back of my head but it was never really my style. I’m doing it anyway obviously. It’s going to be a dive bar – we’ve teamed up with Sailor Jerry and used quite a bit of their artwork. Everyone on the Coast is starting to ban tattoos but we’re not doing that. It’s very casual, just walk straight in off the beach, wear whatever you like. It’s going to have a real locals feel about it. We’ve gone for that really grungy vibe, let your hair down and away you go. There’ll be live music, a good range of cocktails and the fitout is very bespoke, Steampunk 1950’s American tattoo art-style. We should be open early October.

Why did you decide to open up the Coast’s first small bar?
I’ve always wanted to do bars and I think the Coast is lacking good ones. Personally I like to go have a drink but I don’t really like going to pubs. I prefer to go to a smaller venue where you can meet local people and have a drink with them. I wanted somewhere I could go myself that’s why I decided to just do it.

What do you think about our rapidly expanding hospitality scene?
I think it’s good; everyone’s coming up with new ideas at the moment and really going the extra mile. We’re catching up to the big cities now. The suburbs are starting to boom and I think that has a lot to do with people being able to walk to restaurants. The Coast is just getting better and better with a lot more options and it’s going to keep growing.

Do you have any other plans in the pipeline?
I wouldn’t mind opening a restaurant in Brisbane, probably another Hideaway. I’d like to do that in next 12 months. I’ve been scared of the big cities previously but now I think with the way Hideaway is going, it’s good enough to hit the Brisbane market. After that I think I’ll stop.

Best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
Back yourself. Have faith in yourself and don’t doubt your ideas but be flexible. Give anything a go once and don’t be afraid.

Being a Gold Coast local we have to ask your favourites…
Café: Honey Bee and Saint in Mermaid Beach
Restaurant: I like Gemellini at Nobby’s Beach
Beach: You can’t go past Burleigh
Weekend hang: I go to Cambus Wallace a lot but if I’m just chilling out I go down to Byron Bay

Sean Scott

He’s known the world over for his stunning surf and nature photography and we Gold Coasters are lucky enough to claim him as our own.

We sat down for a chat with Sean about his recent run in with an Iceland snow storm and why he thinks our beaches are some of the most beautiful he’s ever seen (and he’s seen them all).

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I was born in Cairns and moved here when I was six and I’m 42 now, so 36 years, definitely a local.

You’ve travelled all over the world, what’s so unique about the Coast to you?
I’ve always loved the beaches, love to surf, love the southern end of the Coast, Burleigh and the community feeling here. It’s a little town within a city. You can still get away, go 30 minutes south and still have beaches to yourself and out into the rainforest. There’s a bit of everything here, it’s not too quiet, not too busy.

Is there a place here that never fails to produce a beautiful shot for you?
Burleigh cove is one place I always go, usually at sunrise. When I come home, I love getting down there because it just makes me feel back at home. I do a lot of stuff in the water at home, with the right conditions, getting out at Kirra and Snapper; you can always get beautiful clear water, It’s some of the clearest water in the world out there. You go to the Maldives and Tahiti but if you go to Kirra on those nice clear days, it’s as good as it gets anywhere. Those places never seem to fail to produce.

How often do you spend at home vs. away?
I never used to go away as much but I’ve been getting heaps of work for social media stuff, so the last two or three years I’ve spent maybe half the time away, which is a bit harder with the family. They usually fly in and meet me for school holidays and what not.

How did your photography career come about?
I worked on the Gold Coast for 11 years as an electrician for Energex and I used to take photos then and sell my work at the local markets. I did that while I worked full-time and opened my first little gallery in the arcade in Burleigh while I worked. I had a little one in Surfers Paradise too. Eventually the galleries and markets took off enough that I stepped out of my full-time job and stepped into photography. I made an easy progression and was able to continue making a living out of it.

Where do you find inspiration?
That’s the one thing I struggle with nowadays. Back when I first started, there was no Instagram or Facebook, I used the web a little bit and I didn’t buy a lot of magazines, so I didn’t really see much. You just went out with fresh eyes and saw things, now you’ve got the world’s best photographer sitting in your hand putting photos up every 30 minutes. Trying to filter that out and not copy stuff but keep original is something that still tricks me in my mind. I still love nothing more than when I’m finding new locations, even though it won’t be a location that no one’s ever seen before, to me it’s new. That’s when I seem to turn on my creativeness and photograph things the way I want to see them. When I was in Iceland, I would come across scenes that I’d seen from famous photographers and wish I hadn’t seen the photos but normally I move through it and find things I haven’t seen before.

Do you have a personal favourite shot of the thousands you’ve taken?
I change all the time. The popular ones aren’t always my favourites; I love the abstract ones more and the artistic style of shot. There’s one of the Golden Girl at Noosa surfing on a wave I’ve always liked.

How do you feel when you know you’ve absolutely nailed the shot?
With digital now it’s easy because you look at the back of the camera and have a bit of an idea but it still does trick you. Sometimes you think you’re nailing it and you get back and you’re disappointed and sometimes it’s the opposite way. When things really turn on and everything comes together, like if you’re chasing surf and ocean photos you’ve got to have the storm brew so a huge swell comes, the waters got to be clear, the winds got to be the right way, you’ve got to be in the right spot, when all that happens at once you get a bit of a feeling and that’s when I’m usually excited to race back and quickly look at them. If I don’t come back and look at them straight away, it’s usually a sign it wasn’t that special.

Your most memorable trips or somewhere you always love to visit?
I’ve been doing lots of Western Australia lately, which I’ve been loving. Iceland was pretty up there, I did Iceland, Greenland and Norway in the one trip. That was pretty wild with huge storms and icebergs. I was on my own driving through the snowstorms and almost getting blown off the road trying to take photos. It was epic though.

Any close encounters with Mother Nature in your time?
At one stage in Iceland I was standing on top of a cliff and the wind was blowing that hard it was sliding me along the ice so I had to scramble back to the car and leave. Obviously there’s quite often animals in the water, big shapes swim past and things like that. Big surf is always a bit tricky when the waves come and break right on your head and knock you around.

What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?
It’s a tricky one. If you’re doing it because you love it, it’s easy. It’s hard to just decide you want to be a photographer and that’s all you want to be. I started by being an electrician and kept this on the side so I had income coming in that I could put towards better gear. Don’t just do it for the likes and the follows, do it because you love it and the rest will come. There are a lot of people who try to do it for fame but if you love it, it will work naturally. Taking photos-wise, my biggest tip is to be in the right place at the right time, you’ve always got to be out looking. You start to get in tune with it but you’ve always got to be out. You’re not going to get a great sunrise at Burleigh if you’re sleeping in six days of the week. If you get a few bad ones, you know a good one is coming and when everything comes together that’s when you get that feeling that keeps you going and searching for the next one.

Anything exciting in the works for the rest of the year?
I’ve got the Maldives, which is a surf comp I’ve shot for the last seven years, in two weeks. I’ve got a trip to Switzerland, hiking through mountains up the top and then I’ve got a trip to Canada where I’ll be shooting the polar bears. Then I’ve got a festival at Moreton Island with Canon that I’m doing at the end of the year. Hopefully a lot of locals will come there and do a lesson.

Best piece of life advice?
There’s a few I always try to run by. One is always expect the behaviour you tolerate, if you tolerate people not treating you well, expect to be treated like that. Keep an open mind and get out there and stay positive and things seem to flow.

Being a Gold Coast local we have to ask your favourites…
Beach: Kirra
Café: I like Canteen and Nook at Burleigh for a coffee
Restaurant: I love Etsu
Weekend hang: Probably the beaches from Burleigh to Coolangatta

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 🙂

 

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