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Think about #girlboss, where does your mind go? Mine flicks straight to an image of Nicole, the Canberra business owner trying to create her “own little utopia.”
Nicole has run Impressions Property Styling since its creation in 2008, 11 years later and Impressions is one of the largest property styling companies in Canberra with nine employees and a brand-new warehouse on the way.
You often hear stories about people who just sort of fell into their career, for Nicole, it started when she worked for a building company as an interior designer, when the houses were finished, she would style them for sale. “I had an agent that said to me ‘I really like what you’ve done, can you do another house for me,’ and it sort of snowballed from there.” It wasn’t until three years in that Nicole started the business full time. “I didn’t really plan on being a business owner, but I felt comfortable [becoming one],” Impressions grew slowly and naturally into what it is today; an industry leader in property styling.
How did this little business turn into something so great? I think it’s the passion that Nicole brings to her job each day, and the passion in her employees that she fosters and supports.
“I’ve never worked in a big corporate business, I don’t know how it’s supposed to be done, I just know how we do it. Being the leader or the boss of a company doesn’t make me more valuable than any of my employees. I don’t know the traditional, corporate world, so I created my own world, in a way that works for us. Running my own business means I have the opportunity to create a business and a world that is my own little utopia, my own way of saying ‘this is how I think a good workplace should run’ and therefore I need to live it.”
Like most female entrepreneurs; Nicole started her business with three young children, bringing them to worksites and to meet suppliers. “I know what it’s like to be a working mother so if my employees have a concert for their kids they leave for an hour and go to the concert, if their kids are sick, they stay home.” All of her employees are given the chance to wear both their parental hat and their business hat, “neither of those hats can be worn part time.”
“Why can’t we be genuine working parents who prioritise family as well as work? If that’s how I think society should be then I actually have to create that within my own workplace.”
The floor plan of Nicole’s home is a triangle that features a five-metre high brick pillar. Yep, you heard that right, a five-metre, triangle pillar made of clinker bricks stands tall in the entry. “It’s a ‘you either love it or you hate it’ house” she tells me, facing off with the mighty triangle I’m not too sure where I stand but it’s not long until the old home starts to win me over. “It’s an iconic, mid-century Canberra house, that has been a feature in a walking trial of iconic Canberra homes,” backing onto the stunning Wintergardern estate, Nicole’s home is a slice of Canberra’s history.
“We bought this house almost by accident. Both my husband and I love architecture so when we saw it on allhomes we knew we had to see it for ourselves: as soon as we walked in, we knew this was going to be our home.” They bought the house that Saturday, it was love at first sight. Nicole’s extensive experience in interior design kicked in as she started imagining the possibilities this home contained and a renovation was planned. The home is certainly old but listening to Nicole’s plans and seeing the work that has already been done, you can see a new life in it. In a city quickly filling with modern apartments, she is preserving a small part of our history in her own home.