HQ MUSE // Hannah Buttigieg, Nutritionist – Food Intelligence


Our HQ Muses are people in the Holistic HQ community who are brave, creative, big-hearted and inspiring. They are ambassadors for what we strive to achieve – a thriving and joyful wellness community, supporting you on the path to good health, a sustainable lifestyle and spirited, happy wellbeing.




We are so excited to introduce you to Hannah Buttigieg, our guest Nutritionist who will be joining our team at next month’s HQ Getaway (18th – 20th August 2017) at Amarant Retreat in the beautiful Yarra Valley.

Hannah has always had an avid passion for health and fitness, so it became a natural career progression for her to establish a business based on whole foods and promoting healthy lifestyle choices. Drawing on her skills of years working in the field of addictions, Hannah understands how difficult it can be to change habits and therefore brings a wealth of knowledge to her work as a behaviour change nutritionist, exploring ways to change old habits and form new, healthier habits.

It is Hannah’s aim as the owner of Food Intelligence to educate people about the benefits of eating the right foods and demonstrate that food can not only give you the body you want but make you feel amazing.

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You have a very unique approach to your work as a nutritionist, shaped by your long career in the field of addictions. How have your past experiences working as a drug and alcohol counsellor influenced your approach as a behaviour change nutritionist?


Working with people who experience alcohol and other drug (AOD) addictions, especially in the forensic sector, are hands down one of the most challenging client demographics there is. In our society, we are taught that a person is either well or unwell, an addict or recovered. However, through my work in this sector, I was on a continual learning curve that showed me that this is not the case at all, not even a little bit – addiction is incredibly complex and all shades of grey. It may have been out of self-preservation, or it may have been because I am ever the optimist and try to seek the best out of people, but I learned very early on in my career to celebrate the small wins.

What is important to me is most likely totally irrelevant to my client, because their circumstances and situation is totally different from mine. The most important thing I have taken from my work in AOD is to never be judgemental. Through this work, you are witness and privy to some very raw, often brutal and truly horrific things, and being able to detach yourself from the situation while still being empathetic is a skill that took me a very, very long time to master.  

Based on these experiences, I’ve built Food Intelligence on the following foundations – genuinely celebrating the small wins, because these accrue to the overall big win, and approaching each client from a place of empathy and non-judgement – it’s never our job to judge.




What prompted you to start Food Intelligence as your own business? Was there an obvious gap for what you do that you could see in the market?


Food Intelligence came about when I was at a peak stress levels in a previous AOD job. I wasn’t looking after myself well, I was totally burnt out and not coping too well mentally. I enrolled in a Post Graduate Certificate in Human Nutrition as a way to learn to look after myself better. During my studies, friends and family kept saying to me that I should start my own business because my unique skill-set from AOD married together with my interest and studies in nutrition perfectly. From there, Food Intelligence came to life!

Well I should say, the idea of it anyway. I was still working full time in the AOD sector and knew nothing about business so it took about 18 months of research and development before I launched the business in March 2016. And yes, I did notice a gap in the market regarding what I do. I found there was a plethora of options for people who needed acute treatment for eating disorders, however for the general population there was very little out there. That’s where I step in as your one-stop shop for achieving your health and wellness goals.


You’ve travelled a lot, both locally and internationally! What have been your favourite places to visit, and what special food moments or rituals have stayed with you from your travels?


Travel is a part of me. I feel anxious and edgy if I don’t have at least several plane tickets booked, or know I can take off at the drop of a hat. Which is probably why doing the Monday to Friday 9-5 thing never worked well for me! In Australia, my favourite place that I’ve spent time (other than the Surf Coast) is the Kimberley in Western Australia.

I was fortunate enough to have worked in a rehabilitation clinic funded by an Aboriginal Corporation. During my time there I was taken to remote places that had pristine beaches, deserts and amazing oases without any people in sight, except maybe the traditional land owners.

Reflecting back on it, the food I ate during these trips was pretty incredible and totally illegal to eat if it wasn’t from an Indigenous person! We often feasted on sea turtle, dugong and stingray. On weekends I’d go mud crabbing and fishing with friends. It was like living in paradise and I very much miss that lifestyle.

With my travels overseas, I don’t think I could say one place has been my favourite. Every place I have been holds a special place in my heart and I’d love to go back to each one of them, except there are too many other places to explore!! My one food moment that stands out in my overseas adventures would be when I was 21 or 22 I was backpacking through Egypt. The girl I was travelling with and I were walking through a tiny town, I can’t even remember its name, when we were walking past a Mosque.

There was a group of women, all dressed in burkas, sitting down on the grass in the shade having a picnic. My eyes met with theirs and I smiled. They called us over and invited us to join their picnic. We could not speak a word of each other’s language, but we managed to ‘talk’ non stop throughout lunch. We feasted on tabbouleh, pita bread, hummus and falafels.

When I think of food and what it means to me this story is exactly that. Food is what brings people together, it breaks down barriers, it gives us common ground, it allows for mutual respect and a snap shot, however small, into other incredibly beautiful cultures.

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You grew up on the Surf Coast and Geelong. What does the area represent to you, and how has the coastal life influenced you as a person?


Its home! Its where I come to rest, to be with family, to be with friends who have known me for most of my life. Its where I recharge my batteries after travels. Its where I flop on my mum’s couch when I’m sick. It’s a little piece of paradise that makes up my entire world. Without daily walks on the beach, surfing and diving at every opportunity, road trips down the coast in search of waves or crayfish, I really have no idea who I’d be!

I guess it has also been a big influence on me being an environmentally conscious person, seeing the damage done to our oceans horrifies me and the fact that I can’t stand pollution makes me live my life in a certain way. For example, I make sure I’m energy conscious at home, I take my own bags to the supermarket, I try not to buy packaged food to minimise my waste, because I see the direct result of those choices every time I am in or near the ocean.


Who are your biggest influences when it comes to cooking in the kitchen? What are your favourite go-to recipes?


One of my biggest influences is Teresa Cutter, The Healthy Chef, to me she was well ahead of the whole health food movement and seeing her career grow has been hugely inspiring. I also love how she has stayed up to date with new nutrition research and includes that in her work. I have one of her cookbooks from over 10 years ago and all recipes call on artificial sweetner which makes me chuckle as these days she’s evolved to only use wholefoods. I just find it so inspiring watching someone grow like that as a person, a chef and an influencer.



How has your approach towards self-care changed over the years? What are your favourite rituals for self-care now?


It has changed dramatically that’s for sure. In my late teens and early 20’s, self care consisted of partying hard two or three nights a week, working out as much as possible and calorie counting. I was a bit of a wild-child back in my heyday, but these days nothing pleases me more than a night in with a cup of tea and either a good book or a Netflix binge. I also prioritise sleep, if I don’t get enough I am not a nice person to be around, I’m grumpy and overeat which then makes me even more grumpy! Daily movement is also mandatory for my self care, whether it’s yoga, pilates or walking, I make sure I move daily.


What does your ideal day look like?


My ideal day is having a little sleep in and then heading to my favourite hot yoga studio for a 9:30am class, followed by brunch with the girls. Then depending on the mood of the ocean, I’d go for a dive, surf or fish. The best way to finish up the day would be with friends having a big cook-up for dinner. Even thinking about it makes me smile.


As our guest nutritionist, what are you most looking forward to on your first HQ Getaway this August?


I’m so pumped for this retreat! From experience the main thing I’m looking forward to is getting to know the guests. The women who attend these types of retreats I find so inspiring. I think it takes so much courage to say to the world, “I’m dedicating a weekend to myself, and I’m going to disconnect from the world, and reconnect with myself”.

The exchange of energy and wisdom is something I am also really looking forward to as well. Exploring the Yarra Valley will be fun. It’s not somewhere I’ve spent a lot of time and I mean, how could it not be an incredible weekend when the backdrop is so gorgeous…?!  




You are currently creating a really exciting addition to the Food Intelligence portfolio – a blog featuring all of your favourite nutrition and lifestyle tips. What kind of things can people expect, and (equally important!) – when will this be launched, and how can people sign up?


This is equally exciting as it is terrifying! It’s something I’ve been working on for a few years now and have never been brave enough to put it out there. I’m also in the process of launching a monthly Food Intelligence newsletter which will have recipes, blogs and other goodies.

At the moment I’m having some website work done so it’s best just to email me at info@foodintelligence.international and I’ll sign you up to the newsletter where you can easily access the blog. Once my website is all sorted there will be a sign-up page.




What advice would you give your younger self in pursuing your dreams?


Don’t be so hard on yourself and take more breaks! I’m my own worst critic, which has certainly helped me at times to push myself, but has also seriously stressed me out unnecessarily at others. I’m also known to work to the point of burnout and only then will I take a break. This is something I’m working on and is most definitely still a work in progress!


Instagram: @food_intelligence

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/foodintelligence1/

Website: http://www.foodintelligence.international





HQ MUSE // Annette Ruzicka, Photographer and Filmmaker

Our HQ Muses are people in the Holistic HQ community who are brave, creative, big-hearted and inspiring. They are ambassadors for what we strive to achieve – a thriving and joyful wellness community, supporting you on the path to good health, a sustainable lifestyle and spirited, happy wellbeing.


Annette Ruzicka is a documentary and portrait photographer based in Melbourne, Australia. A love of the natural environment and the unseen or unlikely people who fight for its protection has been the initial focus of her work both in Australia and abroad.

Annette runs a portrait and corporate/lifestyle photography business including videography for individuals, small or large businesses. Annette was also a finalist for the coveted 2016 National Portraiture Prize.


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1. The focus of your work via Annette Ruzicka Photography is very much on the unseen or unlikely heroes of the conservation movement, both here and abroad. How do you seek out the subject of your photography, and how do they inspire you?

As a photographer, you’re looking for the real people – the brains, brawn (for lack of a better word) or champion of the work or project – whatever the case may be. This is not always the most obvious or boisterous person, it could be the person in the background just getting on with it. The key is spending time with them, getting to know their story and quite simply, to observe.

The story often unfolds right before you. As my work has incorporated a strong focus on environmental issues, they inspire me by simply doing what they do – either off the smell of an oily rag, or in less than ideal conditions and doing it to address a major environmental problem – and for that alone they inspire me.


2. You recently were named a finalist for the 2016 National Photographic Portrait Prize – congratulations! What did this accolade mean to you?  

It meant a great deal indeed. At the risk of boasting, it’s a highly coveted prize of national recognition. It’s been extremely valuable for my career and to have one your images selected, framed and in an exhibition is a wonderful feeling in the competitive world of photography. One thing photographers are is very sensitive of their work – so to have this acknowledgment was extremely gratifying.



3. Your volunteer work in Costa Rica was a pivotal experience in your life. What was so remarkable about your first trip there?

Gosh, where do I start? The natural values of the area, the amazing mass turtle nesting events (which only happen 7 places in the world), the locals who kept the work going – amidst poor socio-economic factors, and the complexities and politics of a small community, it was both fascinating and a privilege.



4. Where do you find your happy moments when your work hats are off?

Taking photos! There’s nothing more satisfying than creating an amazing image, or learning something new or finishing that mini-documentary. Being out in nature, looking up the stars until your neck hurts, bush walking and sometimes, just sitting on the couch with the husband with a big bag of popcorn watching The Walking Dead!



5. If you could travel to one special place you haven’t yet been, what would be your dream destination? Why does it capture your imagination?

I want to spend a good 6 months in both Central and Southern Latin America. After my eight weeks in Costa Rica I have developed a visceral yearning to go back. The magnificent natural values of the continent speak for themselves – the Amazon being the most obvious, and its ancient history including Machu Picchu. But it’s the wonderful people of the region, I believe, that I will above all continue to love – culturally, I feel of all the countries I have visited it’s the most aligned to who I am.



6. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

When I am stressing out about something, or letting my imagination get carried away with things, it’s easy to assume the worst. I was once asked, “what evidence do you have to believe this will happen?” and the answer 9 times out of 10 is none! You can always let your insecurities and fears eat away at you,  but nowadays I simply ask myself this question – I find it always stops me in my tracks and lets me just get on with it.


Instagram: @annettruzickaphotography

Facebook: www.facebook.com.au/annettruzickaphotography

Website: www.annetteruzicka.com.au



HQ Muse – Andie Meredith


Our HQ Muses are people in the Holistic HQ community who are brave, creative, big-hearted and inspiring. They are ambassadors for what we strive to achieve – a thriving and joyful wellness collective, built around our shared passions for good health, a balanced lifestyle and spirited, happy wellbeing. Read on below for an interview with our HQ Muse, Andie Meredith!


1. How was your business born? What led you to follow a life in design?

My design label came about during my final year of study – Bachelor of Design (Fashion), where i developed several design briefs based around my chosen target market. From there i graduated (with a business plan), and an opportunity to attend an emerging designer trade show. As a debut designer, I began wholesaling my seasonal women’s wear collections in short runs.

Over a period of about 6 years I continued to design and produce women’s wear collections, including signature print fabrics. Throughout that time people would often comment on how my designs could be quite suited to pieces outside of women’s apparel. It wasn’t until recently that I decided to explore the idea of developing those designs (that I would have once used as part of garments and accessories) to be used on all kinds of surfaces – including homewares, paper products, light installations, industrial design, shoes, ceramics – you name it. I envisage the designs to be used across many mediums. So with a little bit of planning and lots of enthusiasm, I’ve now steered the direction of my design label toward several niche markets, focusing on surface design.


2. Signature fabric prints are a major feature of your designs, what inspires you to come up with the prints?

My fabric design process also developed during my final year of study. It’s one that I thoroughly enjoyed and have continued to draw on over the years. The process itself stemmed from my love of the art nouveau period and in particular the artist, designer, and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh – who design and built the Glasgow School of Art.

I’m also innately quite drawn to nature, organic shapes, raw and ephemeral objects, so that certainly informs my design aesthetic.

While completing my final year collection I was thoroughly immersed in Mackintoshs’ works and quite liked the idea of looking at the materials he worked with – mostly malleable and experimented with ways in which i could reinterpret his processes and works. My process came to be: experimental mark making on paper, using ink, wire and string. From there i chose sections of my artwork (experimental mark making) and created repeat patterns using photoshop. I’d spend hours on end with colour palette (usually constrained and subdued) specifications, and before I knew it I’d have several designs ready for printing.

The actual printing onto fabric process has been an enormous learning curve for me over the years. After spending a substantial amount of time testing several suppliers, both onshore and offshore, and both digital and screen printing by hand, I’d like to think I have found a fellow artist who will continue to support my whacky ideas, share their wealth of knowledge and most of all contribute the highest quality fabric printing.

At present I have just received a bundle of freshly plant dyed, linen and hemp that has been screen printed with a couple of AM classics. The plant dye is unique in colour and offers a lovely depth of character in contrast to the ‘expected’ digital print method. The hemp and linen fibres prove longevity in design and function. I’m looking forward to coming up with some new products and over the next couple of days I’ll be using the fabrics to make up some goodies for the HQ Workshop and Rose Street Artist Market.



3. Who are your role models or muses for your designs?

I’ve always been in touch with the Andie Meredith audience – consistent market research was a large part of my design process – knowing the ‘Andie Meredith audience’ was imperative in designing and making. I like to listen to people and I’m quite observant and perceptive. So with this in mind my audience is quite vast in age and background. The woman who wears and admires Andie Meredith designs is confident in herself, she wants to know the story behind each design, she believes in sustainable living, purchases with a conscience and values ethical production.


4. You have now branched out to accessories and gorgeous homewares, are there any new products on the horizon?

Yes, indeed! I’ve got lots of ideas and planning ticking over in the background, which I hope to be announcing soon.


5. What does your ideal day look like?

I’m somewhat spontaneous, although I also like to have a little bit of a routine in my day-to-day life. I like to explore and try new things, and being in a new city, I have an endless list of things to do! There are some things I like to think are a must… laughing and sunshine are a must.


6. Do you have a life motto?

I find myself reflecting quite a bit. I guess you could say the notion of living and learning really.


7. Where can we source your beautiful products from?

Since recently moving to Melbourne I have started a space at the Rose Street Market, but my instagram feed is my most reliable source for product updates.


8. You create bespoke designs by request, how was the experience of creating a specific design for a wedding?

Yes, the wedding fabrics were the very first bespoke prints and I must say the entire process was a great success. For this particular wedding the fabric designs were the basis of the entire colouring and styling, quite like an ‘anchor point’ for the couple to plan the whole ceremony around. Because of my background in working with fabrics, designing collections and runway events I was able to draw on my knowledge and experiences to gain an understanding of the couple’s vision and also advise on how to implement the designs once they were printed onto the fabric.

It was really quite rewarding to see the entire day come together. I was also fortunate enough to make the dresses and accessories as well as wear one of the (bridesmaid) dresses.


9. What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self in chasing your dreams?

Take risks, be confident, trust what you know and know what you trust.


F: www.facebook.com/andiemeredithdesignlabel

I: www.instagram.com/andiemeredith

W: shop.andiemeredith.com

HQ MUSE // Laura Sides, Holistic HQ Chef


Our HQ Getaway Chef, the super-talented Miss Laura Sides, trained as an apprentice at the Andalusian-inspired Añada in Fitzroy, and has worked in some of Melbourne’s top restaurants as part of the front of house management team: Lucy Liu and Taxi Dining Room in the CBD, and La Luna in Carlton. Laura’s passion for cooking was something that developed almost by accident.

“My mum wouldn’t let me cook because I’d make a terrible mess. I didn’t really grow up with an interest in food at all. When I moved out of home I started playing around with food, and I found that I really enjoyed cooking and people seemed to really enjoy eating it! Moving to Melbourne [from England] and working with food is where my passion was really cemented.

I arrived in Melbourne with just a backpack and not knowing a single soul. All I knew was that I wanted to work with food and wine and this seemed like the best place in the world to do that.

I unwittingly managed to secure a job in a very prestigious restaurant within 12 hrs of arriving off the plane. When I googled the restaurant later that evening, I saw it had just won Gourmet Traveller Restaurant of the Year. I was absolutely petrified, but I turned up for day one and things rolled from there.

I later moved to Taxi Dining Room, where I started as a food runner and finished four and a half years later as part of the management team. During that time I also studied and qualified as a chef. I had the privilege of working my apprenticeship at Anada Restaurant in Fitzroy, where I would do all the food prep from 7am until mid afternoon, then race down to Taxi and work on the restaurant floor. It was an absolutely crazy time.

I then went back into management and have recently finished eighteen wonderful months as part of the opening team at Lucy Liu. I have never been hugely drawn to the confines of a restaurant kitchen, I crave creativity and being able to do my own thing. I have always known I would come back to food in the right way, and here I am!



1. What is your most memorable meal? Why does it hold such a firm place in your memory?

My favourite meal as a child was kedgeree, which is smoked haddock and spiced rice. Coming from Norwich in Northern England, you’re not really exposed to exotic foods, and I remember thinking, ‘… this is exciting’. Mum made it for us every Christmas Eve. I had it every year from four years old until I was twenty-five.

2. What was the hardest thing about your apprenticeship?

The combination of studying, going into class, doing the contact hours in a kitchen and working as a section waiter was pretty difficult to juggle. I would often leave Taxi Dining Room at 1am, needing to be back in the kitchen at 7am then back to Taxi for 4pm, it took its’ toll!

I also struggled with the Patisseries semester. I’m not one to follow a recipe and with patisserie cooking you really have to be diligent. I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth and struggle to cook anything I don’t really want to eat.

3. You’ve worked as the face of some of Melbourne’s top restaurants. How does working on the floor compare to working behind the kitchen?

I love the theatre of working on a restaurant floor, I love the intensity and high pressured environment of service. I love that you really never know who may walk through the door and having the joy of meeting such a broad range of people who all turn up for the same reason – the love of food.


4. What’s your favourite dish to prepare when you have friends over?

I so enjoy cooking at other people’s houses – it’s like the ‘mystery box’ on Masterchef, you open the fridge and cupboards and just make something. My favourite dish to cook is my version of steamed ginger and spring onion chicken. It’s one of my favourite dishes in Melbourne, originating from Ling Nam in Chinatown.

5. What do you do to eat healthy?

I never, ever eat anything out of the packet. It doesn’t excite me and it doesn’t involve any sort of interaction with the food. So I think that’s a good start. I have also become very aware of the power of water over the past couple of years and try to drink sh*$t loads of the stuff.

6. Who do you look up to in the industry? Why do you love what they’re doing?

The reason I started on this journey, across the world from Norwich to Melbourne was Rick Stein. I’d been through a big upheaval back home, and was ready for a change. I didn’t know where to go first until I saw Rick Stein cook a suckling pig in Ubud, and then realized that’s exactly where I wanted to go. So that’s where I went, and that’s what I ate, and that’s why I’m here now. I love how rustic and simple his food is.

7. If you could cook anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

If I could cook anywhere and for anyone, it would probably be for my Mum and Dad. I never got the chance to cook for them together, so perhaps that’s a step back in time rather than a specific location.


8. What are you looking forward to on our HQ Getaway in January?

I’m looking forward to the challenge of cooking for so many en masse, and I’m looking forward to using all the gadgets in the retreat kitchen which i don’t have at home but wish i did (ie. Thermomix!!!!!!).

I’m also looking forward to being in a beautiful space with like-minded ladies, away from the rat-race of day to day life.

9. You currently do Crossfit – why does it appeal to you?

I love Crossfit, because I know if I go 3 times a week I can pretty much get away with anything for the rest of the week! I like feeling strong and pushing myself to my absolute maximum capacity (which I simply couldn’t do on my own).

I love turning up with anxious anticipation of the workout ahead, then working out like a crazy person in a hot and sweaty industrial box, high fiving someone and going home being barely able to walk.

10. What do you dream of in 2016?

Channelling all things things I love and have learnt into the career I have always wanted x

HQ MUSE // Shana Dean, Heart Weaving

Our muses are people in the Holistic HQ community who are brave, creative, big-hearted and inspiring. They are ambassadors for what we strive to achieve – a thriving and joyful wellness collective, built around our shared passions for good health, a balanced lifestyle and spirited, happy wellbeing.

The beautiful Shana Dean is the Founder of Heart Weaving, a community weaving group. Shana says, “I discovered the art of weaving almost three years ago. It served me as an invaluable emotional support & continues to intrigue and teach me in many ways.

“Weaving has played an integral role in the lives of people from practically every culture and level of civilisation throughout time. Before we had written text, many communities used weaving to communicate about who they were, the environment around them and their connection to the spirit world. This practice is ongoing, but sadly in many communities it is an extinct or endangered art form.

When I discovered the art of natural textile weaving several years ago, it fed into my innate curiosity and genuine love of the natural world and the creative process. Weaving drew me into a sacred dance with nature, opening my eyes and heart with a forever deepening awareness of the world around me. It held me as I emotionally unpacked through severe grief, and supported me as I stitched my heart back together again to emerge whole once more.

For this reason I named my teaching practice ‘Heart Weaving’ … Weaving with love, from love and for the love of weaving.”


  1. What drew you to the craft of weaving? How has it impacted your life?

I discovered weaving through another amazing local woman weaver, Renee Bahloo, and took on a six-week course shortly after my dad passed away. I was also struggling to raise two small children and a five month old. It was a time I gave myself each week to sit down with other women and focus on feeling, connecting and just processing what that week had been like. I fell in love with it. Once you got into the pattern and rhythm of the weave, it was incredibly meditative.

Being able to intentionally take time each week to sit in circle with other open hearted women is a beautiful experience, for me it is incomparable with anything else. Weaving has me on a journey – it’s been like a best friend to me, it’s provided me with opportunities to meet some lovely people, to travel to some really special destinations. I have further plans to travel although I haven’t had the chance yet. I have also been repeatedly surprised and blessed by the community of weavers here and in places I’ve travelled to. I think what has also driven my passion for weaving, besides its deeply therapeutic benefits, is my ever growing understanding of the importance  weaving has as an art form in so many ways – culturally, environmentally, historically, as a communication tool, it’s just got so many layers to it and I just want to protect, nurture and promote this beautiful art form.

  1. What does it mean for the women who come together for your regular weaving circle?

I’m constantly surprised by the pieces created in my workshops, it’s so diverse. Even with first time weavers, once they get going, something innate kicks in and you can see it in their eyes. They go back to memories of their childhood, their grandma, their neighbour weaving things. Or it might be something else they have ability in, but didn’t attribute to weaving, such as knitting, or crocheting, or plaiting. They hadn’t felt connected to this art form. I get to nurture and facilitate that connection, and I love seeing that lightbulb go off. I also see the community aspect of coming together being nurtured in these gatherings, this was much more commonplace in times past and it’s a positive thing to keep alive in our current busy lives, to find time to sit and connect with each other person to person.


  1. What’s your favourite piece that you’ve woven so far? Why is it so special to you?

I’ve got two! One of them is my sculpture mermaid. I love her because she’s big, and she’s pretty … and she’s a mermaid! But unwittingly, she’s also a representation of my journey through weaving.  She’s a depiction of the Yemanja, a water goddess from Brazil where I have family connections. Just prior to my dad’s passing I travelled there and I fell in love with her image and story. Yemanja is a very present image in Bahia where I visited – she is depicted everywhere in Salvador, the capital city, even in the amazing street art graffiti.

A year later I was gifted this huge reel of beautiful pandanus fibre whilst on a weaving retreat in Nusa Penida, Bali. I used it to create her body. I accidentally made her arms different lengths, and it also happened that her slightly broken left shoulder reflected my own injuries. Sometimes you don’t consciously realise what you’re doing, but there’s always something that comes out of your weaving that helps you heal or laugh at the synchronicities.

The other piece I love is a little coil weave bowl. I used pieces from the beach that I collected after cyclone Marcia came through a while back, as well as some vibrant fair trade hemp string I purchased. It was a mixture of plant debris as well as rope that could have otherwise caused marine damage, but instead it came together as this beautiful bowl.

It was the first piece that I did where I wasn’t learning from someone else’s style or ideas, or following a particular method, but rather it is my own expression. It’s called Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. When I display it, it’s a great opportunity for discussions about what elements are involved, and the issues underpinning them – environmental issues, fair trade and other issues that are close to my heart.

  1. You have three gorgeous children who also keep you busy. Has it been a juggle to find time to work on your craft, or have they been involved in the process?

Yes, no, maybe – all of the above! There have been times where I have had to not weave, and put it aside because it’s just not going to happen. But I try to spend my free time well. When you are a single mum of three, and you reach for weaving in your spare moments, you know it’s a passion because in truth you don’t have much time spare! They do get involved, especially as they get older – when we’re at the park, they’ll go off on their own accord and find materials for me, which is really cute.

Lately my son is most interested in sitting with me and making his own weaving and I love that time spent together. What I do know though is that I parent better when my needs are met, and weaving just happens to fill my creativity cup till it overflows.


  1. You’re also studying a degree in counselling. Do you feel that this links in with your work with Heart Weaving?

Yes, I do. It definitely does. I’ve known even pre-weaving that I wanted to work in creative therapy, and I’ve found that sitting in a circle with supportive people around you – it holds a space, and a commonality. It’s amazing how it just naturally flows and you can see people overcoming obstacles, little ones or bigger ones, in their ability to create.

Sometimes they come in clearly thinking that there’s no way that they’re able to grasp how to weave. Sometimes they’ve gone through something difficult, and to come to the circle and be genuinely heard is incredibly healing. You might be creating a piece, and you go through the different stages of learning – from unknown through to understanding and  as you travel that path you may get to  points of frustration and these quite often cross over into other parts of your life.

Different forms of metaphors might come up through the weaving process that reflect the issues in your life – it can be ironic, and it can be humorous. I usually say to people at the start: if it’s pissing you off, that means it’s working.

  1. Weaving is an incredibly meditative process. Describe to us your ideal space for weaving; who you’re with, where you are, sights and sounds and feelings…

My ideal space for weaving is in the shade (because I often get sunburnt!), by the side of a babbling creek, with rock pools around me. Ideally somewhere where nature is flourishing in a balanced way, where it hasn’t been interfered with, and I can show the people I’m with how to find materials from nature. Mid-morning or mid-afternoon – I like those times. I’m not overly concerned about gender or age etc., but I love sitting with people who value the connection with the earth and with each other. You can’t get a much better spot then beside the creek, experiencing nature, seeing birds, it’s amazing how being in a space like that brings up reminisces of childhood and simpler times.

I love the blessing of elders in the workshops as well. When I was running a workshop on the Gold Coast, I had the sweetest woman who was 92, blind and in a wheelchair come up to me to share with me about her time teaching weaving in a rehabilitation home to returned soldiers after World War Two. There was a man she taught who had suffered a stroke, and she told me how she had figured out a way to teach this man who was really struggling to cope, how to weave his own basket. When he was leaving the respite centre she recalled presenting him with his basket, she told me “I still remember that he put his hands on my face and he said “very good miss, very good”.

It was the end of the day and I had hardly any materials left, but I gave her a small coiled basket I had with me to take home, just to hold in her hands and experience the memory tactilely.  It was a really humbling moment. Weaving has given me moments like this of pure connection with other human beings, and I don’t think I could have experienced that depth of commonality without weaving.

  1. What would be your ultimate weaving piece that you dream of creating?

I’m really inspired by forest sculptor Spencer Byles. I’d love to do a big woven installation piece somewhere unexpected, for people to happen across and just enjoy.

  1. What was the one moment that you feel has defined your life so far?

Hmm.. It wasn’t really one moment – it was more of a five-year moment. The last five years have been incredibly testing, managing as a single mum, studying for my degree, losing a beloved parent and surviving a big health scare amongst other things. It’s been an intense journey of self-discovery, finding who I am, in all my facets.  It’s forced me to reach out to my amazing friends who loved me when I wasn’t terribly loveable.

That time has come to an end in many ways. I’m not really a single mum anymore – I’m a single mum supported by an amazing partner. I can see in hindsight that it has crafted me into a much more rounded, empathic, and compassionate and real, very real person. I got over a lot of ideas of what I thought mattered.  These days I just focus on my lovely kids and partner and the great team we make, and on our wonderful friends and the new path ahead….

  1. Where in the world do you dream of your weaving taking you to? Who would you love to work with or study under?

I would love to connect with my indigenous heritage. Throughout history, everyone wove. We wove before all this plastic, before modern technology. Therefore, every culture has their traditional weaving. I’d love to go back to Scotland, and tap into my heritage – I’m a proud Gordon! There’s a touch of Viking there too.

I’m told there’s a beautiful weaving community in Scotland, and I’d love to visit with them, spend time on that land and learn those traditional weaving techniques. I’d love to be able to bring that back here and share it with others who share that heritage and anyone else who would like to learn it as well. Because, we all have connection to land; we all have traditional weaving heritage, but all of that was cut from our history with the to-ing and fro-ing across continents. I’m sure I’m not the only the one with a desire to connect in with our ancestors in this way.

  1. You’ve created a safe space, a sense of community and a beautiful artistic outlet for those in your weaving circle. What are your hopes for Heart Weaving down the track?

More adventures. Meeting more beautiful people. Expanding my knowledge of the land and other cultures, of what people are willing to share with me. Weaving to deepen community connections. I’d like to facilitate more social experiences.

For instance, through a current collaborative project I’m working on with Thriving Families, the ‘Nambour Community Quilt’ we are providing an opportunity for community members to come together and weave not only artistically but socially and emotionally.

The end result will be a lovely art piece to display as well as a deepening sense of community connection and belonging. It’s also been a lovely way to document an expression of who we are as a group at this time in this place. That’s the beautiful story-telling element of weaving right there at its best.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heartweaving/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heart_weaving/

Photo Credits: Natalie Owens, Global Pearls


HQ MUSE // Alice Chien, Intent Mind

Our HQ Muses are people in the Holistic HQ community who are brave, creative, big-hearted and inspiring. They are ambassadors for what we strive to achieve – a thriving and joyful wellness collective, built around our shared passions for good health, a balanced lifestyle and spirited, happy wellbeing. Read on below for an interview with our very first Muse, the gorgeous Alice Chien!


Alice Chien is a career ninja who helps big hearted peeps find and do work they believe in. She likes meeting people who are feeling stuck, hating on their jobs and hanging for a change because she knows they’re sitting on a huge amount of potential. Potential for growth, digging deep and action taking. All the good stuff.

Alice started her business Intent Mind because when she went through a career crossroads a while back she found it confusing, overwhelming and lonely. No one should do this stuff alone. Knowing what she knows now, she has tailored coaching programs to help career adventurers work out their journey ahead, with a clear mind, a bulletproof process and tailored support.  

1. Through your work as an NLP practitioner and career coach, you love to help people find their passion. What led you on the path to find your own passion?

Years ago, I got the job I had dreamed about since my uni days. The organisation I was working for was amazing, on paper, the role I was allowed to play was amazing, but it did not feel all that amazing. In contrary I felt drained and a lot of times unhappy. While the missing elements are obvious to me now, I didn’t really understand what was going on back then. I felt like I had something wrong with me.

Through my attempts at understanding my own psychology, my drivers, my needs and triggers I realised I loved learning about what internal and external conditions are required for people to feel fulfilled and good about themselves.

Because of the rocky time I had working out my future career, and the havoc it played on my professional and personal life, I have a high value on helping people work this problem out. I believe when people are inspired and aligned with the work that they do, their ability to add value to others and themselves goes gangbusters. I often think I have the best job in the world. Definitely for me anyway!


2. You’ve set up your own thriving business, Intent Mind (www.intentmind.com.au). How did you find your feet as a business owner?

With plenty of help! I’ve had a coach or mentor support me at every stage of this journey. They’ve been part of my business and my workflow. For example, in a coaching program, you meet up with a coach fortnightly, they add value to the problems you’re facing, provide accountability, prod with great questions and direct you to great resources. It’s really helped keep me in perspective of what’s really important to my goals and kept me moving along. I’d say surrounding yourself with people that believe in you is one of the keys to businesses thriving. Without this input, the confidence, momentum, and resources you need to draw from is missing. Today, I love playing that supportive role for others where I can.

3. What was your first ever job? What skills did you learn that you still find yourself tapping into today?

First ever job was working in the family newsagency selling Tattslotto tickets, newspapers, dry cleaning and cigarettes as a teenager. People came in from all walks of life. In any one day there’d be office workers, Chinatown restaurant staff, asian international students, drug dealers, tourists and out of towners. Most people were kind and friendly. Some barely acknowledged your presence except to pay the bill. There’s a resilience and flexibility you gain from customer service roles serving people with different needs. One of the skills I still tap into today is understanding and meeting people where they’re at and being flexible to their needs.

4. Who do you call your mentor? Why do they play such an important role in your life?

I’m really grateful to have had a few mentors over the years who I turn to for their unique special magic. One mentor I’ve gained so much wisdom from is Benjamin Harvey. He shows up authentically and adds value wherever he goes. He’s taught me so much about the power of storytelling, how to ask meaningful questions, how to manage my energy and my time and how to build a business from the heart. He’s a boss at helping people to progress in their lives and take action. A lot of the methods he’s taught me I continue to use with my coaching clients with outstanding results.

5. What’s your all-time favourite memory? What draws you back to it?

All time!! Not sure about all time, but one memory that I’m going to love forever is looking after monkeys in Ecuador in the Amazon volunteering through an organisation called Merazonia. There was this woolly monkey named Diego, who was being picked on and ostracised by his Woolly monkey peers. As such he was in an enclosure by himself, in a spot deep in the jungle. Because Diego was alone and craved company he was the only monkey we were allowed to touch. The memory I have is being in the thick of the jungle, sitting next to Diego, picking at and scratching his back. I felt like a monkey and we shared a nice quiet time. I love this moment and this time I spent in the jungle with no electricity or technology around. My biology said yes to it big time to being in the jungle.


6. What was 2015 for you?

2015 turned out to be a contrasting year. In February I came home from an incredible 6 month South American adventure overseas with my partner Ben and THEN attempted throw myself into work double time when coming back to Melbourne. At times I was loving the feeling of busting through work, achieving goals, other times I felt like I was way too loaded. I learnt lessons about my own self care deal breakers and now prioritise a lot more time to balance out the go go nature of having my own business.

7. What are your hopes for 2016?

To focus on one meaningful thing at a time and to be really present with it. Clear and present.

Aside from that the roadmap ahead includes: making a lovely little home with my main man Ben, cooking and eating more home made foods than ever before using my growing collection of kitchen gadgets and launching an 8 week online program that helps people to uncover careers they will thrive in.

8. You’re also involved with a purpose-filled, authentic community of leaders via Collective Potential (www.collectivepotential.com.au). What inspires you about the community you’re creating there?

I love what we’re creating at Collective Potential! Our event and program spaces help people find what they need to live fulfilling lives. There’s a whole spectrum of why people come to experience what Collective Potential offers, but ultimately by making real connections and having the support of others, we become our best selves. It’s totally inspiring seeing people come into our rooms, challenge themselves and light up with their potential. The stories participants have shared about what they’ve gained and achieved after Collective Potential workshops are incredible. I get massively inspired by the changes people make because they’ve found this community. It’s powerful stuff.

9. You’re a seriously busy lady! What keeps you grounded? How do you take care of yourself in your downtime?

In my calendar I block out “me time” style activities where I get to do whatever I feel like without any guilt or feeling like I should be doing something else. These activities include yoga, meditation, peppermint tea, lying in bed reading or writing in a book. Also I find that unless I schedule these in either they don’t happen. There is a decent amount of planning that goes into keeping my life feeling balanced actually! And I don’t always get it right.

AliceC_web_pics_488 (1)

10. What’s the last book that you couldn’t put down? Why did it have such an impact on you?

Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou – it’s a biography and memoir by Maya starting from age 13 growing up with a mother that was at times difficult to love. Reading her story gave me a new respect of the experience of mothers who don’t fit in the motherly mould and the painstaking decisions women sometimes have to make. Maya Angelou writes in a way that pours your heart into 100 different shapes. It’s an amazing read.

11. You have 24 hours left on Earth, and $10,000 in your pocket. What would you do?

I’d fly/arrange for all my favourite peeps to meet me in a giant hot tub or a waterside oasis, kick back with fruit shakes, good snacks and tell them how much I loved them and what they meant to me. I’d give the remainder cashola to Oxfam, but I reckon the $10,000 would be tapped out after that!

F: https://www.facebook.com/IntentMind
I: https://www.instagram.com/alicewchien/
W: www.intentmind.com.au

HQ MUSE // Stacey Irving, Stacey Leanne Massage


Our gorgeous friend Stacey Irving has joined our HQ team as our resident Massage Therapist, specialising in remedial and relaxation massage, as well as trigger point and pregnancy.

In her words, “It is my belief that touch and connection have an incredibly powerful impact on our physical and emotional states, relieving muscle tension, soothing pain, improving circulation and even treating certain medical conditions. It also brings about a sense of calm and quiet that is so important in all our lives.”

We asked Stacey five little questions to help you get to know your new favourite masseuse a little better…

1. What’s your favourite things in your market basket?

Chickpeas… really, is there anything they cannot do? Delicious dips, curries, roasted as snacks – the list goes on…

2. What would you request as your last meal?

Contrary to the previous question – a whole bowl of chocolate coated ginger…. bliss!

3. What’s your version of a lazy Sunday?

Friends, pots of tea, laughter, silly conversations, deep conversations, trees, hugs (with friends or trees), naps.

4. What’s number one on your bucket list? Do you see yourself fulfilling it?

Stop feeling too intimidated to be friendly to strangers! People of Melbourne, let’s chat on public transport, when in lines at the store, when waiting for our take away coffees.

Will I fulfill this dream… yep, one awkward smile/chat with a stranger at a time!

5. When does time stand still for you?

Lying in the afternoon sun after being inside all day – I swear it heals the soul ❤

You can book in for 1 hour or 30 min massage with Stacey by contacting her directly at staceyleannemassage@gmail.com – she’s available for sessions at her home in Brunswick or for mobile massage across Melbourne’s inner city suburbs.