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Kate Walker’s life has always been about design. Growing up in a well known Melbourne family, her father is one of Australia’s most successful ceramic tile merchants and her mother is a much loved Interior Designer. With colour, texture and design flair in her bones, Kate’s talents were first put to use as a little girl in her family home, where her passion for design saw her constantly updating and rearranging her childhood bedroom.

Working with her father for over 15 years, Kate learnt about the family business from the ground up. She became proficient in all facets of the tile and stone industry and was trained in every aspect of the business from the retail floor and showroom design to working with major domestic builders, managing architectural and commercial sales and handling procurement. Proudly, Kate credits her father for instilling in her an unwavering work ethic and encouraging in her an interest in and in-depth knowledge of the design industry.

Design, service and attention to detail

Kate Walker Design (KWD) was launched in 2013 and has grown to dizzy heights with an expanding team of professionals and hundreds of design jobs completed to perfection. KWD is all about design, service and attention to detail, and as experts in the industry they specify, source and supply all hard finishes. Providing a streamlined and solution based service, the KWD team links clients with leading building contractors and suppliers and oversees design projects from concept to completion. The access KWD has to the very best importers of hard finishes is unrivalled, and the relationship they have with leaders in the industry ensures the best possible prices and service. They work closely with architects, interior designers, developers, builders and contractors so that the project process is streamlined and efficient.

With Kate Walker at the helm of a dynamic and professional team, clients can be assured of a comprehensive and consultative collaboration. Specialising in a wide range of projects including low and multi-density residential projects, hotel refurbishments, multi-national corporate refits and high-end residential projects (from Melbourne to Portsea and beyond), Kate and her team deliver on promise.

Latest trends and innovations

As well as establishing an enviable relationship with hundreds of contacts in the architectural and interior design industry, Kate has immersed herself in all things design. Keeping abreast of the latest trends comes naturally, as does her innate sense of style. While she has her own personal design ethos. she loves working with all manner of design schemes, from the ultra modern to coastal chic, and from chinoiserie to all things Hamptons and everything in between. Kate listens to experts in the field and constantly researches forecast trends so she is always up to date with the latest industry news. colour creations and product innovations.

A specialist in natural stone, Terrazzo, porcelain, ceramic, mosaic, glass and timber, Kate has an in-depth understanding of the technical elements of the manufacturing process of both stone and tiles. She also has direct access to some of the best technical advisors when it comes to laying and maintaining the materials she supplies. The hard finishes she works with includes tiles, natural stone, paving, bench tops, cabinetry, carpet timber flooring, sanitary ware, tap ware, bath ware, rugs and increasingly furniture, lighting and soft furnishings.

Design is a way of life

Kate has travelled the world attending trade fairs and visiting manufacturing sites so that she understands the materials she works with. She knows the source of every tile and stone available in the marketplace from Europe, America or Asia, and can also spec match materials, making sourcing a simple and smooth process. Importantly, Kate builds relationships with her clients, her contacts and her associates. Collaboration is important to Kate and her team, as is the world of design.  For Kate design isn’t what she does, it’s her way of life.

Naturally, we wanted to know how Kate managed to run a demanding business whilst raising two children as a single mum.

Really very poorly!  It’s not easy trying to be everything you need to be and it can be a real struggle physically and emotionally.  But I do what I can with the help of a great team.  Most of my team are working mothers and because I know what it’s like to be a working mum and all the demands that there are, I provide a lot of flexibility.  They can work school friendly hours, and part time, and be involved in their kids lives while still working and creating a life for themselves.  And in turn they offer assistance to me whenever they can, every day. If I’m losing it with the kids they step in and lighten my load, and if I’m in meetings or working late they are always there to help me out.  I also have a nanny who helps with the kids a few days a week and family who live close by who are a great support.  You need to be able to ask for help when you need it, and give back whenever you can.

My kids have been to their fair share of consultations with me as well, and are great note takers!  They understand the importance of our family business and take it all in their stride.  They love driving past projects that I have worked on, and they feel so proud when they can see the work I have done.

Why have you chosen the Mornington Peninsula as home?

Kate lives in her favourite part of the world on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria with her two beautiful children Charlie (12) and Jemima (10) – their puppy Pierre and two little rabbits. Audrey and Artie.

The reasons are endless!  I am very blessed to live very close to the beach down a dirt road, which is quintessential Mt Martha.  I have family members living nearby and there is such a community spirit.  There’s an old fashioned sweet shop down the road, and I feel safe to let the kids run down the street with some change in their back pocket to go and buy themselves some sweets as a treat.   While I adore the city and all of its temptations, I love nothing more than driving in to Mt Martha village and seeing the beautiful bay and breathing in the smell of the sea.  My heart rate slows down, my body relaxes and I feel at ease. And it’s only 55 minutes to the city, with not one traffic light.  I enjoy the simplicity of living on the Mornington Peninsula.  I get to live the life that others see as a vacation.

Photo Credits: Brent Lukey @brentlukey.

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Surf Coast Success Story by Alex Hyndman-Hill Honestly, I don't know what the people of Torquay do for a living but whatever it is they all make time for yoga. Seriously, I've been at a 10am yoga class (my excuse is I work from home and the kids are at school/kinder - what's yours!?) and it has been packed! I'm talking 40 people on a weekday. Guys and girls all sweating it out in downward dog instead of doing whatever else it is they should probably be doing. Even the yoga teacher said - "does anyone in Torquay work?" I think we should definitely be proud of our ability to prioritise yoga - sorry bosses - or our ability to not work very much. Either way - it's great news for yoga teachers and yoga studios. One of the recipients of this boom in very little work and lots of yoga is Patch Thompson. She's the co-owner of one of our hottest wellbeing destinations Yoke. Patch's Q & A is below - follow her and Yoke here. Yoke Yoga Patch Thompson Yoke Instagram Yoke Facebook Yoke Yoga, Baines Crescent, Torquay How would you describe Yoke Yoga? Yoke is a yoga studio that embodies community, humility, compassion and courage. We offer such a diverse range of styles to suit everyone, from a meditative yin to heated vinyasa. We wanted to create an open space that was inviting and warm and I think we have definitely achieved that. Is it different from your original vision? Yes! Originally when I imagined myself opening a studio, I envisioned a cosy little shala style space. Yoke still has the traditional vibes, but with a modern flair. We have two yoga rooms, a large community space, retail area and two osteo consolation rooms. The studio was designed by Folk Architects and has a warehouse feel integrated with natural materials. Lots of wood, plants and a cosy fireplace :) What is the best piece of career advice you’ve been given? Probably just to believe in yourself. I have definitely had a few knock backs, but if you are truly passionate about something then you will strive to make it work. What was your first job? My Dad owned a surf shop on Phillip Island, so I was lucky enough to have the flexibility of coming and going in-between travel and surfing! What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Oh definitely to not be so critical on yourself! I think as young girl, you are constantly trying to find your way and there is a lot of judgment not only towards yourself but also towards others. I wish I did more yoga back then, to teach myself that you are who you are and that's beautiful. Did you have a Plan B? Not really- I knew I was always going to make something work. Even if that meant working part time to sustain my passion of teaching yoga whether it was classes or workshops. What is the biggest thing you have learnt? One of the biggest things that has arisen since opening the studio is that I have realised how many amazing talented and creative people live on the surf coast. It has been so beautiful to expand the yoga community and everyday I am amazed by the conversations that I have with students practicing yoga. I had no idea that there were so many people into yoga, healing practices, health, spirituality and art. This place really is inspiring. What are the advantages of working/living on the Surf Coast? Ah so many! We are honestly so lucky to live on the Surf Coast. To have a beautiful balance of work and lifestyle is hugely important for your physical health but also for the health of all your relationships. It is great that people and businesses are now realising this. There seems to be a lot of flexibility and freedom down here, which makes the coast, the people and the vibes very relaxed. Just being able to look at the ocean everyday is special. What are the disadvantages? Being a surfer and living in Victoria I can't think of a bigger disadvantage than the cold weather. I definitely need a burst of sunshine in the winter months to get me through! What roles does social media play in your business? A large role. We advertise all of our workshops, retreats and events via social media which enables us to obtain a much broader reach. Good social media is essential for every business. Best Surf Coast discovery? Oh my secret surf spot, but I cant tell you that ;) Best Surf Coast Coffee? I love Pond, Ginger Monkey and Swell. Favourite Surf Coast hangout? The beach! How do you think a woman can successfully balance her career and personal life? Time manage properly. Dedicate days/hours/minutes to yourself and be motivated to stick to that. I also think its important to delegate and take up the offer of support from your husband or partner. As women we tend to carry a lot and be proud of that. But we should also be proud of our independence and ability to nourish ourselves properly. Do you travel regularly? Yes - travel is really important to me. It frees my soul, keeps me appreciative and has taught me more then I could ever learn in a text book. Favourite long haul destination? Europe. I love it. I spent two years there when I was in my early 20’s. Favourite Australian destination? I love Tasmania, its so untouched and beautiful. But its cold. My favourite warm go to destination is Pacific palms on the mid north coast. My best friends live up there and its just so magical.
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Surf Coast Success Story by Alex Hyndman-Hill I always thought - yup, this is the dream! Working from home means I can stay in my PJs all day, workout on my lunch break and still be around to do drop offs and pick up the kids from school. Winning! In reality - I don't get anything done. Really. I could easily fill my whole week with procrastinating. I am so easily distracted. Oh look, a fly! Must go to the shops and buy fly spray. Also I need some other stuff, plus I should probably catch up with the girls for a coffee and take those things to the post office. Ding! Pick up time. Day done. Work completed - uh - absolutely none. So, yeah. That's why I need this space in my life. A place to go and get my werk, werk, werk on. Going to an office means you have to get it together - you know, at least put on something other than active wear/PJs, brush your hair and smear on some tinted moisturiser so as not to look as tired as you feel. Also, the bonus of going to an office instead of sitting at home is there are other people there. This is essential for working out what you're going to watch next on Netflix. Also, there's no washing to do there and no clearing up to get distracted by. Like yesterday when I changed all the beds and washed all the sheets instead of writing this. Any-who. I'm at the Workers Hut now so they would all probably think I'm super weird if I start vacuuming. So I'm just going to type. As in - do my job. The job I love, but the job which also requires self-motivation. Which I am lacking. Unless there are other people around. Looking motivated and doing stuff. Here they are!! David & Rebecca Scott, co-founders, The Workers Hut Thank you David and Rebecca for creating this awesome space. The vibe is uber cool but relaxed. The News is on, not Girls. There is coffee and also one of the best cafes in town across the road. I can even have parties here! Not so easy at my home office because of all the lego hazards. Here, I have an awesome space for networking events - when I get around to having them you will all be invited. But come here before - not too many of you though as I need my desk for all the work I don't do at home. Read co-founder Rebecca's Q & A below and find/follow the Workers Hut below. Website Instagram Facebook How would you describe your business? At the Workers hut we provide a flexible and relaxed workspace for freelancers, entrepreneurs, mobile professionals and out of the box thinkers. We offer not only places to work but also communities of hard working entrepreneurs who can share advice and expertise to grow their ideas and businesses. Is it different from your original vision? We wanted to provide a space that belonged to the community, inspired and motivated people and got people out of their garages! I think it will continue to evolve beyond our original vision into its own entity based on the people that call it home. What is the best piece of career advice you’ve been given? I never thought I would find myself in small business so I think the best advice was just being believed in. Being pushed to break out of the norm and take the leap. What’s the best piece of career advice you could give? I have certainly learnt that life is much too short to not be doing what you love. So whatever the dream is, start moving towards and ask yourself Why Not? What was your first job? I was a Target checkout chick! I remember saving every penny to buy CD’s! What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Keep Travelling, Call Mum every single day, Follow your gut. Did you have a Plan B? Yes .. and a C, D and E! There are always a few projects on the go in our house. I’m sure our friends find it exhausting. What is the biggest thing you have learnt? You can’t always rely on other people to do what they say. Not everyone follows through so you have to be dogged and determined to make things happen. If you surround yourself with people who inspire and motivate you, you can’t help but be infected. What got you through tough times at work? Debriefing, problem solving and looking at the bigger picture.  Then there is always chocolate and red wine! What are the advantages of working/living on the Surf Coast? It’s such a beautiful place, every road leads to the beach so it’s always there reminding you to get outside. The community is full of interesting, creative and inspiring people quick to say hi, lend a hand, motivate and challenge you. I’ve never lived anywhere that comes together at the drop of the hat to help each other like this community. What roles does social media play in your business? Social media is huge in terms of getting noticed and communicating with your audience. But in all honestly it’s a challenge. I’m a bit over the bombardment of social media so it’s a necessary evil for me. Finding ways to connect with your customers without posting for the sake of it and then not procrastinating reading everything else whilst you are online can be a struggle. Self-promotion is not something that comes easy so it is an everyday learning curve. Other inspiring Surf Coasters? So many!  There are a lot of amazing women on the Surf Coast building networks of likeminded people to challenge and inspire each other. 87% of surf coasters are in small business so that’s a lot of people taking the leap and giving it a go. Anyone willing to do and back themselves inspires me. Best Surf Coast discovery? If you want to meet people get a dog! We recently caved for the kids and got a puppy… he is the best way to meet people and make new connections. Best Surf Coast Coffee? Sorry I’m a Tea Drinker. Ginger Monkey over the road from the Workers Hut gets the thumbs up from our members and they do a great Hot Chocolate and the best brownies... Favourite Surf Coast hangout? Fishos to Point Impossible with the dog and the family! It’s a little burst of sanity no matter the weather!
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SURF COAST SUCCESS STORIES By Alex Hyndman-Hill I have to admit - I didn’t really know the difference between an osteo, a physio and a chiro. I knew they all did stuff with muscles and backs and knees; injuries and dodgy joints etc. But honestly, I just lumped them all in together. I’d been to a physiotherapist once way back when I ran a marathon and predictably stuffed up my knee. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to stay away from anything quite so strenuous - with the exception of actually pushing two humans out of me - I’ve been mostly sticking to pushing a pram or carrying a toddler for my workout. Now they are no longer babies - and I can no longer blame them for the baby weight - I’ve started getting back into life on the exercise train. A bit of yoga, swimming, trying to surf and play tennis means that everything now hurts. I’m on the wrong side of 35 and feel old. Old and creaky and sore. Cue much complaining and googling to find the cure. This is where Laura Walsh comes in. Laura is an Osteopath - Dr Laura, as I like to call her - is the owner of Quay Osteo in Torquay - which I now like to think of as my hub of healing. I’ve googled the differences between what an Osteopath does (to save you the clicks) and what a physiotherapist or a chiropractor would do and it’s basically to do with seeing the body as a whole rather than focussing on an injury (physio) or on just the spine and joints (chiro). So, after figuring out it wasn’t an injury as such just more of an old lady feeling in my back and hips I made an appointment with Laura. It started with a load of questions which I didn’t realise had anything to do with working out how to fix me. My answers to Laura’s questions led her to link me breastfeeding my two kids in a certain position and recently having all four wisdom teeth out to the pain in my upper back. I’d literally never thought about it but it totally makes sense. After massage, dry needling, manipulation and some more lovely rubbing Laura sent me away with a rubber band to do some exercises. I felt much lighter (not on the scales unfortunately - she’s not an actual magician!) and have really, honestly and truly been doing to exercises. I’m looking forward to my next appointment already. Read Laura’s Q & A below and find her/follow her here. How would you describe your business? Quay Osteo is a local, pro-active, allied health clinic.  We offer osteopathy and massage therapy consultations.  I opened the clinic 4 years ago after working in Melbourne for nearly 10 years.  My motivation was to create a space where clients feel completely cared for and that provides inspiration and support for them to reach their optimal health. In Australia, the term “health care” gets used frequently.  Yet, more often than not, patients present with a disease or dis-ease process in play, which means that practitioners are working towards fixing a disease and resolving (or masking) symptoms. My focus is on providing our clients with the education to understand the absolute importance of their health, and that seeking support in maintaining their vitality is the key.  There is a huge difference between “being well” and “not being sick”.  When our car isn’t running well, we can buy new parts or a new vehicle.  When it comes to our health, this luxury isn’t available.  We have to value and care for what we have. Is it different from your original vision? The basic intention of my original vision is still in place, but the longer I work in the area of musculoskeletal health, the more importance I place on mental and emotional wellbeing overall. My original vision includes having a thriving multi-disciplinary practice where practitioners can brainstorm how to achieve the best outcomes for clients, behind the scenes.  I’m still working towards building the complete team that I envisage. What is the best piece of career advice you’ve been given? I’m really good at thinking big picture and setting large, inspiring long-term goals.  But I can struggle and become overwhelmed in breaking those big goals down into an achievable plan, or knowing the order to do them. I’ve often heard Oprah say, “slow down, get real quiet. Focus on what is the next right step”. I also believe that everyone is doing the best they can with what they’ve got, so when things don’t fall my way or I come up against challenges, it’s not personal.  You can never know the depth of what’s happening for another person, behind the scenes. What’s the best piece of career advice you could give? For young people just getting started on their career path: follow your curiosity. I think it can feel overwhelming to make the “right” decision and to know what you want to do and where you want to go with your work. Being advised to follow your passion can feel like pressure to even know what you’re passionate about! Instead, if you stay curious and keep learning, a path opens in front of you and the all the dots join when you look back with hindsight. For those with more life experience: work smarter not harder. I was raised to think that success/income/security equated with hard work.  That mindset is dangerous - it means we can make a bigger drama out of things than they need to be, or be suspicious of gifts and opportunities that present. More often than not, when things are meant to be, it’s the easier path that’s the right one.  Trust it. What was your first job? My dad “sub-contracted” me to help him out in the cabinetry business he worked for at age 12.  I would go in for an hour after school each night and clean up all the sawdust and laminex offcuts that the tradesman left across the factory. I also spent a couple of uni summers working in the SPC cannery sorting peaches and plums on a conveyor belt for 8 hours, often 7 days a week. $16 an hour was like gold at the stage. My factory background certainly makes me grateful for my work environment now. What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Buy a house. Why do you think you have made it in your industry? Obviously, I have to be good with my hands to do what I do.  But I think my clients also appreciate my honesty, I’m willing to admit when something has me confused or I don’t have an answer.  Similarly, I’m willing to ask for help - this is huge!  So many people bumble forwards because they’re too embarrassed to ask for assistance or an opinion from someone who has gone before them. It takes so much more time to make the mistakes yourself! I’m big hearted and genuinely love my clients and care about what is happening in their lives, far beyond simply fixing their pain. Lastly, and this might seem weird, but I’m really good with names.  And I can’t tell you just how useful that is. Did you have a Plan B? No. I think every start-up gets told the stats on small business failures over the first 5 years, but I never thought it would apply to me.  I knew growth might have slow patches, but I never thought it would stop.  We turned 4 at the beginning of May.  After starting the business on my own and being available 1.5 days a week, we now have 3 osteopaths, a massage therapist and two receptionists. What is the biggest thing you have learnt? My biggest satisfaction comes through the relationships I make. So my team means the world to me. I’m better in a team environment than solo. Similarly, developing a trust and connection with a client that means they feel safe to share more, often results in a deeper therapeutic change. Stress and anxiety play such a big role in feeling generally tense. I often think the conversations that I have with my clients have more of an impact on their overall health than what I do with my hands. What got you through tough times at work? A bath. I’m a water baby - being submerged reduces my stress instantly. An international plane ticket to look towards. A husband who is very patient and grounding. And a best friend who has already done what I am doing.  It can’t be understated how incredibly important it is to have people in your life who believe in you unconditionally, and have the strength to lift you up when you’re own strength is lacking. What are the advantages of working/living on the Surf Coast? The surf coast is special place and I think it calls to likeminded people.  The population is growing at a rapid rate and I find that families that I work with who are new to the area have been drawn here for the same reasons: an appreciation of the outdoors, a need to be by the ocean and a craving for a simpler, slower pace of life.  It means that the community here isn’t quite the same as elsewhere. The attitude towards healthy lifestyle  down here is inspiring.  People are mindful of how they exercise and what they eat.  But, they’re also very aware of the health of the environment and our oceans. There are a lot of people trying to make big differences in our community. Best Surf Coast discovery? That beach a little ways out of town that has fewer people, a gentle wave and is dog friendly. Best Surf Coast Coffee? Ocean Grind.  I’ve got a thing for the guy who makes the kick-ass toasties there on a Friday. (Laura’s husband Nick runs Flatironed Favourite Surf Coast hangout? I don’t think I have a local, but I do spend a lot of time at Pond And Roku Den What's the most important thing to remember when it comes to your personal life? I have to remember to make time for fun. When it comes to running a business, there are a lot of responsibilities to your clients and staff. Last year, I realised I’d forgotten to prioritise myself in amongst the endless “To Do List”, and it meant that I’d missed out on some cool events and belly laughs.  This year if someone invites me to something, I’ve shifted my default answer to YES.  I’m all about passion, playfulness and trust. How do you think a woman can successfully balance her career and personal life? Being a business owner can be all consuming.  My belief is that having a vision of how you will contribute to the world will guide where you focus your energies in life and business.  If I’m living on purpose, the sacrifices I may make along the way are still working towards goals in other areas of my life.  It kind of creates a win-win situation.
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SURF COAST SUCCESS STORIES by Alex Hyndman-Hill  One thing many successful business owners tell us is that they wouldn’t be where they are without their mentors. Let’s face it, everyone needs someone to bounce ideas off! So, when we put together our panel of Surf Coast Success Stories we knew - as your new mentors - we needed to ask them for some career advice. Lynne Hayden, Links Property What is the best piece of career advice you’ve been given? Every person you meet is a potential door to a new opportunity—personally or professionally. What’s the best piece of career advice you could give? Work hard and be nice to people. Briody Scholes, Earth Bottles What is the best piece of career advice you’ve been given? To be true to who you are, be kind and take it one step at a time. What’s the best piece of career advice you could give?  Ahhhhhhh to be organised and also stay true to who you are. And the above. Rachel Penny, Balance Studio What is the best piece of career advice you’ve been given? Take risks, be flexible. What’s the best piece of career advice you could give? Know your ideal client. Julia Green, Greenhouse Interiors What is the best piece of career advice you’ve been given? Trust your gut instinct. It never lies. What’s the best piece of career advice you could give? Don't overthink things. Its crippling. Just do it. Be a do-er not a gunna. Lauren Webber, Taste The Coast Hampers What is the best piece of career advice you've been given? Do something you love! What's the best piece of advice you could give? Do something you love!!!  Follow your passion and working won't seem like 'work'. What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Don't waste money, have a savings plan, travel, live in another country! Patch Thompson, Yoke Yoga What is the best piece of career advice you’ve been given? Probably just to believe in yourself. I have definitely had a few knock backs, but if you are truly passionate about something then you will strive to make it work. What advice would you give your 21-year-old self?  Oh definitely to not be so critical on yourself! I think as young girl, you are constantly trying to find your way and there is a lot of judgment not only towards yourself but also towards others. I wish I did more yoga back then, to teach myself that you are who you are and that's beautiful.