Bio The path that led her to this point
Two years into a Bachelor of Arts at Melbourne University, I began to question my childhood dream of being an author when I grew up.
I spent two years travelling in Europe and when I returned to Melbourne in 2003, I still had very little idea what to do with my one ‘wild and precious life’.
My foray in design and letterpress was a serendipitous one: a family friend was an account director at an ad agency and she gave me a summer job in the cuttings room (cutting ads out of newspapers).
Meeting the designers, copywriters and other creatives in the industry awoke in me a forgotten childhood passion - hand lettering and illustration - and I embarked on a 10 year adventure of collaboration and self-education in design.
So although never formally educated as a designer, the next 6 years was a creative whirlwind and I was never out of work as a designer.
Though I loved it, I was exhausted by the corporate environment so when I encountered letterpress in 2009 I knew that I had found my life’s work.
I bought my first press, a small table top letterpress (it was the Canon Pixma of 1950), and began a self-imposed printing apprenticeship.
For the next 18 months, I continued to work as a designer by day, and by night I taught myself the fussy and gruelling process of letterpress printing.
By the start of 2011, following the birth of my daughter, I had worked my way up to a much larger press and my work had gained enough popularity that I never went back to my day job after maternity leave.
Since then I have been a full-time self-employed designer, illustrator and letterpress printer going by the name Saint Gertrude.
Q&A Insider advice & tips
What's been your greatest achievement to date?
Using letterpress and clever typography to create my own surprise wedding invitations with a 3D decoder message hidden inside. It was a crazy risk, and it paid off. I still can't believe it worked!
What's been your biggest challenge so far?
Trying to do everything myself. Running a small business is so much more than just the product - research, sales, development, finance, customer service.
I learned the hard way that those things are really important and you're better off hiring someone to do a good job of it, than do a bad job of it yourself. As soon as I hired people, everything ran a whole lot smoother!
Best lesson you've learned along the way?
It's not a race. Go at a pace that will make you the best at something, not necessarily the first.
A website, book or resource that has helped you in your business or inspired you and why?
Text Expander! I get lots of emails asking the same questions and rather than write the same email over and over again, Text Expander allows me to create form emails that I can edit and personalise, without spending too much time on each one.
The less time I spend on emails, the more time I spend on letterpress which can't be a bad thing.
Which person or brand do you most admire and why?
It's cliched, I know, but my mum is my absolute hero.
She's is a creative MacGyver and problem solver; the woman can make something interesting out of a pile of random junk, or fix something with the barest of tools.
She taught me how to solve a problem with a curious and questioning mind which is my most valuable skill seeing I work with 100-year-old machinery and cutting-edge technology side-by-side.
She also instilled in me a sense of fearlessness in trying new things. Fear of failure is irrational at the best of times, but in creative endeavours it's entirely self-destructive.
If you're failing, you're learning and if you're learning, you're improving. I hope I never reach a day when I'm not improving. My mum taught me that.
What advice would you give someone starting an independent business in your industry?
Be genuine with your customer, and don't try to make out that you're bigger than you are.
If you're just a girl and a printing press, say so. I always correct people when they assume I'm a big company because there's no advantage in leading customers to believe that I'm anything more (or less) than I am.
Finish this sentence
Everything changed for me when…
I realised that I'm the f#$%ing boss. Pardon the French.