International Women's Day: Meet Our Designers

International Women’s Day is celebrated on the 8th of March around the world, with a focal point on the movement for women’s rights globally. Since 1990, UN Women Australia has hosted the pre-eminent IWD events around the country representing the United Nations Gender Equality agency.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #ChoosetoChallenge. A challenging world is an alert world, and from challenge comes change.

At Ecology, we know impactful changes don’t happen easily, or overnight, and we work hard to create a more equal future within our organisation. International Women’s Day is the perfect time to recognise and celebrate some of the women behind the brand, so we sat down with Elana Vanlier and Heather Piez, the creatives behind Ecology designs.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Elana: Aside from the usual places like Pinterest and Instagram, I believe taking yourself out of your ‘day-to-day’ scenery will give a different view of the world.This helps draw inspiration that you otherwise wouldn’t normally see. Aside from that, I am a massive nature nerd, so anything flora, fauna, and landscape, and finding the patterns created in these spaces.

Heather: I find inspiration most often comes when you’re not looking for it, so I try to be intentional about taking time out, discovering new places and seeing old things in a new way. That was really difficult last year with lockdowns in Melbourne, so as well as getting to know every inch of my 5km radius, I spent way too much time on Pinterest and Instagram!

What keeps you motivated on the days you feel like you’ve hit a creative block?
Elana: Walk away from the desk and take a few minutes to make a coffee. If it’s bigger than that, I take some time to sit outside or take a walk and get some sunshine on my face. Just 5 or 10 minutes can reset your way of thinking and help put things in perspective. If that still doesn’t work, I'll switch projects and it will usually bubble up to the surface at a later time.

Heather: There’s always so much to do - if I’m not feeling creative then it’s a good time to catch up on emails, admin and organising. We are also really lucky to work with an amazing team of creatives, so often a quick chat to bounce ideas off each other and get a fresh perspective can be really helpful to get through.

What advice would you give women looking to work in your sector?
Elana: I feel like the homewares industry has become much more inclusive of women in the last 10 years or so. When I first started travelling to the international trade events I was staggered by the amount of ‘suits’ on both sides - selling and buying - to cater to a predominantly female consumer audience. Now the suits are replaced with much less gender bias and a much more comfortable approach to work attire.
Aside from that, like most creative careers, there’s a lot of hours required. A degree in graphic or textile design is generally the pre-requisite. An eye for colour, pattern and detail. You need to understand your audience and the incoming trends as well as have a passion for what you are creating. In this case, a love of tabletop and food go hand-in-hand. Oh, and the final thing, back yourself! Trust your skills and most of all be true to yourself.

Heather: I would love to sit down and have this conversation over a cup of tea or coffee, but since that’s not possible here are a few thoughts…
Think about the reason why you want to pursue a creative career and always keep that in mind when things get hard to help you power through.
Find time to create something for yourself as well as client work. It’s where you can experiment, grow and just enjoy the process without any pressure.
Lastly, don’t compare yourself to others because we all have a different journey and different values. I know it’s a cliche but I think it’s so true!

Who/what has had the greatest impact on your design journey?
Elana: I wish I could pop some inspirational name in here… but I can’t actually pinpoint a who or a what. However, there have been a lot of people in my life, both work and personal who have whole-heartedly encouraged the dream or vision. I think it all comes down to a great network and feeling supported. You can’t do it all yourself, plus, how good is it to celebrate the wins with people.

Heather: It’s really hard to think of just one thing! I was really lucky to be introduced to the creative world at a young age, growing up my Aunty was an artist and I was always fascinated by the things she created. I’ve worked with some inspiring designers since then and I am grateful to have such a supportive network of designers around me.

Do you feel like getting creative? This year International Women’s Day is calling all women creatives of any skill level to join in a typography challenge. Check out the details via the International Women’s Day website. Let’s #ChooseToChallenge together!