Well, life sure is different right now!
A month ago we were talking about meeting each other for coffees and drinks at the pub, or having date nights in our favourite restaurants. And now it's isolation this, and quarantine that. So I wanted to put a piece together that reminds us all that we're here and in the trenches together! We're each others' best allies and life support through this.
The incredible women interviewed over this series are from all over the country. They're artisans, business owners and freelancers I've walked my creative journey with. As such, they've all be hit in various ways by the crisis and have generously shared their journey over the past few weeks and months. I hope you'll be inspired by their stories, encouraged to connect and gleam little rays of wisdom from the way they've pivoted & adapted during this time!
Let's get to know Monique Easton.
She is a Lifestyle, Interior and Still Life Photographer, Avid Renovator and runs two Airbnb's in Thredbo Alpine Village.
Thinking back a few weeks, what was the last normal day of work for you like? (Before COVID-19 hit and self isolation was a thing). What did you do in it? What were your plans for the next few months?
I opened my accommodation business, The Eastern Thredbo Village
the same year I stopped being a photo assistant. I renovated two properties in two years and they were both six hours away, in Thredbo Village. It slowly took over most of my life. So I'd set aside this year to step up my photo work and make time to get back into it and enjoy shoots, rather than having to jam them in around other commitments. That was quickly foiled!
How has the space you're working in changed/ work flow changed?
I've been freelance forever now, so I'm pretty adaptable to working anywhere. I'm based in Sydney with my husband, but we've been fortunate enough to be based at a beautiful farm stay in the Snowy Mountains called Second Flat Retreat
for the last few months. I've gone from being city based to literally waking up with the roosters. Second Flat is a working farm in the Yaouk Valley with Angus cattle, sheep, goats, horses, chickens and the odd wombat.
What have you implemented into your daily schedule to keep yourself sane? Stay creatively motivated? Or are you embracing this time to take space for yourself?
I've started doing morning stretching and pilates. I'm not focused so much on staying motivated – in January I evacuated both properties in Thredbo with the Snowy Mountains fires. When we got word it didn't look good for the valley and had to leave, we loaded our belongings on the back of a truck and said goodbye. I was really motivated to keep pushing through this time and to come stronger on the other side (if we survived the fire). I produced a new website and was pretty optimistic about pulling through and looking forward to the winter season ahead.
In February my home was flooded and then March was when Covid-19 seriously hit Australia. It's looking like the Australian ski season won't be going ahead this year, which is the first time in history. So I've given myself permission to relax and take every day as it comes.
At Second Flat Retreat
I'm helping milk the goat in the morning, it feels like a very grounding, old-timey ritual. I'm really enjoying it and embracing the slow living. My friend who owns the farm is a chef and makes yogurt with the milk every day, it's very impressive. I've been going on walks around the farm, collecting eggs and doing light admin when the moment takes me.
How do you stay connected with your family, friends, and business friends?
I've been on Google Hangouts and House Party a fair bit with friends. Zoom with business friends and industry meetings. I still chat with family on the phone. I can relate to those with a 9 to 5 feeling very isolated now, especially if they're living alone. But as a freelancer with two very independent jobs, I feel more connected to people now, than I ever have.
Many of us work in isolation or away from people a lot of the time. Any tips for staying sane and creative in self isolation?
Giving yourself permission to be less productive or to have a schedule that looks different to the way it used to. Early on when I switched my career from advertising to photography, it was a big hurdle to get used to being more flexible with my schedule and not feeling the guilt that comes along with it. I feel like we're programmed with uni and then a 9 to 5, to have a schedule that has a very concrete distinction between work time and private time. If you can be open to a way to loosen that idea and take personal time when you need it around commitments, you'll be a lot more resilient during these times.
Is there anything we can do to support you & your business through this time?
I'm launching travel vouchers for The Eastern Thredbo Village.
While it may feel like a bit of a tease at the minute, once we pull through on the other side Covid-19, I think people will be wanting to get outside more than ever. Both my cabins are located in Thredbo Village, which is the base to hike to the top of Mt Kosciuszko. There are beautiful lakes and huts along the walks, there's so much to explore on the top of Australia.