Westies at Work Archives - The Westies

Priyanka – Kohpi & Co

When I heard about Priyanka’s idea of creating a space where people could come to learn a new skill, connect with others and stretch their creativity, I was immediately in support of it. Learning from community has always been part of human behaviour, and it seems so strange that this is no longer the way we are discovering new skills. Kohpi & Co are bringing collaborative, community-based workshops to Western Sydney, creating a space where we can express the creative part of us that we ALL have. Priyanka and I had a great conversation about what taking and idea to an actual project and what creativity means to us, read on friends. 

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Phil and Joel – Stormer Music

Music is a language that transcends barriers, crosses borders and provides a personal soundtrack in the good and bad times, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t like music. Two brothers Phil and Joel Stormer grew from teaching music from their parents’ house in the Blue Mountains to opening a studio in Blaxland before looking east and opening studios in Penrith and Parramatta where they are spreading their love for music and belief that music is better together. We recently caught up at their newest school in Parramatta to chat about business growth, the importance of community and the state of live music in Sydney.  

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Matt, Alicia, Jarrid – T-1 Commons

T-1 Commons

Design is one of those totally hipsterised fields where you have to be on the cutting edge, else you’re on the cutting room floor, add to that you anything west of Surry Hills is smeared in a stigma of being a creative wasteland.

So where does that leave the designers who are choosing to study, live and work outside the city centre where the bulk of events and networking take place?  

A group of Western Sydney University Design students have decided to tackle the issue head on by creating T-1 Commons, a networking website for visual communicators from Western Sydney. They’ve created an accessible space for designers to network and creating a community of cool kids who just want to make great shit where they are.

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Ridhika – Green Fix

Liverpool locals know that the real heartbeat of the city is pumping in the lanes that connect East to West allowing you to cross the city on foot without walking down a street. Each lane has its own distinct character and down Northumberland Arcade you will find a number of shops dedicated to Liverpool Councils, Pop Up initiative which was launched in 2018. The initiative provides an opportunity to trial concepts and operations in a low risk environment, the aim of the project is to develop a vibrant and interesting destination that attracts visitors to the area.

One of the tenants breathing new life into the old is Ridhika Naidoo the owner of Green Fix a space where you can purchase pre loved and repurposed items from, vintage furniture to upcycled shopping bags. And what’s more important than teaching a man to shop? Teaching him to repair things. Ridhika also runs workshops teaching you how to create or fix your own items extending the life cycle of your beloved pieces and reducing the amount of waste each of us contributes to landfill, which according to the ABC is on average more than one tonne, per person every year!

I sat down with Ridhika over a cup of tea and some origami folding to find out what led to her opening Green Fix and what you’ll find in store.

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Amanda Sluiter – The Old New

Amanda from The Old New has a pretty amazing story. From kidneys to fertility, science to surprises and sustainability, through it all she has gained her small business, The Old New, in Wentworthville. With the recent focus on sustainability and design, recycling clothing is more important than ever – and there’s nothing better than someone local offering you the chance to swap out your gently used clothing or those brand new, with tag items with something new to you. We chatted makeovers, renovations and life renewal.

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Rebecca O’Hearn

Rebecca O'hearn Styling fabulous women over 45

Rebecca O’Hearn worked for many years on some on Australia’s best known magazines including FHM and Womens Day, with the publishing industry going mostly online Rebecca saw a gaping hole in the market and has started a blog – Smart. Casual. Classic. – which provides styling advice to women 45 and over. This is a demographic that is often overlooked, and yet is one of the fastest growing groups in the country – after working for many decades and now having adult children who are no longer dependent on them, these women have a bit of extra cash and most importantly, time to look after themselves.

Rebecca grew up in the West and now lives and runs her business in Parramatta. When she sent me a message prior to our chat, she started with “I love what you’re doing. I grew up in Toongabbie and am really excited to see the West being celebrated ” and so we instantly jumped at the chance to chat with someone who loves the place as much as we do.

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Refugee Camp in My Neighbourhood

I just spent the afternoon in a refugee camp.

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Sharon Levy – The Haven

The Haven Nepean Women's Shelter

Sometimes in life you get that lightbulb moment, that strike of lightning that says ‘Now is the time’. The Westies are thrilled to speak to Sharon Levy from The Haven, a women’s refuge located in Penrith, who received her lightbulb moment thanks to Yvonne Keane from The Hills Women’s Shelter. With only 50% of domestic violence sufferers being able to find a home – and that’s a conservative estimate considering a huge number of incidents go unreported , Sharon was left asking the question – where do the other 50% go and what could she do to help?  Continue Reading

Eden Dessalegn – Eden Stylz


Born in Ethiopia, Eden Dessalegn moved to Australia as a six year old. After many years of being uncertain of the path she wanted to take in life, Eden has created a business around the things she loves most – braiding hair and people.

The Westies chatted with Eden at her salon in Condell Park and, over a cup of tea, learnt how her path has been anything but straight and taking a step into the unknown has been equal parts scary and rewarding.  Continue Reading

Usman Iftikhar – Catalysr

Usman Iftikhar

Not that many years ago, Usman Iftikhar migrated to Australia, completed his Masters in Engineering Management, graduating with honours. Despite a double degree and plenty of experience in his field, he was unable to find meaningful work and his dream of a better life started to fade with every can he stacked on a supermarket shelf.

With nothing to lose other than a string of unfulfilling casual jobs, Usman decided he needed to change tactic and create his own employment. He signed on to take part in an social enterprise incubator that saw the birth of Catalysr; a business that supports migrants and refugees to start their own business and gives them the tools to get it done. Not only has it changed Usmans path, it has now changed the path for a group of Migrapreneurs who are going on to create change and contribute to society in ways they never even considered before beginning their migrant journey to Australia.  

Last month Usman was awarded Commonwealth Young Person of the Year presented to him by everyone’s favourite prince, Harry. Usman recently chatted with The Westies about how starting a business that helps others has helped himself the most.

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