Westies at Work Archives - The Westies

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

braiding

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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Maya Brasnovic – Made:Here

Made:Here Liverpool

Visiting Liverpool you could easily think the main parts of the city are Westfield and Liverpool Mall, however the locals know it’s the lively lanes that connect the city from North to South where real life is being lived. Each lane has its own personality from music schools, to wedding planners, barbers and seamstresses. If you want to truly experience Liverpool, ducking down a laneway is the way to do it.

Identifying an opportunity to encourage a creative retail hub at the south end of the CBD, Liverpool Council has recently launched The Liverpool Pop Up campaign offering vacant shop fronts in Northumberland Street Arcade to start-ups, social enterprises, community groups or artists to set up a temporary retail shop.

The Westies chatted with Maya Brasnovic who has set up her shop Made:Here selling art and design pieces created by local artists, designers, crafters and makers about her inspiration for opening the shop and where she hopes it will lead.  Continue Reading

Peter Curnovic – Beatdisc Records

Beatdisc

Surviving as a small business is tough. Surviving as an independent record store is close to impossible. Running that business for over twenty three years is nothing short of a miracle.

Peter Curnovic has been working at Beatdisc Records for over twenty three years and has just celebrated 10 years as owner. When you consider more than 60% of small businesses shut their doors within three years of opening and 80% in the first five, then add into the mix that Beatdisc Records is located in an area with no dedicated live music venues in an arcade that you are likely to never stumble across without some good directions, as far a statistics go you have a bit of a problem on your hands .

Chatting with Pete, it became clear that his passion for music and community are the well laid foundations that have kept him in a business that not only survives but thrives. Beatdisc is an institution that deserves to be celebrated at every turn. First, read the interview, then pay yourself a visit to the shop in Parramatta – directions are below. This is one well kept secret that we need to start shouting from the rooftops.  

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Winnie Dunn – Sweatshop

Literacy is largely equated with simple reading and writing skills, however it goes far beyond that. Literacy is not just about reading stories, it is learning to write our own and express our experiences through words. It also develops critical thinking – a vitally important skill in helping us examine our environment and place in it.

Sweatshop is leading the way in providing opportunities to enhance and develop literacy in Western Sydney, providing skills, training and support for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, empowering them to find their own story and express it, enabling individuals and groups to have a say in their own stories – instead of being spoken about.   

Sweatshop has just announced a new project launching next month, the first ever Western Sydney Literacy Initiative for Diverse Women. Ahead of its launch we spoke with program manager Winnie Dunn about the program and the role literacy has played in her life, growing up in Western Sydney as a woman of colour.

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Top five interviews of 2017

Top 5 2017

 

 

Happy 2018! We hope your New Year has got off to a great start. The Westies had a wonderful 2017 interviewing 26 talented, diverse, wonderful Westies. In July we launched The Westies Markets – Emu Plains which grew from 53 to 66 stall holders and saw an average of 1500 people through the gates. 2018 will bring more interviews, the markets will be back in March and we will be launching a couple of new events. For now we thought it would be great to take a look back at the 5 most read interviews of 2017, taking a quick glance back before we spring into 2018!

 

 

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Julie Owens – Member for Parramatta

Julie Owens Same Sex

The right for same sex couples to marry passed in the senate last week and from January 9th it will be legal for all couples to wed. It’s taken a lot of arguments and completely avoidable hurt to get there. The Australian public were asked and returned a national decision of YES with 61.6% voting in favour of marriage equality.

However, when the results were broken down the majority of NO votes came from Western Sydney – which is simply no surprise whatsoever.  The result reflects what we already know – that many people who live in this area have strong religious beliefs, which include marriage being only between a man and a woman. While that is not the opinion of all people in Western Sydney, here it does reflect the majority.

A few days before the bill passed through parliament we spoke with Julie Owens, Member for Parramatta – who although her electorate returned a majority NO vote, chose to vote YES. Read on to find out why. 
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Lauren LaRouge – Nail Artist

Nailed by LaRouge

“Do what you love!” A sentence that is thrown around more than a cricket ball at a test match, however living in one of the world’s most expensive cities can mean having to take a job that you love less and despise more. Getting stuck in an office with grey walls, slogging away with zero creative inspiration led Lauren LaRouge to get creative and start bringing some colour to that drab office using her nails as tiny canvases. She has now managed to nail doing what she loves, literally. No longer confined to a boring office Lauren spends her days creating handfuls of artworks, taking nail art up a notch or ten.  

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Emma Bailie – That Chocolate

that chocolate

Poverty and chocolate not two things you would normally associate with each other, with one being a chronic global disease and the other being a luxury item. But in the case of That Chocolate, they come together for the greater good, thanks to great vision from founder Emma Bailie.

After spending time volunteering in the Philippines and seeing first hand the devastation caused by natural disasters which not only destroys homes but leads to a cycle of poverty, hunger and addiction. Emma decided she wanted to do something to help and not just in a time of crisis, which is why she has developed a business model that uses chocolate to fund food relief in the Philippines and removes the guilt from eating the world’s favourite food.

We chatted with Emma about how her business came to fruition and how YOU can be part of stopping world hunger just by eating a bar of chocolate.  Continue Reading