Karina's journey so far...

Karina's journey so far...

Karina has been painting, drawing and designing for as long as she can remember.  As an introverted kid, she happily spent hours on end getting her hands dirty, falling into the blissful zone of creation. Her prized possessions were a purple tiered Crayola crayon box set and immaculately kept Derwent pencil collection. Kingfisher blue was her favourite… closely followed by Jade Green and Magenta (yes she can still remember their names). 

Coming from a European family, education was paramount in Karina's household and it was no secret that her and her sisters were expected to work hard to achieve. Luckily Karina's mum saw the value in the arts too, and when noticing that Karina had an innate passion for art, colour and experimentation she enrolled her into a range of different art classes from a young age, where Karina's passion only solidified.

Karina painted all through High School and excelled in Art as a subject for her HSC. With her family's strong focus on education she was encouraged to go to university and skip the gap year traveling, much to Karina's dismay at the time, however now Karina can see the value of such a strong work ethic being instilled in her. Karina went on to study at the esteemed UNSW College of Fine Arts (COFA) where she completed a Bachelor of Design degree, majoring in Graphics and Textile Design.

"The degree I did combined a lot of everything so it was perfect for me as I have always loved art but I didn’t love the theoretical parts. I was intrigued by visual communications, especially branding and I also wanted to study textile design as my love for fashion and textiles has been instilled in me since I was little. My grandmother (Nonna Nina) was a seamstress. I would sit next to her in her garage and watch her sewing on her big vintage treadle-operated singer machine for hours. As I got older we came up with all sorts of creations together and she would help me for days on end, creating products that I would sell at the markets. Some of my best memories are of the times I spent with her on that singer machine. Textiles and fashion still influence and inspire me and my work to this day."

During her UNI years Karina's savvy entrepreneurial spirit really kicked into gear. A pivotal decision was to start a stall at the famous Bondi Beach markets in Sydney where other renowned creatives got there start, such as Sass and Bide's Sarah-Jane Clarke and Heidi Middleton, Samantha Wills, and Lover's Nic Briand. Anything Karina could make from scratch, she would and then sold... paintings, prints, singlets, trinkets, embellished tee’s, bags, and jewellery. She also worked with an art wholesaler painting large scale canvases for interior designers.  The hustle continued and she approached local cafes to get her art on their walls. And at night she turned nocturnal pouring beers and cleaning ash trays at the local Clovelly RSL! Needless to say, Karina's tenacity to manage multiple projects at any given time put her in good stead to pursue her artistic dreams.

Once Karina graduated from UNI in 2005 she got her first professional design role at a branding agency working on logos for small businesses.  For the next 7 years Karina dipped in and out of roles and businesses freelancing, and explored all different facets of design; Graphics, textiles, apparel, packaging, branding, retail graphics, poster, web, and digital. A highlight was working for iconic brand Aussie brand Mambo.

However, while working for other businesses and people, Karina's urge to be her own boss was pulling her into a new direction. She was simultaneously brewing an obsession with interiors and the next entrepreneurial leap was to open a furniture and homewares store with her close friend. The pair designed and made their own timber furniture range to sell in Australia and also imported furniture made in Bali. The store was named Sky Parlour and consisted of an online store plus two bricks and mortar stores in Sydney. Owning a small business really cemented Karina's business acumen and she learnt a lot from the experience. She now understands how to manage a bricks and mortar stores vs an online businesses, wholesale vs retail, the importance of knowing your customer, plus she became a self-taught ecommerce web designer.  She also learnt the vital role of social media, digital marketing and visual merchandising. Sky Parlour became a thriving business for 2-3 years, and then Karina fell pregnant with her first baby, Ivy.

Motherhood tested Karina in a new she wasn't prepared for and she became extremely overwhelmed. As she tried to juggle a newborn and a new small business the time came to close the store and focus on being a mum in 2014.

I’m so grateful that I was able to be there for the first year of Ivy’s life but I also felt really lost. Closing the shop was hard for me... it was something that we had put so much of our time and love into. Over those 6 months I didn’t create much, even though I was busy doing the toughest job in the world, I didn’t really do much other than be a mum. The time when I probably needed my “escape” the most was the time when I completely shut it off. I often wonder why I did that but I think I just didn’t have the mental capacity for much at that stage. I was feeling down, uninspired and had lost confidence. When I look back on that time I really think I just gave up on myself. I also forgot how much I loved and needed to create."

When Ivy turned one (mid 2015) Karina returned to work as a graphic designer within the marketing team at one of her favourite fashion brands. Two years in and just before starting maternity leave with her son Beau (late 2017) Karina was given the opportunity to design for homewares and accessories and was absolutely thrilled.  However while she was on maternity leave the company was bought out and just before returning to work, the role was made redundant. Karina fell into despair.  

"My husband had just undergone major open heart surgery to replace his aorta two months prior and was still recovering. We were at such a low place mentally, emotionally and financially and ultimately I felt as though I had let my family down at a time when they really needed me to step up. I felt so incredibly helpless. Then something switched, and that sadness turned to anger and determination. With all of the knowledge and experience behind me to start a small business, I came up with a business plan and decided I would really give selling my art a go."

In May 2019 Karina launched her latest art business which you know her for.  Fast forward 1.5 years and it's a thriving enterprise. She has worked with some incredible people and brands thus far, and is building a close knit community while staying true to herself and her aesthetic.

"I am doing what I love and literally pinching myself everyday for the opportunities that have presented themselves."

Although her latest business venture has grown quickly, it's evident that Karina is not an overnight success. She has put in the hard yards and cultivated her skills and talent over many, many years.  It's no wonder that she is now basking in a moment of career success. As Steve Jobs would say..

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future."

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