Maree Lowes is an actress, film and music industry creative and co-owner of Sawtooth Studios. She’s also dirtgirl in ABC KIDS Get Grubby TV & dirtgirlworld.
Lowes travels all over Australia, but Newcastle is her base.
“Usually my days include new experiences, working as part of teams I love and appreciate, long hours, constantly striving to create exceptional content and always trying to listen harder - to people and to the world around me.”
On Newcastle: Lowes loves the storytelling that comes from Newcastle’s diverse creative community. She loves the Sunday farmers markets, and she loves that beautiful places are short drives from each other.
She’s looking forward to certain changes coming to Newcastle.
“We're currently seeing a cultural shift worldwide. Women, African American, LGBTQI, and Indigenous people - people from many cultures - are speaking up & rejecting straight, white male privilege. I look forward to seeing this awakening lift-up people in Newcastle and bring diverse stories to the front. It's time for change.”
Wisdom: “You know the truth by the way it feels.”
Digital: mareelowes.com; Instagram @mareelowes @sawtoothstudios; Facebook: @dirtgirlworldTV
Nikki Taylor is a Newcastle Hotels representative for the Australian Hotels Association. She represents more than 160 hotels and pubs located within the region.
She creates content, campaigns and events to promote venues and inform people about the role of Australian Hotels Association. She’s currently working on an upcoming live music festival and history of pubs exhibition, happening at the Newcastle Museum.
Taylor also sits on the Live Music Taskforce alongside Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp. She works with stakeholders to ensure that the city is moving toward protecting and ensuring the future of the live music industry.
On Newcastle: Taylor grew up in Newcastle and has been here most of her life.
“I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s when Newcastle enjoyed a vibrant nightlife with live bands in every venue, sometimes seven nights per week. The city shaped my love of live music, which in turn, went on to shape the real love of my life, my partner who is working musician and shares my passion and dedication to preserving our venues.”
Justine Cogan is an arts development advocate and artist.
She works at Octapod, where she manages arts programs and initiatives. She’s also a photographer of people, developing her practice through a post graduate research degree at UoN.
Day in the Life: On any given day, Cogan might be talking with an arts organisation about how to be more inclusive of people with disability or connecting an artist collective with a community organisation seeking expertise. She might be reading, writing or taking photographs for Uni.
On Newcastle: Cogan was born in Newcastle and left the day after she finished high school in 1987. She returned in 2005.
She sees the current changes happening in Newcastle as an opportunity.
“People who live and work in Newcastle have an opportunity at this point in time to genuinely commit to diversity and inclusion. When I hear a friend tell a story of being distressed and confused at a train station but ignored by fellow travellers or when I hear my children surprised at how rude bus drivers are to them, or when I find out my elderly aunt doesn’t know her neighbours to look out for her, I wonder where the empathy, kindness and sense of community are in people. There is a real opportunity for all of us to be mindful of others; to listen to the quieter voices; the Auslan interpreted voices, the young voices, the visual voices, the culturally diverse voices, the elders voices and to collaboratively build a community that we can all live in and contribute to, not one just for people who can afford it.”
Digital: Justinecogan.com; instagram @Jj_onrollerskates
Sophie Brown is a typographer, graphic designer, and radio producer.
“Typography is where language meets design, and through a range of different mediums (illustration, animation, typeface design, calligraphy, etc), I use letterforms to enhance stories.”
She channels her efforts towards ethical and positive initiatives. Recent clients include a seed production company who want to make vegetables more affordable for everyone; a hack-a-thon trying to improve the healthcare industry; and a research centre investigating ways to address the PFAS disaster in Williamtown.
She’s a self-described recovering perfectionist and a workaholic, so she will often work late into the night and right through the weekend. She also tries to dedicate a few hours of “play time” each week, making something just for her.
Day in the Life: “On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I work as a graphic designer at the University of Newcastle. On Saturdays, I’m up at 4:30am to produce the Saturday Breakfast and Treasure Hunter radio programs on 1233 ABC Newcastle. On Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, I freelance, and that looks different every day.”
Wisdom: “We are all horrible and wonderful and figuring it out.”
Digital: sophieelinor.com; instagram @sophie_elinor
Bec Dujin is an events and marketing director. She runs a creative consultancy called Talk to Bec. Her roles vary, and she has an “awesome team of women” that help her organise major public events, such as the Bikers for Kids Newcastle Toy Run and Newcastle China Week festival. She also manages a creative co-working space in Newcastle Mall called The Roost.
She describes her life as “organised chaos” from either The Roost or her home office.
“I’m usually across four or five projects at any given time so, armed with coffee, I’ll pick one and dive in! No two days are the same, so I have to keep pretty fluid in my approach. I do try and schedule meetings in blocks or at least keep them at the top or tail end of the day.”
On Newcastle: Dujin has lived most of her life in Newcastle and thinks it’s a “bloody beautiful city.” She hopes to play an active role in shaping Newcastle’s creative community and not feeling guilty about “switching off”.
Wisdom: “One thing at a time”
Social Media: instagram @talktobec, @theroostcreative; facebook/theroostcreative
Peta Purcell is the co-founder of mother + joey, and she’s a fashion designer/marketing + PR specialist. “We are Australia’s first fashion label dedicated to ‘twinning’. We create matching outfits for mothers with daughters and sons. Our style is timeless using only high-quality fabrics, 100 per cent handcrafted here in Australia.”
Her vision is to help other creatives launch their brands by sharing her knowledge and experience.
Day in the Life: Purcell might be designing a new collection in her Morpeth workshop, visiting her pattern grader or picking up stock from Sydney.
On Newcastle: “Everyone is so damn proud of being a Novocastrian. It’s like one big family and everyone knows everyone.”
Wisdom: “Be prepared to do what your competitors aren’t, success is then imminent.”
Digital: instagram @motherandjoey; facebook.com/thenativecreativeaustralia/;
Emma Levine is an account manager at The Village of Useful where she runs projects, ranging from research to strategy to execution to reporting. She has a few side hustles. “I'm on the Octapod board, which has been my first intimate look at a NFP [not for profit] and I've learnt so much! I also founded Seventy30 which is a networking and support group of Newcastle women in marketing and communications. I am the custodian of the Newcastle branch of the Awesome Foundation. And when the time is right, I don leg-warmers and run a retro aerobics class, Fondalicious.”
On Newcastle: “Newcastle is a good place to try and fail. Failure is how we get better! It's a great test market, the Hunter's demographics mirror Australia's, and it's relatively cheap to go-to-market here. People can run with an idea and just see where it goes. It's the perfect environment for fostering innovation.”
Wisdom: “We're often so scared of failure that we become stuck but it's so important to keep moving, keep creating and breaking and improving.”
Digital: Twitter @emmaxbean
Mia Peters is a visual/ film artist and events curator. She paints, makes films, props and sets, creates installations and theatrical experiences.
“I also make a bit of music on the side; it is a work in progress. The creativity within my work often reflects my love of storytelling, the cathartic nature of self exploration and a romantic exploration of one’s environment.”
On Newcastle: Peters has lived her whole life in Newcastle, and she loves the supportive creative community here.
“If I could change something it would be that the community have more say in what is happening to this city. Right now it doesn’t feel like creatives are valued by the people in charge at all. Friends of mine [numerous friends] have been kicked out of their studios and creative spaces to make way for ‘development’.
“The government has totally disregarded the community’s views and opinions on how they want the city to grow and improve. It’s very clear that the people in control have no interest in the city as an incubator for creative synergy but rather are more interested in profiting from capitalist strategies.”
Social Media: instagram @Koscheke; Facebook Koscheke-Creative
Jacqui Daley is the managing director and founder at The Measured Marketer. Two years ago she set up The Measured Marketer on her own as a sole operator with a desire to provide strategic, digital-led marketing advice to clients. Today, she has a team of nine.
Day in the Life: Daley regularly travels all over Newcastle, presenting everything from brand strategies to workshops on digital marketing and website building. One day she’ll have one-to-ones with her team and another she’ll be meeting with her accountants.
On Newcastle: Daley was raised in the Hunter Valley and has spent much of her life in Newcastle.
“I’m very excited and proud of our city’s trajectory on every front. I’ve been able to achieve a lot and hopefully (and humbly) a really successful career without having to be based in a capital city.”
If she could change anything it would be to ensure Newcastle is a more connected city - through public transport, faster rail solutions and time-efficient, public transport options to/from the airport.
Digital: themeasuredmarketer.com.au; instagram @themeasuredmarketer; facebook.com/themeasuredmarketer/
Una Rey is a convener of the creative industries degree at the University of Newcastle.
She spends a lot of time talking, lecturing in art history and related fields.
“My creative work life has several forms across the visual arts. Painting is where it started for me but writing, teaching, curating and finding new ways of telling stories are all part of the mix.”
Her vision for herself and her work life is more art in every sense, in work and in play.
On Newcastle: Rey has lived in Newcastle for 12 years. She loves the people she’s met here and their grit, humour and independence. Her favourite shop is the fish co-op. If she could change anything about the city it would be the insularity of some of its leaders, the lack of sensitive urban design and the limited investment in cultural infrastructure.
Wisdom: “Find the joke - it’s always there.”
Digital: “No loyalty to social media.”