Colour lover, artist, designer and mother, Tiff Manuell creates wearable art that brings a bright, happy pop into the life it lands in.
Tiff’s designs are hand-crafted and incorporate all of her passions – painting, making, sewing and, more than anything, working freely with colour with no boundaries.
The process used to create Tiff clutches ensures every piece produced is completely individual. Each paint splatter or stroke falls a different way on the canvas, creating a new effect every time. Tiff’s Adelaide studio has produced tens of thousands of these gorgeous handmade creations.
Spending a lot of their early days in the studio, both of Tiff’s daughters and husband also help out with the forever evolving brand.
Born and bred (and still remaining) in South Australia, Tiff Manuell is now an international brand, that includes the likes of London’s Tate Modern in its stockists.
We chatted to Tiff to find out more about where her journey began and how Tiff Manuell unfolded with the help of her family:
What was your first memory of being creative?
That’s is a loooong time ago! Very young, It’s actually harder to remember an age when I wasn’t doing something creative. I think I just really found it to be a natural outlet so cutting, pasting, making, drawing, anything and everything. I quite honestly remember how good painting at kindy used to make me feel.
You were the artist behind Happy House, tell us about that, was that your first business?
Happy House was my first official business. I had made and sold lots of things before that to make money on the side. I had a little range called Lime clothing that was all hand painted, then I hand made jewellery which pretty much paid for my one year of traveling around Europe.
Happy House was born when I knew I really wanted to start my own business and I didn’t want to work a regular job. I started hand painting giant sized gift tags when I was 25, when I moved to Adelaide. They started selling so quickly and after about a year of hand painting and cutting to all hours of every morning David and I decided to sell our little unit and invest the money into our first print run. Happy House grew over many years to cover many products for young girls and women and we sold in over 40 countries around the world. We licensed our artwork to wonderful companies who created product under the Happy House label, it gave us an opportunity to sell hundreds of products to such an amazing array of countries. I am super proud of that. We established a wonderful team of product designers and illustrators, we created such a beautiful brand that I think was uniquely Australian.
Have you had any business mistakes?
YES! Many! Happy House taught me many lessons……. too many to list but mainly I guess that it all got too big too quickly and we took too many risks financially, global economic climate hit and probably poor management meant we just came crashing down. They were very tough times and harsh lessons to learn but I am not regretful in anyway. What I have walked away with are lessons that I base my life happiness and balance on now.
How did Tiff Manuell unfold?
Dave my partner/ husband suggested I take a break once a week from working on Happy House and do something else creatively. I moved off the computer and started painting. I guess the reality is that I have always equally loved product design.
I made a couple of clutches from some painted canvas and added the PVC outer to protect the painting. The rest is history I guess. I gave one to my friend Anna and then also a girl walked past my studio and saw it sitting on my desk in the window, She asked if she could buy it and from there girls just started walking in and I kept painting…
How do you help juggle work and family life? Do your daughters get involved?
I have always involved my daughters, hopefully in a fun way, they have had an opportunity to earn their own money from a young age being helpful and resourceful. My eldest daughter Indigo started sewing the first bags with me from age 13. She understands every element of our business now. She is an integral part of our business and I think an entrepreneur in the making.
I would say it has developed both my daughters to be very resilient, passionate hardworking and respectful of opportunity. I must admit though now I am very conscious of my time. I don’t overwork and more so self preserve my energy so I don’t burn out. We open our studio a little later and close earlier to avoid traffic and see more daylight!
I limit my work at home to just creative stuff in front of Netflix with my girls! I only do the jobs at work I love the most and that I am relevant and productive enough. Hence, just painting all day! I also work full-time with David my husband, we have always been a team, he is my knight in shining armour, always balancing me out, super practical about everything and a great operator.
What do you love most about your job?
Painting every day, working with colour and creating endless colour combinations. Creating product that inspires happiness and meeting the wonderful people that are drawn to it. I LOVE my work… it’s not work.
3 other SA female artists or designers you’re loving right now?
That is very hard because there are so many amazing SA designers, artists and makers.
Marnie Wark – artist
Naomi Murrel – designer / illustrator
Alice Potter – jewellery designer
Anna Dimond – Palas Jewellery (my bestie)
Arghhhhhhh!!!!! So many more!!!
153 Unley Rd, Unley SA 5061
REBECCA MORSE: If You Love Them, Let Them Go… Easier said than done.
Rebecca Morse presents Adelaide’s Ten News First bulletin and is co-host of hit107’s breakfast show, Bec & Cosi. She has a degree in Journalism and started her media career at the ABC, where she was named SA Journalist of the Year in 2005. Rebecca is actively involved in community and charity work, as a proud Ambassador for Kickstart for Kids, the Animal Welfare League, the Premier’s Reading Challenge, Uniting Care Pancake Day and the Port Adelaide Football Club, She is married with three daughters, Grace, Milla and Frankie and an adopted dalmatian named Henley.
Letting go, letting go. (Sung to the tune of the Frozen earworm)
When you think about it, from the moment they are born, all of our parenting is essentially about equipping our children to survive on their own out in the real world. And yet every step towards their ultimate independence is fraught with pain.
It begins on their first day of childcare or kindy when you prise their chubby little hand out of yours and try to console yourself with the fact that the playdough/finger painting/yoga/guinea pig program on offer is much more comprehensive than the curriculum at home.
Then in the blink of an eye it’s their first day of school and all of the mixed emotions that brings. Melancholy with a hint of freedom. Patent that scent and make it into a candle.
When my first-born toddled off to school with her giant backpack I shed a tear.
When the middle child started I experienced a twinge of sadness.
When the third and final child started my greatest surge of emotion was whether I should be offended by the mother who remarked on my decision to wear activewear on what she deemed a momentous occasion devalued by my casual attire. It’s Lululemon, I muttered under my breath. The Reception classroom is a jungle of judgement.
The next letting go of the child milestone comes with the transition to high school.
Remember when they begged for you to come into the classroom instead of turfing them out at the drop-off zone?
Cherish those short days because come high school they won’t even want a kiss on the cheek in the front seat in case their friends see them.
I even get in trouble if I have the radio up too loud.
The eldest embarks on Year 11 next year so I’ll blink again and she’ll be finishing school. She’s already fiercely independent, got a job as soon as it was legal and is learning to drive with zero assistance from me, which is lucky as I’m still unable to parallel park after a quarter of a century behind the wheel.
In fact, I dread her getting her P plates because I feel like the journey to drop her at places is the only time I can hold her captive in a small space so I can make sure she is aware of the dangers of the internet/boys/alcohol/fad diets.
We had to let her go for a couple of weeks recently when we put her on a plane to Japan for a school exchange. I set up a WhatsApp group optimistically titled CHECK IN WITH YOUR PARENTS and instructed her to update us daily.
She did not update us daily.
I was forced to monitor her Instagram for signs of life.
I see you’ve landed in Singapore, I messaged as an airport selfie popped up on the Insta story. And I see that you are wearing my brand new tank top. I see you’ve visited Harajuku, I messaged, after her first post on the grid. And I see that you have also packed the pink skirt I have been looking for. And you’ve knotted it, which is a cute look but will make it difficult to iron on your return.
When she reached her host family she finally began to want some contact with her mother. She FaceTimed me in tears one night, saying she was homesick. (I was secretly relieved as I’d feared at the tender age of 16 she was already equipped to travel the world alone with no pangs for the life created for her at home).
She said she was having trouble getting her family to understand her and she wasn’t sure about some of the recipes being served up. Begging the question, why are you homesick? Sounds just like your daily life here.
I’d missed having a teenager in the house. I even thought for a short time I may have been cool, without her constant reminders that I am far from it.
How lucky we are if we can help our children see the world (she wasn’t handed the trip on a platter, saving up to contribute a portion from her part-time job).
Letting go is hard.
But a sense of adventure, bravery, curiosity and independence is a great gift to instill in our children.
Especially since Japan is on my bucket list and I need a translator.
In between the annoyance of not being able to find that favourite blouse amongst all the others or needing to pop down to Ikea to buy more storage for an ever-growing shoe collection, we often forget how truly lucky we are.
There are thousands of women in South Australia who are facing a range of adverse circumstances whilst raising young children – be it domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, generational poverty and / or homelessness, with just the clothes on their back. Often it’s the same for the children who have never owned anything new, or age-appropriate, let alone suitable for school.
Clothing provides practical benefits of course, but clothing also serves us in other ways; it’s an extension of our personality. Expression through fashion is a luxury.
MumKIND are launching their major ‘Get Changed’ initiative and are seeking donations of high quality women’s, men’s & children’s clothing, shoes and accessories.
Further to this, they are seeking partnerships with fashion wholesalers and retailers, and people who work in the fashion industry for donations of end-of-season stock.
We need to donate mindfully. The sale of high quality clothing in charity shops is an important revenue source for many charities; with this income, we can support the most marginalised people in our society. These shops are run by volunteers and rely on high-quality donations.
MumKIND are welcoming anything from winter coats, dresses, jumpers, skirts, pants, jeans, hats, boots, summer dresses, trousers, shorts and sandals – and even special occasion items like evening dresses and dinner suits.
Want to make a direct impact?
There are over 30 + drop off points in SA, so check their website for the one that is closest to you and GET INVOLVED! mumkind.com.au
Dad Words With Jake Dean
Just when I thought I was getting the hang of this parenting biz (if that’s even possible),
bam! Here comes baby #2. Yes, Dad Words will soon surely suffer (or prosper?) when
newborn life resumes, when trying to read or watch a movie sits at about #176 on the
priority list. So, enjoy these well-rested reviews while they last. And don’t hesitate to
contact me for congratulations, commiserations, babysitting offers or shiraz.
READ: SNAKE ISLAND – By Ben Hobson
Seeing the premise of this literary thriller (coastal town, harsh landscape, trouble afoot),
you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d seen this novel before. But Hobson brings an originality
to the crime-laden hamlet tale, and you barely get a breath throughout. Caleb, son of
retirees Vernon and Penelope, is in prison and when Vern learns his boy is being bashed
(while the cops turn a blind eye) by a member of the town’s violent crime family, he’s forced
to act. What follows is a rollicking morality tale, told from the perspective of family on both
sides and the police chief, forcing you to reckon with your own sense of what it means to be
good, long after the final page.
Available from Dymocks, $29.99
READ: THE ALL NEW MUST HAVE ORANGE 430 – By Michael Speechley
Picked up this guy from the library recently, and while it’s way too advanced for my son, it
contains sage messages about consumerism for six-to-eight year olds. The book follows
Harvey in his quest to buy the all-new ORANGE 430 (manufactured by the overlords at
Useless Object International or UOI). Why? He’s not too sure, but he knows he needs it! This
is a tale about the useless stuff we covet and pile in our homes, when there are much more
fun and important things to worry about. Speechley’s illustrations are vivid and fun too.
Available from Dymocks, $24.99
WATCH: EVERYTHING MUST GO
Will Ferrell’s an actor that divides the punters – you either love him or hate him. I’m firmly
in the former camp, so I was rapt to spot this 2010 comedy-drama on a drizzly Sunday night.
Ferrell plays Nick Halsey, a salesman and recovering alcoholic who loses his job following a
relapse, returning home to find his wife gone, the locks changed, and all of his possessions
scattered across the front lawn. Rebecca Hall, who plays a lonely neighbour who’s just
moved in across the street, and C.J. Wallace (Biggie Smalls’ son), who plays a bored
neighbourhood kid looking for companionship, both turn in ripping performances. But it’s
Ferrell (who, if you’ve seen Stranger Than Fiction, is no slouch in dramatic roles) that packs
the punches. Just don’t expect standard laugh-a-minute Ferrell terrain.
DO: MORPHETT VALE RAILWAY
If you’ve got a young grom that loves machines, this place is a no-brainer. Occupying about
two kilometres of track in Morphett Vale’s Wilfred Taylor Reserve, the Railway owns a
bunch of miniature trains and lays claim to the coveted record of longest and highest model
railway bridge in SA (take that, runner-up!). It’s seven bucks for unlimited rides, but one
seemed like an eternity – for my bony butt, at least. The little guy? Other than being a tad
scared by the tunnel the first couple of goes, his smile went from ear to ear the entire time.
We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.
With this in mind, Helping Hand Residential Care in North Adelaide is proving that imagination is ageless. By connecting some of our state’s oldest and youngest residents in a weekly intergenerational playgroup, Helping Hand in partnership with Playgroup SA brings together generations, supporting meaningful interactions between the young and the young at heart (but slightly older in other places) through singing, craft, playtime and stories.
The Learning Tree Playgroup connects three generations (elders, parents and children), bolstering the proverbial village it takes to raise a child, while also bringing joy and good old-fashioned fun and laughter to elderly residents living in aged care, as well as the unconditional love that only a child can give. The age difference of decades between them is but a wrinkle in time, with the experience enriching the lives of everyone involved. We chat with Julie from Helping Hand about how it all works.
What sort of activities do the children and residents take part in at the Intergenerational Playgroup?
The group takes part in a range of activities each week, including arts and crafts, interactive activities like ball games, and sing-a-longs.
Sing-a-longs are an important part of our playgroup; we tend to focus on ‘older’ more ‘traditional’ nursery rhymes because a lot of residents are aged 90-plus, but we also sing modern songs from groups like The Wiggles. For story time, we let the children pick a book and a resident will read it, followed by morning tea.
Our activities are focused on being easy to achieve, so that toddlers and those living with dementia, for example, can successfully complete them, and have fun while they’re doing it!
What makes it such a great experience for the residents?
It brings families and children into Helping Hand and provides fun and playful engagement for both the young and the young at heart. It encourages friendships across generations, it’s great to see how the children and residents are drawn to each other and take part in activities together without needing much conversation. It can help residents create social connections and feelings of inclusion by giving them an opportunity to engage with the wider community.
What sort of feedback do you get from parents?
Parents have commented the playgroup has brought their children out of their shell and made them more confident around other children and adults. For parents, there’s always something new to learn from older generations. In some instances, the parents don’t have their own parents (their children’s grandparents) or other family members in Adelaide, so it’s a great way for them to interact with an older generation. For the children, it’s an exciting and fun experience to play with a whole new group of people with a different perspective on life.
What sort of feedback do you get from residents?
The residents look forward to seeing the children each week and have developed close relationships with them. It can help increase their self-esteem and prompts joy and happiness; interacting with the children really does lift their spirits. Some residents may not have grandchildren, or have grandchildren nearby, so it’s good for them to experience the joy children bring via the playgroup.
Why would you encourage parents to attend?
It’s a great community experience, enriching the lives of the young and the elderly. It’s also a great way to meet other families. We find parents value the parenting knowledge and experience of our residents and in turn, our residents cherish having children in their lives.
Do you do any other sort of events that encourage children and the elderly to interact?
At Helping Hand North Adelaide, children from nearby kindergartens, primary and secondary schools participate in intergenerational activities throughout the year. Primary students are currently completing a history project involving our residents, speaking to them about their lives and writing their life stories to present back to them. Students have also painted portraits of our residents and completed other art projects with them. Year 10 and 11 students are also a regular feature at Helping Hand and take part in work experience and placements with our lifestyle team.
Favourite thing about play time with the children?
I just love being around the little ones, I always have. They make me smile.
What have they taught you?
I think they remind me to have fun and not to take things too seriously.
What have you taught them?
They’re very bright, I think they teach me more! But I do like sharing stories with them and trying to teach them things that way.
Favourite thing about play time with the children?
I love seeing their little personalities develop and how they come out of their shell.
What have they taught you?
I think modern children often seem to be 12 months going on five – and I mean that in a good way. They seem so advanced in the ways in which they play and the things they know, just watching them even doing seemingly little, you learn so much.
What have you taught them?
I try and entertain them and they remind me to laugh. I think they want to do so much at once, I also tell them that not everything can be done at one time, that they should be patient.
What do you like about playing with the residents?
Painting and playing with Play-Doh.
What have they taught you?
That you don’t need to talk much to have a great time.
What have you taught them?
Playing is fun!
What do you like about playing with the residents?
What have they taught you?
That sitting still and reading and singing is fun!
What have you taught them?
It’s fun to be silly!
The Learning Tree Playgroup
Who: Between 12 and 16 Helping Hand North Adelaide elderly residents, and up to 10 children with their parent or caregiver. Suited to kiddos aged from birth to age 5
When: Every Wednesday morning, during school terms, between 10:30am and 12pm
Where: Helping Hand North Adelaide. No bookings required
How: Contact Julie Kahl at Helping Hand on 8224 7814 for more information
For more information on intergenerational playgroups in your area head to playgroupsa.com.au
Breakfast Radio and Motherhood with Ali Clarke
When you think about it, breakfast radio and motherhood have a few similarities. No two days are the same. Occasionally dealing with a tough crowd. The early starts. Adelaide radio personality and mum, Ali Clarke agrees.
“Sure there are the early mornings, but also you start out with a plan every day knowing full well it can, and probably will, be derailed and you just have to go with it. It’s that old adage of being the duck – everything looks serene and under control on top, but underneath you’re pedaling like crazy. I’d have to say the radio audience is probably more appreciative than my son though, after he only gave me a C+ for my joke telling in my mother’s day card,” she laughs.
And sometimes, the worlds collide. With her firstborn Eloise (9), Ali was lucky enough to broadcast from home, just six weeks after she was born.
“There were plenty of times I was breastfeeding on air or ducking off to change a nappy during the newsbreak. I’d then lie down in the afternoon and feed Eloise and crash out too. Of course there was no such luxury when the second arrived,” she says.
Together with her high profile husband Matt Clarke (Crows AFLW Coach and Crows AFL ruck coach), the pair also have Samuel (7) and Madeline (4). The jump from two to three was a bit like interviewing a celebrity on the radio – a little bit nerve wracking, but very exciting.
“There’s no doubt two to three was a shock to the system. We were unlucky enough to need IVF for our children, but so very lucky we were eventually successful, so there was certainly no SURPRISE! You’re pregnant! We were probably halfway through the pregnancy with Maddy that Sam finally got out of nappies and I had my first thought of, whoa – hang on this was just getting easier. I asked my friends who had three, ‘why didn’t you tell me?!’ but I wouldn’t change the chaos and laughs for anything.”
It’s a welcomed chaos, and one that’s become the new normal for the Clarkes.
“When Madeline was born I had just been fired from Triple M and really struggled for a period trying to work out where I fit in life. Now our family has found the balance in that Matt gets them off to school and I’m there to pick them up. Sure it’s busy, but I would imagine there are plenty of people who are much busier than us.”
While Ali balances her work hat and mum hat with a bit of help from her ‘village’ – aka husband, family, friends and babysitters, she admits it took awhile for her to feel comfortable asking for help.
“Actually, if I’m honest I still have to push myself sometimes, but once you find those people who you know want to help, and you want to help them, they’re worth their weight in gold.”
“This whole idea you can do it all and be some type of supermum … well that’s not for me and I’ll never pretend otherwise. Having said that, I know I’m a better mum with another focus as well as the kids.”
One of her other focuses is, of course, radio. Ali has been a regular fixture on Adelaide radio stations for the last decade. Her impressive resume has seen her broadcast on various radio stations, including breakfast announcer on Mix and Triple M. She’s currently on breakfast for 891 ABC Adelaide – making her the only solo woman hosting a breakfast program in a capital city. And while this may sound like a coup in her career, Ali remains modest and praises her listeners.
“I still can’t believe this is what I do for a living, and that people would want to talk to me – so that’s pretty cool. Like when someone takes the time to text or call in. I get to talk to some really interesting people. It’s an incredible privilege being invited into people’s home and cars and I don’t take it likely. I love that with radio you can make a connection with someone. I love both the immediacy and the intimacy.”
Apart from broadcasting on the radio or running around after her three beautiful kids, Ali supports a number of charities. She’s an ambassador for Minda and Carer Support, and is passionate about helping people with disabilities. With all of the aforementioned, downtime is, understandably, a bit of a foreign concept.
“I’m sorry? What’s that?” she laughs.
But with the fun and fast paced mix of radio and motherhood, she still (sometimes) manages ‘independent Ali’.
“I love hanging out with friends or going for a walk – anywhere outside. I also don’t mind crashing on the couch watching horrendous reality TV – shhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” she concludes.
ALL GOOD IN THE [MOTHER]HOOD
What’s the one thing you didn’t know about motherhood that you wish you knew beforehand?
That I would never again just grab my purse, phone and keys and walk out the door… now it’s water bottles, wipes, games, books etcetera.
Best piece of advice you received when you were new to motherhood?
Learn how to say no (not just to the kids, but to others who want your time). Oh, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Who cares if you have a messy house, give yourself a break before running around dusting.
Describe your parenting style?
I’m pretty strict – I’m a big one on respect and living up to your promises, so I’m always pulling the kids up on manners and making sure they appreciate other people’s situations. Matt is a lot more relaxed … he’s definitely ‘Fun Dad’.
A parenting philosophy you stick by?
Hear them out first. Especially now that the kids are a little bit older, I’ve found a lot of angst and energy can be saved if you just give them the time and space to get their point of view out BEFORE making a decision about what’s next (especially handy when negotiating peace pacts between the three of them).
What do you love doing with the family?
We love getting the kids to the beach – especially Carrickalinga or Normanville. Sure they whinge and carry on, but at the end of the day, they all say they’ve had a brilliant time.
Meaghan Coles photography
You can listen to Ali weekdays on ABC breakfast radio Online, on the ABC listen app, via DAB+ Digital Radio or 891 AM and follow her on Twitter @ali_clarke