• Words // Kate Neilson | Interviewee: Tara Kenny

Meet Melbourne's creative girl gang: Ladies of Leisure

Ladies of Leisure (LOL) is a Melbourne based collective bound together by a love of cool creative chicks doing cool creative things.

They are a community that "celebrates strength, weaknesses, success and process." They are a pastiche of funky merch, quirky stories, captivating visual content and, the glue that holds it all together, their groovy lil' zine. They are pretty much everything that you want to be.

We had a chat with online editor, Tara Kenny, about what LOL is all about, why supporting female creatives is fucking important and a little bit about a brick layer turned psychic named Trevor.

Image: The Ladies of Leisure tees

[if !supportLists]1. [endif]Can you tell us a little about how LOL started? What was the igniting spark?

Our founder and creative director Savannah dreamed up Ladies of Leisure as a way to connect with, showcase and celebrate the creative and inspiring women she found herself surrounded by. Soon afterwards Sally Tabart came on board as editor, and early this year, after initial involvement as a contributing writer, I took on the role of online editor. Fundamentally LOL aims to support women to do whatever it is they want to do, which is a pretty bloody worthwhile endeavour – if I do say so myself!

[if !supportLists]2. [endif]What advice would you give to young creatives who are bursting at the seams with wonderful ideas but are struggling to put those ideas into action?

First and foremost, if you have the ideas you’re already ahead! Coming up with ideas is hard enough, let alone actually doing anything. I have so many half-baked schemes waiting in the wings...It’s hard to make time to do something that isn’t for any reason beyond the enjoyment you glean from it, but I find that often those projects are the most rewarding.

One of my most fulfilling creative projects has been a choose-your-own-adventure zine I made with a friend – we printed just fifty copies and made zero profit, but it was SO fun! My advice would be to flesh out your ideas, separate the haves from the have nots, and commit to actually following through on one of them.

"Fundamentally LOL aims to support women to do whatever it is they want to do, which is a pretty bloody worthwhile endeavour."

In a small town like Melbourne it can feel exposing and scary to attempt something that might fail, but how the hell are we meant to improve and learn without risk and vulnerability? If it’s shit, next time it might not be. Plus, who cares? When Sav was starting LOL even I was sceptical that one person could execute such an ambitious project, and was also nervous about committing to something I wasn’t completely confident I could pull off. However, I’m constantly astounded by what we have achieved and how much we have all learnt along the way.


[if !supportLists]3. Creative Collectives seem to be what it’s all about these days. How do you, as a team, manage to meld your ideas together and take collective rather than individual ownership of your work?

Working with your friends to achieve a vision you all care about and understand is the best thing in the whole entire world and I feel so lucky that this is my reality! The LOLs all have our strengths and weaknesses but we compliment and support each other and together are capable of things we – or at least I – could certainly never pull off solo.

In terms of collective rather than individual ownership of work it’s important for us to respect one another and allow for creative license and autonomy over our individual practices within a LOL empire (hehe) we have all worked hard to establish.

As a writer it’s really easy to spend a lot of time cordoned off alone with your thoughts but that’s not the most enjoyable or productive lifestyle, for me anyway. On a personal level I feel SO supported by the LOLs and am forever grateful that within our little haven of a workplace maintaining professional distance and having a work persona is not a thing. That sounds exhausting to me.

Image: Tara Kenny, online editor

[if !supportLists]4. In all honesty, how hard do you think it is to be a full time (insert creative passion here) in a world that is driven by suits and ties and the 9 to 5?

Real talk: being a creative freelancer is f-ing tough, but from what I’ve gleaned being a 9-5er is no walk in the park. At least as a creative you’re working towards your own vision on your own terms and have a level of autonomy over the structure of your life. Having observed many of my friends struggle through the working week, I really believe that even if you do respect your employer and like your job the 9-5 is brutal and somewhat unnatural. At this stage in my life the instability and underlying uncertainty that accompanies juggling a cute apron job, for money freelance gigs, and love projects is worth it for the knowledge that I am giving myself a fighting chance to end up doing something I really care about. It seems dangerously easy to settle into a path you’re not truly passionate about, which is terrifying to me. Avoiding after work drinks is another bonus.

There is a tendency for creatives to dismiss all 9-5ers as cappo pig robots, which I think is overly simplistic. In many sectors it is simply unfeasible to work part time, and often more productive to contribute within a well-established organisation rather than attempt to go it alone. As someone who grew up in a family where there was never enough money I understand the pull of stability and a steady income.

[if !supportLists]5. [endif]Can you share with us the process behind putting your zine together?

A combination of research, find like minded honeys who get it, being a hustler, writing, interviewing, shoots, personal admin, blood, sweat, tears, and stiff drinks.

[if !supportLists]6. [endif]How do you manage getting through a creative slump?

It’s really easy to be a writer (or creative in any field) who for whatever reason rarely makes time to produce the kind of work you want to be making. When I’m in a funk I try to prioritise writing just because, without consideration for an intended audience or contemplation of whether my ideas are actually any good. It’s easy to be constrained by the fear that everything has already been said and explored, but I try and remind myself that speaking my position is valuable and interesting...even if only for my own personal development as played out in tragic journal entries, lol.

[if !supportLists]7. [endif]What would LOL be if you were a: _____ and why?

Fruit: Watermelon, cos it’s fun to share!

Song: Des’ree ‘You Gotta Be’. Kylie Minogue’s back catalogue is also very important to me personally, but can’t claim that as an official LOL response.

Colour: A lil bit of all of them, like a rainbow!

Episode of SATC: As a representation of womanhood SATC sure has its flaws, but it did teach me a lot about female friendship – “maybe our girlfriends are our soul mates and guys are just people to have fun with” – duh, yes. If LOL were an episode we would be that one where Carrie dramatically leaves Big, walks past a neighing horse, and declares: “Maybe some women aren’t meant to be tamed. Maybe they need to run free until they find someone just as wild to run with them.” Personally I’d ditch the second bit of the last sentence, but the sentiment is there. Giddy up!

Animal: I’m not really sure what kind of animal LOL would be, but I recently got really into this game where you ask people what their favourite animal is and what three characteristics they admire about that animal. Big reveal: apparently that’s how they want to be perceived! I said cat because they’re interesting, mysterious and self-sufficient.

Image: The LOL team

[if !supportLists]8. What do you see for the future with LOL?

Savannah established LOL as a creative side project, but it has and continues to morph into something more. Ultimately we would love to be full time ladies of leisure and have a number of exciting projects and opportunities currently on the go, with a view to achieving that aim.

[if !supportLists]9. Female empowerment from other females within the creative industries is very much on the rise. Why do you think this is?

As a product of patriarchal society many women grow up constantly comparing themselves to other women – aesthetically, socially, professionally – and feeling perpetually less than. The vast majority of workforces are structured in a way that privileges men while keeping women down. Perhaps more women are realising how bullshit this is! Particularly within creative industries there tends to be a level of choice as to who you work with; I encourage talented women to find, support, empower and learn from each other.

Also, these days more women have access to information and communities that can help empower them to join forces and have their voices heard, which is reflected in this rise of female driven support. What a time to be a feminist!

Image: LOL patches

[if !supportLists]10. [endif]What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received?

A couple of years ago I went to see a former bricklayer turned psychic named Trevor who told me that pink is my colour and I should wear more pink. Everything you see I owe to Trevor! Apart from that maybe “take it less seriously.”

You can check out more of the ladies at their website or buy some of their cool merch here.

299 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All