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Meet the HC Team: Belinda Neame

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Ever wondered who exactly is behind HerCanberra? 

Just as much as we love exposing the best bits of our city and those wondrous and creative souls who live here, we accept it can’t be an entirely one-sided thing.

You’ve told us you’re keen to learn more about our HerCanberra team, who we are and what makes us tick. So here we are, exposing a little of our personal lives. Enjoy getting to know us as much as we enjoy getting to know you.

You’ve read about our head chick Amanda Whitley and our Associate Editor Emma Macdonald—now meet resident style guru and Production Manager Belinda Neame, mum to Tilly and Fletcher and wife to fireman and photographer Tim Bean.

What is an average day for you at the office?

Do you mean the work or the banter? Oh, I’m pretty sure you mean the work…

Depends on where we are at in the physical HerCanberra Magazine calendar! If it’s Magazine time, I’m generally researching, putting together mood boards, making contact with local talent, booking in photo shoots, doing the photos shoots and everything that comes with pulling together our beautiful tri-annual publication.

Credit: Tim Bean Photography.

In between print magazines, I manage our events, so I can be doing anything from booking venues to creating run sheets to trying to wrangle Eventbrite. I’m also the driver (and the complete and utter control freak) of our Instagram page. I do write the odd piece or two for the site too. I’d love to get better at writing.

How is it different to slinging out hundreds of cupcakes each day?

Oh gosh, that feels like a lifetime ago. Life at HerCanberra is SO DIFFERENT.

Our cupcake shop (Cherry Seed) was physically demanding and I had no flexibility. We were literally tied to the shop for eight years. I was the only baker so if I wasn’t there, we couldn’t open.

The only downtime I ever got was when we shut down for two weeks at Christmas. I missed out on so much. I missed my son’s award ceremonies at school and I didn’t watch my daughter play basketball for the first two years.

Bee’s cupcakes, styled by Bee. Credit: Tim Bean Photography.

Amanda and HerCanberra have been the best thing that has happened to not only myself but my family too. Amanda understands the demands that come with raising a family and supports us as working mothers to put our families first as long as we get shit done!

Amanda has also challenged me to become better at what I do, she’s made me step outside my comfort zone and learn new skills and really fall into what I love.

Fletcher, Belinda, Tilly and Tim. Credit: Tim Bean Photography.

My job now revolves around my family, not my family revolving around my job. It now means I can be there for the kids which is a priority for me as they navigate their way around their teenage years.

Your quarterly street food festival, The Forage, is pretty damn cool. How did you set it up?

After spending nearly eight years of my life running a cupcake shop in an ‘off-trend’ area, I experienced first hand how hard it is to get exposure from local media without spending big dollars on advertising that your little business just doesn’t have.

I had been thinking about The Forage for a while (I just wanted a small laneway street food event) but I knew I couldn’t do it while running the shop because I was already time-poor.

The Forage.

So when I made the decision to not renew my lease at the shop, I wanted dive headfirst in and create this event that would not only kick start the street food scene in Canberra but also give small business operators (like myself) a platform to expose their business directly to the foodie market for a reasonable cost.

Our first event was held in NewActon in April 2014 with 14 vendors and an estimated 1800 people. Five years, five locations and 50+ vendors later, our home is now at Fyshwick’s Dairy Road with 10,000 people attending. So much for our small laneway street food event!

Coffee or tea?

ALL THE COFFEE! And preferably one from our local coffee roasters.

Bee with coffee. Credit: Tim Bean Photography.

My heart lies with local and I really believe we have some of the best coffee in Australia. I love the Juggernaut beans from Two Before Ten and it’s our go-to for our machine at home.

What makes a photograph beautiful?

I think capturing a moment in time of something you love, is beautiful. And I think finding your own style with photography is also really important.

Bee and Tim’s house. Credit: Tim Bean Photography.

Staying away from ‘trends’ and taking pictures of things in their most natural form, always capture my attention.

What’s your relationship with Instagram?

I actually love Instagram. But I make a choice to fill my Instagram page with accounts that make me feel good. Accounts that create beautiful, genuine content.

I have the most amazing, supportive and uplifting virtual community. I have met some amazing people through this channel and have made many beautiful, like-minded friends. The best part about it is the Instagram ‘meet-ups’ when we all come together (often in a small country town), get off our phones (how ironic!) to talk and encourage each other.

Credit: Tim Bean Photography.

I think we spend a lot of time talking about the negative side of social media instead of focusing on what an amazing platform it can be. Life is about choice and we choose the way we respond to social media. Choose to follow accounts that have meaning and make you feel good. And choose your response when you see something on Instagram that often leaves you comparing your life to someone else’s. Don’t compare, use it as a platform to inspire you or simply, un-follow.

What’s your pet hate?

Summer.

What does the city lack?

Old world charm and architecture. I think history is important and gives a city a soul. It really saddens me that the little history we do have here often gets pulled down.

Winter or autumn?

Both! But mostly winter. I hate the heat and how draining it is. The warmer seasons bring such chaos (Christmas, festivities, entertaining) and although it’s fun, I love that winter allows us to bunker down and hibernate and recharge with all the comforts – winter food, winter fashion and red wine!

I love nothing more than being under a blanket on the couch in front of our open fire. Hygge is my jam–tropical isn’t.

You are a huge supporter of local. Who are your top three? 

  1. John Leverink from Schmicnics and The Boat House
  2. Carlos and Moncho Ramirez from Mr Papa
  3. Dave Caffery from Dionysus

Not only are these guys some of Canberra’s biggest fans and creators, they are the ones that you can reach out to for support and they will be there without question, no matter how busy they are. The Forage would not be where it’s at without these guys.

We hear you’re a basketball mum. How is that?

Let’s just say basketball is a BIG part of our life. It’s a huge commitment. Tilly has been in the ACT program for nearly six years and we’ve put many kilometres on the car every year from the endless games, training sessions and interstate trips.

It’s seven days a week, sometimes two training sessions a day but I love nothing more than watching our girl work hard at her dreams. It’s where she thrives; she was born for the court.

Tilly on the court (number 10).

It’s also been a massive eye-opener into how important sport and endorphins are for teenagers who are battling with hormones and self-doubt so we will continue to encourage Tilly to keep on balling!

Favourite Canberra haunts?

Ha, does the Belconnen Basketball Stadium qualify as a ‘favourite haunt’?

Given our basketball schedule every week, we don’t get out much but when we do have time, we’ll often pop past Two Before Ten in Aranda or the Casey Jones Pub in Casey. We also LOVE the Merino Café in Gunning when we are road tripping to the country.

What are your favourite corners of your home?

I have a few but my absolute favourite is our front lounge room with the open fireplace.

I also love our family room because of it’s light, the banter that goes on when we are at the dinner table and the fact that I can look out onto the deck and see our big goofy dog Gus!

Bee and Gus.

We know you are an amazing baker. What’s your top tip?

Always have your eggs and butter at room temperature. And if you forget to take your eggs out of the fridge before you start baking, just pop them in a bowl of warm water for about 5-10 minutes to bring them to room temperature.

Why do you think the Canberra food scene has exploded and where would you most like to book a table?

Because we’ve had some amazing creatives take a risk on this city and open some kick-ass cafes and restaurants. It only took a few and now look at us!

For a beautiful dinner, I would book a table at eightysix or XO, and for a casual meet up, we love Casey Jones Pub.

Tilly, Belinda and Fletcher.

Feature image: Boring Headshots/Thorson Photography. 

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