In this edition of our In Conversation with NATALIJA Women we speak to Dany Craig, Founder and Creative Director behind event and floral styling business Pia+Jade; whose creations have been featured on Hello May, Polkadot Bride and most recently Vogue Australia.
Together with her business partner Rachelle, these women channel bold blooms and unique decorative elements that make for truly bountiful works of art. Recently they released an online marketplace, selling framed pressed flowers and floral birth months prints in collaboration with The Portrait Collective.
I met Dany in 2015 at One Fine Day Wedding Fairs - we were stall buddies, opposite each other. Since then, it’s been amazing to watch her business flourish and pivot creatively during recent times.It's was an absolute delight talking to her, and hope you enjoy reading it!
Three words that best describe your personal style?
Classic. Minimalist. Monochrome
What is the oldest, most treasured piece in your wardrobe? Where did you get it from and what special meaning does it have for you?
I am not sure about oldest, but most treasured is my black lambskin Chanel 2.55 handbag. I bought it in Rome after finishing university and buying my first investment property. I guess you could say it was a reward to myself for all my hard work paying off. To me, it’s not just a designer handbag, but an heirloom I hope to pass down one day and a reminder in life or business, I can do anything I put my mind to.
What inspired you to start Pia & Jade?
I studied Interior Architecture at university and during my final year, really didn’t like the computer based side of design. I wanted to be more hands on- seeing and feeling texture and patterns. We (my husband and I) had just moved to the NSW South Coast when weekend weddings were starting to become really popular. It was my husband who suggested I combine my diploma of Events Management and my Bachelor of Interior Architecture to create beautiful spaces for couples to say “I Do”.
Is there meaning behind your business name?
The name of the business was inspired by my late grandmother and the many hours we would spend together in her craft room; sewing, quilting, painting, making dolls- there was nothing she couldn’t do and I really believe she lit that creative spark inside of me. PIA was her initials, Jade is my middle name… together I like to believe we continue those crafternoons in spirit.
I feel the most confident when…
I am in my creative zone or catching up with my closest friends over brunch or a cocktail.
Who are some of your female inspirations?
Those who are out there to inspire, empower and create change. I recently bought some children’s books for a close friend's little girl about Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn and Frida Khalo (there are loads more in the collection covering women in science, arts and sport). I think it is really important to teach females from a young age that you can do anything you put your mind to and to not be afraid to break the mould/stereotypes or to speak up for what you believe in.
What has been your career highlight to date?
In August last year, I was lucky enough to travel to Santorini to do the flowers for a Sydney brides destination wedding. If you had told me I would be doing that in the first three years of my business I would have laughed at you! It was a very surreal, pinch me experience, filled with enormous amounts of stress and logistics that come with being in a foreign country with language barriers. The end result was worth it a million times over and I still have a wonderful friendship with the couple that I will always cherish.
What advice would you give a young woman starting out and looking to make an impact in the industry?
When starting my business, my two mottos were “Risk it to get the biscuit” and “fake it, till you make it”.... Probably not the most professional business mottos, but in today’s society, everyone is out there hustling. You just have to focus on yourself, know what you want, where your goals are and don’t let what others are doing affect where you are going. Take the risk, be daring, shake up the industry you are in. Take inspiration from others and make it your own.
I look back at my two mottos now and I think, I never really “faked” anything, that was probably a bad motto to have… it was more about saying yes to every opportunity that arose, hoping “exposure” would make my business well known. I now know you can’t spread yourself that thin and I will only say yes to opportunities that excite me and get my creative juices flowing.
Do I still “risk it to get the biscuit”? Every day! I need to, to keep evolving creatively and to make sure I never rest on my laurels.
How do you manage a successful work-life balance?
I am still learning how to do this. I am my own worst enemy and I can’t sit still. My husband is at the point he confiscates my laptop in the evenings haha! I think for me, being in the wedding industry, I am guaranteed to be working every weekend, that in peak wedding season, it’s terribly difficult to maintain a social life. I have a very small, tight knit group of friends that completely understand the type of work I do and know I am always thinking of them, even if it’s months between catch ups.
For my husband and I, working opposite schedules, we put aside nights during the week, usually a Monday or Tuesday for date nights, or to spend time cooking together.
What does having a conscious wardrobe mean to you?
I remember when I was younger, watching the TV show with Gok Wan about “capsule wardrobes” where you have a handful of beautiful, well fitted garments that can all be worn with one another. That really resonated with me and is how I approach items for my wardrobe. I always look to buy timeless, classic, well-made items that I will have for years and years. Quality, and avoiding “fast fashion” that will eventually end up in landfill is very important to me and the future of the planet. Sustainable products, looking for Australian made and supporting small business has also become very important to me in recent years.
Dany wears our signature Gathered Hand-Loomed Dress, which will be re-cut this Summer in a new cotton fabric.