Q&A: Guinevere Flavel, Urban Designer/ Planner

October 19th, 2015

Working for an international multi-disciplinary consultancy, Guinevere Flavel has many strings to her bow.

The Adelaide urban designer/ planner works for GHD by day and also runs a style blog called Guin’s Everyday Style, which combines her interests in fashion and interior design.

Currently on maternity leave, the mother-of-two talks about her job which is “never boring”, juggling work and family life and what makes South Australia special.

Tell us a bit about your career so far.
I have an undergraduate degree in Interior Architecture and a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning. With these dual qualifications I am able to work, when not on maternity leave which I am currently, as an Urban Designer/Planner for GHD a large international multi-disciplinary consultancy. Our Adelaide office has around 120 staff ranging from Electrical Engineers through to Interior Designers. What’s great about working at a company like this is that the work we do is always changing, depending on what tenders we submit and win.

The past year I have been fortunate to work on everything from designing a regional play space, a coastal shared-use path and the Kaurma Interpretive Centre, to writing a Development Application for a submarine cable that will provide power from the mainland to Kangaroo Island through to community engagement in Indigenous Communities.

It’s never boring, but can be high intensity and stressful. When we tender for something we then need to produce that work in the time and for the money we originally proposed. Winning work also becomes incredibly important, it’s a constant juggling act of doing the work you have at the moment, while keeping an eye out and then tendering for future work.

Provided you have a great team, this pressure can be exhilarating!

You also have a strong following on social media through your blog, Instagram, Facebook and other social media accounts as Guin’s Everyday Style. Tell us a little more about this.
I have a style blog called Guin’s Everyday Style which covers two interests: fashion and interior design. I blog what I wear most days and the theory behind it, I also blog about interiors, the theories behind both are interchangeable.

I am not a traditional blogger who uses their website as a platform, I have a website and tried to do that, but I am time poor and find Facebook and Instagram much more affective and efficient forms of communication.

I have developed a pretty good following on both Facebook and Instagram. I think the key to that has been to understand my target market. As much as my vanity would love my style to appeal to the young and trendy 20 somethings, as I am a 30 something busy Mummy, I embrace that my followers are also generally busy women aged between 30 and 50.

Since beginning maternity leave in June I have been putting a lot more effort into this and it’s paying off. I have been receiving more products to review and have been approached to assist people with Interior design concepts for their homes and their wardrobes, through wardrobe audits, personal style reports and shopping trips.

IMG_3526What attracted you to Spence Club?
I joined Spence Club for three reasons, firstly to make connections with people from other industries. I go to networking events all the time through my day job as an Urban Designer/Planner, but these are mostly attended by other planners and designers, while there is definite benefit in doing this, more often than not these people are my competitors not potential clients.

Secondly as a way to expose and promote my blog and work as a personal and interior stylist.

Thirdly to meet interesting, like-minded, driven women. As I get older and busier, it becomes more important that the people I interact with socially, both stimulate and motivate me.

You have a career, the blog, a husband and 2 small girls. It’s cliched, but how do you make time for you?
Juggling everything is a challenge, I have just had to prioritise what me time is worth fighting for, and for me it is exercise. I make sure I get a really good work out in 5 days a week, sometimes I feel a bit selfish, but then I remember that if I didn’t do this I wouldn’t be efficient at work and I wouldn’t be a good mother and wife. I have got really clever and efficient about it though, I do two sessions a week where my trainers allow me to bring my kids along, the other times I try to go early in the morning or late at night so it doesn’t impact on the family.

The things I have had to let go of since starting a family, are beauty treatments and going out at night. I still get my hair done, but now I shave instead of getting waxed, I use gradual tanner instead of getting spray tans and hope that no one looks at my nails!!

In general though, and I’m sure most Mum’s would say the same thing, is that you just get really efficient at everything you do.

As a mum of two girls, what would you like to see change as they grow up? What do you think Spence Club and its members can do to create a more positive environment for young girls?
The emphasis our society puts on what women look like, regardless of what they can think or do, is really unfair. The same expectations are not placed on men.

As controversial as it may be to say out loud, I found myself relieved when I realised my eldest daughter (my youngest is only 13 weeks) was attractive, for I knew that it would just make life that bit easier for her. I don’t think I would have felt the same if she had been a boy, and that is just so sad. She is the smartest, funniest, kindest and sweetest girl ever and for the most part those attributes will assist her in becoming an amazing individual. However, there is an underlying importance our society plays on appearance, which we would be kidding ourselves if we were to pretend doesn’t exist. I hope that as women fight harder and harder for equality over the next 30 years, that by the time my angels are my age, this obsession out society has with appearance will have lessened!

I truly believe that something small that we all can do as women and as women within this club to shift this paradigm, is to stop making the first thing we say to a fellow woman/member when we greet them be about their appearance. We need to stop saying things like – ‘Hi ….. you look gorgy, love your bag’. Men don’t do this and perhaps and we shouldn’t either.

Building a brand on social media is becoming increasingly important in all lines of work. Do you have any tips?
Know your target market, if you don’t know who that is, make it your job to work that out. Once you have done that, then you need to understand what they like and what you have and can offer that they can relate too. Create the best website, or social media page that you can afford, if that means getting professional photos or a graphic designer then do it. First impressions last.

In your eyes, what are the best things South Australia has going for it? What could we be doing better?
I believe our two greatest assets are our produce and our people.

I don’t think anywhere else in Australia has fresh produce markets as good as ours, nor do they have as many and as varied food and wine produce regions. I think there is real potential for this to be tapped into more extensively as a tourism drawcard. The Barossa does this well, but there are so many other regions also doing amazing things!

Then there are our people, so many amazing people in all different fields come out of South Australia, as a State we need to work out how we keep them here and stop loosing them interstate and overseas.

As the mining boom starts to come to an end I think we as a State need to come up with other ways in which to stimulate our economy. I believe our produce and our people may be play a part in this.