Kaylene Langford and Ellie Studd are a dynamic couple who both use creativity in their work in very different ways. Kay runs StartUp Creative, a print magazine and online platform that aims to educate inspire and grow creative entrepreneurs and Ellie works in her family business, selling Artisan European Cheese in Australia and the USA. We visited their leafy home in Melbourne to learn more about what they are pursuing in and outside of work and asked to hear their individual perspectives on the life they are making together.
SHOP THE LOOK
What can you tell us about your home?
Our ‘little nest on the crescent’ as we call it, sits sandwiched between two Italian Nonna’s houses with their overhanging blood orange trees and open garages where they squash tomatoes with their families annually for their passata days. A worker’s cottage originally, it was built in the 1890’s and still has its existing blue stone foundations, coal fireplaces, slate roof and stained glass front door. El bought the property 10 years ago with a basic interior including dated brown tiles throughout, cheap furnishings and an unloved courtyard. It indeed needed work, but the warm light and energy of the house combined with the front door opening literally onto the quiet end of Edinburgh Gardens made it a perfect purchase.
Over the years, we have done a full renovation to the kitchen, backyard, bathroom and added custom designed bookshelves and more recently designed and retiled the front porch. It is a canvas that keeps evolving as we collect pieces from our travels like bowerbirds. One off treasures such as miners lights from an English antique market, a red postbox from rural France and tiny trinkets from Japan that we have added to the space. Our rooms are transient, changing with the Melbourne seasons as we potter over the weekends moving furniture around to create new feels…just because!
The house is old, with which comes the inevitable challenges of terrible plumbing, cracks and drafts but also what gives our home such character. The midmorning light through the side window is the perfect spot for a cup of coffee in the winter and the afternoon sun hits the front porch in time for an evening G&T and watching the sunset over the gardens.
We adore the fact that we can grab a picnic blanket, wine and cheese and walk straight into the gardens on a balmy evening. If you’re looking for us on a weekend it’s either in amongst the dogs at Eddies or nurturing our small but abundant garden beds and fruit trees out back.
How did the two of you meet?
E: Oh.. A modern romance one could say! We met on a dating app for creatives around the world called ‘Raya’. The connection felt instant alongside a slight fear of ‘is this too good to be true?’ when we realised we’d come from similar backgrounds and shared a desire to start a family in the near future. Also a slight problem that we were living in different countries at the time!
K: Texting quickly turned into phone calls. El would call me on her bike ride home from work and we’d chat for an hour or so every couple of days.
E: Luckily Kay passed my test of phone banter. We did life separately for the first year, with endless hours of phone calls, snail mail packages sent across the seas and personalised playlists. Something kept persisting in us and we knew we had to check out what this ‘thing’ was in IRL!
K: I finally returned home from living in New York City and called El to tell her I was coming to meet her in Melbourne. She revealed she had a girlfriend. I had to let it go but had a sneaky suspicion that paths would eventually collide when the timing was right. Three months later, I was in Melbourne for work, El called me up to inform me she was single so we locked in a date, finally.
E: The first date was filled with nervous expectation and etched fantasies of who we had built each other up to be. Kay went full throttle, buying me a personalised Le Labo candle which we now laugh at being ‘ a lot’ for a first date.
K: El thought it was a good idea to serve me the world's smelliest cheese, I was like ‘guess we won’t be kissing tonight.’ I later learnt it was all a test for compatibility. Guess that’s what you get for dating a cheese gal.
E: We strolled up to our local bar, ‘Long Play’, swirled around a couple of negronis and ended the evening with a sweet kiss in the park, it was on. Ha ha! Even though she had eaten the smelly cheese!
K: And here we are, I knew she’d come for me ;)
Kay, What led you to build your business, StartUp Creative?
I started StartUp Creative five years ago when I was working a corporate job that I hated. I was doing a lot of personal development the kind that involved firewalking, hours of meditations, financial training with board games etc. it made me question whether the social norm of working a 9-5 was the best way to live. At the same time I was learning a lot about entrepreneurship and was surrounded by a bunch of super talented creatives who didn’t have access to the business skills or support they needed to make money from doing what they loved. In my career I had won an award for setting up a mentoring program that was really successful and realised that I could start to teach people my process for getting an idea off the ground and turning it into a viable business model and so I started StartUp Creative.
Since starting out, it’s developed into a print magazine, podcast, 1:1 business coaching, events, workshops and online courses, resources and books to help people make their ideas a reality. I love being able to sit with someone anywhere in the world and have them share their ideas and watch them come alive as we make a plan to bring it to life.
Is there a particular piece of wisdom or mantra that resonates with you?
‘Your thoughts create your reality.’
When we first met, we quickly bonded over our mutual love and respect for Dr Joe Dispenza, a neuroscientist who wrote a book that changed both of our lives, ‘Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself.’
Before we had even met we’d talk on the phone for hours about the book, our personal meditation practises and we’d send each other articles, playlists and other book recommendations. Pretty crazy to think we were living in different cities but reading the same book at the same time. Since dating, we’ve read his second book together, finished the online course, attended a one day live workshop with Dr Joe and went to his week long retreat. Safe to say we’re super fans, but in all seriousness, it's been a powerful tool for us as a couple to share a common language and belief system.
As a couple we really do believe that ‘your thoughts create your reality’ and we are pretty brutal at keeping each other accountable to it as well. I would say we’re really diligent with the language we use as well, cautious that our words set our intention for what we want in life.
Unapologetically, our home is filled with affirmations whether it be scribbled on the mirror in our bedroom, El’s work desk and or sticking intentions on our water filter to what we want it to be charged with. It’s not uncommon to come home to find one or both of us in the lounge room with an eye mask on, sage and palo santo burning and cosmic meditations blasting in the speaker. OMG! Are we that couple? Our friends do laugh at us, but then happily suss meditation strategies when in need.
But seriously, Look up Joe D. Life changer.
Ellie, you work for your family company, importing fine farmstead cheeses from Europe, what can you tell us about your role – this sounds like a dream job, travelling to sample and source cheese!?
Ha! Well, yes… it is! I guess I really am living the cheese dream. I work with my father, Will Studd and brother, Sam Studd sourcing the world’s best benchmark artisanal cheeses and making them available to Australia and the USA. As a family, we are fighting to preserve traditional artisan cheese making methods (a dying art and tradition) and educate the everyday consumer on what real cheese should taste like. We travel to Europe and the States every year to visit our producers, most are small family run farms which is so special. I wear many hats in my role including educating cheesemongers to pass on the romantic yet important stories of our cheeses and I also do the digital marketing and sales at Fancy Food shows around the globe.
Check out our full selection and where to buy it here - http://www.willstudd.com
Can you recommend a lesser-known cheese we should try to get our hands on?
I would probably say our Le Duc Vacherin from the Franche Comte is pretty specular. It is wrapped in a spruce bark and based on the traditional Mont D'or. Made from the rich milk of Montbéliarde cows (my favourite breed of cow), the texture is fudgy and the spruce adds some subtle forest notes to it. Best of all, the cheese can be baked in its box with thyme, garlic and a drizzle of red wine for an instant cheese fondue. This makes for the most epic and impressive dinner party trick ever. Guests are in awe as they dip their crusty bread of the molten cheese every time. Yes, get your hands on this one… there will be no regrets.
Try the recipe here- https://youtu.be/eVrDVZsnx3A
Have your individual styles blended with harmony in the house?
E: We think we have found a sexy harmony and fusion of both of our styles. Kay has a more minimalist style, but has a wonderful eye for the overall vision of room that she is persistent on working on until it’s complete. Parting with some old pieces and bringing in some new (ie. our Pop and Scott couch) has solidified it as being ‘ours’. Since Kay’s been around, our house could easily be mistaken for a North Fitzroy Nursery pop up shop!
K: I’ve learnt that Melbourne style is about showcasing art, quirks, winter colours, tones, fireplaces, small gardens, records and all things eccentric, so simple doesn’t quite cut it down here. El has a love for tiny, quirky and colourful mismatched things that are hidden in the most unusual places around the house, pretty different to my organised ways where everything has its place. It’s been a lesson in accepting what each other brings to the table. El has taught me colour, textures and sourcing collectables with meaning and a great story. One of her prized possessions is a note book titled ‘101 shopping lists’ where she collects random shopping lists that she’s found in her travels and glues them into the notebook, she’s on a mission to collect 101, I would never think to do anything like that. She’s up to 78.b It’s fun travelling the world and watching El hunt down little alleyways, second hand shops and traipsing up a random staircase to the fourth floor of a building in the heart of Tokyo because she had a feeling we’d find ‘something spectacular’ and she’s always right. We come out with a one of a kind brass sailing boat ornament or something miniature for her feature light that that she changes the display based on the seasons/her mood.
I’ve taught El to declutter, say goodbye to dying plants and she’s taught me to embrace disorder. It’s an eclectic mix that seems to be working.
Tell us about your recent trip?
E: We are so fortunate that we can both work from anywhere. This trip we kicked off in NYC where I worked the Fancy Food show and Kay met with NYC clients and spent her days collecting Instagram content, haha.
K: El’s parents are mad Rolling Stones fans so invited the family to see them live in Chicago, we jumped at the chance and then El went on to Europe to visit cheese makers in Cyprus, France, England and Italy.
Considering I can run my business on the go, we decided I’d join for as much of it as possible so we could sneak in some European travel together to celebrate our anniversary.
E: We ended the trip with four days rest on the Amalfi Coast.
What drew you towards the Pampa pieces you have chosen for your home?
E: Kay has been a long time admirer of Pampa. She strategically took me to the showroom in Byron and pointed very directly at the beige rug on the wall saying ‘I think we NEED this for the living room’.
Pampa does indeed suit our house and vibe, so I think there will always be a piece or two on our dream house wish list! I feel like Pampa is timeless and durable, which is what you want when you are investing in furniture and your home. It’s been nice to save and then purchase the special piece.
K: The neutral tones go with the wooden floors and finishings on the fireplace and make the whole room more cosy and inviting. We’ve since spent many nights on the floor by the fire sipping on wine, listening to music and battling it out at Scattergories (don’t ask what happens when Ellie loses!). It’s so damn soft and warm and in my opinion, more comfortable than the couch.
We’ve also got some Monte pillows and one of Vicky’s beautiful cow prints hanging in El’s cheese office.
What are some of your hopes for the year ahead?
E: Keep creating the life of our dreams with our careers, friends and family.
We also hope to start our own family. It’s a shame that it can’t happen ‘by accident’ for us, but we are very excited to start this journey together.
K: Sounds good to me.
Photos: Bobby Clark
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