shop owner brooke crowle

Soon after visiting Brooke Crowle at her store, Elements I Love, in Sydney's Surry Hills, she was off to India. That was after a trip to France and Belgium only a short while ago. She is a nomadic shopper who is always on overseas adventures, sourcing antique wares for her two stores - Elements I Love and Architectural & Antique Elements in Leichhardt. But while Brooke loves to travel, and discover new finds, she still enjoys getting her hands dirty in the workshop, restoring furniture, which is where she started out.

Which five words best describe you? Creative lapsed hippy, cynical, messy, bossy and cheeky.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? A love of art history drove me towards restoration, from there I learnt the many finishing skills that I use daily in the workshop. Photography is a bit of hobby that I have been able to nurture via the blog, same with writing my blog, which I am sure I could improve if my dream works out - jump to the second last question! All the other stuff about running a business you learn from just doing it, hard work and commitment.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To paraphrase the ever optimistic Indians: trust your gut instinct in both business and life because “if it’s not a happy ending, it’s not the end yet”.
What’s your proudest career achievement? I haven't really got one thing but the philosophy of "keeping it real", not dumbing down our "beautiful products" despite the pressures of commercialism and making a living.
What’s been your best decision? Opening a bricks and mortar store in Surry Hills - near like minded folks - when everyone is going online or moving to a warehouse. I’ve been there, and it's really cold!
Who inspires you? Travel is great for inspiration, especially India for "life" and France for how to work and live. Family, friends and other creatives in business inspire me - whether it is fashion, food, music, writing, music, design...
What are you passionate about? Real things not faux: real people, real food, hand-made, hand-crafted, texture, texture...
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Stevie Nicks. Barack Obama. Sylvia Beach.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To live in France for three, six months, or a year or two or three...
What are you reading? Why be happy when you could be normal by Jeannette Winterson. Really, I am!

images natalie walton (courtesy of elements i love)

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