Women in Design

Interview with BuildHer Collective

At Zepel we seek opportunities to engage and celebrate innovative initiatives in design. This doesn’t need to specifically relate to textiles, but any industry that appreciates furnishings, decorative art, and considers how they enhance and complement interior styling. We were immediately struck by this organisation designed for women seeking to tackle the building industry, BuildHer Collective. This innovative service provides easy to access online educational support, courses, blogs, pod casts, and 'one on one' advice for women that are undertaking building projects and major renovations. 

Their mantra of ‘we help women renovate, develop, and grow’ is immediately empowering, eliminates what initially feels like a confronting industry to approach, and instils confidence via their reassuring messages and accessible road maps.  

We have been incredibly fortunate to have spoken with Director of BuildHer Collective Rebeka Morgan, where she delves into her motivations and inspiration behind this incredible initiative. 


What experiences/inspirations drove you and Kribashini to start BuildHer Collective? 

Kribashini and I started BuildHer Collective to help women build and renovate their homes in a way that is fun and exciting. We were seeing all too often people having big issues with their builds that were preventable and, with the right knowledge, many of these issues were avoidable!


What are the various types of support available?

We know that people learn in many different ways, so we have tried to tailor the experience to our customers. Generally speaking, we have an online course, complete with ‘downloadables’, templates and guides, live fortnightly troubleshooting calls, private group support and email support. We also offer a design service and one on one consults to help people through their builds. 


What areas have your community members found the greatest success? Have you found online support to be an effective method? 

The online forum allows access to all people at all times of the day. We combine live online with pre-recorded discussions. We have an amazing community who are so helpful in talking through issues, providing advice and support whenever needed! It really is the best way to help the most amount of people. 


Through your online support programs, what are the common questions and hurdles that arise for your community members?

So many questions happen in the beginning of the build, selecting the right designers, working through floorplans, understanding tendering and cost savings, and that is before the build begins.  Renovating and building can be very daunting, most of us are not trained and before we created the program, there was no one place you could go to be guided through your build! Most people need a sanity check, or a helping hand at some point, and it gives us great pleasure to provide this assistance. 


How has your program, (that focuses on supporting women in a male dominated sector), helped reshaped conventional ideas about trades?

So, people have had very challenging dealings with builders and trades, and this is most unfortunate and can be incredibly stressful. We know why all the horror stories exist, but we aim to empower women to make decisions that don’t lead them down this path. The more we can work together with our trades/builders and have sometimes tricky conversations with inquisitive sense and openness, the smoother the build will be. This is obviously much easier when you have some knowledge and support!


What is uniquely special about the female voice in this arena?

It is interesting that we expect the building of a home to be a ‘make space’, we find that women are so often taking charge and leading this process. Perhaps it is because they are drawn to creating the perfect space for their family and friends, or they love the process? We believe the process of creating the perfect home for you is one which is nurturing and draws on so many skills that women are naturally amazing at, like multitasking and project management. We always say if you can wrangle a set of children out the door in time for school, you can manage a project!


Have you seen increasing opportunities for women in building/design development/interior architecture in this space?

We have seen this industry grow and change at a rapid pace - the inspiration is immense from this industry. And now more than any other time it is more achievable! If we think about the changes in this space over the last 20 years, we can see the level of interest skyrocket, fuelled by social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest and reality design shows like The Block. 

The Australian dream is to own our own home, and these days what we are expecting from our homes is infinitely more than before!  


Does BuildHer collaborate with external suppliers, and how does this process work?

BuildHer Collective does collaborate with many suppliers, be it on our own developments and projects through our ‘Little Black Book’, (which may need to be renamed ‘Big Black Book’ soon), where suppliers offer our members trades and discounts. 


Do fabrics/fittings inform ways that you design an interior space?

Yes, for sure! It is the fabrics and fittings that allow you to experience a room. 

A space will only start to come to life when the furnishings, fixtures and fabrics are installed. We have seen many people get to the end of a build and then start to think about these items, but if you can start that conversation early, there is so much to be gained! 


What projects are you currently working on?

We are working on a few developments at the moment, they are in Fairfield, Northcote, Ivanhoe and Brooklyn.  Each of our projects help us teach, inform, and tell our members a bigger story. For example, the Fairfield project was able to show that the market appreciates good design and sustainability, and two unique homes in this circumstance is preferable to two townhouse replicas. 


Are there any future initiatives that you are currently working on?

We are always working on initiatives; this is the beauty of small business and luckily, we are in both an exciting time but also an exciting space!


What types of fabrics do you love?

At BuildHer Collective, we are constantly on the look-out for different styles and textures. A great way to bring warmth into the home is through fabrics of course. 

In terms of fabrics we love, I’d have to say textured fabrics are my favourite. Something like the Odondo 14661 by Christian Fischbacher is beautiful – I love a boucle! 


Outdoor daydreaming in style

Trends & Inspiration

Staying indoors more regularly has encouraged many of us to increase comfort within our homes. This focus on improving our private spaces has come in many forms such as redecorating, adding comfortable furniture, de cluttering (and practising minimalism), reconfiguring a space to align with beliefs such as feng shui, or completely renovating a house. However, when those four walls start to close in further, why not create an outdoor addition to your home – a space that is completely yours for work, reflection, or leisure with the added bonus of vitamin D. This outdoor addition doesn’t only need to apply to the home, but hospitality venues can also greatly benefit from sun drenched outdoor dining areas. And we all know that outdoor entertainment is greatly favoured right now.