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Meet the 2022 Scholarship Winner

Our Interview with Amelia Barry (ABI)

TDC 2022 Scholarship Winner Amelia Barry. Image Parker Blain.

In February we announced the winner of our first ever TDC Scholarship Program, an initiative we are immensely proud of. This 12 month program aims to facilitate the personal and professional development of one of our TDC community.

The applications for the scholarship were overwhelmingly impressive, making the final decision very difficult. After much deliberation, our judges Sam Eades (Mitchell Eades), James Lambrou (Est Lighting) and Andrew Mitchell (TDC), finally came to a decision. We are excited to award the inaugural scholarship to Melbourne-based designer Amelia Barry.

Aside from her evident talent, Amelia impressed us with her dedication and commitment to improving and growing her relatively new business, despite a couple of particularly challenging years. We sat down with Amelia this week to find out more about her plans for the coming 12 months of the scholarship program.

We once again thank our wonderful sponsors Zuster Furniture and Est Lighting for helping to make the Scholarship Program possible.

TDC: Congratulations on winning the 2022 TDC Scholarship, Amelia. It's been wonderful to see the outpouring of praise and well-wishes to you from people across the industry. It confirms to us that you're a very worthy winner of the award! How are you feeling about the announcement?

AB: I'm so excited to get started. Everyone has been so welcoming with their responses to my winning the scholarship—it's really been overwhelming. I feel the community coming together, and that's so important and heart-warming for me.

TDC: What prompted you to apply for the Scholarship Program?

AB: I was doing one-on-one coaching with Andrew when I chanced on the application and thought, "Why not?" As a young business, I knew it would give me the boost I needed to build on my successes, grow and expand. I never expected to win.

Macedon Project by Amelia Barry Interiors. Image Parker Blain.

TDC: What are you most hoping to achieve from your participation in the courses, classes and coaching programs at TDC this year?

AB: I'm looking forward to building better business systems that can support me as my business grows. I think that, right now, I need that more than ever. I'm also keen to learn more about employing other people successfully and getting really clear about my processes so I can continue Amelia Barry Interiors' trajectory with a great team backing me up.

TDC: We remember you attended one of our DesignLab classes (when they were held face-to-face) a few years ago and demonstrated your commitment by attending the class with your newborn baby (who was SO well behaved!). Where do you get your drive and ambition from?

AB: I was so anxious about taking my newborn to that class, but Andrew was really supportive and let me know we could pause if the baby cried. But he slept the whole way through! I guess that's where I get my drive from, too—my two sons. When things get tough, I always remember that I'm doing this for them—to give them more— and that's all I need to focus and get moving.

I'm also very passionate about what I do—helping people have beautiful homes that they can love living in. That's something that really drives me forward as well.

Amelia with her two adorable sons, Christmas Day 2021.

TDC: What are you the proudest of so far in your career?

AB: Not giving up! I've only been in business since 2018, but then, you know, 2020. I'd decided that 2020 was it. I was really going to give the business a red-hot go and push really hard. And then, by February, it was like, oh my God, what is happening? Why is this happening now? And I know I wasn't alone in feeling that.

It was pretty tough for me personally and professionally that year, as it was for many people. I was juggling a fledgling business and two small kids, and I felt very isolated from my family in NSW and regional Victoria. It was definitely hard to keep putting myself out there, trying to build a brand, trying to build a business while being swamped by so much uncertainty on so many levels. In fact, it was a good 18 months of feeling pretty challenged by it all.

So, I'm proud that I didn't give up. And it was like being forged in fire. It was so testing, but I learned so much about what it takes, for me personally, to get it done. I think that has created a solid, formidable foundation for me.

Apartment project by Amelia Barry Interiors. Image courtesy Articolo Lighting.

TDC: What's the toughest business lesson you've had to learn so far?

AB: Well, for me, one of the formative core beliefs I have running my business is integrity. It's easy to hold that as a standard or quality that you have personally, but how do you apply that throughout your business? How do you make yourself clear and concise? How do you have transparency so that you and your clients understand? And can that integrity be upheld?

I've found it challenging that, while integrity is so important to me, it sometimes gets lost in translation, or I haven't had the right systems or boundaries in place to make sure professional and personal boundaries don't become blurred. It's something I've learned the hard way, and you're constantly fine-tuning it to uphold that value of integrity for my clients and myself.

Brighton Project by Amelia Barry Interiors. Photo Armelle Habib.

TDC: Your business, Amelia Barry Interiors, is only 3 years old. What big plans do you have for the future?

AB: I want to keep up with the pace of growth happening in my business right now. At the moment, I have a couple of people who subcontract for me. And that's great, but ultimately, it's a real dream of mine to have a small team and still provide that one-on-one personal interaction between my clients and me while we grow the business and take on more projects.

TDC: Our sponsors, Zuster Furniture and Est Lighting are thrilled with our final decision to award you as the 2022 Scholar. Having worked with you previously, they are very much aware of your amazing talent. Is there anything you wanted to say to the sponsors?

AB: Well, first up, thank you! Zuster and Est are brands I've admired and looked up to, so to have them support me with this scholarship is huge for me. And it's definitely given me a confidence boost! It's been really nice to have more of a connection to these suppliers that I've worked with before, and I'm looking forward to building that connection in the future and expanding the network.

We can't wait to work with Amelia, and will keep our members posted with her progress throughout the course of the year.

The TDC Scholarship will be an annual program and we encourage all designers, decorators and architects to apply, no matter their level of experience. Learn more about the Scholarship here.

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