Chats With Champions: Johanna Lyle on a Family Photo Shoot

Chats with champions: Johanna Lyle

Even as I begin our interview it’s all systems go for Joh. Her children, Nixon 8 & Maelle 6 come racing in full of energy, having just gotten back from a Ninja Warrior Rockclimbing course. In fact Joh’s already taught both children how to snowboard and they have a holiday booked in two weeks at Mt Bulla, famed for its ski slopes and spectacular views. It’s not hard to imagine, then, that these two are the offspring of energetic, talented and super creative designer, property renovator, interior style consultant, retired World Champion Snowboarder, mother of two and loving partner, Johanna Lyle.
Joh’s list of accomplishments shine as bright as the unparalleled level of engagement and the enthusiasm she has for all facets of her life. Retaining her athlete’s competitive nature, the drive to succeed and the stamina to weather all storms, Joh has catapulted into creative entrepreneurship and motherhood with ease and grace. We caught up with her days after her photoshoot to chat about her recent experience in our new studio and got talking about what it’s really like starting a creative business, raising a young family and everything in between.

V: So tell us about your recent Verve Experience, how was it?

J: It was amazing, really good, really love the new direction! You don’t feel like you’re in a photoshoot. It’s so relaxed, we were really able to enjoy ourselves.

V: How did your photographer personalise the session?
J: With colours and textures that suit our home style. We are a ‘snow family’ so it was cozy and bright. But mostly the experience was fun and relaxed.

V: What were some of your favourite memories from that day?

J: All of us together on the couch really captured the feeling and in particular the kids personalities. There is this standout shot where Nixon is laying upside down on the couch, which makes sense because he is such a cruiser. Then Maelle is on my lap because she loves to be close to me as well as front and centre and we are all really natural and present. I’m really very camera shy but this was great, it was so easy to be ourselves. I was also moved to see the
images of Josh with me on the couch. The romance and closeness of it made me cry! Josh is my rock, he is my soulmate. And those images show the comfort and love I share with him.

V: That is so special! How did you two meet?

J: When I was competing. He was a team manager and the loveliest guy. I knew I wanted to get to know him straight away!

V: Of course, you’re such a go getter! See it, love it, have it!

J: Hahaha, yes, I am very decisive and actually that’s how I operate in business as well, I can make creative design decisions quickly and easily, it comes naturally and that helps my clients. I’ve always been like that!

V: What is it like in the Lyle family home? What are Nixon & Maelle like?

J: The kids are like chalk and cheese! So different. Nixon is cool, calm, relaxed. Nothing phases him. He has that snowboarder / surfer dude vibe. This can be frustrating as he is very chill, the last one out the door, he forgets things. He is such a nice kid though, he gets along with everyone, all teachers love him, he is very friendly. Maelle is full of energy and doesn’t switch off – she can’t sleep because she isn’t tired, she is super competitive, a real crowd pleaser, loves to be first, we definitely both share that competitive spirit. Josh does too.

V: Well, he’d need to be able to match your energy! So you retired as a world champion snowboarder, got married, started a family and then embarked upon designing your own colourful home decor brand, Siesta, you’ve already created new brand offshoots such as Siesta Baby and now a new interior renovations consultancy. How did you make all this happen?

J: Well I had always wanted a family and I wasn’t expecting things to move so quickly, but once I retired, and as soon as Josh and I got married, it all just happened. It was as the family started to grow, with Maelle, my second, on the way that we bought the dream house in Brunswick and I became obsessed with interior decorating. We completely renovated the property and it featured in a number of publications, I’d launched the brand by then and it all just took off.

V: What was it like first starting out?

J: Oh it was sink or swim. I had wanted to start something like this for a while and my friend, a fellow snowboarder, gave me the confidence and the push to just dive in. It was a massive learning curve, I was in tears all the time. I had so much support from helpful people. My folks own an online sports wear brand, so they were full of good advice. Some of the best advice I received came from other creative starters, mainly to stick to what you know, be your own brand and to be discerning.

V: What were some of the challenges you faced managing a creative business while raising a young family?

J: It was really tough, Josh works full time and I’m home looking after the kids full time. Even with simple things like photo shoots, you’d put the kids to bed and then you’ll be up until midnight ironing bedding. But the flexibility of managing your own online business means I can fit work in around my lifestyle, and now that they are both in school, it’s easier to find time.

V: How has parenthood shaped you?

J: Well, as an athlete you train hard, compete hard & party hard. So parenthood has certainly made me more responsible. I hadn’t realised just how much I’d changed until recently, I was overseas, helping out a touring team and it was the first time I’d been away from the kids for a week. I really got in touch with myself and I realised, I wasn’t all there while I was away. I was a lot flightier, a lot more emotional. I realised that my family grounds me and I feel really whole with them. So they’ve shaped me through experience, I’m now at a point in my life where I feel accomplished and calm and I can really explore my creativity.

V: That is truly inspiring and really gets at the heart of why family is so important. I wonder what’s next for you, Siesta and your new consultancy business?

J: They all just dovetail really, while I have been renovating and decorating my own homes to sell, I’ve had so many friends ask me for advice or assistance, that I realised I could offer this as a service that sits alongside Siesta. There is so much potential there to be a springboard for other new startups and locally designed products that compliment Siesta. In looking to broaden the brand in this way I have gotten to know other designers and creative entrepreneurs, many of which are young mothers or family businesses. I feel as though I’m connecting people to a community of artisans making products for the home that come from the heart and tell a beautiful story. Much like what Verve does, I’m looking to spread the love!

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