Meet Jacqueline Chan, the brains and solo operator behind the dynamic Whimsy Milieu brand. Jacquie is one of the original founders of what we now know as The Journey Person collective. She was the one who planted the seed, “Why can’t we have a great, curated local market here in Orange” she asked herself! “We have tonnes of talented local designers here to make up the numbers.” So off she went looking and looking for weather proof venues until she met Madi at The Corner Store Gallery in East Orange, and a venue was discovered! Today we visited Jacquie in her new home studio for a short Q&A sesh. The room is flooded with natural light and all of her hand-made goodies are on display or cleverly packed away in shelves and boxes. It’s one of the most organised craft rooms we’ve ever seen!
When did you start making and selling your goods?
I started making and selling goods when I was studying design at COFA (now known as UNSW Art & Design) – my friends and I had so much fun making all sorts of goodies (clothes, accessories, jewellery, etc) to sell at the annual Spring Fair. However, I started doing it seriously as a business in 2012 when I moved from Sydney to Orange.
What did you do before you became a designer?
This feels like a lifetime ago – but I was an engineer. I felt suffocated in a job that I did not enjoy, and could not imagine doing it for the rest of my life. Hence I took the leap and never looked back.
Did you study to become a designer or learn on the job?
I actually did go back to university to obtain a degree in design – which was what I felt I had to do in order to be ‘qualified’ as a creative person back then. That was all before social media and being able to google & learn anything & everything online. However, it was not something I regretted – after all, I had come from a very different industry and needed the course to open my eyes & mind, and let out the creativity in me.
You seem to be a master of many different mediums. What’s your favourite thing to make at the moment?
As they say – “Jac(k) of all trades, master of none”, hahah. Jokes aside, this is a very apt question, as I seem to be torn towards many different mediums. At the moment, I’m drawn towards fibre & textiles – embroidery, stitching, felt goodies,…and I’m also pushing myself to illustrate more and to hone my illustrating style.
Which Australian designers or artists inspire you?
Hmm…I’ve had creative-crushes on many Australian designers & artists across the years, but some of them are Grace Lee (based in Tokyo), Sarah Kelk, Alexis Winter, Dawn Tan, Primoeza, and many more.
Where do you originally come from?
I am originally from a city called Kuching (meaning cat!) in Sarawak, Malaysia. I came to Australia for my tertiary studies in Sydney, ended up staying and eventually moved to the countryside!
Why Orange? What do you love about living in regional NSW?
My then-boyfriend-now-husband found a job opportunity in Orange, and I joined him here a few years later. I did not like it at first, but I have grown to and am now loving it – it is here that I realise that I do not need the many things that I was chasing after when I was living in a city. Nature, good friends, & a great community is really all one needs, and I have found it here in regional NSW.