Conversations + Colour: Peppermint Magazine's Kelley Sheenan
When you think of the word powerhouse - Kelley Sheenan comes to mind. Don't know her? Not only is she the founder of Peppermint magazine, she's always got multiple projects on the hob - simmering away, is a champion for goodness and an advocate for climate action and awareness.
Beyond that (in addition to?) - earlier this year we watched on via Instagram - in sheer dismay as she juggled covid - and serious extensive flooding threatening her Brisbane home (this footage is seared into my mind - terrifying, she stayed in my mind as we waited for the waters to subside), and destroying her beloved office and all that it contained.
With a gentleness, Kelley documented the process of re-entering that space with poignancy - the grief and simultaneous wonder, was palpable. The strength she has shown - incredible.
Kelley is awe-inspiring. And she never gives up. She is full of hope - and inspires us to be better and do better. We're delighted to chat this week with Kelley.
Kelley Sheenan – please tell us about yourself: Hello! I’m Kelley (obvs) and I’m the founder, editor-in-chief and designer of Peppermint magazine. I live in Brisbane with my husband Glen, my 16-year-old son Ryder and my cat Sparky – I say “my cat” because I am the chosen one when it comes to her! I usually have many things on the go and am a perpetual ideas conjurer. I recently launched a new swim product – the Wrap Wrashie – under my brand Waverley and I also do photography and graphic design on the side (“also” is my middle name).
You're the founder of renowned Peppermint magazine – how did that come about? Essentially it materialised from a stint as a fashion designer – I started looking into the ins and outs of the fashion industry and didn’t like what I found. After a few years of research into sustainability and ethics in fashion, my passion for the subject started snowballing and I decided to combine my skills as a graphic designer and photographer to create something that would help educate and inspire readers to make better choices. I had no financial backing and did most of the work myself in the wee hours while my then-toddler was sleeping. It was a hard slog, but here we are!
Wearer of many hats – tell us what else fills your plate? My plate is usually piled high with precariously balancing fruits! (And always chocolate…) I recently started taking pottery classes and I am loving it so much. It’s exactly what I needed after a pretty shitty start to the year, and it’s been so nice learning something new – and relishing in the unknown and awkwardness of it all! It’s also so good to be able to switch off and just focus on the here and now (which is a rarity) and get back to the simple and healing nature of making and creating with my hands.
As a Brisbane local you endured the devastating floods earlier this year. How has recovery been? Erm, hard? Awful? Terrible?! Not sure how to answer that really, it’s such a mash of emotions. We lost almost everything in the office, and as a small business owner who has ploughed her life, love and passion into everything Peppermint, it’s very hard to explain the feeling of losing the physical, tangible history of it all. And yes, others had it worse than us, but grief doesn’t keep score. The upside was of course the community support – that made a world of difference. We’re definitely coming out the other side, but it’s been a long haul financially, physically and emotionally.
How can people make a tangible difference supporting those who have faced flooding? It feels like it’s gone very quiet – but I’m sure there’s still work to be done? That’s so true – it seems so long ago but also like yesterday, and on the outside it probably seems like everything is back to ‘normal’. I know to most of us who went through it, there are many layers to the healing – rebuilding the physical spaces is only one part of it (but still one that goes on for a very long time). At the time, the best thing you can do is just jump in and help where you can; it doesn’t need to be anything major – help clean, bring food, or just listen and acknowledge. Where possible don’t ask what to do, because often those in a disaster situation don’t know what they need either! For now, it may seem like it’s all washed away (literally), but it’s likely still top of mind for most who went through it. Talk about it, let them talk about it, listen and have empathy. And then – VOTE FOR CLIMATE ACTION! It’s the best action you can take to try and avoid these climate catastrophes happening at an increasing rate in the future.
They say “every cloud has a silver lining”. Do you think this is true? Yes and no. Sometimes. I don’t think false positivity is useful – as Brené Brown says, empathy doesn’t begin with “at least”. Sometimes it’s ok for things to just be a bit crap, and that’s that. And then we pick ourselves up and do our best and learn and grow. Good things can definitely come out of a bad situation, for sure – there were so many beautiful moments that happened after the floods that will always stay with me. And maybe some things will be better in the long run, but at times it can be overly simplistic and invalidate people’s feelings by trying to say that there will always be a silver lining. But then, on the flip side, there are definitely other times that seeing the good amongst the bad can be the only way through.
What’s something you’re super passionate about? There’s not much in my life that I don’t get passionate about! I’m not really a middle ground kind of person – I have always thought that my life motto was “death before indifference”. I also can’t stand injustice of any kind – that’s a big one for me and I tend to research something to the ends of the earth.
What are you looking forward to? Bed. All that passion is exhausting, ha!
Beauty: Let The Good Times Roll cleanser from Lush (the smell is EVERYTHING), Hydrating Cleansing Lotion from Mukti Organics (it’s just beautiful and makes your skin feel incredible) and Bf Fingerlime from Biologi (I love the simplicity of it being one ingredient and it has helped my skin a lot). That’s about the extent of my skincare routine currently!
Wardrobe item: Anything in linen! Otherwise my Radiator Jumper Dress from Milk and Thistle – although its days are numbered here in Brisbane with summer just around the corner. I’ve also been living in my denim dungarees from Lucy and Yak – comfort is life.
Pantry: Chocolate, always and forever. I could also live on NYC Bagels for the rest of my life.
Podcast: Maintenance Phase (love, love, love it).
Fashion inspiration: I was going to leave this blank because I couldn’t think of anyone, and then I thought about why that was even longer… The truth is, I love all sorts of fashion and admire anyone and everyone who interprets it in their own way. Clothing has the ability to represent so many aspects of life: mood, emotions, values, culture, occasion, skill, practicality, beauty, accessibility… and they’re all valid.
Day or night? The photographer in me says golden hour!
Beach or bush? I love both but being near the ocean is my happy place.
Coffee or tea? Neither! I don’t drink hot drinks, much to the dismay and confusion of most people who are in that cult. And no, I have no specific reason, I just don’t like them. Water or kombucha for me thanks!
Can’t leave home without… My Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie Lip Balm. Yes, I am a child.
Last text I sent… “Get it or else.” My husband had a job interview at work for another role, and that was my loving pep talk.
Best advice you’ve ever received? Given my aforementioned passionate for justice, a therapist once said to me, “Your main value/word is justice isn’t it? Sometimes you have to choose between justice and ‘just is.’” I hate it and love it all at once.
Favourite Little Tienda piece? My La Vie Lucille – it’s everything I love in a dress. Flowy and oversized, cool but timeless, casual but dressy (you may have learned by now that I am a paradox personified). I also have a rust-coloured linen jumpsuit that’s been a staple in my wardrobe for a long time.
In one month I will be… Moving house! We have just bought a small apartment which is ridiculously exciting (I never thought owning a house was in my near future). It has a swim spa, and that’s all you need to know about my #LifeGoals. We will also be in print deadline with the next issue of Peppermint (as I said, I don’t do things by halves!). I’m super excited about this issue, it’s going to be a stunner.
***You can find Kelley on Instagram here, her website here and subscribe to Peppermint for months of goodness here (you really should treat yourself).