What do you do when you have a book to promote for a good mate and self -published author, and shoestring budget (read will work for cups of tea and chocolate)? You improvise the hell out of what you’ve got.

Dr Lisa Chaffey wrote Rewiring pain – A new way to reclaim your life, to help others cope with chronic pain. It’s a great story about new ways to combat chronic pain, from a great friend. Practical advice – and down to earth explanations of why it works – in book form, woven through Dr Chaffey’s personal story.

I’ve known Lisa for many years, and her way with words is undoubted. Sometimes I see that during competitive scrabble games, but most recently in her book, which took 18 months to finish while working and doing life.   It is worth a look.

My role, apart from cheerleader from afar, was to help shape and film a series of videos that explained in 60 seconds or less some of the concepts in the book.

Communicators are nothing if not thrifty, so the location became my apartment (well, a version of it as we tore it apart to make it an appropriate backdrop) and the trusty iphone was the tool of trade. Shaping the content to tell the story on a shoe-string, and working with the author and best spokesperson for the job in an apartment made to look (kind of) like an office.

Look closely in some of the videos and you make see a microwave.   Great fun, and a talented author/video talent.

Note: I have since purchased a real tripod……

Find your story. Be your Story. The Art of Why Communications

Marisa Lawlor owns Just Believe Fit, a Thornbury boutique wellness studio focusing on yoga, pilates and strength conditioning. Spring coming in to summer is traditionally the time when people turn their mind to fitness, staggering out of hibernating Winter.

Marisa is in the process of ramping up her business social media marketing, but she’s been warming up with a few special features you might not necessarily associate with yoga.

She’s just finished a ten-video special with the theme of “Time Poor Move More”, focusing on how people can move their bodies in everyday ways.  In the social media videos we used humour and practicality in encouraging members and potential members to do moves including the ‘toilet tic tok’ and ‘shower and stretch’.

Additionally, her Friday night “Sip and Stretch” class is a collaboration with Bespoke Wines and Spirits, where a glass of wine is supplied for a gold coin donation and attendees get a special price for the wines featured at Bespoke.

“Not your normal type of class maybe,” Marisa says.

“But at the end of a week on a Friday, our members get an amazing, professional stretch class and a glass of wine that no doubts helps relax work-weary muscles.”

I’ll declare here I have been to the class and it’s quickly becoming a favourite. End of week wellness, and a great community and caring feel to it.


Find Your Story. Be Your story. The Art of Why.

In September, Adult Learners Week celebrated learning that promotes greater understanding and respect across different generations. I loved the concept.

While I always thought of learning in terms of degrees or forums/conferences, it turns out I have a new found passion for the Centre for Adult Learning (CAE) short courses.

Earlier this year I did a short, sharp Social Media Marketing for Businesses Course – a Saturday well spent with copious notes to follow as a reminder.

Sue Ellson was our knowledgeable tutor, and she connected dots for me and opened my mind to more of the ins and outs of social media marketing. My focus was how to grow small businesses on a shoestring budget.

The course was just a taste, building on more than a decade of knowledge in communications strategy and execution but because I’m a details person, I loved being able to draw marketing concepts and tactics together to understand more about how things work and connect.

Find your Story. Be your Story. The Art of Why.

Thornbury has a great retail community and Thornbury store Lola Lovely Gifts brings a gorgeous Italian flavor to accessories and clothing. Owner Grazia Cavallin’s own Italian style is reflected in her High Street store, with affordable, quality and slightly edgy clothing and accessories. Most of the clothing in Lola comes from Italy.

Grazia is a self taught jeweller which was her trade in Italy, and she makes some of the fine, unusual and special jewellery pieces in her store. “Hand made jewellery is very personal and intimate.  Every time I travel I want to buy something that is unusual and hand made and I like offering that in Lola,” Grazia says.

“I like to shop and I have a vision of what I like, that is what I try to bring to life in the store. I’m glad I came to Thornbury because there are lots of eclectic people from all over the world here and I like to have something they appreciate, a little bit European and a little unusual.”

Grazia also has a business importing clothing from Italy under the brand Urban Luxury, supplying to stores and boutiques across Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania.

She understands the potential in social media content marketing for both the store and clothing, and the personality and branding differentiation needed for both. Her store’s Instagram account is quintessentially her, where she features in some of the pictures, and her Italian heritage shines through.

Urban Luxury AU’s Instagram account focuses on the beautiful, Italian-made clothes and outfit combinations, delving between the casual cool of the clothing and the easy wear fashion for every woman.

Find Your Story. Be Your story. The Art of Why.

Earlier this year when I was looking for something that I wanted to learn more about, photography was at the top of my list. I was looking for a little passion project, but I don’t have a camera, just an Iphone.

Given I’d never met someone as wedded to their camera phone as me, it was thrilling to find a short course centred on photography using your Iphone at the Centre for Adult Education (CAE). Loved it from a practical point of view, but it also fed the hands on creative in me that senior communicators don’t always have an opportunity to fully explore.

Some of the tips and tricks were honestly simple – though I still didn’t know all of them! What the course gave me was the ability to better capture what I see, to help translate what I want it to look like, to enhance it a little when it needs it.

My eyes drink in such beautiful sights every day, and I can’t go past a sunset without sighing dramatically and snapping away, capturing dying days.

Find Your Story. Be Your Story. The Art of Why Communications.


Tucked into a 150-year-old store, Thornbury store Bespoke Wines and Spirits markets itself as #notyouraveragebottleshop.

Owner Phil Gray, a former money market trader with a long history in hospitality and high end champagne sales, has an olde world shop bursting with unusual wines, spirits and beers, as well as quirky and different gift ideas.

Phil loves the quirk of the Thornbury community and provides knowledgeable advice on the substantial and changing stock. He also runs down different and hard to find products for individuals and recently became the largest Melbourne seller of a seasonal Fig Gin by using Instagram and word of mouth tastings to spruik it.

Developing the personality and profile of the store’s Instagram account has simply been a matter of taking a bit of Phil’s personality and cheekiness, his passion for customer service and quirky products, and implanting a little bit of Thornbury.  Growth of the account has been steady and organic only, to ensure his authenticity and ideas shine through first.

“Using social media for sales is new to me, but I like customers to explore and not feel pushed,” Phil says.

“Anything we do has to be genuine and can be a bit cheeky, but every customer interaction has to be genuine.”


Find Your Story. Be Your story. The Art of Why.

In talking to several small businesses in the last few months, it seems the winter months can sometimes be difficult to entice people out of their homes and busy lives and into the local stores and businesses.

As a rabid consumer myself I know the reasons that consumers buy into particular goods and services are varied; the convenience, the customer service, the feeling they get when they walk in/engage/leave, the alignment with values, and products that please and continue to be attractive.  In small business this is even more important, as the service comes down to personal and personality.

I’ve been working and interacting with a number of small businesses in a Thornbury shopping strip and I’m impressed by their business acumen and ability to diversify and adapt.

Phil Gray at Bespoke Wines and Spirits, Marisa Lawlor at Just Believe Fit and Grazia Cavallin at Lola Lovey Gifts all have an interesting story to tell.   My role with each was in developing content and the right fit for their social media channels and linking it with their marketing and business development strategies.

Find Your Story. Be Your story. The Art of Why.