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  • Sydney
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  • At Home with Georgie Abay: Work, Motherhood and All Things Paddington

At Home with Georgie Abay: Work, Motherhood and All Things Paddington

Q&A with Georgie

Tell us a little bit about yourself and where you grew up?

I grew up on Sydney’s leafy northern suburbs. I spent my childhood running around with my friends who lived in the area, climbing trees, swimming in the pool, taking our dogs to the local park, collecting cicada shells in summer, making daisy chains – I was always outdoors.

How long have you lived in Paddington for and why did you choose this area?

I used to live in Elizabeth Bay, which was lots of fun when I was in my 20s. I met my now husband at the building I lived in – The Gazebo. There is a bar at the bottom of the apartment block. After we got engaged we were looking for more space, so moved to Paddington, which really feels like a little village. We’ve lived here now for over five years and love it. It’s such a charming area – I never get tired of looking at all the traditional terrace houses. It’s also very family friendly, close to shops and cafes and many of our friends live in the area. Being so time poor, I love the convenience. I can get whatever I need in minutes. We have been known to pause an episode of Blacklist so one of us can run out and grab some Connoisseur ice creams from the local supermarket quickly. While we don’t have the big backyard that I had growing up, there’s so much going on in this area, it makes up for it. This city is amazing - I can go horse riding in the park, be at the beach in 15 minutes or browse the city’s best fashion boutiques. It’s all so close to where we live.

You’re an incredibly inspiring female who has managed to juggle various high-powered roles, amongst leading the most time and emotion consuming one, being a mother. What was it like working for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and how did you manage when children came into the picture?

When I was in my 20s, working in fashion magazines was a dream come true. It was the perfect job for a girl who grew up completely fashion obsessed. Who else memorises the entire script of Clueless? Fashion was in my blood. So when I landed a job at Vogue at the age of 26, I was ecstatic. Over the next five or so years, I went from Vogue to work for Edwina McCann at Harper’s BAZAAR, and then back to Vogue when Edwina was appointed the new editor. I travelled all over the world to attend fashion shows and parties, interviewed the most extraordinary people such as Burberry’s Christopher Bailey and Louis Vuitton’s Nicolas Ghesquière and worked with some very talented women. Becoming the deputy editor of Vogue was certainly a career highlight and something I will always be very proud of. I didn’t get there through connections, I achieved that through hard work. And while magazines might be glamorous, behind the scenes everyone works very, very hard. After my daughter Arabella arrived, I returned to Vogue but found the juggle hard. I guess you could say I didn’t manage very well at all. Arabella would be asleep when I got home from work and I missed her walking for the first time. The nanny texted me to tell me she’d walked. After Lottie arrived, I resigned and said goodbye to that stage of my life.  

My mother always worked from home and I decided to leave magazines to focus on my website The Grace Tales (an online destination for the style-conscious mother). I now have two girls – Arabella, 3, and Lottie, 2 – and I work around my girls, which often means working late into the night. They go to pre-school three days a week and on those days, I focus on getting through as much work as possible. I haven’t looked back since leaving Vogue. I’ll always cherish those days and feel very blessed to have the career I did, but even more blessed to be the mother of two beautiful girls and the editor and founder of a website I’m deeply passionate about.

Who and what inspires you?

My mother. She’s amazing. She never sits still and is so creative. She has an incredible ability to make everything beautiful. My husband – he launched his own business over three years ago and works so hard, yet still manages to get home by 6pm most nights and cook us dinner. My Dad – the kindest man you’ll never meet. And my girlfriends – they’re all amazing women who make me laugh daily.

Where did your love for fashion begin?

Oh, about the time that Clueless came out. Do you remember Cher Horowitz’s wardrobe? I’m a creative person and have loved fashion longer than I can remember.

Tell us more about The Grace Tales – How the idea came to you, the concept and vision?

I was pregnant with Arabella and couldn’t find a publication that spoke to me as a style-conscious mother. I’ve also always loved sites that take you inside someone’s home (The Design Files, The Coveteur, Into The Gloss). But I couldn’t find anything that took you inside the life/home/world of stylish mothers, so I created a site that did just that. I wanted to see their children’s spaces, get all their tips on motherhood, find out where they shopped for themselves and their kids, ask them about how they juggle their careers with motherhood. The Grace Tales is the ultimate lifestyle destination for the stylish mother and covers everything from fashion to beauty to interiors to parenting. 

How would you describe your personal style and how has it evolved over the years?

My style has always been very classic. I live in flats (I’m 180cm tall), love a great coat (I just bought a beautiful pastel pink one from Scanlan Theodore) and have an ever-growing collection of printed skirts. Since I became a mother I have to say my style is a lot more casual. I live in sneakers and jeans. I still love all the designer brands I wrote about when I was at Vogue, but prefer brands that are more wearable. I particularly love brands designed by mothers – they get how to fuse function and fashion. LA brands Anine Bing, Reformation and Shop Doen are my current favourites.

Do you think your career in and love for fashion has influenced the way you have styled your home?

I’ve always loved print and colour and this is something you can see in the way I dress and how I’ve styled our home. I LOVE flowers and go to the markets weekly to stock up on fresh blooms. There are plenty of floral prints in both my wardrobe and home interior. Our home is quite girly (my poor husband) and I can’t stand clutter. My wardrobe and our home is quite minimal. Crowed spaces/lots of stuff stresses me out!

How would you describe the styling and general theme of your home + wardrobe?

I hope our home feels fresh, light, colourful and happy. Given how dark terrace homes can be, I feel lucky that our home is flooded with natural light. Other than the front room, the house is always very light. There are colourful cushions and the artwork in our home is also light and happy. I keep the styling simple – for me, it’s all about clutter free spaces and fresh flowers.

Top 3 tips for translating your personal style into the home.

  1. Surround yourself with things you really, really love. Get rid of the rest. If you’re so-so about some cushions, sell them or donate them to charity.
  2. De-clutter. A clean space equals a stress-free, calm mind. At least, it does for me!
  3. If you love colour, be careful not to go overboard. Our living room is very colourful but if you look closely, it’s all yellow and pink with a hint of lilac.

What is your most treasured piece of furniture, and why?

It’s actually an artwork by Laura Jones. I adore her paintings and never get tired of looking at it. I also love our huge Derek Henderson hydrangea print. There are way too many flowers in our home!

What is your favourite space in your office or home, and why?

My office can get quite dark (it’s the front room) so often I prefer working from the kitchen table. My favourite space is our bedroom – the wallpaper is a duck egg blue colour and the whole space is very calming. Well, it is when there are not two toddlers climbing into bed with us.

Where in Sydney would you go to grab your coffee, breakfast and pizza if you had the choice?

For coffee, Tiger Mottle café in Five Ways. I’d have breakfast there too. And pizza? Probably Love Supreme on Oxford Street.

What is your favourite part of your job(s), at The Grace Tales and being a mother?

I love meeting so many amazing, inspiring women through The Grace Tales. I also work with some incredible women who have become great friends. We’re all doing our best to juggle raising our children with building our careers and we’re all there to support each other. And as for being a mother? The love. The love is just extraordinary. It blows my mind. I feel so blessed to be their mama. Motherhood isn’t easy, but it’s the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me.

Complete this sentence. When I get home, the first thing I do is…

Sit on the couch and enjoy a glass of wine while scrolling Instagram. Oh I wish. Usually, it’s a chaotic rush getting everyone and all our bags through the door, separate the girls who are usually fighting over something, get them straight into dinner, then bath them, read them stories, then put them to bed. Then collapse into a heap with a wine and an episode of Blacklist (or my laptop if I haven’t got through the day’s work). 

To explore Georgie's website, The Grace Tales, click here.