Tell us a little about yourself
I’m proudly a 4th generation Western Australian. I’m a wife, a mother, a sister and an aunt and for the past 18 months I’ve been the CEO of Willie Creek Pearls. My journey here has had a few twists and turns, but over the last 33 years I’ve been lucky enough to work in some fabulous business’ in Retail, Health, Tourism and Sales in WA, NSW, Victoria, New Zealand, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and the U.K. I may have wandered the world, but in my heart I’m Western Australia, so working in a Western Australian family owned business, producing beautiful pearls from the Western Australian elements is a dream come true.
As CEO of Willie Creek Pearls, what does your job entail?
With business units in the Retail, Tourism, Hospitality and Pearling sectors my job is in a word – varied. No two days are the same. As CEO, I lead a team of 70 dedicated people by determining strategy and defining culture. We are a family business, so in effect I’m the link between the Family and our operational team.
Pearls have a strong link to family history and are often handed down from generation to generation. Can you tell us about this tradition in your family?
I’ll never forget receiving my first strand from my godmother on my 21st birthday. I thought I was 'it and a bit'! For as long as I can remember my grandmother Daisy and my great cousin Norah always wore a strand of pearls. My Mum too, had a beautiful strand which she left to me. I feel her close when I wear them. Of course, while I now have access to the most beautiful pearls (and I love wearing them too) I’m getting real pleasure from starting my daughter’s and nieces collection!
Pearls also have a strong link with strength, wisdom and beauty and are often referred to as the Gem of Queens, do these words ring true in your mind?
I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by some very strong and special pearl wearing women for my entire life so yes, these words do ring true to me. But more so, when I think about how these beautiful gems are created – essentially starting life as an irritant, before the oyster’s defence mechanism kicks in to protect itself (and in doing so creates something truly beautiful) – to me that’s strength, wisdom and beauty in its purest form.
What do you think makes a Pearl such a special gift?
I think because pearls do represent strength, wisdom and beauty they are gorgeous to give and a true gift for a special friend. I have a beautiful friend who is going through some tough times at the moment. We were both in tears when I recently told her that pearls are in effect born out of adversity and out of tough times good things can happen. I gave her a beautiful pearl pendant and told her to hang onto it tightly. She is – and I’m very glad.
Do you have a favourite piece of Pearl Jewellery? Can you tell us why?
I have two favourite pieces – my own beautiful pendant that I also hang onto tightly (at times!) and some beautiful Australian South Sea Cultured Pearl stud earrings – you can wear them anywhere and with anything – they always look great. I do have a beautiful strand as well that lifts any occasion, but my goal right now is to save up for a Keshi strand that I have my eye on. To me Keshi pearls are the most special of special. They truly are ‘perfectly imperfect’ – a bit like us humans really!
What is the best part about your job?
Three things really – the People I work with, the beautiful Pearls we produce and the Place we create them – Broome in the Kimberley. Broome is raw Western Australia at its most magnificent. I spend a week a month in Broome and love every minute of it – even the wet!
What do you find so special about Australian South Sea Cultured Pearls?
I think the fact that they are produced by nature - pristine water, warm temperatures, and giant tides all combine to make these the most beautiful pearls in the world. When you look closely at an Australian South Sea Cultured Pearl – at its lustre and even at its imperfections – you see something that is quite extraordinary and beautiful.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about Pearls or Pearling?
I think the role that Broome’s tides play in producing our pearls has been surprising. I never realised that the huge fluctuations in the tide in effect are the driving force for the availability and abundance of plankton and algal that allow pearl producing oysters to thrive. And of course, the tides are driven by the stages of the moon, as is the oysters anatomical state, in conjunction with water temperature, everything is integrally linked – so a full moon has taken on a whole new perspective!
Learning about oysters and how they grow has also been surprising. Cultivating pearls is one thing; creating oysters that will cultivate them better is another. And selecting individual oysters to breed from is taking things to a whole new level – I can’t wait to see the pearls the oysters produce that are spawned at the new hatchery at Willie Creek.
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