Coworker Profile: Popped Creative

Meet Liesel Arden, Abbie Gibson, and Monique Hartman: Directors of Popped Creative - Byron Bay’s newest Events and Creative Service Agency.

Popped launched with a splash in May 2017 with its inaugural pop-up event – a laneway activation in ‘Surf Alley’ in the Byron Bay CBD.

The project commissioned six local street artists to reinvigorate the tired laneway with progressive, imaginative art, and was celebrated with a weekend-long party featuring live DJ performances, light installations, green art, bespoke furniture, street food, beverages, and a vibe that knocked the town’s sock’s off!

The event sold out, and turned an estimated 400-600 people away over the course of the weekend, and had many patrons begging for more of this style of event in Byron.

The creative services agency is a multi-media service headed by local artist and media professional, Leisel Arden, and creative wizard Abbie Gibson. It offers bespoke marketing and media packages ranging from logo design to social media management to video packages to complete branding overhauls.

The three met four years ago working on ‘RAW’, a local arts showcase. From there they developed strong friendships and shared their vision to explore their love of the creative industries, and desire to work for themselves. Abbie has a fourteen year-old-daughter and producing her own fashion label, and Liesel a two-year-old daughter and blooming visual arts practice, and Monique spends a lot of spare time honing her love of creative writing, so designing a business that would allow the three flexibility for family and their personal passions was a fundamental driver in the development of the business.

So, what are you doing and what brings you here today?
Monique: We engaged six interns leading up to the first event, and we also have a full-time Videographer in our good friend Nolan Verheij, so space quickly became a problem, and working around Abbie’s dining room table was no longer an option. We agreed it was not only important to protect our ‘nests’, but to have an official working space. When we started spending time at Start Inno we also saw opportunities for networking and collaborating with like-minded start-ups, which we found appealing and exciting. Community and collaboration is at the heart of our values so it seemed a perfect fit.

Why did you choose this to work for yourself?
Monique: I have worked in the arts and entertainment industry for twenty years. I have a family full of musicians so the creative world was in my blood. I wanted to be a singer but soon discovered I had debilitating stage fright and performing was a traumatic experience for me, but being in ‘that world’ was still very exciting. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. So I traded the microphone for spreadsheets and learned the business instead.

What do you love most about your job? 
Monique: Abbie and I share a love for throwing parties. It sounds a bit shallow but we both derive a lot of joy from creating a beautiful environment for people to have a good time in. We both love to cook too, and are always entertaining. Popped events has become a bit of that on steroids! 

At its heart, I love bringing art, music, food, drinks, and good people together for a laugh and a good time. That’s how you bring people together and create community, so I do believe it’s important, especially in this digital age. Being able to do that through art and cultural ventures just makes it all the more valuable and worthwhile for us, and the community.

Working with the incredible businesses and individuals in Byron Bay on the first project was so heartwarming. We had thirty partners on board that took a massive risk on a new business. Their support and enthusiasm was just amazing. Creating networking and tangible business opportunities for many of our partners in turn, was a really satisfying part of it, and something I am really looking forward to continuing. I love the community we’ve built with our partners.

What are you passionate about, in terms of your career?
Monique: As creatives ourselves, we’re obviously very passionate about the arts. Part of my personal mission to educate the wider community of the value of arts and culture, and artists. We made a strong decision early on to ensure that no matter what, our artists would be paid what they’re worth. Too many people expect creatives to work for nothing, and it’s frankly offensive. I want to be part of the movement that shifts society’s perception, and contribute to a flourishing arts industry.

What part of your job are you exceptionally proud of?
Monique: What we’ve created to date was pretty special. The event was the first of its kind for Byron Bay.

We’re all excited about our intern program also, and helping young girls who are just like we were, develop skills and experience that will help them achieve their goals. We have the best team; we’re very lucky.

Tell us about your failures, and how have you learned from them?
Monique: Too many to count! The events industry is a continually moving beast, so you are guaranteed to have something go off track at some point, no matter how organised you are, no matter how good you are at what you do. I’ve learned to think on my feet, and be a problem solver. That spills out into every area of business, not just at event time. You can’t get caught up in worrying about what has gone wrong, you just have to find a solution and move on.

What is the best advice you have for starting entrepreneurs? Something you only know from experience.
Monique: Look after yourself first. Don’t get so caught up in work that you neglect yourself or those you care about, and burn out. Self-care is imperative for success.

Why Byron Bay? 
We are lucky to be in such a beautiful place that nurtures the new, the different, and boldness. Byron allows you to step out of the norm and give things a go, and most people are open to trying something new so it is a great breeding ground for innovation and creativity.

Want to find out more about what Popped Creative is doing? Come and meet them at the Coworking Hub or check out their website