‘There are whales’ she texted me as I was on my way to meet her close to Coogee Beach on a Sunday morning. Just one of those things that are almost unbelievable to anyone not living near the Pacific ocean.
Talisa Sutton grew up here, though despite of what one might think, she doesn’t go to the beach that often anymore but just moved in to a new home with her husband in a very peaceful and green neighbourhood.
Owner of Badlands, a blog and creative design studio, her style is simple and feminine, a sort of minimalism I’ve noticed a lot in the Sydney design scene. She shares her aesthetic with her husband Rohan, a graphic designer and art director who also happens to take amazing photos, often of her. Of course it helps that she happens to be gorgeous, with perfectly glowing skin and an inherent grace.
I wanted to find more about Talisa and her Sydney lifestyle, no better place to meet her both at the beach and in her new apartment.
Hi Talisa, what does it mean for you live in Sydney ? What do you love or even miss here?
Sydney will always be home for me, by nature I’m drawn to the ocean (even if I don’t make it to the beach often enough these days!), and I love the greenery and wildlife that Australia offers. I do miss the excitement, energy and culture in bigger capital cities like New York, London and Paris when I come back from traveling. But it’s always relaxing to be back in Sydney, and I miss my lattes and avocado toast!
Can you tell us a little bit about what you do, and how you got there ? You mentioned you studied graphic design ?
My career path has been quite a winding road, but I’m so happy with where it’s taken me. I started out studying Fashion Business right after I graduated from high school. At the time I was in Canberra, where there wasn’t much happening in the fashion space, so I knew I wanted to move back to Sydney and immerse myself in that world. Alongside my studies, I worked in retail, did styling assisting and interned at a women’s fashion & lifestyle magazine which is now closed. It was great experience, and while I loved styling, I knew there were other things I wanted to do, I just wasn’t sure what. Around this time, my partner (now husband) was moving from a marketing role to more graphics-based work, and I, in turn, was inspired to enroll in TAFE studying Graphic Design & Communication.
It was during my studies here that I started Badlands, as a way of navigating the digital world, chronicling my inspirations, and beginning to share a small selection of my work. At the time, I never pictured making a career of blogging, so I did it quietly in the background while I studied and began working with boutique and luxury brands, assisting with graphic design and social media. After I finished TAFE, I decided to enroll in university (UNSW’s College of Fine Arts) to further my studies in Fine Arts painting & drawing. It was around this time that my blog started picking up, I was part of the Vogue Australia network and beginning to work with more and more brands through my blog and Instagram.
A semester away from finishing my degree, I got a call from ELLE magazine (which was set to re-open in Australia) asking me to come in for an interview. It was my dream job, and I almost couldn’t believe it when I got offered a designer position on the spot. I worked in the art department there for 2 years, which was an amazing opportunity to learn about design and art direction for print, collaborate with a very talented team, and see how a magazine is put together. Around this time, I was up most nights and weekends working on my blog and social media. I knew it was getting to the point where I needed to make a decision about my future, and when a part time job offer at a start-up came my way, it felt like a sign to take a leap into the unknown and begin to dedicate more time to my own work. My new role was in digital, and gave me a first-hand look at what it is to run a small business and launch a new website.
A few months later, I made the big decision to go out on my own full time. I remember being terrified at the thought of freelancing, and unsure about how it would all work out. Now, almost two years later, I run my own company, Badlands Studio, with my husband where we work across a variety of creative projects across the fashion and lifestyle industries. I also continue to publish on the blog and am lucky to get to travel and collaborate with amazing brands across my website & social channels.
I’m really a fan of your minimal aesthetic, your style, your blog and even your apartment, it all has a beautiful calmness about it. How did this come about, you think there is also a ‘Sydney’ aesthetic ?
Thank you! It’s funny you should say that, as I never felt I really fitted in with the idea of Sydney style… I love denim and easy basics, but every time I visit Paris, I feel like that’s my main source of inspiration. I love the subtle elegance – it’s simple with maybe a touch of lipstick or a great bag paired back with very classic pieces. There also a slightly ‘undone’ feeling to it all which I love. I think my style continues to evolve with age and the world around me. When I was in university I studied French cinema for a semester, and I remember saving all these screen grabs of the women and their incredible style. I think that, alongside my travels and working in the industry across both fashion and design all contributed to shaping my aesthetic.
What are your dreams or next plans for the future ? More styling, travel … ?
My husband and I recently bought this apartment, I love the space, it’s so light and bright and peaceful. We started by painting everything white, but there are still a few small projects we would like to work on throughout. We are also very lucky to have a bit of travel planned for this year, and lots of exciting projects coming up through the studio!
Your wardrobe essentials:
White button down shirts, vintage Levis, cashmere sweaters, slip dresses and camis, leather jacket and white cotton t-shirts.
A few favourite designers:
Celine, Loewe, J.W.Anderson and Chloe are all favourites. I love Reformation for all things summery too.
What does your ideal weekend look like in Sydney ?
Breakfast at Room 10 in Potts Point, a pilates class, catching up on reading at home, a big walk around Centennial park, and a relaxing night in (dinner and a movie!)
Where do you spend your dream vacation ?
A summer in Italy would be heaven… My husband and I visited for the first time last year and were lucky to spend a few days between Genoa and Santa Margherita in September. I would love to go back again and explore some more around Amalfi, and the heel of the boot. Puglia looks beautiful!
Talisa is wearing:
Look 1: Reformation Dress; SIR Sandals; Rachel Comey Earrings
Look 2: CM/EO Knit; Holly Ryan Earrings; Third Form Trousers; Prada Flats
Look 3: AG Jeans Shirt & Suede Skirt
Flatlay: Loewe Woman fragrance, Rodin Olio Lusso, Earrings by Holly Ryan, Celine & Rachel Comey and J.W. Anderson bag