my story

Denise Staffa

Landscape Designer in Perth
3D Landscape Designer, Denise
Perth Garden Design, 3D Landscape Designer
Perth Landscape Designers
Perth Landscape Designer

Where did you originate from?
I was born in Wyndham in 1969, an isolated northern most town in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Growing up outdoors in the rugged, harsh yet incredibly stunning outback of Western Australia was part and parcel of the lifestyle.

As a child we also lived in Darwin, Papua New Guinea and Surfers Paradise in Queensland, until we finally settled back in Perth where I finished my schooling.

Did you go to University?
At 17, furthering my education never appealed to me, finding full-time work was my priority. I began a rather colourful career in hospitality, managing bars and clubs then working in a bank when my whole life changed due to a traumatic armed robbery. I quit my job, packed a small bag, my dog and headed back up north. I continued travelling around Australia for 12 months, taking on odd jobs along the way to help me financially survive a very simple yet abundant lifestyle.

Upon my return to Perth with rather empty pockets but a very clear mind, it was then I knew a career outdoors was the only option for me. Working in a local Garden Centre is where it all began, connecting people with plants and beautiful gardens gave me the sense that this is was my happy place.

Have you had the opportunity to travel much whilst running your own business since the age of 24?
Yes! I made sure of it, extremely difficult at times but I knew travelling and experiencing other cultures, the way people live, architecture, plants & gardens was in my blood and played an integral role for my creative and adventurous mind. My travels have taken me to Africa, 3 months exploring the United States and Southeast Asia. Throughout my travels I fell in love exotic and tropical locations, so inspired I bought property on Gili Air, a very small island situated off the main island of Lombok. Here I became part of the Gili Air and Lombok community, making many local friends and forming close relationships with their families and within their small village.

How did you start running your own business?
I enrolled into TAFE and obtained my Horticultural Certificate and the Garden Centre just wasn’t enough to satisfy my new found knowledge.  I needed to get my hands dirty and into the soil! So I jumped at the opportunity when the parents of my close friend asked if I would maintain their large garden every second Saturday, I purchased a bucket, rake and gloves for $10, borrowed my Mums secateurs and starting working weekends!

People in the neighbourhood watched and stopped, the bookings started to maintain their gardens! My full-time job at the Garden Centre slowly became part-time until I took the plunge to start my own full-time business with a total financial investment of $10.

Garden Maintenance evolved to Landscaping when more and more of my clients wanted to revamp sections of their garden. Measuring spaces, hand drawing garden designs slowly overtook the maintenance. Swinging the shovel on my own for the first 5 years gave me valuable hands on experience installing reticulation, laying lawn, preparing and planting out gardens. Part of the journey was to make mistakes along the way, to keep learning and moving forward to fulfil my passion.

The physical labour became more intense, knowing that I couldn’t grow a business whilst being so physically involved I put down the shovel and started employing staff and gathering a network of trusted contractors which lead to more complex Garden Designs and Landscaping projects, the beginning of Outside In.

Over the years, working from home became difficult as I employed more staff, so I took another leap of faith leasing the perfect studio in Como for 8 years. I worked extremely hard generating constant work to keep my staff employed, the bigger it grew the more financial overheads I accumulated and I had to work even harder to keep the work flowing. Slowly my passion was being overrun by the sense of ‘work’, losing track of why I had chosen this journey to begin with. The decision to downsize in 2016 and move my business back home to work purely on my own again was the hardest yet best decision for me. My focus became clear and unclogged from the financial side of the business.

In 2019 I hung up my Project Management hat up to focus on design, transforming outdoor spaces and influencing the way people live is truly an amazing feeling. I’m super excited to become fully immerse, dedicating all of my time and energy into design, exploring new products, visiting new and existing suppliers, networking with likeminded creatives and continuing my design journey.

I’m honoured and proud to have won a number of Landscape Industry Awards in WA for both my Landscape Design and Project Management projects over the years. To me, my award is unconditionally achieved from every project I undertake, the design within the given space will always speak for itself. To know that I’ve helped my clients change the way they live in their outdoor space is a massive win for me!

I’ve shared images from Wyndham, Papua New Guinea, styling Cottesloe project, my Backyard hangs and Home Studio with Jack


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