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my story

Denise Staffa

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

Where did you originate from?

I was born in Wyndham in 1969, an isolated northern town in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, the raw beauty of the Kimberleys are my true beginnings and in my younger years we also lived in Darwin, Papua New Guinea and Surfers Paradise, until my parents decided to settle in Perth where I finished schooling.

 

Did you go to university?

At 17, furthering education was far from my mind, eager to head out into the working world beginning with a career in hospitality managing pubs and clubs, then as a bank teller it was this career move that changed my life forever thanks to Grey Beard, Western Australia’s most notorious bank robber! I quit my job grabbed my dog packed a small bag and headed north to Darwin, worked there for 6 months, saved some pennies and kept travelling for another 12 months around Australia taking on odd jobs along the way enjoying a simple yet abundant life. Returning to Perth with empty pockets and clear mind a career outdoors was my calling, landing a full-time job at the local garden centre where I began connecting people with plants, this was my happy place.

 

Have you travelled overseas?

Yes! made sure of it and worked hard to make that happen. Experiencing other cultures, the way people live, architecture, plants & gardens played an integral role for my creative mind. My travels have taken me to Africa, United States and Southeast Asia. Falling so much in love with the more exotic and tropical locations, I ended up purchasing a share in 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 within their village.

 

How did you start your own business?

I knew selling plants, potting mix and all things garden wasn’t enough to satisfy my passion, so I enrolled into TAFE and obtained a Certificate in Horticultural and Landscape Design. The desire to constantly have my hands in the soil opened an opportunity to work weekends maintaining a large garden for the parents of a close school friend. I purchased a bucket, rake and gloves for $10, borrowed my Mums secateurs dedicating every second weekend to nurturing and caring for this garden. The neighbourhood watched and stopped, garden maintenance bookings started rolling in, the garden centre full-time job slowly became part-time, then casual as the private jobs increased, eventually taking the plunge to start my own full-time business with a total financial investment of $10 in 1996!!!

Garden maintenance slowly evolved into softscaping, regular clients started loving their gardens again, they wanted more! Revamping and installing new garden areas had me measuring up outdoor spaces, hand drawing garden designs and swinging the shovel for the first 5 years of the business on my own. Gaining invaluable experience installing reticulation systems, laying lawn, preparing and planting out gardens all the while knowing part of this journey was to continue learning, make mistakes, grow from them to form bigger and better things..

The physical labour became more intense, knowing the business couldn’t grow with physical exhaustion, I reluctantly put down the shovel and started employing staff, gathering a network of trusted contractors, paving the way to more complex Perth landscaping projects and more importantly allowing more time to create landscape designs. It was this transition in 2006 that paved the way to a change in the business name from Better Blooms Garden Maintenance to Outside In!!

Over the years, working from home became challenging as more staff were employed, so I took another leap of faith leasing the perfect studio in Como for 8 years. The bigger the business grew the more financial overheads were accumulated needing to work harder to keep the work flowing. Slowly my creative brain became clogged, passion was being overrun, losing track of why I had chosen this journey to begin with. The hard decision to downsize in 2016 was one I’ll never regret, moving the business back home to become one again was vital for health and well-being, to find myself again.

In 2019 I hung up my Project Management hat up, oh did I mention I also managed my design installs, high end, complex projects that also took over my head space, yet it did give me invaluable construction knowledge that I’ll be forever grateful for. Giving this up, reluctantly, along with other ‘business’ pressures was the cherry on the cake, slowly but surely my creative mind re-emerged.

 

Have you won any awards for your creations?

I’m honoured and proud to have won many awards through the Landscape Industry Association of Western Australia for both my Perth landscape designs and project management projects. I don’t really enter awards anymore, the design journey rewards me every day and fills me to the brim….

Here I’ve shared images from Wyndham, Papua New Guinea, Cottesloe project, Backyard hangs with Claire from Gathering Light and Angela from Greypeg Studios, my Home Studio with Jack and prepping for Wembley Project photoshoot

Perth Landscape Designers
Perth Landscape Designer

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