Short daisies: tips for creative women

20 March 2014
Written by Sacha Kenny | Photo by Magda Bojes | Illustrations by Connie McDonald
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Blazing a trail for creative women, Mariana Collette and Lisette Prendergast chat to Sacha about their book: Lady Luck - conversations with creative NZ women


Lisette Prendergast and Mariana Collette are fabulous. These two 31-year-old friendly, funny, gorgeous, young women are talented writers on a mission. Grown-up BFFs, Mariana and Lisette deal to the tall-poppy curse with their own ideal of short-daisies - blazing a trail for creative women in New Zealand through their blog Le Petite Mania (faux French for 'a little madness') and their first, self-published (2013) book Lady Luck – conversations with creative New Zealand women.

Le Petite Mania is, as the two describe it, a ‘light-hearted look at life’, a place to chill and laugh with them and even sometimes at them. The two started the blog in 2013 as a way of individually but collaboratively connecting through their writing while living an hour apart in Wellington. A feast of interviews with creative New Zealand women, stories from their own lives and commentary on whatever takes their fancy, Le Petite Mania now has a readership of over 5000 hits per week.

Lady Luck – conversations with creative New Zealand women is a breath of fresh air. This beautifully designed soft-cover book weaves its way gracefully, respectfully and bravely through the lives of 20 residing and ex-pat creative NZ women asking, primarily, ‘what it means to be a creative woman in New Zealand’.

Singers, poets, artists, photographers, fashion designers, jewellery makers and directors share the highs, lows, inspirations, influences and challenges that mark the path of their respective creative journeys.

The pages of the book have been beautifully designed by graphic designer Céire Hopley, each artist is depicted with an illustration by artist Connie McDonald  and the work of photographer Susannah Tucker features throughout the book, which comes to a close with a collection of quotes and advice titled ‘tips for creative women’.

A conversation with Mariana and Lisette...

MARIANA: "We recognised pretty early on that we had this amazing connection with all these fantastic creative women through our blog and so once we decided to do the book the process of creating it was actually incredibly easy – it all just happened.

"A huge part of this journey for me has been recognising that New Zealand women are, almost by nature, creative. I’m a teacher and often I’ll talk to mums from other countries who comment on how creativity is such a strong force within NZ women. Which is a different perspective - I didn’t realise we were thought of, from the outside, in that way."

LISETTE“Creating the book was such an amazing process. It was quite a strange process because in the three months it took to put together I think me and Mariana got together only twice - everything else we did over the phone or by email so there were heaps of crazy dinner-time conversations amidst mayhem at home. It was incredibly full-on but so much fun - it was such a fleeting amazing experience."  

MARIANA: "From the outset we decided not to feature just famous women. We wanted a cross-section of women from normal mums at home who do creative things to artists such as Ladi6. We wanted to keep it real so that anyone who picks up the book can relate to someone within the book.

"A commonality we found between the women was the struggle.
It’s so hard to make money in New Zealand through creative endeavours.
However what we found, which is really special, is that women are creative anyway, no matter what is put in front of them, no matter what their lifestyle, no matter how old they are - they are creative, it’s almost like a need that has to be fulfilled."

 “Each person we interviewed brought different aspects to the page, things that would spark our interest, so we’d ask the next person how this same thing affected their lives and by the end we realised we had this amazing interwoven story. Once you’ve read the whole book and read all the things the women share there is this lovely connection."

MARIANA: "A couple of the women had quite traumatic childhoods so it’s awesome to be able to show that you can go through trauma and still achieve your dreams. This was a really important point for us to bring to the book. We wanted to have women in the book who have had to fight to get to where they are now because it’s not all happy la-la, there are struggles and hard times."


"When we looked at the final copy, I just felt like we’d done something really amazing for creative women. We’d put this voice out there to be honest and share what it’s really like, which I felt to be quite inspiring – I think we inspired ourselves as much as anything."

MARIANNA: "One of the best moments for me was at the book launch, my friend was there with her husband and two daughters and during the night her husband came up to me and said “I just want to say thank-you. As someone with two daughters it’s so important for them to see someone do something like this, it’s so special”. I was just overwhelmed by such an amazing compliment because it just shows young girls that they can create their own future."

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

On a mission to support women in the arts, Mariana and Lisette now plan to further develop the insights they gained through their book and design an online guide for creative women.

With the intention of providing the tools needed for women to free their creative minds and create without limitations, the guide will incorporate interactive e-tools and resources aimed at tackling the hurdles creative women can at times face, be that physical, emotional or financial - allowing creative women to realise their full potential.






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