March 16, 2023
People & Places

Faces to watch in 2023

Spanning food, sport, fashion, community and more, we asked the people we’re anticipating big things from in 2023 about their road to success and the bumps along the way.

Truc Truong

Contemporary sculpture and installation artist Truc Truong’s year will go out with a bang with an exhibition at Ace Studios, and she’ll be busy promoting Asian work at the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Tell us a bit about your work over the past year and what has informed it?
My work has recently been influenced by an altar table at my grandmother’s house which is a display of respect, memory and love. There would be different fruits and flowers on display depending on what was in season, and random toys would amusingly make an appearance because she has had 13 grandchildren and has been a second mother to many of us. The altar has also become a foundation for examining the way the western world views time as a linear plane, and comparing it to theories of eternalism, and cyclic theories of existence. Many of my works focus on family tension and my realisation of internalised racism through my family’s history.

What was your biggest achievement in 2022?
I got married and had a hilarious display of art at our wedding. My family is quite traditional and so being able to have an “us-type” wedding which was casual, no white dress, wearing Vans, eating KFC and Connoisseur ice-cream sticks in a warehouse was a great achievement.

What are your goals this year?
Goals for 2023 include a successful and productive residency at Adelaide Contemporary Experimental’s Studio Program, which concludes with an end-of-year exhibition, working with the Art Gallery of South Australia in developing and promoting Asian art through various workshops, seeing family on a regular basis, teaching my husband Tom some more Vietnamese so he can communicate with my grandma, and teaching my dogs, Thelonious and Mary Lou, another trick.

What has been a setback on the way to success?
I won a prize a few years ago and heard many around me believed I won because my work had “pulled the race card”. It is really disheartening to work so hard on something, spend countless hours on something, and be told you were probably a “quota win”. I recoiled and didn’t want to go to art shows and speak about my work. I let those words negatively affect the way I functioned in the world.

What did you learn from that?
I have come to understand that the arts industry is a tough and ruthless industry with admirable and beautiful pockets – you just have to find them. It has taken me a while to push through and not only ignore the negative aspects of it, but also find my own lane and happily make work and build connections there. It also reminded me that the art world is not my world, art is a huge essence of my life, but I make work genuine to who I am and am not fussed with whether I fit in the industry anymore.

What is a moment you see as pivotal to who you are now?
A week before my grandpa passed in 2016, he waited for us to be alone and told me in the most tender way, that aside from my Buddhist family and Christian family fighting over what his funeral was going to look like, he actually believed in both Buddha and Jesus. The moment didn’t teach me to believe in both Buddha and Jesus, it taught me how much he loved people. He gave us space and wanted all of us to feel loved for who we are, that even in his death he wanted members to feel seen and heard by having their spirituality represented at his funeral. This experience has taught me to talk less, listen more and love in unacknowledged ways.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
When I was in primary school, I asked my dad why we couldn’t have a nice car and house like my friends did. My dad was making me breakfast at the time, and he spread some butter and Vegemite over a hot piece of toast and told me, “Just because this doesn’t look nice and is cheap, nobody can tell you it’s not enough. Be happy with this Vegemite, believe it is enough for your life.” I laugh thinking about this but the advice was very helpful throughout art school when my full-time working friends were eating their $18 waffles, I sat there with my $4 coffee but was still having a great time. It just reminds me that I can plan and hustle, and it’s good, but at the end of the day what I have is enough.


Tahlia McGrath

Australian cricketer Tahlia McGrath enjoyed a stellar season last year, including captaining the Australian women’s T20 side against India and captaining the Adelaide Strikers to be champions of the Women’s Big Bash League. Her 2023 schedule is already packed, starting with a World Cup in South Africa this month.

What was your biggest achievement in 2022?
It was a pretty good year, I was a part of some pretty good teams, but I can’t go past the World Cup win in New Zealand. It was the first World Cup I was part of.

How do you set goals?
I used to think big picture and set big goals, whereas now with such a hectic schedule and ever-changing environment, I set small goals and don’t look too far ahead. Whether that’s something simple for a particular series or improving my strike rate or something simple, I tend to set pretty short-term goals.

What are your goals at the moment?
I want to contribute individually to every team I’m in whether batting, bowling, or in the field. The bigger picture one at the moment is probably the T20 World Cup in South Africa from February 11 – it’s just chipping away at my game bit by bit to be primed and ready and hopefully have some team success.

What setbacks have you faced over your career?
There have been a few – it hasn’t been an easy journey but I’ve loved it. There have been injuries and missing out on selection, but I think that when you have those setbacks, it fires that drive and desire to get back to the top level so it makes me go back and work pretty hard. It makes those special moments so much sweeter when you’ve had to endure hard setbacks.

What do you learn from the setbacks?
You can’t dwell on them too much. At the time, they suck, but looking back, the setbacks I’ve had have probably been the best thing for me. They’ve made me work harder, made me look at my game more and made me enjoy the highs a whole lot more. At the end of the day, for me, I just love playing and wearing an Australia shirt, so the harder I can work to prolong that, the happier I am.

How do you cope with failure?
Cricket’s a cruel game, there are probably more failures than successes, especially from a batting point of view, so for me, it’s just about sticking to my processes, my routines and knowing what works best for me and not overcomplicating things because it can get you down at times. I’ve just got to look at the fact that I’m pretty lucky with the experiences, the travel, the friendships and everything I get to do so I can’t dwell on the lows too much.

Is there a moment you see as pivotal to who you are?
When I played domestic cricket in England in 2019. At that point in my career, I’d only ever known the South Australian pathway and I went totally out of my comfort zone into a city where I knew no one. I didn’t know any of my teammates, didn’t know any coaches and that made me grow up pretty quickly as a person. Both on-field and off-field, that was a valuable experience for me.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
It’s an old cliche, but my dad always says to me, “The harder you work, the luckier you get” and that rings pretty true.

What, outside of cricket, are you looking forward to in 2023?
With the amount of travel we do, I just love being at home walking on the beach with my dog, living like a normal person.


Charlie Hender and Will Swale

Best mates Charlie Hender and Will Swale’s ORTC label can be seen more and more on the streets of Adelaide and things are only expanding, with the pair opening a bricks and mortar retail space last year.

What was your biggest achievement in 2022?
Charlie: The main standout was opening our flagship retail space on The Parade.

How do you set goals and what are they for this year?
Will: Charlie and I don’t specifically sit down and have goal-setting sessions. However, we have about 15 chats a week discussing where things are at, what needs to improve, what’s working well, what’s not. I suppose we have rolling goals that are always changing and being strived for. We’re always on the hunt to be better and improve across all areas of the business.

What have been some of the setbacks on the way to success?
Will: Running a start-up with no background in business has a broad range of setbacks that we’ve faced along the way. Some
of the main setbacks have been growing pains (cashflow, inventory management and resources), manufacturing and freight delays through Covid and making mistakes due to inexperience in the industry.

What did you learn from that?
Charlie: I suppose the key learning is that it’s fine to make mistakes and you’re always going to face setbacks, however it’s very important to address these issues and to learn from them to make sure they don’t happen in the future.

How do you cope with failure?
Charlie: It’s very cliche but failure only inspires us to get better, bigger and stronger in the future.

What is a moment you see as pivotal to who you are now?
Will: Probably taking the leap from both working part-time on the business to committing to full-time self-employment.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Will: Focus on the process, the outcome will take care of itself.

Something not career-related you’re looking forward to in 2023?
Charlie: Heading across to The Ashes in July.


Danielle Elia

Ready-made meal company, Bowlsome, was created by SA woman Danielle Elia five years ago and her products can now be found in independent supermarkets.

Describe Bowlsome in a nutshell.
Bowlsome offers a range of wholesome ready-made meals using locally sourced produce. Our salads and heat-and-eat meals contain no preservatives – just real honest food.

What was your biggest achievement in 2022?
Winning the New Product Award at the South Australian Premier’s Food & Beverage Awards for our Heat & Eat ready-made meals. It was a huge honour to be recognised for our team’s hard work. I’m also proud that as we scaled up, we held the integrity of our brand to the highest standards – we didn’t compromise on quality for the sake of profits.

How do you set goals?
In business and in life I have big and small goals I want to achieve. I think the short-term goals are reflective of the path taken to achieve your long-term goals, so you always need to have a plan. However, it’s important to remember that plans do change so it’s always a good idea to take time to look back and congratulate yourself on even the small ones. It’s easy to want so much that you forget to stop and smell the roses on your journey.

What have been some of your setbacks on the way to success?
Growing Bowlsome over the past five years has been full of amazing highs and some really tough periods. In 2022 we were challenged with staffing issues due to Covid, the logistics of relocating our entire premises, product supply and demand, cost issues and sustainable packaging challenges.

What did you learn from that?
I always try to view any setback as an opportunity to learn. I compartmentalise in order to overcome each and every one in a considered way. I also truly believe setbacks often happen in order to steer you in the right direction. I’ve had situations that I thought would work out and then didn’t, and I felt like my whole business was in trouble. In the end, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise and we pushed forward in a new direction.

How do you cope with failure?
I take a moment to put myself back together by doing things I know will calm me and help reset my mind. I’m obviously interested in wellness, so these things might include a yoga or breath-work class, a shirodhara session or a long walk on the beach. This helps me to think clearly and then I’m ready to focus on the positives to see through failures. Being grateful for the things that are going right, helps me to view the negatives in a positive way; perhaps not a failure, but a lesson in order to grow.

What is a moment you see as pivotal to who you are now?
Bowlsome was born in 2017 as a concept store. Once Covid came, and with lockdowns occurring, the uncertainty around trading these stores motivated us to pivot in order to continue to grow the brand. We worked really hard to transform the business. In 2021, Bowlsome launched our convenience range of products with the support of the South Australian independent supermarkets. I think looking back, I’m proud of my growth as a woman in business to get through this period while trying to keep my kids, family and mental wellness intact.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t stress about what could happen – it drains the energy you need for now.

Something not career-related you’re looking forward to in 2023?
A little bit of travel, more time with my boys and trying new wellness techniques.   


Lolly Heaney

Founder of skincare brand, Et Toi, Lolly Heaney was inspired by the path to wellness after losing her mother to mental health.

What’s the story behind Et Toi?
Et Toi, which launched in 2022, centres around encouraging holistic self-care rituals, with an emphasis on mental wellness. French for and you, the name is a gentle nod to my French mother and heritage. Both the name and the business are a tribute to her and her life-long battle with mental illness, her bravery throughout that journey, and the sense of pride I feel in being her daughter.

To me, pairing my passion for mental health with my passion for skincare made sense for this endeavour. Selling high-quality skincare to the Australian market felt like the perfect starting point from which to erect a platform to speak about mental health, while remaining frank about the reality that self-care is more than skin deep, hinging on more than a skincare routine and a bubble bath.

How have your challenges affected you personally and professionally?
Having lost mum to mental illness back in 2017, as well as grappling with my own mental health issues for a few years now, I’ve made it a real focus in my personal life to prioritise my mental health — pretty much above all else. For me, it’s been really helpful to come to understand that this is a healthy perspective to live from, rather than something selfish.

Advocating for the importance of mental health and self-care is at the core of Et Toi. I want our luxurious and effective range of skincare to serve as a relaxing way to tend to the external self while enjoying the sensory bliss of your skincare ritual. I also want our skincare to serve as a symbol for one’s commitment to deeper self-care.

What was your biggest achievement in 2022?
My biggest achievement in 2022 was absolutely launching Et Toi back in August. The excitement of launching was a little bit nullified because it was a drawn-out two-and-a-half years from concept to launch, but I think reflecting on any accomplishment — big or small — is a nourishing act of self-care.

What have been some of your setbacks on the way to success?
Launching Et Toi held many challenges, particularly around budget, product development and managing the business on my own. One of the biggest setbacks was dealing with a very exploitative manufacturing company before finding my current skincare manufacturer (who is delightful to work with).

How do you cope with failure?
My experience of failure hasn’t necessarily been very task-oriented. It has more so existed in relation to my mental health status. I’m gradually getting better at viewing a down period as perfectly normal and unavoidable, rather than as a failure.

What is a moment you see as pivotal to who you are now?
My most significant mental health struggles, particularly those that spanned 2019, were hugely pivotal to who I am now. Albeit a little more weathered, I definitely see myself as more resilient and better-equipped to overcome internal and external hardship. I also feel really glad that I now have the opportunity to share my experiences and learnings with others. If I were someone who believed in life purposes, I’d say that’s got to be mine.

Where is Et Toi headed in 2023?
We are keenly looking forward to broadening our product range to include mental health tools and other self-care products while also continuing to grow our skincare range. In early 2023 we will be releasing a guided journal that I am currently developing with input from mental health professionals who understand the profound benefits of journaling.


Sandra Miller

Advocate and 2023’s South Australian Senior of the Year, Sandra Miller has spent decades fighting for the rights of First Nations people.

What areas are you passionate about?
I’ve been really active in the Aboriginal space across a whole range of topics. I started out being totally committed to child protection and that hasn’t gone away at all because what I’m finding is the situation is as bad, if not worse, than it was when I was involved 20 years ago. I’ve continued to be focused in that area, including being involved in an Aboriginal leadership group around child protection. We were very much party to agitating for the Nyland review (findings from a 2016 Royal Commission that recommended more than 250 changes to SA’s child protection systems). We pushed that we needed a commissioner for Aboriginal children and young people and we got it in the form of April Lawrie, whose advisory committee I was asked to come onto. At the moment, she’s doing her community consultations quite extensively and we are waiting now to see the outcome of that.

It’s such a crucial area, the latest review conducted by the ex-commissioner of police, Mal Hyde, showed there were around 500 children who were living in situations that were not conducive to their wellbeing, we know the majority of those children would have been Aboriginal.

What drives you personally?
I get quite emotionally involved when it affects my own family. Maybe 20 years ago, my mother – who has since passed away – told me her story. I didn’t realise that she was part of the Stolen Generation because she was Christian and actually believed that she was removed for her own wellbeing. The thing that really got to me was that since she was about 11 years of age in a children’s home, someone finally told her a woman who kept coming to the gate calling out to her, was her mother. Nobody told her that until she was 11.

How do you deal with setbacks?
I work out if I can I make a difference or not, and if not, I’ll move away but not abandon it. I’ll find some other way of solving the problem. And nothing I do, I do alone so I work with many people who can help.

What are your goals for 2023?
I want to continue to address child protection and child removal. I want to continue to raise the issue of raising the age of incarceration from 10 to 14. If I had my way, I’d say 16 – but I’d be really pushing for it to go to 16.

What are you looking forward to this year?
I want to spend time doing some art. At the moment I’m making jewellery with natural products – nuts and seeds and
emu feathers.


Brett Matthews and Ed Peter

Brett Matthews, Ed Peter (pictured above) and Martin Palmer established Duxton Pubs Group in 2020 with the purchase of The Lion Hotel, with a bevy of hotels to follow, as well as Little Bang Brewing Company.

The group enjoyed enormous success in 2022, tell us about that?
Brett: Last year was a busy year for the Duxton Pubs Group. We settled on six hotels, Little Bang Brewery and two freehold commercial properties adjoining the Cremorne Hotel. These properties were critical for the significant expansion planned for the Cremorne Hotel in 2023/2024.

Ed: We had talked about establishing the Duxton Pubs Group for almost four years before we kicked it off, and the fact that we were comfortable with each other, each other’s very different skillsets and had a solid friendship between all of us, as well as investing together in previous projects meant that we started from a very good place.

How do you set goals?
Ed: We have a long-term plan measured against financial goals and metrics that literally gets updated every Thursday. So, we think strategically, but update our plan through a tactical lens on an ongoing basis.

Brett: One of the sayings I often relay to my team is, “How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time”, which applies to the way we set goals. We set goals regularly throughout the year, this allows us to track our progress and work towards achieving our overall goal of growing the Duxton Pubs Group into the largest hospitality operator in South Australia.

What have been some of your setbacks on the way to success?
Ed: Where do we start? COVID; missed deals, staffing issues, logistics … it goes on! Seriously though, the team at all levels has worked non-stop to sort out issues and pick off each problem and focus on one after another. When a venue is lazy or there is a staffing issue, it has been wonderful to see all the great minds come together and focus, and try, then try again and again until we find a solution. Failing is ok, and because we accept that it allows us to attack problems from different angles until we find a solution.

Brett: Our main setback of late has been a shortage of skilled labour. This shortage of skilled labour is not unique to our industry, but it makes the task of operating an expanded operation that more difficult.

What have you learnt from your setbacks?
Brett: The importance of remaining focused on our goals and flexible about the methods in which achieve them. Not everything works out the way we had planned in the beginning, however as long as we achieve our goals in the end, I am relaxed about the “speed humps” we experience along the way.

How do you cope with failure?
Ed: I get introspective and try to look in the mirror and review what I could have done better, then move on. It is a waste of time to regret things. Learn from your mistakes and try to avoid repeating them. Most importantly try to follow your moral compass – if you like who you are because you are doing the right thing, failure doesn’t hurt.

What is a moment you see as pivotal to who you are now?
Ed: Coming to Asia with my career at Deutsche Bank and twice being given the gift of being asked to fix two large businesses, which allowed me to play in a huge sandbox and try out ideas.

Brett: Probably when I left the National Australia Bank (where I was living and working in the Melbourne head office) in 1986 and moved back to South Australia to take up a role in Mount Gambier in the Matthews Hotels family business. Had I not made the decision to leave the bank at that time I would have taken an overseas posting and missed the opportunity to meet my future wife.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Ed: Listen to criticism because it is a gift. It may be on target or not, but it is someone’s perception of something you can do better. It is easy to find people to tell you things you’d like to hear – it is much harder to find people to give you their truth especially when they believe it might hurt or offend you.

Brett: Talent and effort equals skill. Skill and effort equals achievement. Grit and focus will allow you to achieve your goals.

Something not career-related you’re looking forward to in 2023?
Ed: Getting married to an amazing lady who I can talk to about anything.

Brett: Celebrating my 60th birthday in Aspen with my family and friends. I am going to take five weeks off work – something I have never done before.



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