Interview: Magdalena Franco of Unleash Creative

magdalena-franco In March, CWC Member Magdalena Franco is putting on an exciting event in Melbourne (soon to be followed by events in Brisbane and Sydney). It's called Unleash Creative, and in essence it's about getting the time, space, materials and hands-on expert help to take your creativity to a new place (or even just coax it out of its shell!). Magdalena has gathered a bunch of different skills working in various facets of creative industries, and this new venture brings them all together, with an added dose of passion and determination. Let's meet Mags!

Tell us about your background. What creative industries have you worked in and what are you passionate about?

I always find it interesting to hear about people’s journeys and where life has taken them. Where people start out is not generally where they finish up and I love that; knowing that there’s an adventure to be had is all part of the excitement. My career started out in administration. A dry and monotonous career path full of numbers, schedules, word processing, paper-pushing and spreadsheets. Don’t get me wrong, I adore all of those things in an odd way, but they’re not exactly the kind of things that dreams are made of.

A couple of years into working admin I landed a fantastic and gruelling job at a busy PR agency in Brisbane where I worked my way up the ranks and scored major brownie points on my CV. Those brownie points helped me secure some exciting marketing gigs when I relocated to Melbourne in my early twenties. Over the course of 12-odd years I built up my PR, marketing and event skills, knowing that one day they would be of great benefit to something more fulfilling I wanted to do. But I never really knew what I wanted to do, other than I wanted to focus on my creative passions.

Ever since I can remember, I have drawn, scrapbooked, painted, collaged, collected, stitched and made all sorts of things. But I never dreamed that I could turn my passion for making things into money. In 2010 I started sewing and selling my wares at markets. Something that gave me immense pleasure for a short amount of time. I realised that having a day job, a family and an under-paid hobby on the side was taking its toll on my passion, mojo and life. So I stopped. Not the making, just the robotic making-to-sell process. I don’t think I will ever give up making. Albeit for very different reasons than monetary.

What is for the format of Unleash Creative and prompted you to launch it? Unleash Creative is a full day of creative, crafty, colourful madness full to the brim with absorbing new skills in an intimate workshop environment.

I realised that with the popularity of Instagram and Pinterest, many people were and still are admiring things that others have made, hoping to one day make or learn the skills to make similar beautiful things. But those pins seemed to turn into boards full of forgotten projects that “I’ll make one day” and some didn’t even know where to start or didn’t want to commit to a 6 week course to learn sewing if they weren’t sure whether it was really for them.

Then there’s the other side of the creative pool, the people like me who have been making for years either to sell or for family and friends who have lost their creative mojo, have gotten stuck in a creative rut or would like to expand their craft skills, but don’t know what to try or where to start.

Unleash Creative was created as a result. It’s a roundup of four talented creative mentors who will inspire, pass on their skills and give attendees a taste of something they may not have tried before. It’s essentially a day of creative taste testing. I want people to walk away feeling refreshed, inspired and excited with a hunger for making and embracing handmade. And maybe a passion to further one of the new skills they’ve learned.

Who runs the Unleash workshops and what can people expect to learn? Each attendee at Unleash will get to experience all four workshops run throughout the day. The workshops are run by awesome crafter types who are passionate about sharing what they know and helping people to find their own creative groove.

At the Melbourne event, for example, we have Allira of Freckles and Ginger who’ll be showing people how to go crazy with pom poms to create something wearable. Emma van Leest will be helping everyone make their very own layered silhouette paper cutting which can be framed at home. Gemma Patford’s paint and rope-coiled-baskets will be influencing what she shares on the day and Kitiya Palaskas will be throwing a whole bucket of her colourful paper skills at everyone.

I just can’t wait to see what everyone walks away with at the end of the day!

Unleash Creative Table Shot

What have been some of the challenges of pulling together an event like this, especially as you will be holding it in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney over the course of 2014? My biggest challenges will definitely be the interstate events. I’ve been lucky so far as 90% of the organisation has been done via email and Skype, but I know that closer to the event dates for Sydney and Brisbane I’m going to be relying on the expertise and assistance of local people to help me out on the ground before I arrive. That in itself is a little daunting for me as I like to be involved in every aspect of managing and setting up events. But I will just have to put those fears aside and have faith that my helpers will do me proud.

Where can people find out more and get along to an Unleash event? There’s plenty of information on the website, people can follow along on Instagram @unleashcreative, or tickets can be purchased through