Here I am making gingerbread for a living. If you'd put a crystal ball in front of me back in the early 90's, I probably would have thought I had gone insane…which wouldn't have been far off the mark as any sleepless architecture student would attest to. Now I don't sleep for a different reason, juggling a bustling cookie business and a young family. At the end of the day though, I'm still the same adrenalin junkie I was back then.
I applied to do architecture after the idea was suggested to me by my mum. (She'd watched me make a few houses for my teddies as a kid!) Launching straight from my regimented high school education at Sydney Girls, with nothing more than a pinch of maturity (I'm undecided whether my naivety was a help or a hindrance) and a whole heap of obsessive behaviours, I embarked upon this demanding vocational degree with waivering dedication fuelled by techno, caffeiene and an addiction to exercise-induced-endorphins.
Over the next 7 years, I experienced everything from empowerment to hopelessness. I was influenced yet unspoiled, inspired yet vulnerable. I rejoiced in finding an outlet for my stagnant creativity, and cried in the aloneness it brought. I felt both intense admiration and raging hatred toward my tutors and made beautiful friendships along the way. Halfway through my degree I jetted off to study abroad and landed myself with a double culture shock, studying alongside Americans in Denmark. I fell in love with the country, a part of which would stay with me forever.
Last year Gingerbread Folk was delighted to supply the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Queensland and ACT Chapters with gingerbread house kits for their members' end of year Christmas events. This weekend, our kits are bound for Melbourne where they will be used at a camp for the Institute’s student member representatives from architecture schools around the country. Leading industry supplier Stylecraft have also run competitions where they have given Gingerbread Folk's house kits as corporate gifts. We thought the 2010 winning entry by Bower Architecture was beautiful.
It was a rocky ride through my architectural degree and I am delighted if my business can encourage and support architecture students on their journey. I hope my experience will reinforce that this education can be a valuable stepping stone to anything in life. It's about being true to yourself and believing in a vision. It isn't really clear to me when I 'departed' the profession. It wasn't cut and dry, however it is cool to know that my association with architecture has come full circle.