Life Instyle sat down with Karina Jambrak, winner of the inaugural New Breed Scholarship to discuss all things art, inspiration and being a first time Life Instyle exhibitor.  


What is your background? Have you always been an artist?

I’ve always been an artist but in my mind, I didn’t think of it as a career option. So once I finished high school, while I sold paintings at Bondi markets and to a wholesale art company I did a Bachelor of Design course at UNSW College of Fine Arts, majoring in textiles and graphic design. Once I graduated I worked in the fashion industry, firstly in textiles and then went on to work in fashion marketing (print and digital graphics.) I worked in the fashion industry for 14 years. Over those years I have always painted and drawn on the side because it’s what I love to do and it’s something I’ve always reverted back to. It’s so rewarding to be able to use all of the things I’ve learnt over the years from working in textiles and marketing and put that knowledge back into my own business. It’s also a nice feeling to know that being an artist is enough.


What was the spark that inspired you to start your own business?

2018 was a crucial year for me… one of the roughest years but also the year that propelled my growth – personally and professionally. My husband was diagnosed with a heart condition which led to him having to have open-heart surgery. Our children were 4 years and 7 months at the time. While he was still up and down in recovery (2 months later) I was made redundant from my job while on maternity leave. We were both unable to work and I was in a pretty bad place emotionally.

The combination of realising life is too short and being made redundant from a job that I loved and gave my all to gave me the courage to start my own business. I literally had nothing to lose.


What were those first steps you took to launch? And what would you say was the scariest part/your biggest fear?

First step was my business plan – mainly working out my costs and profit margins. I didn’t want to create something that wasn’t viable and wasn’t able to grow. That part was hard for me because I’m not really great with numbers! My husband has his own business so he helped me nut out a plan. Then I came up with a small collection, some social media content and designed my online store. The scariest part was putting my work out there and realising that there was a very high chance of failure. 


Tell us a bit about your art. What is your inspiration and style?

I love colour and pattern. The part I love most about creating art is working with colour so that drives my collections. I take all of my inspiration from nature and travel. I’m obsessed with plant-life and landscapes at the moment. I’d say my style is a bit coastal, a bit boho and a bit jungle.



Describe your customers and the community you have built/embraced.

My customers are amazing. The part that I have found most rewarding about starting my business is being able to build a community that I love around my business. My Instagram followers are so extremely supportive and always so encouraging. It’s really nice to know that people are genuinely happy to see your business growing and love seeing you achieve your goals.


What is it that you think your customers love about your art?

I think my customers love that they get to follow my journey and that they can see where I’ve come from and can how I’ve grown my business. I also think a lot of people like the fact that my works are initially hand drawn and they get to see me creating them.


How do you stay inspired and authentic?

Travel, taking time for adventures on weekends and making sure I only create art that I feel connected with. I also try to be as authentic as I can on my Instagram feed. Having an online store is amazing but you don’t get the personal connection that you do from bricks and mortar stores. Social media is the only way people can connect with you and your brand so I feel like it’s really important to stay as raw and real as you can.


Who would be your dream collaborator?

When I started my dream was to work with The Jungalow by Justina Blakeney. It is a brand I have admired for about 10 years now. That dream came true in August 2019 so that has been extremely exciting and it is still a pinch myself moment for me. I love working with brands with big hearts and brands that have the same values as I do. Ultimately I feel the most fulfilment in giving back, so one day I would love to do something for the Sydney Children’s Hospital. 


What made you decide to apply for the Life Instyle scholarship?

A friend sent me the link and suggested that I apply. I am ready to take my business to the next level and I knew that having as space at Life Instyle to showcase my work to the Australian retail world would be a beneficial next step to growing my brand. The fact that the scholarship came with a business mentor and content creator was a no brainer – I couldn’t pass the opportunity up, I knew I had to apply.


Why do you think Life Instyle is a good fit for your brand?

Life Instyle is all about nurturing Aussie brands and providing a space to help them grow and thrive. What was important to me when starting my brand was quality and sustainability. I love that Life Instyle is carefully curated and that they showcase brands who realise the importance of quality, sustainability and ethically made products.


What has the experience been like so far and what are you most looking forward to at your first trade show?

The experience has been amazing so far. A massive learning curve for me so I’m trying my best to take it all in! I have already learnt so much from chatting with Melissa from The Lot Co and can’t wait to work with Heidi from The Lifestyle Edit. For my first trade show I’m most looking forward to being able to develop relationships with retail business owners and to show them my work in real life and be able to chat in person rather than over email!


Can you share any spoilers on what we can expect from your new collection at Life Instyle Sydney?

A bigger focus on children’s prints… maybe some new animal characters and simplified landscape art.



Who are some of the other brands at Life Instyle who you love/admire?

Oh I love so many! Olive and the Captain, Walter G, Honeybee wrap and Water-Tiger.


Can you share one of your proudest moments in business so far?

My proudest moment would have to be when I saw my artworks for sale on the Jungalow website. Literally a dream come true.


What is the best piece of business advice you have been given?

To have a solid business plan and marketing strategy. Know your costs and your profit margins to ensure longevity.


And what advice would you give someone else thinking of starting out?

That not everyone’s going to like what you do and that is ok. Develop something that you’re proud of, back your vision and know your audience. Through all of the doubt and rejection that naturally comes with starting a new business you need to be able to back yourself and your product so you can stay focused and keep moving towards that end goal.


What exciting things are on the horizon for 2020 and beyond?

This year has seriously been the biggest whirlwind. It has made me realise that anything is possible and you can achieve so much in a year. So for 2020 I’m firstly looking forward to showing at Life Instyle! Where I will hopefully grow the wholesale side of my business. From there I’d like to work on expanding my international customer base and I also want to start focusing on doing more original art.


When you’re not busy with the business, what’s your ideal way to unwind and give yourself a little bit of self-care?

This is something I really need to work on! Between running a business and looking after my two children I don’t really have much time to myself. When I do, the perfect self-care day for me would consist of a café coffee, a swim in the ocean, doing the Bronte to Bondi coastal walk, having a lay in the sun and a massage in the afternoon.



Karaoke song of choice?
Queen- Bohemian Rhapsody

Favourite Podcast?
Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations

Last book you read?
Becoming, Michelle Obama

Guilty pleasure?
Drumstick X Messina Dulce De Leche. It’s SO good.

Next holiday location?
Not sure yet, Uluru and Rottnest Island are on the bucket list. Also planning for a family trip to Europe in the next few years!


You can meet Karina and see her art in person at stand 2859 Life Instyle Sydney, 21-24 February 2020 at the ICC Sydney in Darling Harbour. Registration is now open.