You’ve seen Carlene Duffy on The Block with hubby Michael, and you can now see her on 9 Life TV show Ready Set Reno, but don’t forget that this savvy Gold Coast interior designer and business owner is also juggling motherhood (the Duffys are proud parents of Paddy, 8, and Stella, 6) with her celeb status.
Tell us about your business/current role?
We launched Cedar + Suede straight after our season on The Block ended in a bid to strike whilst the iron was hot. We offer onsite design and styling consultations (which is for those who don’t want to commit to full service interior design) and property styling. What we really love too is being able to produce blogs and video content that we’re really proud of by partnering with various brands. We’ve also most recently tapped into the demand for renovated vintage caravans. We’re about to start flipping them which is going to be fun.
Where did the concept for this come from?
It was actually was like a natural progression for us. Michael was a builder and pre-The Block I had developed a passion for styling and design. We were also fortunate to perform really well on the show and therefore came out with credibility in the space. Michael had video editing experience and I have a background in writing so were able to combine all of our experience to do what we do now.
What’s your business background?
We have none. We’re totally winging it but I’m told so is everyone in business so that’s good news. We take risks and we’re resilient and we’re learning they are key traits to possess to succeed as a business owner.
Who were your mentors/inspiration along the way?
Mmmmm… that’s a tough one. I have long followed Emily Henderson who also came from a TV show in the US to forge her own way as a stylist/blogger and I love her for her honesty and accessible/aspirational style.
What time does a typical day start for you?
Oooh, my days aren’t typical, which is what I love about my life. We both get the kids out the door and then it can be anything from responding to emails, drafting a blog, designing a space, filming, editing, travelling – it’s always very varied.
Who does the cooking and cleaning at your house?
I try and avoid cooking dinner where I can and palm it off to Michael because I really don’t enjoy it although I argue that I’m better at it because my Mum takes her cooking very seriously and growing up she would drill in the fundamentals like an army sergeant (don’t burn the onions because it makes them bitter, cook the mince in batches so it doesn’t stew etc). Once you know the basics you can cook anything. Michael doesn’t clean anything other than the kitchen bench.
If you have 10 minutes to yourself, what do you like to do?
My time only comes when I go to bed. I love nothing more than reading in bed. Because I enjoy it so much it feels really indulgent. I’ve always been a reader. It’s my opportunity to get swept away in somebody else’s world/story and I really don’t like being interrupted.
What do you do for childcare?
As of this year, our kids are both at school which is life changing. When we go away we rely on family and close friends.
What sort of one-on-one activities do you do with your children?
We play Monopoly Cards nearly everyday. It’s a really good game, substantially shorter than Monopoly the board game. With the weather warming up, we’re able to utilise the pool and Michael has also just started taking Paddy surfing most mornings. He’s got the surfing bug.
What do you do for fun as a family?
It’s usually something involving food and water, whether it’s lunch and the beach, a theme park, or swimming in the pool. On the holidays we like taking the caravan away and staying at the Big 4 parks which are amazing for kids.
What is your favourite thing to do for date night with your partner?
Date nights are very infrequent these days but Michael and I both love food so we’ll usually go to a fave restaurant – it’s Jimmy Wah’s at the moment. We also love nothing more watching a good movie after the kids go to bed on the weekends.
What is your favourite local place to visit?
We favour Burleigh to eat (Justin Lane, Jimmy Wah’s, California Tacos or sushi). We also enjoy hanging around Burleigh to bike ride, swim or play in the park.
How about favourite place to eat out as a family?
Every Friday night we eat at the Currumbin Sanctuary Markets. It’s a ritual. We all usually get the same meal every week and we all look forward to it. It marks the end of our week.
Where do you head to when you get time for a girls’ night out?
Dinner at Robina Town Centre and the movies.
What is your best beauty or fashion tip for mums?
Have your eyebrows shaped. The eyebrows shape the face and many of us are victim to the 90s over plucking. I have plenty of hair on my brows but I had feather tattooing done this year for a better shape and it’s life-changing. It cuts down on my makeup time too.
Favourite place to shop (locally and online)?
I’m totally addicted to Zara at the moment. It’s hit and miss usually but right now, it’s hit hit hit. I also love Spell Designs but to be honest I shop widely and without loyalty to any one brand.
Must-have parenting tip or tool?
Implement a rewards system (which is just really a method of bribery).
Can you share any tips on finding the right work/life balance?
Mmmmm… I’m still working on that. We’re lucky, in that, because we work for ourselves we can make our own schedule and therefore attend all the kids’ school events etc. Although, it also means it’s hard to switch off. The nature of our work means sometimes we have to work weekends and sometimes seven days week but then we can also allocate ourselves more time off. Finding balance is really about being disciplined in work and play.
How do you stay motivated in your career?
I love what I do. Working in a creative career rarely feels like work. It’s a cliche but the saying “if you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life” is very true.