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One fabulous evening with friends at the chic Bondi restaurant Porch, I met the ever-so-lovely Michelle Leslie. Formerly a successful international model, Michelle is now one of the most in-demand interior designers in Sydney, with numerous boutique hotels and glam cocktail lounges to her name. Overlooking the Tasman Sea and enjoying a couple of G&Ts, I asked Michelle about her career and philosophy on life. While I was at it, I also made sure to discover her favorite home shops in Sydney.
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Where do you find divine purpose in your work and life?

In both my personal and professional life, I seek to create harmony. Working in interior design, that often means a harmony between people and spaces. But divinity isn’t found in aesthetics alone. I believe it is found when my best, most beautiful work intersects my true purpose, to work with people and positively affect their lives.

What advice do you have for other female entrepreneurs on how to find that balance between work, family and personal time?

For me, balance occurs when the results and realities of hard work are not in direct challenge to my personal health and happiness. I achieve it by allowing my work to fuse seamlessly with my life, at a pace that doesn’t feel forced or limited. Rather than struggling to find separate time for myself, I seek to witness, acknowledge and understand where the “me” benefits from all aspects of my day.

What moment in your career are you most proud of?

There was a moment when I realized I could manage my clients’ ambitions, needs and demands along with the expectations of my staff. There is no success unless all of those who contribute to that success feel it as strongly as I do!

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Can you point to one thing over the course of your career that has helped you create your success?

I started and continue to work in a competitive industry. Beyond ideas and executional excellence, beyond networks or brand or plans, I think my success has always been rooted in the trust I have with my clients. I always maintain a sincere belief in my client’s contribution to my work, and I think that has helped me build strong relationships and grow my business.

What obstacles did you encounter when you first started your career? How did you overcome them?

Quite simply I had no idea what I was doing professionally, but I had the desire to start, and the belief in my own capacity. From there it was challenging, every step a learning experience. However I was fortunate to have some very trusting clients as well as supportive family and friends, and found myself delivering above and beyond my clients’ expectations.

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1. Country Trader
197 Young St, Waterloo NSW 2017, Australia
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The Country Trader’s sprawling showroom is filled from wall to wall with meticulously curated pieces, all chosen by owner Geoffrey Clark, who has a very discerning eye. Here you’ll find internationally valued antique collectibles alongside new designs selected for their originality and quality. A closer look will reveal bizarre, yet exquisite little treasures that are sure to start a conversation anywhere you place them.

2. Busatti
9 Transvaal Ave, Double Bay NSW 2028, Australia
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The original Busatti is an 8th generation artisanal Italian fabric house. Aussie designer Kate Nixon discovered the authentic family workroom while traveling through Tuscany, and had the bright idea to open an outpost in Sydney. While offering high quality, sustainably produced fabric for upholstery projects, this well-curated storefront stocks everything from napkins and robes to candles and tote bags.

3. Elements I Love
124 James St, Leichhardt NSW 2040, Australia
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This adorable Surry Hills boutique is overflowing with one-of-a-kind knick-knacks and rare antiques. Elements I Love is as personal as its name suggests, with the shop owners frequently bringing back one-off creations found on travels through France or India. Any item from their collection of décor, architectural salvage, and quirky pieces is sure to lend personality and charm to any room.

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