Women Rising: Laura Bennett

It's another Women's Wednesday, which means another interview with one awesome woman! There is something special about getting to know the women behind the feeds I follow, and this week is no exception. I have been following Laura Bennett right from the inception of Lagom, falling for her well-curated, minimal aesthetic, her beautiful home and authentic insight into her home life.

 Laura ft. our Marrakesh I and II pair.

Hey Laura! I'm so stoked to be doing this interview with you. I have been following your journey for a couple of years now over on Instagram (@harperandfrankie), but for those who don't know you, can you tell me a bit about yourself?

Sure! I live in Lower Hutt in Wellington and I work as a fraud investigator. I have an amazing husband called Sean and two beautiful children – Harper who is 8 and Frankie who is 6. We have a dog called Blaze and a rabbit called Muffin. I love the beach, if I could move closer to the beach I would do so in a heartbeat! My passion is interiors and really anything homeware related! I have a grazing table business which I run through Instagram (@thegrazingtable.nz) which is a creative outlet for me. I also do a bit of content work through my personal Instagram account which I love doing.

I had no idea you were a Fraud Investigator! I always love finding out when others have vastly different professional avenues, which they are exploring all at once. I've often found it is a more technical career path that blossoms into a more creative one. Would you say the latter two come from a passion for creative expression?

I love being creative and taking photos, so I use Instagram for this purpose. It began as a bit of an outlet for me after I had children and now, I have met so many wonderful people! I do a bit of content creation work through here so I guess you could call that a hobby! Can coffee be a hobby?! As I am definitely a coffee fanatic!

Absolutely, coffee is a full-time hobby! You describe taking photos as a hobby, but this is something I really feel you've mastered. Your creativity and love for interior styling really shines through in your content creation, and your home forms a major part of the scene setting for this. How would you describe your interior style?

I am constantly inspired and influenced by interior magazines, Instagram and homeware shops like Citta, Husk Home and Paper Plane Store. I love a paired back minimalistic interior style with lots of white! I never thought I would like to have all white walls but now that I do, I cannot ever imagine not having them! I like to add a bit of subtle colour with cushions, throws and art. I would describe my interior style as relaxed minimalistic if that is a style!

It absolutely is! Why do you think you're drawn to this style?

It’s important to me that my house is calming and a place to unwind and relax. If my home is messy or has too many things in it then I find that I can’t relax or switch off. My husband also doesn’t like clutter, so a more minimalistic interior suits us. Everything should have a place. I now believe (and it’s taken a while!) that you should only have items in your home that you truly love. If you see something that isn’t quite right, don’t buy it as you’ll probably end up chucking it out or donating it later down the track.

Marrakesh I.

I totally agree. We live by the same philosophy in our house - form, function and purpose for everything we own. What is most important to you when designing a functional space for your family?

The space has to work for 4 people and a dog so there needs to be enough room for everyone! Storage and organisation are key! Don’t feel the need to fill every corner with things. I read this the other day “if you’re filling every area with stuff, you’re essentially pushing your family out of that space”. Therefore, allow space for the children to be able to get their toys out, or do a jigsaw puzzle at the dining table etc. Choose furniture that is functional but beautiful (yes you can have both!) and choose it to fit your family and space.

What would you say is your favourite room in your home?

I love our open plan kitchen/dining/lounge area as it really is the heart of the home. In summer we have the doors open off our kitchen onto the deck and the children play outside. I love the flow between the inside and outside. The sun in this space creates a beautiful dappled light onto the walls and I just feel relaxed in this space. 

That's beautiful! So I just want to go back to your feed momentarily. Understanding your love of creativity and styling, what is it that you are trying to evoke when people come to @harperandfrankie?

I really appreciate anyone that visits my feed and likes or comments on anything that I do! I always make sure that I respond as I know that people have taken the time and effort to do so. My feed is definitely more curated than my stories! I really just like to have fun with it. I think that when I become uninspired, or when it isn’t fun anymore that that will be the time to leave. I like to showcase a bit of my life and products that I love and believe in. I have gotten to work with some amazing brands over the years and I truly appreciate it! I have met so many like-minded people on Instagram who inspire me daily.

Laura ft. our Marrakesh I print.

I love that. One thing I really believe in is using your voice to spread positive messaging. As we live our lives more and more through social platforms, everything we post is taken in by others, which gives us an opportunity to create interactions that are empowering, supporting and motivating. One question I always love to ask the mothers I meet is - "what is an empowering or supportive message you'd like to impart to your kids"?

I have so many! To always show kindness and to be humble. We don’t always know what other people are going through and the battles they are facing so it’s really important to always be kind. To love yourself and your body! You only have one so treat it with respect. To have integrity – be intentional with your words and actions. Speak up if you don’t like something. To be content – don’t keep chasing the next big thing otherwise you will forget to take the time to enjoy what you have and where you are today.

We are now in 2021 and for many, last year was a tough year. As women we are part of a community, so what advice would you give to those who are struggling and finding their feet again in the new year?

2020 was a tough year for many people especially for those who lost jobs, had small businesses, were essential workers or partners of essential workers. I think everyone’s mental health took a battering at some stage especially during lockdown. If there is one thing I have learnt while being a mum, it’s that it really does take a village and not to be ashamed to ask for help! I have been guilty in the past for soldiering on while struggling (as I’m sure a lot of mums have) when I should have asked for help. On the same note, if you know a parent or friend who is struggling and hasn’t asked for help, don’t wait for them to ask, be there for them and help out when you can. Sometimes all they need is a friend to lean on and support them. My other advice is to surround yourself with amazing friends that have the same values as you. Be careful with who and what you give your energy to. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your mental health is to walk away as hard as it is.

Do you have any top tips or go-to's for mental wellbeing?

For me it is walking. I find going for a walk a great way to relax and clear my head, especially if it’s been a busy day at work or at home with the children. Just getting out there in the sunshine is magic for me, I feel totally revived afterwards.

Finally, is there anything big or small that you want to achieve in the year ahead?

I want to live a more minimalistic lifestyle; I want to focus on experiences rather than things. We are currently in the process of doing our garden and have planted vegetables and herbs, so I want to become more self-sufficient. And lastly, I would like to explore our country a little bit more this year.

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