10 questions with Deb Coffey owner and director of Manyara Home Mosman

10 questions with Deb Coffey owner and director of Manyara Home Mosman

LCW: Two years ago you stepped out of the world of fashion and PR and bought the business, Manyara Home which is stunning – what caused you to make the change?

Deb: It was one of those serendipitous moments. My friend Rouba rang to ask if I knew anyone who would like to buy her business which I had always adored and it literally took me a nanosecond to say “Yes! That would be me and don’t dare speak to anyone else ”. I have always loved change and for the last 10 years prior to buying Manyara Home had been obsessed with interior design. As a serial renovator it just felt right as my whole life in publishing has been about design.

LCW: Walking into Manyara is like walking into home heaven – it’s everything you want your home to look like – how do you source your products? 

Deb: I literally buy things that I love and would want to put in my own home.  My philosophy is if I love it then someone else will too.  We buy locally and from overseas and try to support local artisans  whenever I can. Melbourne has some amazing emerging manufacturers.  I suppose what sets Manyara apart is that we try to have lots of one-off pieces of furniture and objects which is a lot of work to find but as a true shopaholic it’s a pleasure not a chore to be constantly searching.  I am heading off to LA and London soon to find some unique items for the store.

LCW: Can you share 6 top tips for women in business.  

Deb: 1. Follow your heart and listen to your gut instinct whenever it comes to making decisions as your first thought is usually the right one.  The smartest business man I know works purely by that principal that if it feels right it must be.
2. Remember there is no such thing as a superwoman – something has to give so don’t feel guilty when you only get through half of the tasks you have set for yourself that day or you didn’t have time to bake a cake for your child’s birthday  – that is what cake shops are for – give them some business.
3. Be open to ideas and remember that you are only as good as your staff.
4. Learn to delegate. I know sometimes it seems faster to just do it yourself but that won’t free you up to see the big picture and be creative.
5. Help other women and network . Most men do this so much better than us. Even if they have had a falling out they tend to brush it aside and move on. If you don’t give,  eventually you won’t get much back. 6. Be kind to yourself and take time out. Even if it is watching a series on Netflix or doing Yoga classes you have to stop thinking about work to clear your head.

Join us at Manyara to meet Deb and hear from Iain Halliday – Burley Katon Halliday and Alex Smart – Ginger and Smart.

LCW: How do you cope with running the back end of the business, social media, sourcing product and working with your team with interior styling clients? Are there enough hours in the day?

Deb: No and my social media is suffering as I really have been concentrating on sourcing and the home styling side of the business but we will have a new website soon ..  At the moment if someone wants to see what’s new with us please follow us on Instagram.

LCW: Everyone loves making their house a home and at Manyara – you offer more than products you also offer a home styling service – is this what gets you up  the morning – is this what you love? 

Deb: I love so many aspects of the business and home styling gives you the opportunity to help people make their house a home they not only feel  comfortable in but proud of.  Most people aren’t trained to understand proportions and often we tweak and add or remove a few things and a room can be totally transformed and refreshed.

LCW: Tell us something we might not know about Manyara? 

Deb: We will be making our own products very soon … so stay tuned.

LCW: What are your three top passions?

Deb: My gorgeous husband Ross and children Madeleine and Daniel. Going on holidays with close friends who enjoy the same cocktails and, of course, Manyara.

LCW: You were the launch editor of ELLE Magazine, then went to PR and now interior design and homewares retail, what are the differences between them?

Deb: Surprisingly there are enormous crossovers between being in the media which is all about being creative and PR which is all about marketing and promotions as I was constantly creating ideas and events for my client’s businesses.  The publishing world is all about designing and editing and pacing a publication so that it flows.  Doing a shop window or a room is really not that different to creating magazine cover or the pacing of a magazine can be compared to creating a flow and design synergy in a home or even the store layout. It’s all to do with balance.  I l also worked at Vogue (where I was deputy editor) where I learned the power of the brand and to truly appreciate quality.

LCW: What is your “why” with regard to the business. Why Manyara? 

Deb: The word Manyara actually  means you have been blessed (in African).  Not why but why not. Why not evolve, why not try something new, why not buy something you don’t really need but love – because it will make you happy and maybe blessed at the same time.

LCW: How does your LCW membership support you?

Deb: It’s a great way to meet some truly interesting women and be inspired by their career failure and successes.

Claudia Neal-Shaw