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Go Travel Leura: It's In The Genes. . .

Ainsley Fine Jewellery -- 175 Leura Mall -- 02 4784 2807 -

Where do those who ‘fly solo’ in the business-world find their moxie [moksi:] courage combined with inventiveness? Where did they find their creativity and their drive?  Where do they find stamina, enough to keep a business solvent and vital?


   Ainsley Whelan, Jeweller

This week, we asked those questions of Ainsley Whelan, our ‘Leura soloist’ --  a ‘30-something’ businesswoman who opened shop in Leura in 2015 – Ainsley Fine Jewellery. Where did she find her moxie?


Ainsley as a young child loved drawing, coupled with a love of gem stones.  Collecting all she could find, she stored away the bits and bobs of stones – perhaps not of great value to others – much like a little squirrel preparing for winter.   She was fascinated with them as only an intense eight year old could be. An artist in the making.

With artistic intelligence and competency along with keen  ‘attention to detail’, Ainsley now sees a link back to her dad, a Sydney scientific-instrument-maker by trade – and someone who lives his life in the world of detail.



Following her paternal heritage, Ainsley is the only manufacturing jeweller in Leura and her love of detail infuses her designs – designs which begin as imaginative drawings and take on form and life as she works with gold, silver and other precious metals to manufacture beautiful jewellery.  From original drawing to finished ring or necklace is for Ainsley a creative challenge, but the process is also the creative stimulus. Challenge and stimulus – creating is what she loves.



At 18, her imaginative ability took form in a jewellery design course at TAFE. An apprenticeship with a Double Bay female jeweller followed.  It was a strategic and resourceful walk in the park from that point.  Jobs with a couple of Sydney jewellers followed and provided more experience and probably confidence as well. She knew well by her late twenties that a business of her own was in the cards.  Again she followed her lineage and she had a strategic direction. Both maternal and paternal grandfather had been entrepreneurs, solo businessmen. Perhaps there is a gene at play here.



We asked, what is most difficult in your business? Of course, the answer has its intricate and its knotty parts. Ainsley: Complicated quotes! Factoring in materials, labour and design costs – it’s a bit of a black art. The nitty gritty of running the business from the financials to sourcing materials to marketing – it is a lot. Of course, if being in ‘start-up-mode’ isn’t enough, being parents to a toddler and an infant keep Ainsley and her ‘attention-to-detail’ husband on their toes.



Advice to other young women with an itch to start their own? ". . .understanding how important marketing is to the business Equally time consuming for an owner is keeping up with the technology such as social media which seems to change all the time", she advises. When she purchased the Blackheath jewellery business, changed its name and moved it to Leura, Ainsley felt marketing wisely was the biggest challenge.


For many entrepreneur-artists, the thorny parts of business may be a struggle, but they don’t kill off the love. And so with Ainsley. Often you hear the pundits say, 'follow your passion'. Perhaps the passion is in the genes: we think it is wise to look to your lineage.

Go Travel Leura: Where In The World Did We Find These?



Quidditas Creative Art Gallery

Address:88 Railway Parade
Hours: Open Thu-Mon 10am-5pm
Phone: 02 4784 3625

Quidditas is a well turned-out collection of exhibition space, art gallery and shop of exquisite gifts - all rolled into the heritage-listed house and garden on Leura's prestigious Railway Parade. At the turn of the 19th century, Railway Parade was the impressive neighbourhood in Leura. The land was first purchased in late November 1879 and we are uncertain of construction date. However, we do know the elegant Waitangi, as it was named, was built for and used both as a doctor's surgery and the doctor's residence. Today, the owner of Quidditas, with a recent renovation has returned this old home and garden to its original polish and elegant state.

In the Quidditas exhibition room, the focus is upon past and present textiles and cultural artefacts from around the world. With items collected by the owner, a clothing and textile designer, exhibition themes change with some frequency.

The gallery shop is an extension of the exhibitions - clothing, jewellery, and tableware are sourced from around the world and you won't find these and other items outside the doors of Quidditas. Unusual French tableware, with an amusing and functional design, was such a temptation for us. Jewellery or the more common term "bling" are all the rage, but the baubles at Quidditas are beyond extraordinary. Gorgeous crocheted Turkish jewellery exceeds even our jaded expectation.

Elegant handmade scarves by French designer Sophie Digard are hand dyed and in lovely colours: merino, mohair and velvets with unrepeatable patterns and designs. Linens and pillows, painted lampshades, gifts for children, striking wrapping paper and cards. Browsing and shopping requires time.

Finally, Quidditas Gallery is home to the art of Colin Parker, best known for his figurative oils of outback Australia - he captures the red dust harshness and the singular isolation indicative of middle Australia. He is also recognised for his most successful series: Paris In The Snow.