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Meet Shannon : The culinary expat

We sat down with one of our wonderful and talented member, Shannon. We asked her passions, experiences and memories of being part of The Collective community.  From topless bakers, to impromptu BBQs, we covered it all!


Hey Shannon! So what have you been up to today?

I’m not working at the moment due to an injury so it was a quiet morning followed by lunch with some friends and then probably watch a movie before getting ready for Friday Night Drinks.

How long have you been living in London? 

I’ve been here since May. It’s been amazing, still waiting for the honeymoon period to be over.

What do you love about it?

I came to London June 2017 on a holiday and just fell in love with London. I love how each borough have distinct expressions. You get a different feeling shopping in Camden than Notting Hill. I still have so much more to explore. It’s such a happening and busy city, such a contrast to my sleepy beachside home town.

I hear you used to have a cake decorating business. Who are some of your favourite pastry chefs to tap on for inspiration? 

I’m obsessed with everything @toplessbaker does. He’s so innovative and is self taught like me. I also love some Australian bakers @nectarandstone and @karleeskupcakes . Australian baking is really cutting edge at the moment,  but I may be biased.

Set the scene for me when you're in the kitchen, baking and decorating. What do you see and smell? Do you listen to music while you bake - what's on your playlist? How do you feel when baking?

I always clean all the surfaces first, an absolute must! Then I get everything I need out. I’m very visual so I need to see it to remember to use it. Often the flavours and design are instinctive but if I’ve visualised a specific design I will draw it, sometimes I even get out watercolour pencils and paint the colours out. This is usually done the night before. The whole house will smell like warm sugar. I always listen to music, quite often it’s John Mayer or something singer/songwriter. I’ve tried listening to podcasts while I bake but for some reason True Crime doesn’t get me in the right headspace for baking. Lately I’ve found that if I listen to more uptempo music with a beat I do get things done quicker and bounce around the kitchen more. Songs by James Bay, Elderbrook and The Paper Kites are on my repeats a lot. Baking is definitely my happy place. I feel in the zone and become very zen. That is until I make a mistake, then I can become extremely frustrated. I’ve learnt that it’s all part of the creative process. I often have to walk away towards the end and come back with a clear head to put together the final touches.

 One of Dominique Ansel's beautiful London bakeries One of Dominique Ansel's beautiful London bakeries

What are your favourite bakeries/cafes in London, for baked goods? Any favourite dessert in the city?

I really need to visit more. I follow a lot on Instagram and it’s my goal to do a bakery tour soon. I’ve been trying to cut out sugar lately though so I may just have to stick to croissants. I really want to visit @luminarybakery they hire women that have had difficult pasts and teaches them baking skills. I would love to volunteer for them, what a powerful life skill to pass on! The other bakery I want to go to is @violetcakeslondon. They created the stunning cake for Harry and Meghan’s wedding. I was following her before it was announced she was doing it so part of me felt so proud of the baker, like she was my friend. I have been to @dominiqueansel London bakery. It’s stunning for the Devore alone. Beautiful desserts as well, each one a masterpiece. 

You decorated your room with these nicknacks [from a fiesta themed party]– what's the story behind them, and what do they mean to you?

 In September I sat down to brunch with 3 strangers who have since become my closest friends at The Collective. My housemate joined a little later and we ended up spending about 12 hours together that day. The following weekend we decided to have a Mexican night. In my usual over the top manner, I decided to decorate the room with bright table clothes and Mexican themed items. I bought a piñata and these cute little cactus lights. We named the piñata and I couldn’t bring myself to allow him to get smashed. So Pablo the Party Piñata is my rescue donkey and sits pride of place in my room. That night really cemented our friendship group and these pieces represent the joy of that night. 

Pablo the Party Piñata in all his glory!

You meet people at all different types of events and from that basis of having similar interests you can find really like minded people.

Every inch of Shannon's room is covered in colour and creativity.

How did you find The Collective, and why did you decide to move in?

It was mentioned on Aussies in London page on Facebook. The most stressful part when moving to London was the thought of dealing with housemates and landlords and all the extra fees that come up. I loved the idea of having my own space but being able to share my life with others when I wanted. I also liked that you just had to pay one fee a month for all the inclusions. But mostly for me I loved the decor, it’s important for me to live in a place that I find beautiful. 

What have been 3 memorable moments for you since living here?

The first time meeting my friends at brunch, enjoying a day out on the terrace and then throwing together an impromptu bbq that evening was an amazing and magic day. The chance seating of us and the friendship that followed felt like it was written in the stars.

 Halloween was an awesome Friday night drinks party. My gang dressed as the spice girls and danced our hearts out that night. When the DJ put on a spice girls melody we all went crazy and it was such an epic moment. There may have been table dancing, but I can’t confirm that.

Singing at Live in the Garden. I’ve always sung back up for friends but this was my first time singing by myself in front of people. There was so much love and support in the room and it felt so good and life affirming. That’s the thing about The Collective, you feel so supported that you can really start taking some emotional risks.

What would you say is the best thing about living at The Collective? Why did you choose this as the best?

 I'd say its definitely the friendships you make. Because you live so close to people your friendships can happen and deepen very quickly. You meet people at all different types of events and from that basis of having similar interests you can find really like minded people. Also, I genuinely have the worlds best housemate. I know that I wouldn’t have had half as much fun without her sharing this Collective journey with me.  When I injured myself I felt such a huge amount of love from the people in the community, friends and strangers rallied around me and really helped support me when I was pretty low. You don’t get that in a normal apartment building. There is something pretty unique and special about The Collective experience.

Our members are pretty amazing, don't you agree?  Well, this is just the beginning of the stories we are going to share, so keep an eye on our Instagram, Facebook, Twitter to hear more from the wonderful people within our buildings.