Brand Feature // Mon Purse

If you like high quality leather goods (big and small) and the option to customize, Mon Purse offers all that and more.

The Brand

Have you ever experienced the situation where you found a bag that you love but there was just one detail that doesn’t fit your style? We’ve all been there and thankfully there are brands out there that come to our rescue.

Mon Purse is one such brand.

Founded by Lana Hopkins, the Australian brand hand selects high quality leather and raw materials to produce leather goods that will last a lifetime. The best thing about Mon Purse is that customers are given the power to design their leather goods and by working with generational craftsmen, Mon Purse ensures that its customers get the products that they’ve envisioned and will truly love.

In terms of design, customers can emboss their initials or icons and symbols on the product of their choice. Mon Purse even provide the option to choose the color of the hardware (comes with a selection of gold, silver, rose gold and gunmetal) as well as the type of leather. Whether you’re drawn to grainy leather, vegetable tanned leather, or crocodile embossed leather, there’s something for everyone!

Besides bags and pouches, Mon Purse also sell small leather goods such as card holders, Iphone accessories and metal letter charms.

From The Founder

Lana-Hopkins-CEO-and-Founder-of-Mon-PurseIMG_6847_the cusp
Source: The Cusp

Lana was shopping for the perfect handbag at Westfield Bondi Junction but like most women, she couldn’t find the one that she wanted. And as she was building her nephew’s perfect teddy bear at Build-A-Bear workshop, she thought why not create something that allows women to do the same? With that, Mon Purse was born in 2014.

It’s definitely not easy to run a business but after two years of hard work, Mon Purse is now valued at over $30 million, with departments available in Selfridges (London), Bloomingdale (US), and Myers (Australia).

Do you see yourself as more a designer or as working in technology?

The combination of fashion and technology is a natural partnership – the two work together in harmony. Technology has enabled consumers to personalise and customise current trends to suit their own style. Fashion is something people love and are passionate about – technology is simply the unseen mechanism of making dreams possible.

Biggest pinch me moment…

  • We launched in beta (online) in October 2014 and have only been truly trading for less than one and a half years, during this time we managed to open our Paddington flagship store, signed an exclusive deal with MYER (we currently have 5 concessions Australia wide, with more to come in 2017).
  • Partnered with two of the most prestigious department stores in the world, Selfridges and Bloomingdales.
  • From 17 million design combinations on our bag builder to 6 billion and growing.


Biggest piece of advice…

When it gets too hard, just keep going because that is when breakthroughs tend to happen. Impossible is nothing.

If you could change one thing about the fashion industry, what would it be and why?

Quality should trump everything. Our philosophy is to invest in nothing but the finest luxury European leathers and craftsmanship. Consumers understand quality – we must think solely about the consumers’ needs, and provide them with what they want, how they want and when they want it. It is very important to remain relevant and authentic. Consumers are intelligent and authenticity creates magic.

Tell us something about you that not many people know.

I was born in Russia, moved to Australia when I was quite young and grew up in a small place called Armidale, in countryside New South Wales – a gorgeous part of the world. I can also speak fluent Russian.

Source: and

Find out more here:



Jewelry Edit // Opals

Lusting over Australia’s national gemstone – the opal.

I first heard of opals when I visited Melbourne back in 2010. I’ve always been a fan of gemstones and crystals but I don’t own jewelry of that kind until recently.

A few weeks ago, I came across a sale at Rochi’s Opals (168 Swanston St, Melbourne VIC 3000) and I couldn’t help but step inside to see if there’s anything that catches my eye. Although I don’t look for specific types of jewelry, I tend to gravitate towards rings. I think it’s the perfect jewelry to wear no matter the season as bangles and necklaces are usually covered up by turtleneck knits, scarves and jackets.

Most of the rings available at Rochi’s are simple and dainty (see above), which is perfect for the minimalist but they also look common. I like unique jewelry (and clothing and decorations) that speaks to my personal style and what’s not to love when most people don’t own what you have? I’m currently in a phase where all chunky and non symmetrical pieces appeal to me and I hope to eventually build a collection of jewelry that I adore and would wear for years to come.

Do you know much about opals? If not, I got you covered. Opal is a gemstone found mainly in Australia and it’s one of only six types of precious gemstones – alongside diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds and pearls – found on planet earth.

Myth: Opals are bad luck.

Fact: The ‘bad luck’ myth is the result of centuries of misinformation, superstition, wives’ tales, and jealous diamond traders spreading rumours. Opal has also been considered a good luck talisman and lucky charm throughout the ages, and has been prized by many civilisations. Find out more about the ‘bad luck’ opal myth.

The two main variety of opal are precious opal and common opal. The former presents a pseudo chromatic optical effect and is considerably rare while the latter is dull and valueless. About 95% of all opal mined is common (they’re usually white, grey, black) and of the 5% that has some color, only 0.25% has value while the rest is of mediocre grade.

Myth: Opals are extremely fragile and will break very easily.

Fact: It’s true that opals are more fragile than most gemstones, however they’re not as fragile as some people imagine. Opals are about the same hardness as glass, so imagine you’re wearing a piece of glass and you’ll get the idea. Boulder opals and opals with a low cabochon are sturdier and less easy to damage.

The value of opal depends on a range of factors such as body tone, brilliance and pattern. Body tone refers to the underlying color of the opal which can differ from black through to dark and light. Those with black or dark body tone are deemed more valuable than white or light body tone because the former tends to display colors more vibrantly. Precious opals are also more likely to display a spectrum of color when light passes through the tiny silica spheres in the micro-structure of the opal.

If you’re thinking of getting opal jewelry, educate yourself on how to care for them. First, identify the type of opal you have. Is it a doublet, triplet or a solid opal?

  • Doublet: Has two layers, a thin slice of opal and a black backing.
  • Triplet: Similar to doublet but has a third transparent layer on top (quartz or glass) to protect the opal.
  • Solid: It’s in its natural state and has been cut and polished.

Opal is only as hard as glass, so if there’s a chance it’ll be scratched or broken, remove the jewelry beforehand. To keep your opals looking pristine, take note of the following:

  • Doublets and triplets: Avoid prolonged exposure to water as layers in the opal will be lifted, resulting in a ‘foggy’ or grey appearance. Clean doublets and triplets with a damp soft cloth and mild detergent. Never soak or immerse them!
  • Solid: Unlike doublets and triples, solid opals are fine in water. However, since most precious opals have 5 – 6% water, they may crack if subjected to very dry conditions or rapid temperature changes. Avoid very high temperatures or low humidity extremes (Do you work for the bank? Watch out for zero humidity bank vaults).

In the end, I didn’t purchase any rings from Rochi’s Opals but I did get two gold necklaces with little blue-green opals on them. Now I just got to wait for the right time to wear them.


My Top Picks




In My Handheld Device

Just sharing a few visuals I’ve gathered over time…

143IMG_20160830_173532_HDR2Lei. Suit hunting with R. Drive up to Falls Creek. Backstage // PUMA. Policemen on horse.


Andrea fixes my hair. NGV exhibition. Night market @ Ampang, KL. Random sightings in Brunswick.



Raw Moments

I was thinking about my collection of photos yesterday night and I feel like posting the unedited in this perfect virtual world.

Here are some of my favorite snaps taken at different points of my life.

It’s unedited. Off the cuff. It’s raw.

My first trip to the Dandenong Ranges with R.
A short family trip to Penang, Malaysia.
Psychology graduates.
Hair love affair at the Finders Keepers event.
Bestie came down to visit from Canberra.
Ai Wei Wei’s
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Couldn’t resist taking a shot of these two little ones. 
R getting his “wand”.
Closing of the NEXT A/W runway show.

My goal was to post at least 4 times every month but that’s not happening in March. I shall try harder in April and challenge myself.

I hope you’re enjoying your Friday.

Wherever you are, have a great weekend!


My Top 5 Book Recommendations

I’ve recommended some of my favorite movies a week ago. This time it’s all about books!

Happy Tuesday folks! In my last post, I talked about my favorite movies (check it out if you haven’t seen it) and this one is for you bookworms who just want to curl up and read after a long day at work.


The Bug is set at the dawn of the personal-computer era in the 1980s. Novice software tester Roberta Walton stumbles across a bug and raises her concern to longtime programmer Ethan Levin, who inadvertently created “The Jester”. The bug gained its nickname for its tendency to appear randomly at critical moments, jeopardizing the fate of the company.

Walton and Levin team up to hunt down the elusive bug but the challenge affects both characters differently. Levin’s desire to fix his mistake soon becomes an uncontrollable obsession, threatening to destroy his professional and personal life. Walton, on the other hand, benefits from the existence of the bug. She not only challenges herself to learn to program but also escapes her private troubles by putting all her energy into the learning process.

Although I have no knowledge in programming, Ullman has made The Bug an easy read. It was eye opening to get a glimpse into the programming world and the challenges programmers face at work. Other ideas explored in the book include the boundary between work and personal life, isolation and the relationship between humans and computers. Some parts of the book made me feel uneasy (you’ll know why when you read it) but if you’re curious about the world of programming and the complexities of the human psyche, this one’s for you.

Ellen Ullman is an American computer programmer and author. She owned a consulting firm and worked as technology commentator for NPR’s All Things Considered. Her work analyzes the human side of the world of computer programming.


I usually treat myself to a pile of books when a bookstore is having a sale. I picked this one up about 2 years ago (I got The Bug at the same time as well) while I was in my final year of university.

Buying books is not an easy feat. Because I don’t read a lot, I have no clue as to which authors produce the best work. So I end up reading the short description behind random books, hoping to stumble across something that interests me (I could easily spend 2 hours in a bookstore!). There were two things that prompted me to purchase House of Stone: the memoir was written by an established journalist and the fact that it’s set in the Middle East.

I’ve always wanted to learn more about the culture in the Middle East and Shadid did a great job in portraying that as well as the agonies and hopes of the Middle East. In 2006, Shadid was sent to Lebanon to report on the Israeli invasion and he discovered his great grandfather’s once magnificent property in ruins. A year later, Shadid returned to Marjayoun (where the house is) and began his mission to restore the house. The renovation not only signifies the attempt to restore what was once great but most importantly it also preserves his family’s identity in the land they call Home.

The author takes you through his experience collaborating with the locals and tells a rich story of how his family came to settle in America. House of Stone has informed and changed my perception on the Middle East. It’s personal, engaging and emotional. I highly recommend this one!

Shadid was a foreign correspondent for The New York Times based in Baghdad and Beirut. From 2003 to 2009 Shadid was a staff writer for The Washington Post acting as the Islamic affairs correspondent in the Middle East. He won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting twice for his coverage on the Iraq War. At just 43, Shadid suffered an acute asthma attack and passed away while attempting to leave Syria in 2012.


If you look at the cover, can you tell what this book is about? You guessed it – technology! My desire to read technology related books started when I finished G. Willow Wilson’s Alif the Unseen. This was actually a prescribed book for my Popular Fiction class and I’m glad that I was introduced to range of great writers while I was a literature student.

Alif the Unseen is set in an unnamed Middle Eastern security state where a 23 year old Arab-Indian hacker shields his clients—dissidents, outlaws, Islamists, and other watched groups—from surveillance. Alif’s relationship with an aristocratic woman named Intisar ends abruptly when her father arranges a marriage for her with a man of her class. It turns out that Intisar’s fiancé is the state’s leading censor, also known as ‘the Hand’. One day, Alif’s computer is breached by the state’s electronic security force and they come after him with guns drawn, forcing him to go underground. As their final communication, Intisar sends Alif a mysterious book titled The Thousand and One Days which he soon realizes is a dangerous source of old world magic. As the keeper of the secret book, Alif is about to become a wanted fugitive from the corporeal and the celestial worlds…

I have to admit it was impossible to put down Alif the Unseen. Although reading one book per week is usually impossible for me (yes, we Lit students are hard core), I had no problem with this one. The story is action packed, filled with suspense and you’ll encounter themes related to spirituality, democracy as well as love and betrayal.

Gwendolyn Willow Wilson is an American comics writer, prose author, essayist and journalist (wow!). After converting to Islam while attending Boston University, Wilson moved to Cairo and made her contributions to the Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine and the National Post. Wilson’s writing career began from her work as a freelance music critic for DigBoston. In 2014, Marvel debuted a new Ms. Marvel series written by Wilson. Her debut novel Alif the Unseen won the 2013 World Fantasy Award for best novel.


I was introduced to The Great Gatsby while I was pursuing an International Baccalaureate degree back in 2010. At first it was hard for me to digest as I wasn’t used to reading classics. But after going through it twice and discussing it in class, I begin to appreciate Fitzgerald’s work.

I recommend that you watch and read The Great Gatsby. You’ll get the full picture of what is it like to live in America during the 1920s and Fitzgerald’s (or Nick’s? This point was debated in my but I’ll let you decide) views on society and the country’s values. My favorite symbol is the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. When I first read the book, I didn’t think twice about them but it has an interesting meaning attached to them. I’ll leave you with a quote from the book and you decide if you want to pick this one up or not:

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…And then one fine morning – So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American novelist and short story writer whose work mostly illustrates the Jazz Age. Fitzgerald wrote four novels: This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and DamnedThe Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night but the last one didn’t receive the attention he hoped for. Although he wasn’t as successful as other writers in his time, he is known to be one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Fitzgerald’s health wasn’t the greatest in the late 1930s. He was a heavy drinker and he died of a heart attack at the age of 44. His fifth novel The Last Tycoon was only half written but it was prepared by his friend Edmund Wilson and published after his death.


Of course I have to include this one in this post. I was telling my friends on Instagram how good the book was and that they should have a read if they want to understand the introverts around them, and rightly so.

In my opinion, Quiet is well researched, engaging and passionate. Cain’s discussions are adequately supported by research and she includes materials that invite the readers to participate in her discussion. The book is broken up into four major chapters starting with the discussion on the extrovert ideal, followed by the idea of nature vs. nurture, cultural influences and finally finishing up with tips on how to love and work with introverts. Although the book is filled with research, Cain managed to make it interesting and easily digestible. What I like most about this book is the stories Cain collected from real introverts. Ranging in age and profession, they all provide valuable insights on how they try to “fit in”, adapt and strive in an extroverted world. Cain passionately argues that by undervaluing introverts, society fails to benefit from at least one-third of the population.

There is so much I could relate to in this book. I even shed a tear or two when I thought about my “ugly” days in school and “embarrassing” incidents during social events. After reading Quiet, I realized how far I’ve come and how my constant struggle to break free from my fears has shaped who I am today. Quiet may have opened up the eyes of the extroverts, but I fear that change is happening too slowly…

Susan Horowitz Cain is an American writer who co-founded Quiet Revolution in 2015. The company’s mission is “to unlock the power of introverts for the benefit of us all”. Following Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Cain wrote Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts in 2016 to educate teachers and parents on introverted children and teens. Cain initially had a career in corporate law and consulting but she decided to leave that behind for writing so that she could work from home and spend time with her family.

And there you have it! I hope I managed to pique your interest with these selections. Until then, take care and have a great week ahead!




My Top 5 Movie Recommendations

Need ideas on what to watch during your down time? I got you covered.

Hello all! I hope you’re having a good week so far 🙂

R and I spend most of our weekends watching movies or Netflix. It’s something we both enjoy doing when we stay in. That said, we’ve seen some really good ones and had our fair share of terrible films.

Here are 5 of my favorite movies and if you have no plans for tonight, why not watch one of these?


“Now you’re looking for the secret. But you won’t find it because of course, you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.”

The Prestige (2006)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-fi

Starring: Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson

Christopher Nolan has directed a number of great films over the years, some of which include Interstellar, Inception and The Dark Knight Rises. This film is adapted from Christopher Priest’s 1995 World Fantasy Award-winning novel of the same name.

The Prestige tells the story of two talented magicians who compete against each other to create the best stage illusion. You’ll not only be entertained with amazing illusion tricks, but also witness how obsession and deception could lead to fame and destruction.

This film is filled with unexpected twists and if you like to be surprised, this one is for you.


“Your Plan depended on other people. People suck, and they’ll disappoint you every time.”

Tallulah (2016)

Director: Sian Heder

Genre: Drama

Starring: Ellen Page, Allison Janney, Tammy Blanchard

R and I came across this while we were searching for something to watch on Netflix. We decided to watch Tallulah simply because Ellen Page is in it and we both have a crush on her.

Tallulah follows the life of a young drifter, Lu, who travels around America in a van with her boyfriend, Nico. With no stable source of income, they steal to survive. Eventually, Nico decides to leave because he can’t cope with Lu’s lifestyle. Lu drives to New York City expecting to find Nico at his mother’s place but Lu is told that Nico hasn’t been home in 2 years and is asked to leave. With nowhere to go, Lu steals from guests at a nearby hotel. Lu’s life is turned upside down when she meets an intoxicated mother who entrusts her toddler to her after she mistook Lu as housekeeping staff…

This film explores the dichotomy between living freely and conforming to social norms as well as topics on relationships, attachment and extramarital affairs. Watch it and tell me what you think about the ending!


“You can’t learn anything when you’re talking. That’s a fact of life. As long as you’re talking, you’re not listening.”

Creed (2015)

Director: Ryan Coogler

Genre: Drama, Sport

Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson

Creed is a spin-off and sequel to the Rocky film series, starring Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Johnson Creed (Apollo Creed’s son) and Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa.

I’m not a huge fan of sport movies but there’s something about the relationship between the coach and the student that makes me come back for more. Maybe because it reminds me of the relationship I once had with a teacher I highly admire. The first sport movie I watched was Million Dollar Baby (the ending broke me into pieces) and it really inspired me to set my eyes on the goal and never give up.

Creed explores the main character’s inner conflict to follow his father’s footsteps and make a name for himself. Throughout the movie, you’ll get your dose of good soundtrack and awesome boxing moves. The movie also highlights the idea that everyone has their own battles to fight in their everyday lives. It’s how you approach your nemesis that determines whether you win or lose…


“They say you only really appreciate a garden once you reach a certain age, and I suppose there is a truth in that. It’s probably something to do with the great circle of life. There seems to be something miraculous about seeing the relentless optimism of new growth after the bleakness of winter, a kind of joy in the difference every year, the way nature chooses to show off different parts of the garden to its full advantage.”

Me Before You (2016)

Director: Thea Sharrock

Genre: Drama, Romance

Starring: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Janet McTeer

If you ask me to pick a movie to watch on a weekend, I’d go for action/sci-fi/crime/horror (when I’m feeling adventurous) more than anything else. Romantic films aren’t my favorite because they’re either too predictable or just down right cringe worthy.

I came across Me Before You on my flight back to Melbourne and I watched snippets of it before the plane landed. I’m the type of person who will finish a movie (no matter what) if I think it’s worth watching or the actors who play the main characters are highly attractive. In this case, it’s the latter (Don’t judge, I’m sure some of you do that too. Or maybe it’s just me…). Turns out, it wasn’t predictable and I cried my eyes out.

This film is about a small town girl (Lou) who takes up the challenge to care for a paralyzed man (Will) after she lost her job at a cafe. As Will starts to open up, Lou begins to understand his attitude towards her and life in general. Lou dedicates her time to Will in an attempt to show him that he can live a fulfilling life even though he’s disabled. But nothing, not even the girl who makes him laugh again, can change his mind on THE decision.

The major themes you’ll encounter in Me Before You are dreams and hopes, exploration and disappointment. The movie also made me think about how fragile the human body is and how often I seem to take advantage of my perfectly able body.

P.S. Lou’s outfits are amazing!


“Not many Frenchmen like German tacticians. It only took them two weeks to take over your entire country.”

The Siege of Jadotville (2016)

Director: Richie Smyth

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller

Starring: Jamie Dornan, Jason O’Mara, Mark Strong

The Siege of Jadotville depicts the 1961 siege of a 150 strong Irish UN battalion by 3000 Congolese troops led by French and Belgian mercenaries working for the mining companies. Commander Patrick Quinlan is the leader of the Irish UN battalion and he’s my favorite character. Even though he has never been in a real fight before, the Commander demonstrates himself to be a level-headed leader. There were moments when I was thinking “OH NO! YOU’LL ALL DIE!!” but I was surprised time and time again. You’ll get a whole lot of suspense and frustration but all of that will be counteracted by the ending. I promise.

I hope you like these suggestions and if you prefer to read a book during your chill time, I have some suggestions for you as well so watch this space!




The State of Gold

My taste in jewelry has certainly changed as I go through different stages of life. Take a walk down memory lane with me and discover the pieces that I’ve selected for my future collection.

7 – 10 m

The first jewelry I wore was simple. It is a gold anklet with a tiny bell attached near the clasp. My mum told me I had it on when I was just learning how to crawl.

The bell emits a pleasant jingle everywhere I went. I guess that was one method of keeping track of my whereabouts.

7 – 15 y

I got my ears pierced at a stuffy jewelry store in my hometown. It was painful and I had tears in my eyes. I hated the piercing gun.

My mum introduced me to her collection of gold jewelry. I didn’t understand the significance they have for her at the time. I remember I love looking at them and trying them on. I always end up disappointed because nothing fits me.

The only “jewelry” I own back then were rainbow colored plastic rings, beaded necklaces, wooden bracelets and cheap custom jewelry.

I got a second piercing on my right ear and I still hate the piercing gun.

My mum (spontaneously) bought me two necklaces from Foxy Originals. This was one of them: Jade Necklace in blackbrown

17 – 22 y

I love stacking bracelets, rings and necklaces. My approach was ‘the more the merrier’.

I stop by a custom jewelry store whenever I’m out shopping. I pick things out, try them on and put them back. I always wish I have enough money to buy everything in the store.

Occasionally my mum would treat me to a piece of jewelry (or more depending on her mood).

My friends and family members know. I guess that’s why I get jewelries as gift during birthdays or after someone has been overseas.

After I graduated high school, I decided to reward myself with a nose piercing. The process was surely not rewarding.

23 – 24 y

When Lovisa is having a sale, you’ll find me there.

I begin to appreciate fine jewelry. You also won’t find me stacking bracelets and necklaces anymore (but once in a blue moon, I still do).

I fell in love with nature’s stone. Also known as crystals.

25 y

I no longer shop for custom jewelry. I hate that they don’t last and it’s just a waste of money. I’ll invest in the real deal instead.

So what would I have in my “future collection”?


An ornate bib with brushed gold leaf and deep red stones, this vintage confection is a bold take on a structured statement necklace.



A delicate gold strand with asymmetrical crystal embellishment.


These are the things I’d buy and wear when I have the means. That is why I called it the “future collection”. You’ll get a second peek soon enough. Until then, have a great weekend!


Like what you see? Here are the links I cited in this post: