The true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own. Great leaders truly care about those they are privileged to lead and understand that the true cost of the leadership privilege comes at the expense of self-interest. — SIMON SINEK



The Beginning

JUNE 2012

In 2012, I launched my first project with no idea what I was doing. I had the fool hardy assumption that I could pull it off. The name Voena was derived from  the Russian word for war, which for us was fitting.

I had assisted in photography studios for the best part of my teen years, treating the studio as an escape from the routine of my youth. It was in 2011 that my father closed the studio he owned called Red Rocket Studios and moved out of the industry almost entirely.

Only two years previously had I completed a journalism degree that I had been told repeatedly by my lecturers would not allow me to get a job.

These things angered me, left me feeling stuck, like there was no place for photographers, no place for art, no place to do what you love, express yourself and be paid for it unless you got lucky, or could afford not to eat.



Decisions, decisions, decisions.

OCT 2015

In 2015 I reached a personal stalemate with myself, having realised I did not understand enough about the business side, and that I had a team who for good reason no longer wanted to work with me. I tried looking at every possible option from taking out a business loan, to selling a stake in the company to a private party, to an equity deal to keep cash flow. I then examined starting another business and doing something similar as well as a variety of other poorly drawn imitations.

In fact I wanted to close Voena and held a meeting to do so, inevitably I handed over the keys to Sam and the team but only after making it difficult for them.

I could not make any of it work, and my passion for it had soured. I had forgotten why I loved Voena so much, and just felt responsible for it like it was my own belligerent child.

It wasn't, it belonged to the team, and that was something I was yet to see.

So I walked away.



A New Challenge

2017 + BEYOND.

This is really hard for me, I'm not here to tell you that you should trust me, or that this will work, merely to ask that if you believe what I do that you trust that with the right people around, magic will happen.

I spent 2016 working with a business coach, and freelancing, setting myself in the latter part of the year a challenge to read a book a week whilst working on the application for my masters. On December 21st I was told that I had not been successful but was offered a place in AFTRS post graduate business certification which I have happily accepted.

I started to see the gaps and find the passion I did with Voena. I set up an ideas blog, I tried podcasting (poorly), I tried setting up another venture (poorly), and then I settled on working and learning until I was ready.

These were not things I thought I would half ass, but put me on a track to start Avilo.

It was in doing all these tasks I discovered what it is I loved more than photography. It was in convincing other people against their better judgement, that working together they could achieve success they wouldn't otherwise.

It was in realising this that I looked around and found no one trying to work as a talent coach, running collaboration workshops or teaching the difficult interpersonal skills to get people to work together. Something I had failed at, but at the same time had great passion for.

Make no mistake Avilo is not Voena. I want to take what I learnt from my failures and help others grow immensely

With the continued defunding of the arts, the lack of diversity and room to working together our arts community needs the tools to take itself forward. 

This is why the platform AVILO was born.


A special thanks and apologies to:

Adrienne Lim, Andrew Vidler, Anthony Berlangieri, Ari Pashalis, Cai Griffin, Cara Lea Sayer-Bourne, Daisy Hofstetterr, Jack Toohey, Justin Vague, Lily May, Marcus Solomon, Melissa Wilson, Michael Perelini, Nick Lalak, Patrick Rohl, Rockett Weijers, Sam Whiteside, and Sean McKeever. 


Voena launch photo 2012.

Voena launch photo 2012.