The Back End: Reflecting on the Year That Was


There’s a beautiful quote from Maya Angelou that I stumbled upon recently, that has been living rent-free in my head: “This is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before”. I can’t say at this time of year I am bouncing out of bed every morning and greeting the day with gratitude and wide-eyed wonder (quite possibly the opposite is true – bed, you will always be my ride or die). But the sentiment of this quote is something that helps put my feet on the ground and encourages one foot in front of the other. How lucky I am to have a new day when others are living through a genocide. How privileged I am to greet my family in the mornings when friends of mine have recently lost their own. And how fortunate I am to do what I do when many creative businesses are packing up their paintbrushes and putting down their pens.

It hasn’t been an easy year by any stretch – I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t agree with that statement. And so it feels a little superficial to be celebrating our wins, when there is currently so much suffering happening on micro and macro levels around us. But it needs to be done, because if we don’t champion our own successes, who will? Someone recently said to me that they were always waiting to be given the title of ‘artist’, like it’s someone else’s job to bestow that on you. The same tends to go for success – who decides if you are successful or not? I finished my wrap-up last year with the Japanese proverb: “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” This year felt more like, ‘Fall down 82 times, get up 83.’ Well, that’s 83 wins, my friends! I’ll take that. So despite having more get up and get downs than a 90s techno track, I’m still so grateful for the good that happened over the past 12 months and there were many, many successes that need to be celebrated. 

It was a wonderful year, I have never seen one like this before. 

Our four beautiful issues are always a highlight, and these were no different, starting with the glorious illustrated cover of Issue 57 by Gudanji/Wakaja artist Ryhia Dank of Nardurna. “The message in my storywork is about creating opportunities for us all to build and maintain relationships with Country. For thousands and thousands of years, First peoples of this continent have maintained strong, responsible connections with each other and the lands on which we live,” Ryhia says of the vibrant design. Issue 58 saw artist and sewist Sue-Ching Lascelles bring colour and community to our cover, followed by the fantastic foraged flowers of artist Emma Morgan.

Behind these glorious covers has lived many a story I am heart-poppingly proud of. The special feature we did on The Voice referendum with Teela Reid, a proud Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman, lawyer, storyteller and the co-founder of Blackfulla Bookclub, illustrated by Ngarabal and Torres Strait Islander artist Lauren Rogers. We chatted with Bob Brown, the giant of the sustainability movement, and Carly Findlay wrote for us about disability representation. We’ve learned about the world’s most littered plastic (cigarette butts), explored the rise of artificial intelligence, embraced the life-affirming joy of community choir and uncovered those creating practical and inclusive safe spaces. 

And then of course there was our milestone sixtieth issue, with our manifesto perfectly illustrated by Luke John Matthew Arnold. And oh how we celebrated this huge achievement, with you, our dearest community, in a night of all nights. Having said that, I’m not picking a favourite child; our PepTalks event in May was also an amazing evening full of inspo, heart-led insights and an impromptu singalong. We can’t talk about either of these events without mentioning the now-famous Me-Made Parades – truly a spectacular stitchy show! The way you show up for us and bring your love, support and real selves is a gift we’ll always treasure.⁠

It turns out our events also garnered the attention of the publishing powers that be, with PepTalks bringing home the Mumbrella Publish Award for Event of The Year! This gong belongs to Caitlin Moriarty for her incredible work in putting this night together. Bonnie Liston and her wonderful wordsmithing took out Young Writer of the Year, and while we didn’t win, we were shortlisted for Magazine of the Year, which is all credit to our editor Lauren Baxter and her meticulous management of our precious Peppermint. I’m giving my own award to our incredible Michelle Holt for her tireless work with our (genuinely) beloved advertisers, who help us do what we do. And a big hello and thank goodness for our new People and Culture team member Laura Jackson, who in the short time she has been with us, has already brought her signature style of positivity and people power to the Peppermint planet.

We partnered with many other values-led brands who we adore, from Generation Women and the Brisbane Art Design (BAD) Festival to The Finders Keepers and Ethical Clothing Australia, and held space in our community for listening and learning by showing the Fashion Reimagined film, and hosting an in-conversation with sustainability crusader Clare Press.

We – and you! – stitched up a storm with our new sewing patterns, the Samford Set, the Rozelle Slip, the Belle Shirt and new kid on the diving block, the Bronte Bathers. I’m personally pretty chuffed with the design challenge images we created for our pals at Spoonflower – where we asked their community to create a tribute to what they loved most about Mother Earth. What a talented and passionate bunch you all are. We also launched Sew Organised – a pretty-in-pink journal designed to be your companion when it comes to planning, organising and reflecting on your sewing practice. And of course, the thread that ties our sewing year together is the recently-released, digital issue of Sew&Tell – what an explosion of fun, fabric and all the feels.

Being part of the BAD Festival was a personal highlight – the theme this year was ‘Culture, Community and Clay.’ I was accepted to take part in the Commune exhibition where over 300 potters, both experienced and new (phew), were invited to submit a ‘memory vessel’ that told a story of a memory of place, celebrating the impact of the medium in Brisbane. Given my 2022 was washed away with the floods, clay was the little rickety (and often cracked) boat that helped steer me back to shore. It was a very meaningful (and slightly bittersweet) moment to display my piece – aptly titled Come Hell and High Water – alongside so many other talented folk. Not because I thought it was a perfect specimen of my own creativity and skill, heck no, but because of the full-circle moment, and the fact that our Brisbane creative community is something to be so proud of and I felt so humbled to be in their midst. Through (get) ups and (get) downs, they’ve rallied around us, rallied around each other and beyond, supported, loved, cheered, made and created.  

The same goes for the rest of our community, local, national and across the globe. Subscribers, followers, readers, advertisers, stockists – how fabulous you all are. Give yourself a big old pat on the back. We heart you more than words can say. The new year is going to bring a few changes to our Minty microcosm, but we’ll get into that in 2024. We got this. And we got there. It’s a new day, a new month, a new year. How lucky we are.