With her achingly-cool style, bold-hued Instagram and impressive catalogue of designer clients—there are no surprises why Violet Atkinson is one of the most in-demand stylists, photographers and creative directors on the East Coast.
Typically, this Sydneysider spends her days running from campaign shoots to styling jobs and shooting epic content for her ‘Gram—all while completing her PhD in IP law. Yep, she really does do it all.
So, we jumped at the chance to partner with NAB and steal a moment from her day to dive into how spends her hard-earned coin with the help of the new NAB StraightUp Card.
From designer combat boots to vintage velvet couches and supporting local businesses, get ready to step into the styled-up world of Violet Atkinson.
If you had to pick, what is your most treasured recent purchase?
The most prized possession in my wardrobe would be my designer combat boots that I bought at the beginning of the year. I saved up for a couple of months and bought them in February. I thought, 'I’m going to wear these so much, everyone’s going to see me in them over winter', but then we went into lockdown so I was just wearing these fabulous boots down to the store to get milk (laughs).
I feel like the world of fashion and beauty go hand in hand, do you find you like to indulge a little more when it comes to beauty?
I’m really picky about what goes on my skin and my hair, so good quality is always necessary. In terms of a base, I’ve always splurged on a good foundation. Whereas I save on things like mascara or an eyebrow gel since you can get really good drugstore products that do the same job. And I always finish my products before I go and get another one.
I spied on your Instagram that you recently moved apartments—I’m a big fan of your olive couch! Do you find yourself spending more on furniture and homewares—and how do you budget for that?
I spent weeks hunting for my couch! It’s modular, it’s so cool. I got it from some warehouse in Hornsby on a Sunday afternoon and was bargaining with the owner. But in regard to fitting out my apartment, I wanted to buy secondhand things, not just to save money but because it’s more environmentally conscious. I originally went to regular homewares stores, but I just didn’t feel satisfied buying from there. So instead, I sold a few things I owned because I figured, you take some things out and you sell them, and then you’ve got some cash to spend on furnishing the apartment. Plus, I’ve just sat on Facebook Marketplace. It’s also helped that I’ve had a super clear vision of what I wanted and stick to that. You could say I’m an impulse purchaser but I’m trying to train myself not to be like that because well, it’s furniture. You’ve got to look at it every day. Mainly, I’ve just tried to be really considered.
WHAT'S a typical day of spending in the life of Violet?
It revolves around food and travel. I’ll go and get my morning coffee and then I’ll usually go to the supermarket and grab ingredients for lunch and dinner. I drive to shoot locations and showings, so fuel is a regular everyday expense for me. And then another one which is big for me is my music streaming services. I listen to music from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep so that’s a non-negotiable daily spend.
What are THE everyday purchases you try and be savvier with?
For me, groceries is something I’m pretty savvy with. I found that when you move out of home, you automatically do what your mum did which is a huge grocery shop every week. But what I’ve learnt and become savvy with is to not bulk buy groceries every week because you never end up using everything you bought. I’m lucky because I live really close to supermarkets, so I just zip out every day or every second day and get exactly what I need. It’s as simple as buying what you need when you need it. Also, I think it’s about figuring out where you go home brand as well—whether it might be home brand flour or home brand sugar—and then you might splurge on other items like dips or sauces.
And on the flip side, what are THE everyday purchases you allow yourself more leniency with?
I honestly have to have a barista-made coffee every morning. That’s my splurge. But I do have a coffee machine coming this week so that’s me trying to be better.
Also, home scents are a big thing for me—like room sprays, really nice oils, and beautiful candles. I also buy flowers every week which some people might think is ridiculous but brings me joy! Since I work from home, I really like the space to smell as beautiful as it looks, and all of my creative ideas I come up with when I’m sitting at home so I need the space to feel creative, so I will never really skimp on those purchases.
Another thing that’s a non-negotiable in my budget that I think everyone forgets about is streaming services. I could never cancel any of my streaming services!
Is there something you spend money on almost every day that you absolutely cannot go without that might surprise people?
Health care. It’s a huge thing for me that I spend money on that might surprise people. I spend money on going to the physio and getting massages because, to me, health is wealth. I feel sometimes people skimp [on healthcare] because they feel great, and they might think they’ll spend money on it when they’re 50 or 60, but I feel like dealing with it now can only be beneficial.
Did you have any treat yourself moments this year?
I had a work trip booked in August and I had to go up to the Gold Coast to shoot a campaign—my partner came with me and we got across the border just in time. On the way back [to Sydney], and I figured it had been a stressful few months so we just ended up staying in Byron for a bit and it was really nice. I don’t usually take holidays as I’d rather put my money back into my business. But that holiday was really important this year to have a few days to chill. In April or May, and you speak to a lot of people in the same industry, and I legitimately didn’t think I was going to have a job after COVID-19. So that was a really good, blowout purchase that I don’t regret because it was so important for my mental health.
Were there any smaller purchases you made this year that still uphold the same sentimental value as that holiday in Byron?
Gertrude and Alice is my fave bookstore—they got listed in NATGEO’s top 10 bookstores in the world—and I go there pretty much every day. They serve food and coffee too so I’ll always grab a coffee. I’m really into supporting small businesses, especially through this [COVID-19] situation, and knowing so many people with small businesses—and I'm essentially a small business myself—so there’s some real sentimental value in me going to Gertrude and Alice and spending my dollars. Because for me, you can have things, but you can also have memories that you can spend money on. There’s another cafe in Bondi that I go to quite a lot called Porch and Parlour. It’s really nice going there all the time and building a relationship with the owners and supporting them because there’s that sentimental value of what they give back. At the end of the day, I work in an industry where there’s a lot of tangible things, so forming relationships is really nice.
Do you have any long-term savings goals you’re working towards?
I’m so excited to travel. That’s also partly why I left my law firm because you’re not constricted to a certain amount of annual leave and [as a creative] you can travel and work from wherever you want. So pretty much, I don’t know where I’m going because we don’t know where we will be allowed to go, but I’m quite competitive and I like watching my bank account grow, so in terms of budgeting for that, I’m just doing my necessary spends and then putting money in my bank and then waiting for that time that we can travel again. Also from a professional perspective, I get a lot of inspiration when I’m travelling, and I’ve spoken to a lot of creatives in Sydney and everyone’s feeling a little stagnant right now because they need to get inspiration from somewhere, so that’s the thing I’m saving for.
Do you use any tools to help with your everyday spending?
I’ve never had a credit card before, and I’ve always been a little apprehensive about it, but I use the StraightUp Card and think it's a really good foray into the market because you only need to pay the monthly fee if you actually use the card or have a balance.
From budget savvy to living your best life, the new NAB StraightUp Card makes everyday spending simple. With no interest, late payment fees or foreign currency fees — just a simple monthly fee which NAB will reverse if you don’t make any purchases and have kept a $0 balance for the entire monthly statement period. It’s straight-up easy! Check out all the details here.
Image credit: Yasmin Mund
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