“I think every stage is challenging because every age is new. Just as you think you have nailed pureed vegetables, they want steak, an iPhone and a mini skirt. I have always encouraged the girls to be kind and considerate, strong and independent – no matter how old they are. This is a constant message,” says the gorgeous Sydney-based Penny Hanan, mother to Pippa, 14, and Stella, 11. “At the moment my biggest challenge is understanding social media. Managing engagement and the way it impacts self esteem – it can be confronting and scary to manage as a parent, but we are muddling our way through week by week"...
Hanan is one of those humble, grounded and creative women who you instantly love. This shoot was organised last minute, yet she couldn’t have been more accommodating and friendly when we descended upon her with just a few hours notice. Raised in the country, Hanan and her family now live in ‘Mimosa’, a spectacular Victorian city terrace in Sydney’s Paddington. They renovated their home a few years ago, enlisting Annie Wilkes of Annie Wilkes Design and Edwina Withers of Boffi Studio.
It’s here in this grand home that she runs her business 1803 Artisan Deer Design, which sells a beautiful collection of items such as cheese knives and pillows made from the by-products from their family deer farm Mandagery Creek (Hanan’s family have been farming deer in Orange, Central NSW for over 30 years).
We caught up with the stylish and talented Hanan to find out more about 1803, raising girls and her childhood in the country…
Photography: Julie Adams
I am the eldest of three children and the only girl…
I remember cold Orange winters, collecting pinecones for the fire, catching the school bus and walking or riding my bike home along the dirt lane, picking raspberries and cherries from our small orchard and selling them on the highway outside of dad’s vet clinic before Christmas. Mum was a physiotherapist and worked full time – we ate a lot of chops and three veg and all had chores to keep the house going.
I do miss Orange and thought for many years that I would one day live there…
My yearning for a quieter pace, more space and being closer to family was very intense when the girls were younger. Now however, I have lived more of my life in Sydney than I have in Orange, I am very happy living in Sydney – it is a wonderful city and we have a great life. The coast, the food, our friends, our local Paddington community, access to social services that are simply not available in regional areas – we are very lucky living here. The strong connections we maintain with the country have allowed us as a family to embrace an inner city life with a sense of balance, which is perfect.
My mother is a strong woman…
She was widowed when only 25 and she had two young children (I was two and my brother Josh was just six weeks old). She remarried Andrew Hansen, my dad, and they had Tim. Mum is an intelligent and independent woman. She has always worked very hard and she compromised on many things to send us all to good schools and to keep our home as calm and happy as possible. I think that I have always thought that she was perhaps stronger and more at peace than she actually was; she did that for us. She just got on with things. Sadly my dad passed away last year after a long battle with cancer. So with time now on her side, she is entering her “fourth’ chapter in her life, and I am proud and excited for her – she is in her late 60s, fit, brave and looking to the future with positivity. Lessons learned – work hard, don’t rely on others – if you want something just work out how to get it done yourself, smell the roses more and always have a cold wine in the fridge for emergencies.
I am only in the middle of raising girls. Pip is 15 this year, Stella is 12….
So there is a long and windy road ahead, and I really don’t know if I can or should provide advice at this point! I feel very lucky to have two healthy children, and I simply want to help them evolve into considerate, confident, compassionate individuals capable of making strong decisions that will make sense in their heads and sit well in their hearts. Young women who will back themselves to do good things. So far this has involved being honest with them at all times, setting clear expectations of them and loving them unconditionally. Fingers crossed – there is a long way to go!
Motherhood is my life’s greatest journey….
Challenging? YES! Lessons? It has made me a more considerate, patient person. Motherhood has also made me believe that the nature/nurture debate is very real – children arrive largely wired as the humans they will be; we can nurture and guide them, but as parents we also need to accept, celebrate and love them and the way they are different to us. (This is so much easier to type than to do!!) Overcoming challenges? I talk with my husband, I talk with my friends, we talk with the girls, we choose what battles to fight, what to let through; I have some great crying sessions and I love to have a wine!
I studied a Bachelor of Agricultural Economics at Sydney University…
I graduated in 1993 and my first role was with Macquarie Bank Funds Management – I left after 12 months to travel. On my return I started recruitment in financial services which was a great chapter – people focussed, service focussed, team work. Tough, stimulating and fun. I had a fantastic career spanning 15 years in which I evolved enormously and made many good friends. It ended at the right time – a combination of 2 young children and the GFC market downturn. I then began to search for what I really wanted to do and be; it was a confronting time. I returned to study and completed a Master of Education (Education psychology). Education was not to be for me, however the process of learning was wonderful, great for my self esteem, it opened my mind to new possibilities with a renewed sense of confidence. And it was that, combined with my dad’s diagnosis with terminal cancer, that made me determined to do something for myself that was tangible, real and connected me to my country heritage. 1803 was born. 1803 is the year deer were introduced to Australia – that was dad’s idea, it was a good call.
I am lucky I have built a small business to suit my life with children and a busy husband…
I have a home-based studio open for appointments only and the business model relies on a small group of retail partners and online sales. This gives me great flexibility and balance. Pip is a boarder at Frensham in Mittagong, and Stella will be joining her there next year. It is a small nurturing school with lots of space, a slower pace and strong country heritage – we all like it. Stella cannot wait to start. This however will mean I will be at home alone (with Campbell and Lou the dog) and I have to admit, that while I am excited for the girls, I am nervous about missing them… a new chapter for all of us!
It is funny, I have not thought of having a love of interiors, I have always just wanted to create a home that Campbell and I enjoy living in…
We have always lived in older buildings that evolve with us. I love mixing old and new – simple design, neutral tones and natural materials. Respecting what we inherit and making it work for a young family.
We renovated our home in two stages over three years…
It was a big job. Old terraces are a special breed, every complication possible will raise its head. Good builders are essential, as is a pretty clear vision as to what you want. We try to let the homes we live in determine the big picture, keeping the building’s history as an important part of the renovation.
We both like art and have invested in art over the years for most of our special occasions (anniversaries, birthdays, trips overseas)…
We like to search out and buy furniture that we like and we will keep. We are collectors and our house is full of the things we have found over 20 years together. Nothing is better than a wet Saturday afternoon spent at The Country Trader, Boffi Studio, Spence & Lyda, Ici et La and MCM House – perfect!
I love the natural light, natural raw materials, fresh air and a seamless connection with the trees in our courtyard…
We LOVE our kitchen. The polished rendered walls were an unexpected and fabulous surprise – they make us happy every day. The original cedar timberwork was restored by the previous owners – it was an enormous job and we were very lucky to inherit it in such great condition, we love it.
For me a happy home is calm…
Natural light, good natural ventilation, muted colours, gentle music, low lighting (lamps & candles). We love collecting art, objects, books and photos that are memories and add character to every room. A happy home is welcoming, a home that reflects who we are and makes us feel good every day.
Success is being proud of the decisions you make…
Making small good choices that sit well in your heart and deliver outcomes to yourself, to your family, to your community (and beyond) that are anchored in integrity and decency. Success is being able to choose the life you want.
Penny in a flash:
Coffee or tea: Coffee
Typical breakfast: Seedy muesli with berries and a strong coffee.
On your bedside table you’ll find: Five books waiting to be read, a lavender candle and peppermint foot cream.
Exercise of choice: I love to walk, sadly it doesn’t seem to make the big difference I need anymore so an hour at Flow, my local gym early in the morning is a close second.
Book you’re currently reading: I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes.
Heels or flats: I covet and buy some wonderful heels, but sadly generally end up wearing flats – Converse and Birkenstock – sad but true.
Tidy or messy: Tidy (most of the time).
Dream travel destination: I have not really travelled extensively, but see much more opportunity in the next few years, which is exciting. From my experiences so far though, I love Italy and would return again and again – the people, the culture, the food and the light. Just wonderful.
Fragrance: Only that I chanced upon Issey Miyake Nuit D’Issey by mistake as I raced through duty free – it is a men’s fragrance however. I love its woody notes and have never been very flowery, so I keep stocking up!
Penny’s little list of loves:
Natural light and sun.
Time together with Campbell, Pip and Stella.
The beach – Bundeena is my happy place by the sea, a quiet north-facing village on Port Hacking within the Royal National Park.
Great food – any flavour but spicy and fresh is best.
A crisp, dry white wine.
Friends, I love good times with friends.
A long lunch on the deck at Catalina restaurant.
Music – classical, jazz, modern anything, I can not play it, but I love to always have music playing.