We spoke to Hillary Wall from Cork & Chroma to discover her local business story:
Hi Hillary, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Can you tell us a little about how Cork & Chroma started?
I’m a co-owner as well as the Creative Director for Cork & Chroma. My husband BJ and I started the business together (with our dog, Trudy) with me managing our first studio until BJ joined the Cork & Chroma team full time in 2015. Ever since, working together every day has been fantastic. We officially opened our doors in Brisbane in November of 2013 before expanding to Surry Hills in June of 2016.
Cork & Chroma was inspired by a painting hobby I picked up my first year at Uni. Moving out and being on my own for the first time was a challenge for me. I was looking for an outlet, and one day I found myself in an art supply store and on a whim I picked up some canvases, paints, and brushes. I started experimenting, painting in circles, blending colours, and used art as a form of therapy to cheer me up and reconnect with myself. I loved it.
Occasionally my two best friends and I would have a night where we’d share bottles of wine and paint for fun in our apartments. Those nights of sharing wine, laughter, music, and friendship stuck with me. I hoped to recreate the environment that I had on those nights with my friends, and make a conducive environment for our guests to express themselves on canvas, while having the best time doing it.
What are some of the most memorable experiences with customers?
One memory that comes into my head is that we helped one of our guests in Brisbane propose to his girlfriend with four custom painted canvas panels that read “Will you marry me?” That was a really special day.
Honestly, one of the things I love most about our business is that people come here to celebrate all kinds of big life milestones, engagements, anniversary, birthdays, retirement, and we’ve had a couple of divorce parties as well. So every night holds the potential for celebration and connection through creativity.
What is one quirky fact about your business?
One thing I’m pretty chuffed with is our Cork & Chroma session playlist. It’s an ongoing and carefully curated list thats been curated over the course of over 3 years we’ve been open. We reckon it’s a perfect blend of songs, and it never fails to get the group singing along.
What do you love most about having a business in the Brisbane and Surry Hills area?
The two cities are really different, as I’m sure anyone who have lived in both cities would tell you. From my perspective, life in Brisbane is very community oriented and not six degrees of separation, but more like two or three. A sense of connection is in the air. And life in Sydney is so exciting, there’s an undercurrent of energy that is flowing through the streets and through everyone. People are focused and up for anything. What has been really neat is seeing that no matter the city, our ‘painting and sipping’ sessions have a real unifying quality for all types of people.
Are there any local businesses in the area that you love?
In Surry Hills, BJ and I cannot walk past Ze Pickle without stopping for a beer and a veggie burger. The other local that we love in Surry Hills for coffee is Cafe con Leche. It’s a Colombian cafe, and their coffee is divine, and their arrepas- fabulous.