A day at the Expo – ‘Kisses & Hugs’ tea to linen named after WA’s beaches

It may be a once a year event, but for some reason us women can get as excited about a three-day Expo, as men do about a much anticipated footie game.

This year the Mundella EveryWoman Expo is bigger than ever before with 260 exhibitors.

Now in its nineteenth year, there’s pamper treatments, food tasting, demonstrations, fashion, health advice, and so much more. I went along to explore what was on offer on day one, Friday.

Nostalgia recreated in linen lines

First off, my eye was drawn to a rather beautiful collection of linen all with rather enticing WA names such as City Beach White, Cottesloe Stripe, Margaret River Mauve and Fremantle Midnight Blue.

This linen company was called ‘Natsukashi’, which doesn’t sound very Ozzie.  I soon learnt it means ‘Nostalgia’ in Japanese and is the brainchild of 22-year-old Sasha Lai and 32-year-old Alex Holt.

“We’ve only been in business six months but we’re getting a lot of interest.  My background is design, our range of wall hangings, throws, bags, doona covers and sheets reflect countries and places which we have visited.  Our bowls are typical of those used in traditional tea ceremonies in Japan and are hand thrown and finished in Osaka,” Sasha explained.

“We’re now working with a Chilean company to create some beautiful furniture using a fantastic colour palate, to remind you of the sea.  The range is called Somos, which means simple to reflect the design,” she added.

Akec an Ambassador for AFL

Next, a visit to the podium, to listen to Akec Susan Chuot who is one of the first female professional AFL players.  She is enthused about her love of Australian footie and is encouraging more girls to play the game.  Her energy leaves you quite exhausted. Listening to her speak, you can tell how grateful she is to have found her passion in life.

“I know I am part of history being the first black African woman to play professional Woman’s AFL. When I discovered that I had been selected to play for the Dockers I cried. I love Australia and all that it has given me,” she told me.

Truly inspirational, Akec was born in South Sudan and spent her early years in a Kenyan refugee camp and has 34 (yes that’s right) siblings.  Not only is she a top AFL player, she also excels at soccer and basketball….and is very good at balancing. She demonstrated this by walking with a bottle of water on her head, and yes it didn’t fall off.

Spice for life – Latasha’s chutneys and sauces

Who can resist the lure of some free food sampling?  Latasha Menon is another woman who has found her niche in life and that’s cooking.  Latasha owned a restaurant and cooking school before developing sauces, pastes, relishes and chutneys and creating ‘Latasha’s Kitchen’.  She now exports her products all over the world.

“I live and breathe it. I have a commercial kitchen in Sydney where we make all the sauces, I now export to the US, China and Singapore to name but a few,” said Latasha.

Latasha Menon with a customer

All this talk of food is making me hungry so I decide it’s lunchtime.  I visit the Mundella Café and Bar which has a range of salads and other dishes which all contain Mundella products.  I choose a Gozleme which is a Turkish vegetarian dish which contains feta, chickpeas, mixed with herbs and a mint yoghurt sauce which is rather tasty.

Husband and wife team behind the hannahpad

This Expo is aimed at women and features women’s products so I wasn’t surprised to come across an exhibitor selling organic cloth sanitary pads. Marcus Steve and his wife Jenny Steve used to be cabin crew for Etihad but are now the owners of hannahpad.  It’s a cloth sanitary pad, which research has shown, is better for your body and far more environmentally friendly than throwaway sanitary towels.

“51 billion non-biodegradable sanitary pads are thrown away every year.  The Hannahpad is far better for your body and is also biodegradable.  Since our first year we have seen an increase in sales of 700%.  My wife is South Korean and that’s where we discovered them.  We’re now selling them in shops, at shows and online,” explained Marcus.

Love and hugs with XO Tea

Australia is a country full of coffee and tea lovers.  Women love their tea more than men, with statistics showing the older you are, the more likely you are to drink tea on a regular basis.  There were plenty of people swarming around the XO Tea stand to back these findings. But what is XO tea and what does XO mean?  Owners Arjun Kumar and Peter Tuckey were only too happy to explain.

XO Tea Arjun Kumar & Peter Tuckey

“XO stands for love and hugs.  My family has had a tea plantation in Malaysia since 1935.  I have an engineering degree but it’s no surprise that I’m in the tea business. We make all types of tea, herbal teas, black teas and green teas.  Two of our most popular are ‘Aurora’ which is great for getting you to sleep and ‘Chai’ which is warming.  Our tea can now be found in David Jones and we export overseas as well,” Arjun told me.

An ingenious indigenous project

It’s time to rest my feet, so I decide to watch a catwalk display with young indigenous girls from the Dreamtime Project. The scheme aims to empower young aboriginal girls to be more confident and to reach their full potential.

“Girls are encouraged to come on our program and explore areas such as health and wellness, spirituality, assertiveness and career choices so they can become more confident and lead more fulfilling lives,” says owner and founder Sylvia Garcia.

On the catwalk, they model clothes by Australian designers and the girls could easily be mistaken for professional models.

Mother and Daughter team go wild about their product

Have you ever worked with your Mother?  Well, it might not be for everyone but Bella Ricardo and her daughter Analiese Lutter are the Mother/Daughter duo behind ‘Wild Botanic’. They’re on a mission to spread the word about Kombucha, which is a type of fermented tea which is good for your health. A live demonstration sparked lots of questions from the audience.

“Fermenting has had a resurgence, we are selling fermenting kits and the Kombucha at farmers’ markets. We’re brewing the drink locally in a commercial kitchen behind a fish and chip shop.  It’s low in sugar and packed with enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins and probiotics which means it’s good for your gut health,” Bella explained.

Wild Botanic – Analiese Lutter and Bella Ricardo

‘My Mum is Portuguese and my Dad is German and they have always done Kombucha, it brought us together as a family as I was growing up, and now it’s our family business, how weird is that?” said Analiese.

And as she said that I realised the significance of the comment.  While the day had come to an end for me, I knew I’d be back on Saturday with my teenage Daughter as there was still so much to see and do, proving that the Expo can be a family bonding experience in many ways.