Refinery29 Australia is finally here!
Our mission is simple: to help women and underrepresented people see, feel and claim their power. We're committed to making sure you see yourself and the issues you care about reflected in all aspects of our coverage by taking taboo topics, including disability, menstruation, finance, identity and grief, from niche to norm.
So who are we?
We're a collective of Aussie writers and editors from different backgrounds, with a shared goal to make Refinery29 Australia and its associated channels a safe, informative and entertaining space for an audience who has told us — loud and clear — that something like it has long been missing from the local media landscape.
Each member of our team brings with them unique lived experiences, a wealth of knowledge and expertise, and the ability to cover topics through an intersectional lens. We're here to listen to you, to serve you, and to learn from you — and we can't wait to build this awesome community together.
So, consider this a big IT'S NICE TO MEET YOU from behind that screen you stare into.
Vanessa Lawrence, Publisher
A born-and-raised Sydneysider, Vanessa (@nesslawrence) is permanently terrified she has Main Character Syndrome but is more likely a textbook Pisces (staring-out-a-car-window-imagining-your-life-as-a-film-clip stuff). Her interests include quoting David from Schitt’s Creek, deleting exclamation points from her emails at draft stage, hoarding arguably overpriced fleece track pants and buying kitsch Christmas ornaments year-round. She hasn’t met a dog she doesn’t like. Ever.
Vanessa's Recommended Read: The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom (the same author of Tuesdays with Morrie). It’s a fictional story about the greatest guitar player to ever live, and the six lives he changes with his guitar’s magical strings — sounds wacky but I love its message that ‘everyone joins a band in life’. In other words, every one of us has the ability to impact another person’s life. Wow, this got deep fast.
Secret Expertise: I’m the world’s least-coordinated person but, for reasons no one in my life can quite understand, I’m Peter Parker-level skilled at catching mosquitoes in one hand. It’s a party trick I call on regularly at BBQs in summer (and at 2 am, when I’m woken by high pitched buzzing).
Zahra Campbell-Avenell, Head of Editorial
Zahra may have been a bowerbird in a past life — she loves surrounding herself with beautiful, shiny things. While she’ll always encourage you to ‘treat yo'self’, she’ll also help you scour the internet to find a better deal (and will likely find it in 5 minutes or less!) A recent convert to the curly girl method, she’s travelled to 36 countries and lived in four. She isn’t afraid of leopard print or neon pink — but usually not together.
Zahra's Recommended Reads: The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood will always be my favourite, but Jenny and the Jaws of Life by Jincy Willett is a close second! The latter was recommended by another of my favourite authors, David Sedaris, when I asked him what his favourite book was while attending a talk at the Sydney Opera House a few years ago.
Secret Expertise: I’ve given a LOT of career advice over the years, particularly to young women who often lack the confidence to ask for what they deserve. I’ve been told by an embarrassing number of people that I should be a life coach or motivational speaker.
Kate McGregor, Managing Editor
A close-to-classic Gemini, Kate (@kate_a_mcgregor) can talk to anyone about anything and is happiest in the company of her family and friends. Margaritas, her grandma's roast lamb and showering in the dark (seriously, try it tonight) are her all-time favourite things, followed closely by scrolling Domain sale listings for cute cottages on the South Coast she'd love to buy but probably never will.
Kate's Recommended Reads: My husband is my favourite writer. Call me biased, but I love anything he writes. His first book, Today I F****d Up, was published earlier this year and I guarantee it will make you belly laugh. I’m also a sucker for the New York Times’ Modern Love Stories.
Secret Expertise: My sister always tells me I find a way to make whoever I’m talking to feel like the most important person in the room. I hope it’s true. I also know The Gambler by Kenny Rogers by heart and will perform it (preferably standing on an elevated surface with a wine in hand) for whoever will listen.
Pema Bakshi, Style & Living Editor
Pema is your resident Libra sun (Scorpio everything else). When she’s not bugging her coworkers about conspiracy theories, what they’re having for lunch and her indecision around her online shopping carts, you’ll find her trawling through op shops, hoarding clothes that don’t match/she doesn’t have the closet space for and books she won’t finish. Reflections on life, love and shoes are her bread and butter, and she really loves bread and butter.
Pema's Recommended Reads: Old birthday cards. People throw these out willy nilly but I think it’s important to remind yourself that you’re loved! Otherwise, anything by Alexander Chee, Iris Murdoch, Colson Whitehead, Haley Nahman or Raven Smith — all for very different, but equally brilliant reasons.
Secret Expertise: Being able to size up the quality of a hot chip before even trying it is my sixth sense. I’m also a great shopper (subjective) and can predict a celebrity pregnancy announcement from a mile away.
Alicia Vrajlal, Culture Editor
Alicia (@leeshiev) is an entertainment and pop culture enthusiast and the proud daughter of Fijian Indian immigrants. Known for that one time she conducted red carpet interviews with a hairbrush she bought at Woolies (in lieu of a microphone), she’s equally up for a debrief about The Bachelor as she is a serious conversation about social issues.
Alicia's Recommended Reads: Rupi Kaur’s poetry never ceases to amaze me. Short, digestible and beautifully written, she touches on love, identity and more universal themes.
Secret Expertise: Does (harmless) Instagram stalking count? All I need is a first name and I’m on it.
Maggie Zhou, Writer & Producer
Maggie (@yemagz) is a Melbourne-born Chinese writer and social media addict (it all started with the One Direction Twitter world). As a classic Pisces, you can find her romanticising her life in a local cafe with an oat flat white in hand, or on an eagle-eyed hunt in the op shop next door. Slow fashion, Gen Z culture, and intersectionality are her cups of tea. She wears loud pants and has loud opinions.
Maggie's Recommended Reads: I occasionally write letters to my future self and I recommend others do the same. Yes, it's probably a bit narcissistic but there’s nothing like opening up an envelope addressed to yourself, from your past self. It’s a way to document your different life stages, and to honour and respect the fact that we're all continually evolving.
Secret Expertise: The perfect grilled cheese toastie (it’s a work in progress).
Alexandra Koster, Money Diaries Editor
Alexandra ('Ally') Koster is your standard Virgo sun, Aquarius rising — a rebellious perfectionist. A writer and a pre-service teacher, she's passionate about the transformative power of education. When she's not teaching kindergarten kids what to do with their pocket money, you'll find her watching wrestling, Survivor, or the latest snobby film.
Alexandra's Recommended Reads: Letters from friends - having a mate as your pen pal is one of the best things you can do for your friendships. That, or Judith Butler's Gender Trouble. Can you tell I have an arts degree?
Secret Expertise: Inserting quotes from The Simpsons quotes into everyday conversations.
Bree Grant, E-Commerce Editor
Bree (@_breegrant) has been playing with beauty products since she was tall enough to reach her mother's makeup bag. She lives for testing out products before they hit shelves and has been known to put her body on the line for a sex toy review or two. (Someone's gotta do it!) When she’s not writing about all the things on her must-buy list, she’s usually at the beach attempting to live out her Blue Crush dreams, shell necklace included.
Bree's Recommended Reads: Yikes, don’t make me choose just one - Just Friends by Patti Smith, Flux by Orion Carlotto and Know My Name by Chanel Miller.
Secret Expertise: I’ve been told I’m good at turning lemons into lemonade (read: making the best out of bad situations and turning that shit around).
Bianca Davino, Native Content Writer
Bianca is a writer and musician from Western Sydney who believes Catherine Hardwick’s Twilight is a misunderstood hallmark of avant-garde cinema. When she’s not yelling her opinions about the current class of leading pop girlies, daydreaming about Tumblr’s golden-era, scouring Depop for vintage X-Girl tees or indulging in a plate of burrata and olives, you can find Bianca fronting The Grenade Jumper Band.
Bianca's Recommended Read: Kim Gordon’s Girl In A Band is a must-read. She’s a symbol of enduring creativity and her memoir is an incredible musing on feminism, art, motherhood and New York City.
Secret Expertise: If anyone speaks to me for more than 5 minutes, they’ll become aware of my expertise on all things Parramatta, from where golden-hour hits best in Parramatta Park to the home of the best macadamia latte. I will shout the praises of Western Sydney to anyone who listens!