Meet the 13 creatives taking on The Refinery
  • Friday 19 June 2020
the refinery, alex daffara

Following the ground-breaking success in its inaugural year, The Refinery creative incubator returned this year with a mission to help artists and creatives use business as a force for good. 

Fast gaining the attention of creatives, entrepreneurs and educators around Australia, The Refinery has attracted an incredible pool of participants and mentors this year, all who were keen to be part of this innovative incubator that joins the dots between creativity and business. 

In response to COVID-19, The Refinery reinvented itself in 2020 as an online program, helping creatives connect with each other and world class experts via online masterclasses, workshops and mentoring.

Community Portfolio Councillor Rick Baberowski said The Refinery had exceeded our expectations. 

“It succeeded in attracting excellent participants and in achieving its aim of fostering entrepreneurialism and helping to position the Sunshine Coast as a healthy, smart, creative region,” Cr Baberowski said.   

“If the success of last year’s graduates is anything to go by, the class of 2020 will be in the best position to succeed despite the challenging environment for the arts.

“By building more extensive networks and collaborations for our talented local artists, I’m sure we’ll see more Sunshine Coast creatives sharing their considerable talents with the world very soon.”

The Refinery alumni of 2019, Wildlings Forest School, recently made it to number one in Australia for Kids and Parenting podcasts and reached top 10 podcast rankings around the world.

Thirteen creatives from across the Sunshine Coast and South East Queensland made it to the final cohort for 2020, following applications from almost 100 people around the country. 

The Refinery program coordinator Brendan Beale said following the success of 2019, we had attracted a diverse group of creatives, all with an idea to create a sustainable business in the realm of arts, film, fashion, publishing, 3D printing and First Nations projects.

"The Refinery connects the dots between creativity and business and this year we’ve attracted world-class mentors,” Mr Beale said.

“Our mentors come from the world of art, business, social enterprise, marketing, legal and finance.

“We’re pumped to welcome Frankie Ratford of The Design Kids, a 250,000 strong community of graphic designers and a thriving business she runs from her van.

“Also joining us is Kate Berry, publisher, photographer and creator of Lunch Lady Magazine, alongside former Coast local and author Kay Langford of Startup Creative.”

The Refinery has also engaged local creatives as mentors, including photographer Karina Jean Sharpe and First Nations emerging creative, Brianna Asher.

Meet The Refinery cohort of 2020. 

Alex Daffara - @alexandriadaffara is the creative director of a colourful, irreverent and nostalgic fashion label @teesbyalex 

Alison Mooney - @alison__mooney is a mixed media artist, painting a cartwheel of colours across gallery walls, playgrounds and pools.

Cooper Brady - photographer and journeyman @cooperbradyphotog creates memories for the modern wall.

Chony Bowden - addresses mental health in young and old by creating art classes that interweave music, meditation and art therapy.  

Freya Heggarty - is artistic director of @the.mopoke creating ephemeral spaces, art and ideas that leap outta the dreamscape and into reality.

Joel Ross-Sampson - @platformprintingaus is a custom 3D Printing platform creating tiny things for tiny worlds.

Jules Laidlow - nurse turned potter, @the_clay_society runs a social impact studio using artful products and education to bring positive health outcomes to rural and remote communities.

Holly Walker - a placemaker and partner in @walk_studio, a design practice making modern mindful homes and projects, like @thehatcheryshed  

Mia Sticklen - @miasticklen is a proud Wakka Wakka woman with a drive to keep culture alive with a new creative platform and publication.

Mica Schettinni - @mica_schettini is the founder of @thesheltersc a publication and space for the culture creators and seekers.  

Nicole Voevodin-Cash - @voevodincash is the namesake behind NVC, a visual artist and designer creating furniture shaped by behaviour.  

Sam Hagen - a documentary filmmaker, rebranding his production company Moonshaker Media to The Human Story - creating micro documentaries that capture people and projects that matter.

Sharka Bosakova - artist and humanist @sharkabosakova who, with her namesake label, is creating interactive 3D printed jewellery.  

Find out more at

The Refinery is an initiative of Sunshine Coast Council, SunCentral, Sunshine Coast Creative Alliance and supported by the Queensland Government through Advance Queensland and #SCRIPT, alongside CQ University.