Ebb & Flow: Tahnee Carroll, Burraneer
Text KATE PASCOE SQUIRES
Photography KATE PASCOE SQUIRES
You might know stylist and creative Tahnee Carroll as Taper Jean Girl – she’s one of the few who kept their original Instagram handles and it’s certainly served her well. Tahnee has an awesome 60/70s vibe going on – she’s all long limbs, piercing blue eyes and a killer vintage wardrobe. She presents wise beyond her years and maybe she is. I love Tahnee’s story. Her quiet strength and outlook on life is one that we could all, quite frankly, learn a thing or two from.
Talk to me about your Slowdown. How does that idea resonate with you?
I almost feel like I’ve been living the “slowdown” lifestyle since I started styling. Well I guess it coincides with going freelance, which I highly recommend for anyone and everyone who wants to find a balance between family life and career. After years of doing this, I’ve learned to trust the ebb and flow and just go with it. Some months I’m so flat out shooting, it feels like it will never end – but then the next month, I might only work a couple days a week, which gives me a chance to recalibrate and spend time with my family, work on our house renovation and go on adventures. I know working less isn’t always an option for most people because of life’s expenses, but I also think it’s important to live within your means. A motto I like to remember is “work to live, don’t live to work”. There’s no point, in my mind at least, in having a flashy car if it means you have to work 80 hours a week to pay for it.
Your life has changed substantially in the last couple of years. After you lost your beautiful mum in 2018, you took on the parenting role of your little brother Charlie. You and your partner Wade also had a baby of your own, with Andy being born in 2019. What have you learnt from this experience?
Initially, the shock of the situation just had us running on adrenaline for months. We didn’t really have the chance to mourn mum or even come to terms with everything until much later on. At first, it took a while to realise how different our lives were going to have to be. My brother and I struggled trying to balance the life we once had, with now having to raise our youngest brother, Charlie, who suffers from non-verbal autism. I’m not going to lie, it’s friggin’ hard, but I think now we’ve found our groove and have been able to re-build our relationship as siblings. We are now managing with everything a bit better.
You are an established interiors/lifestyle stylist and one half of the Citizens of Style creative team with Lynden Foss. How do you make this work day to day?
With a whole lot of flexibility. Lynden is based in Byron, me in Sydney and we both have young bubs – so it’s quite the balancing act booking jobs.
Being a mother yourself, do you think we can teach our children the joy of slow?
100%. I mean, Andy’s been very lucky to have two parents who both work for themselves, so she gets to enjoy having at least one of us at home with her all the time. I think being able to have that constant connection with her from both parents has been invaluable. She’s naturally just absorbing our appreciation of a slower-paced lifestyle, rather than needing to be taught it.
What triggers your need for slow and what does that look like?
Long days at work away from my baby, tough days with Charlie or generally just feeling overwhelmed trying to balance everything. I find it’s beneficial to sit back and just do nothing every once in a while. I’ve learnt to recognise when I start to get overwhelmed, so I try not to take on too much during those periods and just give myself time to recalibrate.
Have you ever thought about trading the city life in? If so, tell us about that.
Every day! Wade and I actually bought a house in Bellingen (in northern New South Wales) just before mum died. We planned on starting our family there, but all of Charlie’s services and therapies are here in Sydney. Our circumstances mean we’re stuck in Sydney, so that dream is just on the backburner for now. We’ll get there eventually. The big dream is to live on a property where we can grow our own food, harvest our own water and power and rescue a Noah’s Ark of animals.
Has there ever been a time when you have surprised yourself with your strength and resilience?
These past two years. I guess it’s not a situation I ever thought I’d be in, but I’ve come to realise it’s not what stands in front of you, it’s who stands beside you – and I’m very lucky to have someone as strong and caring as Wade.
For those of us who are walking our own slow down path and searching for the strength to deal with all that life presents, do you have any ideas to share how that might assist us in our journey?
Sometimes life throws so much shit at you that it can almost become unbearable – learn to cry, as tears contain a stress hormone and act like a release valve for all the pent-up anxiety and frustration in life. So, I guess my advice is to have a cry and roll with the punches, there’s no point in stewing over things you can’t change.