Livia Albeck-Ripka on Shelley Panton
At the height of the recession, Shelley Panton was near broke and unemployed. So she rented a shopfront on a quiet residential street, moved in with her pottery wheel and a head full of ideas.
Some called her crazy, but Shelley was in her element. Before long, she had stacks of crockery in the window, with a sign that read, ‘Hi, I’m Shelley and I’m building a business’. Hell-bent on success, she had no time to fear failure. She’d found the courage to do what she loved. It was all that mattered.
Growing up in Queensland with an Italian mum and a Dad who bore the scars of the Vietnam War, Shelley was the outsider; the girl who couldn’t wait to grow up, who immersed herself in novels, dreaming of travel and change. At first a window designer, then a painter and finally a business owner, she is anchored by positivity — the unwavering belief that somehow, things will turn out okay. The hows, whats and wheres don’t concern her too much. It’s about the journey, not the destination.
When I visit Shelley’s place in Melbourne’s south, I’m greeted by her black Labrador Jessie and a killer espresso in a hand-thrown tumbler. Out the back, she shows me her garden, bedroom and tiny kitchen. Her home is humble and well-loved. It is where she works, pots, thinks, lives and loves. It is where we sit down to talk about hope and struggle and how in the end, it’s not so hard to live a life filled with passion and purpose.