Interview by Madeleine Dore
Photography by Bri Hammond
& Raph Rashid
Who we love can shape how we spend our days. For some, a partner’s push in the right direction can mould who we become, and even what we create. Lovers have inspired great works of fiction, sweet melodies and masterpieces, sparked projects, and birthed new ideas – as well as new humans!
It is so fascinating to discover how people navigate relationships in their day to day lives. For a creative couple that collaborates together, this intrigue is amplified. How do you continue to creatively inspire one another while also talking all things shopping lists and bin night? How to you make time for another person when your lives as individuals are jam-packed with creative projects?
To find out, we’ve turned to Melbourne’s creative couple royalty: designer Beci Orpin and foodie entrepreneur Raph Rashid. The dynamic duo met many moons ago through mutual friends when Beci was working at nightclub. Both with other partners, for many years the pair were just good friends, collaborating together on fashion label Princess Tina.
‘We were just good friends. We just hung out. Then I don't know what happened – we just moved into something else,’ said Beci.
Now decades later, and with two beautiful boys, between them they have created fashion labels, designed homewares, published books, dabbled in the music industry, as well as design, photography and kickstarted the food truck scene in Melbourne.
Raph is the founder of the hugely popular food trucks Beatbox Kitchen and Taco Truck as well as All Day Donuts, which recently extended its trading hours from Thursday to Saturday to serve eats and drinks in his latest venture Juanita Peaches.
Endlessly creative, Beci Orpin is an inspiring local designer, artist, and illustrator. She juggles freelance projects, designs homewares for her label Arro Home and has published several books.
It’s clear that both Beci and Raph possess a pioneering spirit that evidently spurs them on. While they may have their individual ventures, everything is a team effort.
Yet behind the book deals, new ventures, and creative success, is endless curiosity – the pair are simply trying out new things and doing what they love.
‘I mean anything you do will have parts of it that feel like a chore,’ said Beci. ‘But on the whole it doesn't feel like a job … I’ve always felt really lucky to have that.’
From the kids drop off at school, to learning how to switch off from projects, Beci and Raph generously share the often private world of a couple and the magic and the mundane within it.
PART I: DAILY ROUTINE
Mornings with Beci and Raph ...
Beci: It kind of depends on the kids, but we usually get up around seven on weekdays, each day is different though. If our youngest Ari wakes up at six, one of us will get up early. For breakfast the kids always have porridge, so whoever gets up first makes breakfast. Raph and I have a different breakfast every day, sometimes porridge, sometimes muesli, sometimes toast, it changes all the time.
Beci: We usually leave the house at the same time, around 8.30 to drop the kids at school. Sometimes we will ride our bikes together, or sometimes one of us will start work early and then that person picks up the kids from school.
Beci: We both arrive at the studio around nine. It's divided by shelves so we can see each other, but we are very much working on our own things for the day from here on.
... A day in the life of Beci
Every day is really different, but emails are always the first thing I think about.
For about an hour I check emails, Pinterest, and mess around on the internet.
I work at Arro Home two days a week in the office in South Yarra, so I get to work earlier and come home later on those days.
I usually have a list that I have written at the beginning of the week and I just go through that and check if I have any deadlines to meet that day and allocate time.
Sometimes a project will come in and it will have to be done in a week and pretty much take over everything. So it can change, but I’m usually guided by the weekly plan. If I’m really busy I’ll just get freelancers in to help as I need them, maybe every second or third week. The kind of jobs I do now require more of a production person – someone to source stuff rather than design.
I try and set what I have to work on in the morning and get that done and then I’ll have lunch.
I'm not very good at bringing lunch to work, so I usually go out. Illustrator Alice Oehr shares the studio so if she is in we will sometimes buy ingredients and make sandwiches or something, or go to Wide Open Road, or Pope Joan, sometimes we will go to A1 Bakery – but you couldn’t do that every day. Sometimes Raph is testing out recipes so we will go and see what is coming out of the test kitchen.
Afternoons can definitely lag. They really vary, depending on what is going on. If I have an exhibition then I could be working on that. At the moment it is mostly client work but I am also working on some personal projects, too.
If I am picking up the kids I’ll finish at the studio around three. I don’t drive so I have to cycle up to the school. I’ll then come home and hang out with the kids. But usually it is Raph who picks them up, so I’ll usually keep working until five or five-thirty.
... A day in the life of Raph
My routine depends on what is happening that day. On Mondays there is always a staff meeting. In the summer there will be around thirty staff, but it mellows out over the winter. Also there are two people full-time in the office plus managers as well.
Usually Mondays and Fridays are more of an admin day, so it is just checking in on all the different aspects of the business.
During the week it’s usually more about testing recipes or just practicing what we make. I still do service and go out in the truck so my time is really spread across the business.
I usually take my own lunch each day.
There is a loose system but things just pop up. There is a roster that I am on for service, but then the rest of my time is spent on the business and working with everyone.
I generally work from nine to three because I pick up the kids from school most days.
I work at Juanita Peaches on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, so on those days I might pick up kids but then goes back to work to start in the restaurant around four and work until 11 or 12.
... Evenings with Beci and Raph
Beci: Dinner is usually pretty different, but we have a few staples – simple pastas like puttanesca, or I'm currently obsessed with an Ottolenghi pasta with walnuts and sage, tacos, soba noodles, nasi ayam, curries. We end up eating vegetarian quite a bit.
Beci: The kids watch a bit of TV and by seven-thirty they head upstairs, bath, shower, and then I might read with them before they fall asleep around eight-thirty.
Raph: The start of the week is a bit more chill, but I am now cooking at Juanita Peaches every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. But on nights we don't have much to do, it can be odd readjusting to just relaxing and working out what to do with our chill time. But it is a good thing – you should be able to know what to do; know how to just be calm.
Beci: What do we even do? [Laughs] When you are in the habit of working every night, it can be strange if one of us isn’t. We have shows that we watch, such as Game of Thrones. I always end up on the computer, checking emails, which is depressing! I went and got new books to read, so I can start doing that.
Beci: Raph goes to bed early, around ten or eleven, but if I am working at night I don’t finish till midnight or one in the morning. I’m good on little sleep – I can’t have ten hours out. But if I’m working really late I do love sleeping in.
PART II: WEEKEND ROUTINE
Beci: We usually have a hot breakfast on the weekends, something like pancakes or Raph likes to go and get a baguette. The kids might have tennis or judo. We'll do the shopping for the week – we go to La Manna or local grocers on Sydney Road, we try and avoid supermarkets.
Raph: In the summer period I work all through the weekends.
But otherwise there is not really a plan … we're just rolling.
Beci: We usually end up cooking for friends who come over. We have a group of friends that all live pretty close and have kids, so we tend to be the people everyone comes to. Sometimes we might go out and Mum will babysit.
PART III: BEHIND THE SCENES
On the reality of a dynamic duo …
Beci: We used to work on everything together when we ran the clothing label and Raph used to manage my freelance work – he would always have my back. But now I have my business and he has his.
But Raph always points out that everything we do is a team effort, whether we work on something separate or together. So I try and keep that in my head.
Raph: We are kind of independent, but when we need someone, we’re there.
Beci: It does get hard though – we have to stop ourselves talking about business. Sometimes it feels like that is our entire our lives. It gets boring and I think do myself, “Do I have to listen to you take that phone call? Do we have to do that thing right now?”
On being stronger together …
Beci: I think our work is stronger together. There is no way I could have accomplished most of the thing I’ve done without
We definitely drive each other mental, but we are very open with one another – there is never anything left unsaid I don't think.
If I am annoyed, I’ll let him know! That is pretty important I think – to let someone know how you feel straight away, especially when you spend so much time together.
On learning from your mistakes …
Raph: Mistakes are just part of your day to day – if you don't make any you are not trying anything new.
But it is really frustrating if someone continues to make the same mistake over and over again. Far out that drives me crazy! You’ve got to take in the impact – if you are not learning from it, it is kind of boring.
Beci: But I also think the longer you do something, the more you know what you are good at and what you can develop.
We've made heaps of mistakes. There is that saying that you can't have success without mistakes.
I feel like that is part of the reason that Raph’s business is successful. It also really suits him, it’s instant. I feel like when we ran the clothing label, it was fun but we weren't very good at it – it just didn't really suit our personality.
On the importance of a routine with children…
Beci: The kids' part of the routine is really important. We always get to school on time and we have dinner at the same time each day. Kids need that as far as I’m concerned ... our kids need it.
They really thrive off that and it gives them a security, even though our lives can be pretty hectic.
Raph: Our kids like to be at school on time, and they don't let us be late.
Beci: ...We are not loose in that way at all.
Raph: We are on it.
Beci: But it all holds together because we are our own bosses. That is the only way that it has been able to work because we are both flexible.
Raph: And we have heaps of support from family and friends and a good network we can call on if we need – it is incredible.
On balancing the busy…
Beci: There are a lot of ideas between us, which works if one of us is busy and the other one isn’t.
But sometimes if we both have a lot on, it can become really stressful because we are both trying to do so much and neither of us will let up.
Raph: You almost need to check where the other person is at. We just need to be a bit more mindful about where we are both at in order to go into creative discussions.
When we first started working together as friends, before being a couple, the energy was always flowing. But now we have other distractions and other important things in our lives – we are not always on that same speed. So if you try to enter into things and you are not resonating at the same tempo, then ideas will just be ejected.
On writing and publishing as a couple …
Beci: I think books have nearly caused our divorce! [Laughs] … It's really stressful. It is so much time and as far as monetary rewards, it doesn’t really have any. It's a lot of work and you can't do it half-arsed either. This year I decided not to do a book and it is awesome having that break. For a book, you really have to lessen the client work. I usually put aside up to four weeks to work solidly on the book and get extra help in the studio.
I think you can get a book done reasonably painlessly if it is the only thing you are working on. But often that hasn’t been the case and I’ve had to do freelance work at night. It can be really stressful, but you just have to create the time.
Raph: They are really tough … I found trying to lump a whole project on top of your day-to-day routine is really difficult. But the motivation came from someone being interested – I had the recipes there and a good idea of what I wanted it to look like, it was a challenge and a blast. But you can’t hold back – and it was a lot of work.
Beci: I feel like we do three people’s jobs – for mine I do the styling, come up with the ideas, the art direction, the photo shoot the whole book.
Raph: Maybe we make it hard on ourselves, but it’s because you’ve got an idea and you want to take care of all the aspects.
“If I love what I do and I’m satisfied at the end of it, I feel like that is pretty extraordinary. If you are able to do something you love and get satisfaction out of it, it’s the feeling ever.” – Beci Orpin
“We are not living to get to a point of reflection, or any sort of retirement or anything like that. That is not the plan. We are pretty much living in the now and that is all we are doing.” – Raph Rashid.
Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon
Anything by Murakami
What the Dog Saw by Malcom Gladwell
The Plant Hunter
Anything by Yotam Ottolenghi
A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones