Tour The Ultra-Stylish Inner West Apartment Flex Mami Calls Home
Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, the inimitable (and multi-hyphenate!) Flex Mami welcomes us into her apartment.
Is there anything she can’t do? Usually that’s a rhetorical quip used to describe how multi-talented someone is, but when it comes to Flex Mami, the answer is an unequivocal ‘no.’ Born Lillian Ahenkan, Flex is an International DJ, creator of the wildly successful card game ‘Reflex the Game’, TV presenter, co-host of the hugely popular podcast, Bobo and Flex, writer, and an adored social media Influencer. (Told you we weren’t playing.)
Preaching self-love, liberation, and female empowerment to an engaged online community searching for authentic connection, Flex is an influencer that actually influences your life in a positive, productive way.
All that and we haven’t even mentioned her feverishly on trend style—which extends from beauty to the realm of interiors. Fuchsia and lilac punctuate her apartment, whilst an olive and white checkered floor sets the tone for an eclectic, unique space. At Flex’s, everywhere you look is a celebration of colour and pattern, with local illustrators and artists like Ailie Banks and Serwah Attafuah hanging from the walls. Speaking of art, Flex’s wardrobe is an avant-garde exhibition in itself, boasting an enviable horde of beaded handbags and a sunglass collection that’d make Elton John weak at the knees.
Hi Lil! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
I make a lot of things. I'm a TV presenter, I have a podcast, I'm an author, and I make beauty content.
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
I place a lot of my value in my output and my self-worth in how good I am at things, so I need to be constantly doing and achieving to feel good. That's how making ties into 'me'.
Of all the ‘hats’ you wear and have worn—MTV presenter, DJ, social influencer, podcaster, writer—which do you enjoy most? And which have you found to be the most challenging?
I enjoy podcasting the most—I think it's the only platform where I'm allowed to speak as exactly as myself. I would say the hardest one is probably TV presenting just because outside of the actual act of speaking on TV, there's so much cultural history and red tape and glass ceilings to consider. You have to think about how you want to be perceived, who they're going sit you next to—far too many considerations just for making content. It also probably also requires the most effort and resonates with its audience the least.
How do you juggle the demands of your multiple businesses?
You just get it done. I can only be so strategic as I never anticipated the work that I do, but I just try to get it all done. I don't strive for balance because that stresses me out, so if it's going to take me twenty hours out of the day to do my job then that's fine, and if it's only going to take me five then great. I have to be very mindful of what I actually have to do because I used to overanalyse things to make myself feel more important. If I just have to make some Instagram content, I just have to put on that lippy and take that photo!
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start when embarking on a new project or venture?
For the most part, I'm always working to somebody else's brief. There are few creative jobs that I have that aren't at the beck and call of someone else's brief and budget. So starting from there, if it's something I'd like to take on I assess what I'm capable of doing and what's going to resonate with my audience and how much time I have to spend on it. Then, I go forth.
What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt over the course of your career?
I feel like you don't know how best to do something until you just do it, which contradicts a lot of the advice of plan, plan, plan. What I would find is that I would spend too long on the planning stages and not enough on the execution and then wonder what went wrong. I think the hardest thing to do is to risk putting out work and then using that feedback to make your best work. That's the hardest bit because no one wants to look dumb on the internet!
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you over the course of your career?
Probably becoming a freelancer. There's a lot of autonomy and it's given me a lot of privileges and access to a life that I wanted to live but couldn't while working full-time. Having the ability to make work fun has been awesome.
Do you have any exciting projects coming up you want to talk about?
Yes! So we have the second edition of my card game ReFlex coming out in December called ReFlex Party which is sick! And then I'm working on a book with a publisher which I can't say too much about because of NDA's but it comes out in October 2020.
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self?
You have to start doing stuff, learn from it, and do it again. I feel like everyone is good at saying what they'd plan to do if they had more time, more space, more resources etc. and that's so boring! You just need to do.
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
I've lived here for just over a year.
How did you initially know this was the space for you?
I knew it when I saw the green and white tiled floors and the two bedrooms for a really decent budget.
Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?
Not really, I just did tiny things like replacing the handles on the kitchen cabinets and putting up shelves.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
I wanted a space that felt just like me. I've never lived in a space that was a reflection of me ever. I've done the whole white on white thing and I've done the share house with the friend where you get whatever you can afford and throw it in. For this one, I wanted to exist in a space where I like the things that are in it and they reflect me.
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
There is this incredible collaboration between Toilet Paper magazine and this furniture company called Fenton and Fenton. They've just realised an amazing Volcano armchair that I really want to get to replace the chair in my dressing room.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
Probably my little living, kitchen and dining room. I feel like it's chaotic, it has everything I need in it and it feels good from every angle. It just feels good.
Tell us about your bedroom, what do you do in there aside from, um, the obvious?
Nothing. I made a considered effort to take everything work-related out of my bedroom. A friend of mine read an article that said you can't rest very well if you do anything besides sleep in your bedroom. Oh, I do read tarot in there too. I try to dress my bedroom up, but everything is purely aesthetic and I would use them outside of the bedroom. There's jewellery and books in there, but I don't sit in there and use them.
What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?
Put things in it that you like, not just what you can afford. I feel like there's a lot of rhetoric around getting pieces for now and when you've got the money getting something you actually like. I think it's easier to go without than to get stuck with things, and you'd sooner go to an op-shop and get standby furniture and then get the good stuff that you want. Start how you intend to finish.
Loved this home tour? This photographer's North Sydney home is an art lover's dream.