Members On Their Way

Members On Their Way: Melinda Fletcher

Meet the Sydney architect who's a recovering perfectionist with a penchant for etymology, good design and regular digital detoxes.

By Natalie Cornish

Members On Their Way

Meet the Sydney architect who's a recovering perfectionist with a penchant for etymology, good design and regular digital detoxes.

By Natalie Cornish

Melinda Fletcher grew up in Sydney, on the outer edges of the suburbs. Her parents built two homes while her and her sisters were growing up, and as far back as she can remember she was making something or playing in the local bush reserve. Melinda’s affinity with the concept of home, and what it means to each of us, lead her to study architecture. She now spends her days creating homes for other people from her office in Sydney’s Inner West, which she loves because it has such a diverse history of crafts and trades and a strong sense of community. Here, Melinda talks freelance life, being a “recovering perfectionist” and why she’s taking back control of her commute with a little help from Future Women.

I joined Future Women to broaden the group of professional women I was reading about, listening to and speaking with. It was a conscious choice after realising a lot of the information I was consuming wasn’t produced by women. Future Women has been incredibly inspiring – it’s expanded my understanding of what challenges are faced by women in business, especially those ahead of where I currently am. It’s really nice to get weekly emails, I read the long reads on my commute.

I currently work in a freelance capacity on a small handful of residential architecture projects in NSW. In this role I’m working on ditching the ‘archi-speak’ and communicating in a way that would be easy for any non-architect to understand. This has involved putting together a blog and some articles on the home renovation or new build process which I hope to continue evolving. These are intensive projects that I enjoy immensely, so you’ll never find me working on more than a few at once. I’ve also recently turned my creative skills to an e-commerce social venture that will sell candles which I’m excited to launch in the new year.

I’ve thought a bit about the word ‘passion’ lately and as a recovering perfectionist, ‘passion’ and ‘perfect’ are two dangerous words for me! I’m interested in the etymology of words, and the origin of the word ‘passion’ comes from the words ‘suffering’ and ‘enduring’.

I’ve become very passionate about people being the healthiest versions of themselves – and I think this looks different for each individual. For me, it’s about ensuring that I get enough sleep, drink enough water, do the exercise (even though I don’t want to), eat home cooked meals, spend enough time away from the screen, cultivate boredom (and therefore creativity) and know my limits.

I’m also passionate about good design, specifically its role in helping us lead fuller, smaller-footprint lives. Dieter Rams’ motto, “Less, but better” is a favourite of mine. I’m also interested in how design skills can be applied elsewhere outside of architecture and design, to create new solutions to some of the challenges we will face in the future.

I recently finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly which both tackle themes of fear and vulnerability. I’m now onto Cal Newport’s latest, Digital Minimalism and Running Lean by Ash Maurya. I’m also really enjoying listening to the Harvard Business Review Ideacast, Lady-Land and Offline, the Podcast. It’s so nice to be able to put my phone away while commuting and just listen, I challenge myself to do this so that I can’t multitask on the trip.

“The only thing that is constant is change” from Ionian-Greek philosopher Heraclitus is the quote I live by. It’s applicable to so many of life’s moments, it reminds me to be adaptable and to keep moving forward.

My mum is the most remarkable woman. She raised three fiercely independent and intelligent daughters, and took close to 20 years out of the workforce to do so. After a particularly awful divorce, she had to go back to work and I really admire her for that. I think it took her a long time to regain her confidence and independence, but she modelled for us that anything is possible when you put your mind to it.

What do I want to learn? How much time do you have! I’ve always been interested in making things with my hands so silversmithing, woodworking and pottery are at the top of my list. Currently, my focus is on absorbing as much as I can about all aspects of business: old ways of doing things, new ways of doing things and how I can apply creativity to business which I’m really enjoying. Tied in with this is learning how to be more confident, cultivating my intuition and learning how to meditate. I would also love to learn how to make a podcast!

My driving force is ensuring I continually evolve to be the best version of myself, so I can show up for the important people in my life.

Outside of work I love to ditch my phone, and go for long walks with my husband and dog.

The future for women is incredibly bright and diverse. If we can continue to communicate across and through barriers, I think we will bring more awareness to the futures available to us.

We can lift each other up when we take the time to be present and engaged with the woman standing across from us.

I’m most fulfilled when I’m taking steps (no matter how small) towards my individual and shared goals.

Self-care means doing what you know you need to do in order for you to turn up and be present in the world.