Heart-to-Heart: With Vanessa Perilli

Heart-to-Heart: With Vanessa Perilli

On a beautiful sunny autumn morning, we were lucky enough to be invited to have a chat with Vanessa Perilli at her gorgeous light-filled Melbourne abode. And what a treat awaited beyond the stunning lush olive tree that greeted us in the front yard. 

Vanessa is the creative brain and self-described one-woman band behind V.Happy Co – makers of cute as personalised children’s alphabet art prints. (We had a feeling her home would be just as fun and joyful as her designs.)

By day, she is a Designer who specialises in branding and typography. By night, after tucking her little ones into bed, you’ll find her packing orders, designing posters, creating content, answering emails and anything else involved in running V. Happy Co. 

In this Heart-to-Heart, Vanessa shares the inspiration behind her small biz, how she keeps the creative juices flowing, styling advice for kids' rooms and lots of other pearls of wisdom. Take it away Vanessa…

Shop apparel here and cushions + rugs here.

How would you sum up V.Happy Co in one sentence?

Life’s too short to have boring walls! V.Happy Co brings playful design to kids’ bedrooms and play spaces.

Tell us how this beautiful business of yours was born! What first sparked the idea?

The idea for V.Happy Co was ignited long before it came to life. Its journey started with the design of my baby's nursery when I first found out I was expecting. Being passionate about interiors and styling, creating a nursery filled me with much excitement. It was my dream job! One piece was essential; Enzo Mari’s 'La Mela', iconically designed in 1963. I found an original silkscreen of the print and this was the perfect excuse to buy it. Little did I know that this artwork would profoundly impact my work and my baby, Hazel.

As a new parent, I was confronted with the diagnosis of my baby's hearing loss, which was confirmed at five months, but detected at birth. Motherhood didn't unfold as I had imagined. I spent the first year consumed with appointments and countless conversations with support workers, absorbing the overwhelming information through tear-filled eyes. While there were many beautiful moments, these were also accompanied by sadness, but I had to put on a brave face for my baby.

'La Mela' hung over Hazel’s change table and at 1.2m, it couldn’t be missed. As expected, Hazel’s speech was delayed, despite early intervention and speech therapy. From Hazel’s waking moment, I made every effort to sing, rhyme, talk non-stop and read different books. I’d point to 'La Mela' and repeat “Apple. Apple. Apple.”. Then one day, at the age of 14 months, Hazel uttered her first word “A-PO,” marking a significant milestone filled with joy, laughter, tears and relief.

I’m a strong typographer (that’s someone who designs fonts) and to aid Hazel’s ongoing speech therapy, I conceptualised a simple idea of combining images and letters to make the alphabet more engaging and memorable. Knowing Hazel was a visual learner, I aimed for simplicity in design, drawing from my graphic design education and the timeless essence of 'La Mela'. I’m not an expert in deaf education, but when I reflect, this project was my way of showing Hazel my unwavering commitment to her development.

That was it. The very first moment that would eventually become V.Happy Co. Unlike most business owners, I didn’t see a gap in the market, my motivation was to help my daughter along her literacy journey. It took five years to share the Alphabet with the world. When I finally launched the business, after my 2nd child, Winter (yes, that’s her name) was born, it began with greeting cards, as the Alphabet remained too personal to release until later. Now that I am comfortable, V.Happy Co is working on something exciting to help others and give back. Stay tuned…



Shop the new kids + baby range here.

Shop the Musk Stick Stool here.

How do you get inspired for new artwork? And when do you feel most creative?

I find inspiration everywhere, from the world around me to my own life experiences and even the funny things my kids say, do and draw. I enjoy elevating simple ideas into something extraordinary—like who would've guessed that putting a face on a sun would become our biggest hit? I love to laugh. Humour inspires me to think differently. It makes V.Happy.

As a designer, I'm constantly collecting visual references. I have folders full of stuff! I’m a regular at galleries and discovering contemporary artists is a passion of mine. My bookcase is a work in progress, filled with design books I've been collecting for over two decades. These have been a constant source of inspiration. Whether I'm working on a project for V.Happy Co or a client, I strive to create concepts that are effective rather than trendy. I’ll never design something that just looks pretty, it needs to have an idea— that 'a-ha moment', where people wonder, "Why didn't I think of that?".

I feel most creative when I’m faced with a problem to solve. The funny thing is, I’ve always worked in fast-paced design agencies, so I feel most creative when the pressure is on, and the brief and deadline are tight.

You’re running a business, you’re a Mum of two and you’re also a Designer (specialising in branding + typography). Busy times! Any words of wisdom for fellow parents juggling the work/ parenting balance?

I hear you, the juggle is real! The truth is, I struggle to find that balance and need to manage my time carefully. As a creative I naturally have lots of ideas in my head that I want to explore, but finding the time is like trying to catch a unicorn. Despite the whirlwind of managing family, agency work and a business, I've learned to prioritise and focus on what truly matters. I work long hours to keep my business running and there are days when quitting seems like the easier option. The truth is, running a business is tough.

If I could offer any advice, it's this: work on something that sets your soul on fire. It makes the hard days easier. Don't be afraid to ask for help. We're not superheroes and trying to do it all alone is a recipe for burnout. I'm lucky to have a partner who helps out (when I am under the pump) and is supportive of the dream.

I want my kids to see that their parents worked hard while they were growing up, juggling many responsibilities. But I also want them to remember that I made a conscious effort to be present and that 'our time' was never overshadowed by work or other distractions. I'm far from perfect and I try my best, by putting my phone away, to focus on them when we're together and attending every school event.

Each day brings a new challenge and it’s important to celebrate the wins – no matter how small. Nothing is ever perfectly balanced and mistakes will happen, but it’s crucial to give ourselves a high-five when things work out.

Lastly, getting quality sleep is key. I certainly don’t sleep enough and I have a terrible habit of crawling into bed immediately after I’ve turned off my computer screen. But I've made my bedroom a peaceful sanctuary, a place where I can unwind and look forward to a restful night's sleep.

 Shop Paloma apparel here, our Petal Bowl here. & this V. Happy Co print here.

What’s your happiest memory as a business owner? What first pops into your mind as the pinnacle of your business journey?

Selling my first print remains one of my happiest memories.

From the first print to Sunny and now furniture, the pinnacle is far from being reached. Business is a journey…with many great moments already along the way. Like catching a glimpse of the Alphabet Print gracing the walls of Phoebe Bell's fabulous home, gaining validation from my hundreds of customers who repeatedly purchase gifts for all their loved ones or selling the prints and Sunny in Canada, the US, UK, France and New Zealand. So the journey has just begun.

Do you have any styling advice to share for your prints/ designs? What kind of bedrooms do you envision these prints in?

You don’t need to be a super-stylist to add a little V.Happy to your child’s room. Our pieces work equally well in a minimal room with white walls or a room filled with colour. My advice is, don’t over-think the styling. Anything goes!
Style the prints with colourful accents, such as toys, books, small storage pieces, bed linen and cushions. Kids are young once, so now is the time to have fun with their space. V.Happy Co Art and Furniture is graphic and bold, making it the perfect styling companion for patterned linen. I love it when the patterns in the bed linen clash, so the styling is fun and not-so-perfect. 
If you’re after a more cohesive look, pick up on the colours in the print and reflect the palette elsewhere in the room.
Personally, I adore bedrooms that are vibrant and designed to reflect the personality of the child. V.Happy Co is for children who love to dream or are curious to learn. Whether the room is designed to be minimal with functional furniture or has a colourful and eclectic style, a little V.Happy Co can spark joy and add a playful touch to any space.

Can you remember your childhood bedroom? If so, describe it to us!

Of course I can – It feels like yesterday. It was the source of both dreams and nightmares.

Growing up, my parents did pretty well in the furniture department. They invested in quality pieces that lasted me until I hit the ripe old age of 18. My childhood sanctuary was adorned with a pine bed frame and dressing table that I adored. However, the styling? Let's just say, it was the '80s, so it was delightfully questionable!

I grew up in East Brunswick, Melbourne and my bedroom was painted a charming shade of baby pink, paired with a white ceiling and oatmeal tweed pinch-fold blockout curtains that ran along one side of the room. My bed was a pine wood-turned wonder, accompanied by a Holly Hobbie quilt cover and frilly valance with a matching print hanging above the bedhead. I distinctly recall questioning the Holly Hobbie theme, as I had no idea who she was. I had my heart set on a Strawberry Shortcake quilt, but alas, Holly Hobbie reigned supreme until my high school days. To add to the charm, I had a pink 'tidy-chain' – an '80s styling relic (thankfully extinct) where plush toys were hung on a vertical chain suspended from the ceiling.

To match my bed, I had a Victorian-style pine dresser, complete with four wood-turned legs, an arched mirror atop two drawers and an open shelf near the floor. This dresser was my pride and joy, where I meticulously arranged and rearranged my collection of Happy Meal figurines. With few toys to call my own, these figurines held a special place in my heart and I looked forward to changing their arrangement each week.

I wish I could link an image of what I’m about to describe because my written description will not do it justice. Picture a 50cm fluorescent orange, plush dog head with long, droopy ears attached to a 180cm high fluorescent orange shag-covered pole. It was huge and I was scared to make eye contact with the fluorescent-orange-dog-monstrosity that stood at the end of my bed. While intended to serve as a clothes or hat stand, it doubled as a source of nightmares for young Vanessa.

 Shop our cushions + rugs here.

Shop V.Happy Co wall art here.

Shop our dine range here.

I think I might already know the answer to this… but what’s your favourite design from the Paloma Chapter 2 collection?

It’s impossible to pick a favourite, but if I had to narrow it down…

The Mela print is a standout for me, especially because of its connection to Hazel's story and the 'La Mela' print in my girls' bedroom. I love the way Sage x Clare referenced '70s graphic design with the apple motif. It’s iconic, bold, graphic and just plain fun. I think every kid needs this print on their bed! Let's not forget about the Blanca (Aperol) and Florencia prints – they complement Mela perfectly. I've already ordered these styles for Hazel and Winter and I can't wait to give their shared bedroom a refresh.

Now, can we talk about the Houndstooth print? It's like Sage x Clare read my mind with these graphic prints. I love how you’ve played with scale across different products. The oversized pattern on the Vinita Robe is seriously fabulous. I’m not a morning person, but what a treat to wake up and slip into that cosy robe and make the school lunches in my fanciest look of the day! Thank you Sage x Clare for making me feel wonderful.

Congratulations on the Paloma Chapter 2 launch Sage x Clare, the collection is a dream!

Shop cushions & rugs here.

How would you describe your personal taste in interiors and what do you think shaped your style?

My design style leans towards simplicity with a twist. I'm into minimalist vibes, but I love throwing in pops of colour and texture to keep things interesting. I have this thing for '70s furniture, those iconic pieces with their graphic and modular shapes. They just speak to me! That’s definitely influenced by my studies and my practice – it’s all about simplifying the form to create graphic shapes.

When I'm not hunting down design classics, I'm on the lookout for standout Australian pieces, especially from designers pushing boundaries. One of my all-time favourites is the Chromatic Cabinet by Danielle Brustman. Let's not forget my green Chubby Desk by Fearon – a unique shape that perfectly slots into our home.

Our house has endless storage options, thankfully installed by the previous owner, some 10-15 years ago. This helps keep our spaces clutter-free. I'm especially grateful for the massive bookcase that houses all my “stuff” each piece carefully chosen for its clean, graphic lines. Take my Gustaf Westman Spiral Stand, for example—it's functional art.

When we moved in, we gave the house a facelift, sticking to our minimalist principles. We tried to incorporate natural materials wherever possible, like the limestone bathroom, leather cupboard handles and wool carpeting throughout.

Adding Paloma Chapter 2 to our home was so much fun. The layered textures and colours brought the space to life. Our interiors are still a work in progress, but having the whole collection to play with was a thrill. The fabrics are so lush and the designs radiate joy!

Shop bathe here.

When do you feel most happy? Describe your perfect day to us. GO!

It doesn’t take much to make me happy. I like stress-free days with moments of spontaneity where there isn’t 'pressure' to perform or a schedule to follow. I’m given space to do 'things' in my own time and enjoy the moment.

I feel most happy when I'm surrounded by loved ones. My perfect day will start at 7.30 am at 'The Steps'. I’m currently training for the Australia 108 Stair Climb, with my entire family (I captain our team of 16). We train together every Sunday and it’s a great way to start the day. I laugh so much because every session is a comedy of errors. I train hard for 60 minutes, then finish with a small sip of my Dad’s celebratory Limoncello.

I’m not a 'breakfast person' I like to keep it simple, so I will prepare something quick, making more time for self-care. Maybe some stretching and an extra long shower.

In the afternoon, I will let the girls pick an activity. Sometimes they pick 'exploring a new place'. Over Christmas, we road-tripped from Melbourne to the Gold Coast, up the Northern Beaches and back again. We had the most wonderful trip. I’d like to do more driving this year and explore more of our backyard. Other times, we stay home and play silly games we’ve dreamed up, like our current favourite, 'Yaaaaaaa' which has stood the test of time because I played it with my Dad as a kid. It's a special game just for us.

In the evening, I'll have a delicious dinner with my family, perhaps trying out a new recipe (my husband is a great cook) or dine at our local, enjoying good food and great conversation. After dinner, we’ll walk home and have a play at the park, if the sun hasn’t gone down. Then read a couple of stories before tucking the girls into bed.

My perfect 'everyday' day is all about enjoying the simple things in life, being present in the moment and cherishing the time spent with my family.

Shop sleepwear here.

Shop the Paloma (Chapter 2) collection here.

You can find the V.Happy Co website here.

And follow their journey on Instagram here.

With a whole lotta love xx

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.