A weekly Q&A with interesting people in the Australian Media Industry
Chyka Keebaugh
  • Name Chyka Keebaugh
  • Position The Big Group co-founder, Real Housewives of Melbourne star and blogger
  • Interviewed by Social Diary on 30/10/2015
  • Q
    Describe your career path to date?
    A
    It has had so many twist and turns with opportunities that have arisen when least expected.
    Bruce and I started The Big Group when we were 21 to make enough money to travel overseas. Like all things that happen in life, an opportunity came along to work on the Southgate project that turned that plan around. It really was the event that changed our business and started our growth. We were working from our parent's kitchen doing a boardroom lunch a day to doing the opening for 6000 people with 350 staff. They were all friends and family, with Bruce's mum sewing the staff uniforms and us having business cards printed to give out to guests. It was a huge success and the phone started ringing the next day for enquires - we were so excited! We worked unbelievably hard and somehow fitted in getting married and having a baby, all of which featured in different magazines. Bruce and I were open to all kinds of challenges and did everything from the pop up kitchen for the outdoor cinemas on the Yarra to the JAG cafe, the contract at The Old Treasury Building and building a new venue called Champions. We opened our own food outlet - Provencale and started Flowers, Decoration and Design - the decorative arm of our business. We were asked to do a pilot for a cooking show that didn't go ahead, but this opened the door for me to do a weekly segment on Good Morning Australia for 4 years.
    I then thought I wasn't busy enough, so we opened a retail lifestyle outlet called The Veranda and Garden Room.
    All these opportunities gave Bruce and I incredible contacts and because we both thrive on new challenges we have loved where all these different roads have taken us. We now do work in the Middle East, have the contract at The National Gallery of Australia, have two beautiful venues, Luminaire and Mural Hall with our latest venue The Glasshouse opening next week.
    I have started a lifestyle blog and am shooting season 3 of the Real Housewives of Melbourne.
    Did I ever imagine being where I am right now - no. But I am loving where it's all going.
  • Q
    What do you love about your job?
    A
    To have your own business and be surrounded by like minded people is very exciting and rewarding. I love the energy and enthusiasm and the family-like feel we have created in our different teams.
  • Q
    And what's not so great?
    A
    I think when you are a creative person you can sometimes get carried away with ideas and concepts. Sometimes they are hard to sell and get across the line which can be frustrating - particularly when you know how great it could be!
  • Q
    Describe your typical day?
    A
    I don't really have a typical day any more. I try to make sure I include a gym session and a great coffee, then it's usually off to hair and make up with a quick call to Bruce and my kids who I may have missed in the morning.
    I do a quick bit of social media for what's on my blog that day, followed by a few phone calls to work, the producers of the show and a quick chat with a girlfriend. I am always multi tasking, so if you see me at the supermarket I'm on the phone, or when I'm buying flowers I'm doing emails!
    There's always a blog or Housewives shoot to do, and then a quick turn around at home where I'll change and get ready for whatever party we are going to that night. But I do love a night at home and having a dinner as a family is my idea of perfection.
  • Q
    What is the best experience you've had in your career?
    A
    I've had some pretty amazing experiences in my career and take nothing that has happened for granted - good or bad. I do remember though last year standing at a wedding in Dubai with 3500 guests - it was one of the most decadent environments ever, with flowers flown in from Holland and a dessert buffet 1.5 kilometres long. I remember thinking that I would never have thought I would be here doing this! I felt so proud of our business and what we have achieved up to this point with an incredible team behind us.
  • Q
    What do great PR people do?
    A
    A great PR company make an event work. They understand a clients brief and make sure that each guest has an incredible experience that showcases the brand they are working for. They are original and hopefully have the right list for each event. They also work with the best caterers, event stylist and florists to make everything they do perfect.
  • Q
    What do bad PRs do...
    A
    Not understanding their client or what their expectations of the event are, not knowing who to invite and having no concept of how to throw a great party.
  • Q
    How has social media altered your job since the days when you started out?
    A
    It's incredible how social media is really now the new marketing tool. It's all about getting an image or a story out there as quickly as possible. Ideas and images are being copied quickly and creatively this has made things really speed along. It's both a good and bad thing.
  • Q
    Do you enjoy attending industry events?
    A
    The reason I am in the hospitality industry is because I am a girl who loves a party. I love going to an event and being totally blown away by a great idea.
    My life has changed a little since The Real Housewives began and it's not as easy to run in and out of a party. This doesn't stop me from going but I have honestly become a little choosier to what I go to.
  • Q
    The media landscape is going through a period of dramatic change - where do you see it in 5 years?
    A
    I can't believe how quickly everything is moving at the moment. As boring as this is to say, I would like it to slow down a little. I still love magazines and there are some magazines that I will always buy, normally an interiors one. I sit with my iPad to Google different things I have found. I am a little old school and there are some things I'm not ready to give up on yet.
    Blogs are certainly becoming more powerful and the word 'boutique' is thrown around more as people want to go back to feeling a little more connected to a brand than en mass.
  • Q
    Your Instagram/Twitter:
    A
    Twitter: @chykak
    Instagram: @chykak