Melbourneurs (Melbourne Entrepreneurs)

Juliet Sulejmani | February, 17 2016

Last night I went along to a panel discussion, which was hosted by the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV).

The panel was comprised of 3 of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs and they talked about how creativity and design have enabled them to grow successful brands.

I enjoyed their conversation and I’d like to share some of the interesting and inspiring information with you.



 Jonathan Hallinan, Founder and Managing Director, BPM

Joanna Horgan, Founder, MECCA Brands

Nectar Efkarpidis, Co-founder, Hotel Hotel

David Clark (Panel Moderator), Former Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Living.


Jonathan’s entrepreneurial career began at age 10 when he took up a job selling newspapers in his local area. Then from age 19-21 he completed an apprenticeship as a carpenter while at the same time studying construction management. Jonathan purchased his first property at age 19 which eventually led to him founding BPM, his own Property Development Company in 1995.

Joanna Horgan, originally from London moved to Australia with her family at age 14. Later, Joanna moved to Boston to study a Masters in Communication and while there, happened to meet the managing director of L’Oreal. It was this happenstance that led to Joanna moving back to Australia, and in 1997 she opened her first Mecca store on Toorak Road in South Yarra, Victoria.

Nectar Efkarpidis was originally from Melbourne. An Economics and Arts and Interactive Media graduate, who also worked as an investment banker in London, comes from a family of entrepreneurs. After many years of living overseas, Nectar’s brother Jonathan gave him a call from Canberra and told him it was time for him to come home to help out in the family business. The brothers then formed Mongolo Group and in 2013, they opened their very successful hotel, Hotel Hotel.

 Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 4.13.01 pm

Images via



 Fashion is Jonathan’s biggest form of inspiration, specifically the designer Tom Ford. Jonathan admires the way that Tom Ford has pushed boundaries in the Fashion Industry and in doing so has created a special look and feel in all of his work. Jonathan has done the same in his work through BPM. With his focus on luxury and detail, everything that he does is curated to match his personal style and philosophy.


 Joanna is inspired by the story behind the façade. She is interested in the people behind the brands, how they got to where they are and why they are doing what they are doing. Fashion is also an inspiration, brands such as Marni and their stores, as well as people in fashion such as Carine Roitfeld (past French Vogue Editor).


 Nectar’s answer was slightly more organic, but close to Joanna’s answer regarding people. Nectar draws his inspiration from music and interesting stories in the world around him. He told us how he was inspired by Thomas Thwaites after reading his book “The Toaster Project” and mentioned that he was currently working on a project with Thomas.

Images via



His biggest project/risk so far has been moving from developing boutique apartments to entering the tower market. Jonathan is currently developing a tower which will have up to 500 units, and will integrate all his brands into it, which will include; a serviced hotel, gym, champagne bar and a café.


 One of the biggest risks Joanna took with her Mecca was deciding to grow her business and  opening stores under Mecca with a slightly different concept – Mecca Maxima and KIT. Everything didn’t go as planned in the initial stages however they kept on moving forward into success.


For Nectar, the building of the Hotel was a big risk as he had never been in the hotel business. He said that everything that could have gone wrong in the process, went wrong. They just took each step and each problem as they came and now they have one of the coolest hotels in Australia.

Images of Hotel Hotel via



 Every decision that he makes is about the brand. BPM is a lifestyle brand and when you buy from BPM you are buying into the world of BPM. Luxury infuses everything he does, from the signature fragrance ‘Black Mist’ for each of his properties, to the $350K film he has produced for marketing his current project.


Every decision that Joanna makes is about her customer and how it makes them feel. When Joanna is making a decision the first thing she thinks of what her mother would want and what she would want. With her vision, Joanna has revolutionised how women buy beauty products. She has created a more intimate and empowered experience. Her focus is on bringing exciting new emerging brands to her clients through intimate boutique spaces and keeping the tone of voice also intimate but also humorous.


Nectar believes that there is no value in a brand except for what you do. He believes that in everything that you create you should be careful not to finalise an idea. Because if you do , you have no capacity to evolve and grow. Nectar mentioned that they will be bringing a Hotel Hotel to Melbourne in the near future.

It was such a fantastic experience and I am so grateful to have been in their presence. It was my first time seeing each of the panel members and also the moderator David Clarke who did an excellent job interviewing the guests.

Thanks to my friend Suzanne Carbone and Cassette PR for inviting me.


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