Our Featured Hustler of the week is Claire Baker from Urbankind Studio. Claire is HEH Alumni and is part of our Uplevel Program.
Claire is an urban planner & strategist and has developed a signature framework that blends proven real-world expertise with international best practice. This methodology places wellbeing, happiness and sustainability at the center of every project for maximum impact.
A conversation with Claire Baker from Urbankind Studio
Where are you right now?
Sitting in my favourite café on the Sunshine Coast, Candid in Marcoola. I often come here for coffee and to get out of the studio and do some work outside in the fresh air and chat to the lovely girls who run the café.
Tea or coffee?
Coffee (it’s a non-negotiable daily ritual for me).
Tell us a bit about what you do at Urbankind Studio?
I run Urbankind, a human centred strategic planning studio on the Sunshine Coast. We put people at the heart of decision making and focus on delivering positive impacts and playful places for people and the planet. We specialise in city (and region) shaping policy, strategy and projects that seek to make the world better, one place at a time.
Urbankind’s expert strategists facilitate the process of developing places and land to strengthen entire communities. Creating vibrant, magnetic spaces for people to explore, play, connect, invest and enjoy. Our collaborative and measured approach ensures that stakeholders are involved in the right way, at the right time, to drive positive and lasting change.
Why do you do what you do?
I have a natural curiosity about what makes great places feel so great. My lifelong love for travel and desire to understand daily life in different contexts and the environmental, social and economic factors that influencing that has led to a life of investigating what policy levers create a better future for all people.
I love people and I love to make their daily lives better. I believe that small things make a huge difference to people and that if policy makers and city shapers consider community engagement as a relationship building exercise – communities would be more prepared to face the challenges growth and change present in a more positive and productive way.
Shaping the urban environment is a privilege and honour and I love to dive in to complex urban challenges and bring creative solutions to the table in a locally appropriate way. As professionals we know better so I’m helping planners and policy makers do better by delivering more innovative solutions for their communities.
I love bringing the extensive experience I’ve gained as a strategic planning and policy advisor to government and industry in two of the world’s best cities Melbourne and London to regional and metro Australian cities and towns. I’ve had a unique and non-traditional career/study pathway with qualifications in business and sustainability, community engagement and placemaking, urban and regional planning and property economics – I can bring the best of these disciplines to each project.
I didn’t want to waste the valuable cross-disciplinary insights gained from nearly two decades of delivering innovative city shaping policy solutions for more affordable and liveable Housing, Activity Centres, Employment Areas, Urban Renewal Precincts and Open Space Strategies and so now I bring them to government teams looking to solve common urban problems in new ways. Experienced at designing and leading creative municipal wide community engagement strategies I help bring a more human side to the policy decisions by bringing everyday people along for the journey to help shape government decisions that affect their daily lives.
What rituals do you have in place to help you get the most out of your day?
- Making time for me – could be coffee, Pilates or a sunrise walk to start the day,
- Spending time connecting – with my children before and after the school/work day
- Connecting with people who inspire or motivate me – every week to keep focused on bringing new solutions to urban challenges.
- Making time to ‘get it done’ – blanking out productive power sessions in my calendar for working on the business
How do you get into flow?
I try hard make realistic plans for my days/weeks and months and then carve out time to focus on a single task and be kind to myself when they get de-railed. I love to play some music to suit the task at hand, something fun for the boring tasks and something calming for the focused work.
When working on business strategy or a new service I’m launching I have a special candle I bought for my first DIY Business Retreat so smelling that always gets me in a really good mood and feeling focused.
What is your favourite thing about running your business?
Being able to make executive decisions – nearly two decades in government jobs there’s a lot of bureaucracy to get to the final yes! I love that I get to choose who I work with and projects we say no to when they don’t align with our approach. I also love being able to bring the best of all that I’ve lived, learnt and experienced to every project and help create a better future for every community we work in.
What book, podcast & song are you jamming to at the moment?
Book: Women and leadership, real lives, real lessons – Julia Gillard, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Podcast: One Wild Ride (always!)
Song: Cleo Sol – Why don’t you
If you could have dinner with 3 people (dead or alive), who would they be & why?
My Nanna who passed away last year during Covid in Victoria so I never got one last visit with her. I adored her and would give anything for one last dinner with her.
Serena Williams – I think she’s an incredible sportswoman and looks like she’d be fun to hang out with. I first saw her play in Melbourne as a teenager and have always admired her. I’d love to chat about what keeps her motivated and what drives her to succeed
Zoe Foster Blake – she’s such an inspiring Australian women, successful writer and Go-to skincare as a brand is just so cool, always hilarious and drawing you in. She also looks like a fun mum and her holiday theme dressing gets me every time. I’d love to have dinner with her – she’d pick such a great place too. She makes me feel like we are already friends.
What has been your biggest takeaway from High-End Hustlers so far?
You can do business your way and community is everything. The support and inspiration from having a safe space to share the wins and seek advice from other business owners has been as valuable as the practical business tools and lessons. Seeing women further along the journey than me is really inspiring and cheering each other on is so important when scaling your business and taking big leaps!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Travelling the world and working on innovative policy and strategy projects that make cities and towns more child friendly and playful places for people of all ages.
Best piece of business advice you have been given?
You can build a business around the life you want and can support your family in a flexible way that means you don’t have to miss out on the special things but can still thrive and do meaningful work on your terms.
Want to connect with Claire & keep the conversation going?