Courtney Baker was born in Warragul and after living in Melbourne for almost 10 years, she returned when she was expecting her son to be closer to family. She had only planned to be here a few years, but never left.
Courtney’s passion for the environment is evident in everyday in the simple act of taking her reusable coffee cup for her daily brew. “I love seeing the different and amazing things people are doing to help and save the environment - zero waste initiatives, gardening, producing our own food, composting, ways to combat single use plastics, op-shopping for pre-loved rather than buying new.”
Courtney works full-time for herself with her line of handmade jewellery, Flluskë; Albanian for bubble. “I make earrings and rings out of wood and resin and colour them using pastels, ink and paint.” The business has also created a platform of influence for Courtney to educate people and increase awareness around hearing loss and what deaf or hard of hearing people need from others to communicate effectively and feel included. “People with good intentions often slow down their speech and over emphasise their words when they know you’re hearing impaired, often raising their voice too.” Courtney urges those who she connects with on her social networks to simply, “speak as naturally as you would to anyone else, be sure to face them and have your hands away from your mouth and you’re good to go.”
My hearing loss has always been something I've struggled to accept for much of my life so making these earrings has helped me to feel differently about my disability
My hearing loss has always been something I've struggled to accept for much of my life, so making these earrings has helped me to feel differently about my disability
Courtney Baker, Flluskë Creator
This passion to change people’s perception of those with hearing loss comes from a dark time in her life which she has drawn inspiration and strength from rather than let it get her down.
“I was working in an office job and it was incredibly difficult for me to work effectively because of the noise levels. I received zero support from my managers when I asked them for help and faced unexpected narrow-mindedness and intolerance because of my hearing loss. I was only trying to get assistance, so I could continue doing my job to the best of my ability. Eventually I was so stressed, that I resigned. The lack of support from higher up was devastating for me and I hit a very low point in my life. I felt like a failure because of my hearing loss. I felt useless and that I had nothing to offer anyone. It made me doubt who I was as a person and I hated my disability.”
“I initially started making earrings to help me accept my hearing loss and make my ears look beautiful. My hearing loss has always been something I've struggled to accept for much of my life so making these earrings has helped me to feel differently about my disability. I’ve only been wearing a hearing aid for four years and they don’t give me perfect hearing, but I cope much better with it on”
Making earrings was the beginning of Courtney’s journey of acceptance and to embrace her ears and the hearing aid she wears. “I'd always tried to hide my hearing loss from people for fear of being rejected. The Flluskë earrings helped me push past my fears and share my story. It has helped me to feel more empowered and in control of my life. I don't feel like my sadness over my hearing loss has as much power over me any-more and I love that I'm touching so many people in Australia and around the world with my story.”
People clearly experience real joy when they wear Flluskë earrings which is heartening to Courtney. “It's the best feeling to know I'm making women feel beautiful and confident when they wear Flluskë colours. It is the best part of my business.”
When not creating her unique jewellery Courtney loves being outdoors, whether that be exploring beautiful places around Gippsland, going to the beach for the day or even spending time by a creek or a lake. “Being outdoors makes me feel incredibly happy so being here in Gippsland offers me an amazing variety of places to explore and spend time in."