Meet Hayley Bonham, Founder La Porte Group
Founder, La Porte Group
As the creative force behind BONEL PR, La Porte Group and Maison D’Amore (not to mention her side hustle as a stylist), Hayley Bonham is a non-stop ideas machine. A step ahead of the game with her ability to spot a gap in the market and deliver on the next big thing, her entrepreneurial spirit is to be admired; her unwavering tenacity, undeniable. Put a challenge to her and Bonham is the stylish little engine who could.
Rory Elsom and Hayley Bonham
“I’m not going to lie, there’s nothing smoke and mirrors about it—it’s all hard work,” Bonham admits of her success, “but I’m very fortunate that we’ve got teams in place that are extremely passionate about the brand.” The ‘we’ she is referring to is Bonham and her partner—in business and in life—Rory Elsom. “We’re very supportive of one another. He backs me 100 per cent with everything I do creatively and from a business perspective,” Bonham says. “And that respect is reciprocated.”
Together, the dynamic duo has carved out niche for themselves in luxury service with the success of La Porte Space—the beautiful creative hub in Sydney’s Rosebery that houses luxury serviced office suites, photographic studios, event spaces and one insta-famous courtyard, and La Porte Paris, a showroom on the Champs-Élysées that transforms into a hotbed of Australian talent come Paris Fashion Week. “What we’re trying to form at La Porte Group now is bringing the world the very best of what we have on offer in Australia and delivering a concept that’s never been seen before.”
One such concept is their newest project, La Porte Wellness, a luxe, retreat-like space inside their Rosebery compound that brings together elements of fitness, health and beauty.
Taking its styling cues from Bonham and Elsom’s European travels (Parisian architecture here, Italian interiors there), La Porte Wellness is all easy elegance and quiet sophistication; a clear extension of Bonham’s “classic, minimalist” personal style. Within its light, airy expanse, it boasts a Pilates and yoga studio, infrared sauna, a Kristin Fisher Eyebrows salon—and our newest Clinic, RATIONALE Rosebery.
As she cut the proverbial ribbon on her latest project, RATIONALE caught up with Bonham to chat about her modern approach to work/life balance, what skin confidence looks like and what’s next on her to-do list.
What was the inspiration the La Porte Wellness concept?
HB: It was quite organic…the idea for La Porte Wellness initially stemmed from the Pilates concept studio where we could have yoga and Pilates classes that would benefit all the creatives [working within the office spaces], and because we’ve had so much public interest in being part of La Porte, the public would be able to access the space for the first time. The infrared sauna was something that I’ve been [wanting to] doing for a really long time. It was very much about experience…it’s beautiful and it actually has benefit as well.
That’s how we’ve evolved as a business: creating these things that I really personally resonate with and think, ‘I would love this’, and also considering what others want; what do you want in your everyday life and how do you foresee that work/life balance? I think that was kind of the picture that I painted in my mind of how this was all going to kind of come together. And you sit there and think, ‘I’ve got the facilities to do this…let’s do it.’
It’s such a unique, forward-thinking concept. How did you decide who to partner with for La Porte Wellness?
HB: It was a bit of a lightbulb moment…there’s nowhere in Australia, or maybe in the world, at the moment that’s doing something on the level where you’re bringing together the best brands in in beauty, fitness and lifestyle in Australia under one roof. And working with the best people, we’re not going to just sell out and work with anyone…we want to align with the best brands globally and locally to bring the best experience to the public.
So with the beauty side of things, it was very much that I had a relationship with RATIONALE because I was using it and thought other people needed the opportunity to experience it and know about it. Richard’s philosophy is very much aligned with the La Porte philosophy and I think you gravitate towards people who are doing things in a like-minded sense.
L-R: Hayley Bonham, Rory Elsom, Kristin Fisher and Richard Parker.
You mentioned you are using RATIONALE; how did you first discover the brand?
HB: My aunty has been using RATIONALE for quite a few years, and I would sit at a family dinners and she would rave on about it to me. Being a stylist as well, I would be on a lot of shoots and the makeup artist would be using the range and would advocate that it was literally the best thing you could have in your life. So I slowly started using elements of it but it wasn’t until Carlie Fowler from The File actually got me to do a shoot for RATIONALE. I had to trial the Essential Six for two weeks and it transformed my skin.
I don’t use any other beauty products. I’m prepared to invest into skincare but I’m only prepared to invest into what’s going to work. RATIONALE is literally life changing.
‘Life changing’ is pretty powerful. Do you remember what that turning point was for you and your skin?
HB: [Having] the confidence in being able to walk out the door and not even having to consider wearing makeup. I don’t like wearing makeup in general [but] I would always be a concealer girl and try to subtly hide my skin. So many women who are advocates of RATIONALE say the same thing… where you step out and you are yourself; you’re not covering that up. I think it’s something to be said about what Richard has created. It’s just phenomenal that you can be yourself but have amazing skin and just showcase what you have got. I’ve had so many compliments on this glow.
And now? What does your routine look like?
HB: In the morning, I use Immunologist Serum, Super Antioxidant Serum and PhotoDynamic Day Cream SPF15. I wear my B3-T Sunscreen Superfluid SPF50+ and then over the top of that I put my Beautiful Skin. And then if I’m looking really tired, I use a little bit of RMS “Un” Cover-Up and that’s kind of it.
In the evening, I cleanse with ProCeramide Cleanser and then I use Catalyst Serum and DNA Cream. I use the whole Essential Six system. It’s amazing…it’s like you’re having a facial every day. And when you use Immunologist Mask, that really helps as well! Immunologist Mask is life.
Wearing so many different hats in your career, is there such thing as a typical day?
HB: For me, I live and breathe my work so there’s never really an off period. I don’t really mind because I enjoy the stimulation; thinking about ideas and thinking about what the next thing we’re doing is.
I get up quite early and exercise. I like to walk in the morning. That’s when I have an hour to really think about my day, any ideas I have or what I need to get done.
I split my time between BONEL PR as well as La Porte, so I’m usually with my PR team for the first half of the day and then anything I’ve got going on with La Porte is on from the afternoon onwards. I’m usually here quite late, so I’m quite lucky; I’ll do a Pilates class and do a session in the infrared sauna. The sauna for me has been a game changer—it gives me so much energy and it helps you to de-stress and relax, so I’ll do that as well. I’m super productive at night…it’s just being able to have my own time to get through what’s been a bit of a red flag for me during the day with emails and everything.
One of the irons in the fire is your upcoming hotel project. Can you tell us anything about it?
HB: We’re developing Maison La Porte—a beautiful, 40-acre eco-luxury property [in the Noosa hinterland]. It’s a completely sustainable project [with the intention that] by 2022, we’re hoping to be 100 per cent energy renewable on site.
In terms of style, lot of inspiration came from a trip we took to Puglia in Italy, so there’s very strong European influences that sit within the hotel. There are eight luxury Puglian-style villas, each has their own pool which will reflect a similar vibe to the [La Porte] courtyard. We’ve designed a huge square that will have restaurants and retail concept space, and a beach club which is exciting. And then, further down the track, there are other elements to the plan—a spa and similar elements to what we’ve done with Wellness that we’ll integrate into the property.
It’s a project that’s not going to be completed overnight, there are many stages that will take place. And we’ve got 40 acres, so we’ve got the room to evolve the concept; it’s going to be really exciting.
Interview by Hélène Pappas
Images courtesy of instagram.com/hayley_bonham