THE DESERT COLLECTIVE is inspired by the collaboration of creative citizens, artists, dreamers and wanderers from across the globe, forever curious, fun and young at heart. It all started in Palm Springs, where writer Shannon Harley was on assignment for QANTAS and delicious. magazine. She checked in to The Amado, photographer Jaime Kowal’s luxe mid-century modern boutique hotel that is part of her collection of high-end, design-forward travel destinations and properties across California and Canada (the country she originally hails from). When the two met up for an interview later that hot Palm Springs afternoon over an Aperol spritz at the Parker hotel, creative sparks were flying from the outset and they immediately hit it off with the familiarity of old friends – this is how their Content Services collaboration was born.
After this energetic chance meeting at the Parker – and subsequent collaborations in the USA, Italy, Mexico and Africa in the following months – it was inevitable that Shannon and Jaime would officially team up based on their shared values, perspective, lifestyle and complementary skill set.
With a background in fashion and fine art, Jaime’s 17-year career as a freelance photographer and boutique hotelier has taken her to over 30 countries spanning six continents, providing travel and lifestyle imagery for commercial and editorial clients including The New York Times, Vogue Living Australia, Dwell, Wallpaper, Condé Nast Traveler and GOOP.
Shannon, who is the former managing editor of delicious. magazine, has 15+ years’ experience as a successful magazine editor, columnist, editorial consultant and content creator across a variety of platforms, including: television, print, digital, book publishing, social and not-for-profit food education training, most recently working on the launch of UKHarvest in London. She is from Sydney, but has lived in London – a city dear to her heart – and, most recently, Italy, where she spent a year in the Piedmont countryside (hello truffles and Barolo!) acquiring a Master of Gastronomy at the world-renowned slow-food University of Gastronomic Sciences.
Together, Shannon and Jaime offer a unique and complete editorial package of compelling storytelling combining words and imagery as they travel the world for The Desert Collective. Their offering is highly curated and intelligent travel content, which distils essential information into stylish travel guides. The duo are committed to going one step further to provide a responsible primer to global destinations, highlighting those pioneering in the realms of sustainability, social responsibility, equality and creative arts. This is essential travel know-how for the modern, conscious traveller seeking a uniquely enjoyable, meaningful and mindful experience.
SHANNON HAS BEEN A CENTRAL PART of the UKHarvest launch in London. Her expertise in the various yet
inter-related realms of food waste, climate change and sustainability, coupled with her rich international food knowledge and passion to lead the next-gen food system where sustainability, equality, health and taste are at the fore, drove her collaboration with this successful and well-respected food-waste organisation, which first launched in Australia and is supported by Jaime Oliver and the Duchess of Cornwall in the UK.
By developing the education programme and growing the organisation with CEO Yvonne Thompson, Shannon hopes to see tomorrow’s meal served at a table where there is plenty for everyone, where the food consumed comes from a sustainable system and nourishes the individual, as well as their greater community and the planet beyond. Read more about UKHarvest here.
SHANNON HAS TEAMED UP with Back2Roots Retreats to provide their retreat menu design and location catering. Sydney-based yogis Lara Zilibowitz and Brooke Elliston host their upscale yoga and meditation retreats in spectacular global locations, offering a synthesis of physical wellbeing and spiritual nourishment, luxury and wilderness, woven together with heart.
The food component for each retreat is highly tailored to a healthy, vegetarian, organic, nourishing brief, and Shannon is responsible for menu design, food preparation and location catering.
"Shannon did an extraordinary job catering for Back2Roots Retreat at Paperbark Camp in Jervis Bay. From initial phases of menu planning to ingredient sourcing and then prepping and execution, she was an absolute professional, winning over many hearts along the way. Every meal she plated up was so thoroughly curated to showcase seasonality, colour, flavour, texture – all with a healthy slant, our retreat participants were blown away by the abundance. We can't wait to work with her again – her creative eye, attuned tastebuds and enthusiasm are an absolute gift." – Lara Zilibowitz, Founder, Back2Roots Retreats
“I left feeling nourished from the inside out and with an even greater love for yoga than I started the retreat with. We were constantly treated with food fuelling both our bodies and souls.”
– Tamara Jade Stauch, Lululemon Athletica
“There was such a finely tuned balance of everything at this retreat – happy, soulful people, animals, nature, creativity, delicious food & time to take it all in. Thank you Back2RootsRetreat for a magical experience!”