Drawing on inner strength

Architect Kylee Schoonens in the Fratelle Group boardroom.
Architect Kylee Schoonens in the Fratelle Group boardroom.

Now as a 33-year-old, the Northbridge businesswoman has a long list of achievements, topped by being the youngest female director of an architectural practice in WA.

‘I really enjoyed tech drawing and art at school and seeing my dad work in design, I was familiar with architecture as a career,’ she said.

‘It combines art and science together, it is both creative and technical.’

Ms Schoonens, who is co-director of Fratelle Group with her husband Adrian Fratelle, said work experience and being made an associate director early on in her career had made her strive for excellence.

Her work, particularly in building the Fratelle Group and designing commercial, retail, aged care and educational buildings, recently saw her win a 40under40 business entrepreneur award.

‘It is a really big honour,’ Ms Schoonens said.

‘I feel privileged to be in a position where I can help to raise the profile of women in this industry and to be a part of the development and growth of the changing architectural face of WA.’

She is also on the WA Committee for National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), was a finalist in the NAWIC award for excellence in 2013 and is a commercial committee board member for the Property Council of Australia WA.

But her journey has not been without complications, particularly having to overcome a broken back in 2005.

Her career was put on hold while she spent six weeks at Shenton Park Rehabilitation Hospital and months of out patient care.

‘But I was one of the lucky ones because I walked out of there,’ she said.

‘The experience changed me for the better. It made me realise how many people actually care about me and it strengthened my relationship with Adrian and my family and friends.

‘It also made me more determined; you have to find an inner strength when going through it. I think it is always there but you don’t realise you have it until it’s needed.’