Meet NZ Chef, Josh Emett & NZ Footwear Designer, Kathryn Wilson. Two extremely successful & inspiring individuals who are also known for their very infectious personalities. We spoke to Josh & Kathryn about business, travel, organisation & their favourite NZ Escapes.
How did your career begin as a chef & what has your biggest highlight to date been?
When I was 16, school wasn’t motivating me and I was adamant I didn’t want to end up in a corporate desk role, I knew I wanted to do something practical and creative and I had developed a love of cooking from watching my mum cooking cakes for my siblings after school, which we regularly finished off before dinner! I enrolled in a culinary course at Waikato Polytech (now Wintec) and never looked back. Getting my first Job at Cin Cin in the ferry building in Auckland was my first career role and then heading off to the UK really took me to a new level..
My years working for Gordon Ramsay were the most career defining and I would say my career highlight has to be when I was running his newly opened NY restaurant and gaining the much coveted 2 Michelin stars in 2007.
You have become a household name across the whole of NZ & have recently launched a new book The Recipe - what was your goal with the new book?
I had a yearning to write a cookbook that would be timeless….a classic that would be used by households as a constant reference and I was determined for it to be available across all English speaking countries. I see this as an opportunity to help re-establish my brand globally and I am looking to work more in that space in the future.
What is your top business tip for other young chefs hoping to follow in your footsteps with their careers?
Focus on the opportunity rather than the salary when you are starting out. Be hungry to learn and identify the chefs you would like to work for and boldly get in touch. Tell them what skills you have and ask if you can work for them – you could even offer to work for free for the first few weeks. Build on your experience and when you stop being challenged look for your next role.
How often do you have to travel & how do you stay organised with this change in routine?
I travel a lot, regularly to Queenstown and to the US and Europe.
To stay organised I write a very structured schedule and plan any trips meticulously. In the lead up to any travel I dedicate a page of my notebook to the trip and then keep brainstorming ideas until I have a plan. Actually I am using my leather bound personalised An Organised Life notebook at the moment and I am loving it.
I am a creature of habit too so this means from a packing perspective I tend to pack the same things, book the same seat on the plane, and use the same cab driver!
What are the top ways you organise your life?
I am disciplined, and like my days to be structured – this is very common trait of a chef.
I like to have a routine and plan the week ahead. Most mornings I exercise which sets me up for the day and gets my head in the right space, I like to run through my key objectives for day whilst having a coffee and then head to meetings and actioning my to-dos!
For me there is no better winter playground for kiwis than Queenstown, the town comes to life with people ready to hit the slopes and I especially love it when the surrounding mountains are snowcapped. One of the best events on the NZ calendar is the Veuve Cliquot in the Snow weekend. Rata has partnered with the event to offer locals and visitors a long lunch with unique Veuve Cliquot pairings, it is incredibly popular and a highlight to my year. I always enjoy Kathryn Wilson’s fashion event as she knows how to put on a great show! This year I am hoping to give the Husky Sledding a go but it will depend if I get time out of the kitchen.
How did your career begin & what has your biggest highlight to date been?
I grew up in Auckland in the 80’s customising my Comando M’s and Kung-fu’s from Para Rubber… I had always dreamed of becoming a shoe designer and studied a Bachelor of Design - majoring in fashion, in Auckland ,Wellington and later England at Nottingham Trent University on a scholarship exchange. Returning to NZ , when I was 22 I won an AMP scholarship for shoe design which enabled me to sample my first designs here in NZ in 2003 and launch the Kathryn Wilson’ brand.
Career highlights would be Beyonce getting a pair of my shoes for herself and her daughter Blue Ivy and posting a photo of them on her Instagram account to 80 million followers. Also meeting Jimmy Choo in Malaysia while judging a design competition and later hosting him in NZ for 4 days with Remix magazine / Sky City to a Kathryn Wilson cocktail event in celebration of shoes, a day out on the Waitemata harbour fishing!, followed by a visit to my three Auckland stores to meet the Kathryn Wilson team.
You have become an iconic designer across the whole of NZ - What do you want customers of KW to feel when they purchase your products?
We are now 15 years into the business and currently supply over 80 stores across NZ, Australia and online with both Kathryn Wilson and Miss Wilson collections, our brand purpose is to create playful, unique footwear that customers feel excited and proud to be wearing and supporting. Our customers are loyal followers of the brand and the concept of ‘Happy feet’ that we embrace… empowering women to ‘take on the world with a smile’ while wearing our shoes!
What is your top business tip for other young designers hoping to follow in your footsteps with their careers?
Surround yourself with people who inspire and motivate you… I have been fortunate to have incredible mentors support my business journey and help to guide me through the highs and lows and hold me accountable to the growth goals!
How often do you have to travel & how do you stay organised with this change in routine & with your young family?
I used to travel a lot more before having children… now with two daughters I limit my work travel to twice a year to Asia and twice a month throughout NZ where possible. I am a very planned and prepared person, the calender is full every week between my schedule and my husbands, both in growing businesses, so we have to be very diligent at sharing our travel and event commitments each week ahead of time. We also have an incredible full-time family nanny that has been with us over four years who is like a third parent to our girls, this is a huge help for us to maintain a routine when we are away.
What are the top 3 ways you organise your life in general
I love lists…I get so much satisfaction from crossing things off a list once they have been done…. I love to use physical paper diaries to put pen to paper with creative ideas rather than always being on a device… Im old school…
I share my calender each week with my husbands EA and vice versa to ensure we are both aware of the week ahead and any after-hours commitments that require us not to be home… this is a life-saver when trying to also book in personal time for yoga or a walk with friends …. I lock these in as an appt also otherwise it never happens
I have a SUPER tidy home and love white, clean spaces so that my busy mind can feel calm and focused at work or home…
Talk us through your favourite place in NZ to escape to during Winter.
Queenstown is my favourite Winter destination in New Zealand… we have been part of the ‘Clicquot in the Snow’ festivities with Veuve Clicquot for the past 8 years with an annual Kathryn Wilson catwalk event to launch our Spring / Summer collections to a sell-out audience. Each year the show has built momentum to now host over 250 guests for a night of fashion, celebration and our favourite champagne. We are excited to be back on the calendar of events this season and are looking forward to a great weekend in the most beautiful part of NZ.
Sponsored post by Veuve Clicquot NZ