2017, in one word you were BIG. Full of love, creativity, joy, wins, lessons, far-flung adventures and SO very much hard work. It was definitely a year of non-stop leap taking, and stepping way outside every comfort zone I knew – from hiring my first employee and welcoming Zalie to the team, to speaking on panels and delivering my first big speaking engagement, co-hosting two business workshops, growing our stockist base and online customer base hugely, and having the opportunity to work with some incredible brands on projects I couldn’t have ever dreamed possible. I also travelled, a lot! All in all, I took 67 flights, travelled to 11 countries and spent time in 21 cities. Phew!
Here’s a recap of what went down, month by month.
Completely and utterly wiped from 2016, the opening weeks of January was all about slow. I swapped out long days in the studio for some days of quiet, steady and calm, and with Charles finally home after having spent three months in China for work, we prioritised a lot of time for simply being together.
We took early morning runs around our neighbourhood, filled our home with houseplants and spent our evenings with home cooked meals and the guitar. To celebrate our one year anniversary (what a year!) Charles surprised me with a weekend away in Daylesford.
I spent a day at the Australian Open with Le Petit Rosé + Jacobs Creek, with my wonderful Dad as my plus one. Always a father-daughter tradition for us, it was the most surreal day ever to have front row seats at the semifinals. It made me exceptionally grateful for the strange and wonderful experiences that the blogging realm has bought my way.
To top off a beautiful month, we booked our first adventure requiring those little booklets.
Things picked up the pace in a big way, as the days drew closer and closer to the Life in Style Trade Show – a key event for the wholesale arm of my business! I launched our first notebook collection and connected with many beautiful new retail partners around Australia and New Zealand, tipping our stockist network over 200, and making the show a big success. With my dream quickly growing far bigger than I was, my amazing parents hurried over to Melbourne to help me handle all of the orders.
With the last orders bundled with love and out the door, I hit the road with Charles to spend a few days exploring (eating) our way through the Goldfields and Spa country of Victoria, on a campaign with Visit Victoria.
Last but not least, I bought myself a car! The biggest purchase in my adult life beyond a plane ticket, and an exciting addition for my life in Melbourne (her name is Margot).
The first few weeks of March was all about unpretty work behind the scenes – trade show follow-ups, long hours at my desk, keeping up with orders, emails, enquiries and more orders. I also turned 28, and spent the day filled with all of my favourite things: breakfast, flowers, cake, wine, a night market, and friends.
The night before I flew out on my first big adventure for the year, I posted this news. Everything was about to change! After growing beyond what I could handle alone, I put the call out to the world for a studio fairy / assistant to join me at Emma Kate Co.
To see out the month, Charles and I jumped on a plane to Japan, to spend two weeks completely away from all work, following our feet, with anywhere to go and nowhere in particular to be. Our time away was everything we needed, and we returned feeling rested, restored and inspired to hit the ground running.
Direct from Tokyo, Charles and I spent a weekend in Adelaide for a dear friend’s wedding, and I stayed on a few days longer to be part of a live panel event all about leap taking and courage, hosted by the beautiful Of Kin.
It had been a long time between ‘speaking gigs’ for me, and I was ridiculously nervous, but telling my story and voicing my experiences in business felt really good. I was reminded of the power of intimate, in-person events and the beauty of conversations had and connections forged. Nothing beats the feeling! I made a mental note to put myself in the way of more opportunities like this (and as it turned out, the world had the same idea, with a number of other speaking requests cropping up later in the year.)
Back home in Melbourne, I threw myself straight into sorting through the studio assistant applications, and catching up on all of the work. In late April, I welcomed Brooke to the team!
The month of May saw me almost entirely on the road, with a design market in Sydney, another in Adelaide, a design conference in Brisbane, lots of meetings [and hotel stays], and weekly pit-stops back in Melbourne in between, to be in the studio for Brooke’s days at work.
After a few wonderful weeks in our little studio with her bright smile and her organisational fairy ways, Brooke came to me with unexpected news of needing to move back to Canberra to be with family. So again, for a little while, it was back to me and my two little human feet, doing my very best to keep up with it all.
May also was the month for a long-awaited weekend in Byron Bay and Cabarita Beach reuniting with my bestie Carly after almost eighteen months apart (Carls had just returned from living in India and Nepal!). Our time was filled with salty air and soul chats, wines, coffees, and sunrise shoots on the beach. Dreamy.
June was my most grounded month of the year, spent almost entirely immersed in the studio! I designed and produced my next collection, started to design the 2018 planner, and put plans in place for our biggest trade show yet. Behind the scenes, a secret collaboration with my dear friend Sonia was also taking shape for August (more below).
And just when I thought I would spend the entire month in Melbourne, I was whisked away for a whirlwind adventure to Sydney with Olympus! In the company of some amazing photographers, we spent an evening playing with some amazing cameras, with Vivid Sydney as our canvas. Pinch me!
I quickly fell in love with everything this brand is about, and while I didn’t realise it at the time, this would be my first of many creative projects and opportunities ahead, partnering with Olympus.
July was a month of intense bunkering down in the studio! I didn’t leave Melbourne once, and I pulled some of the longest hours I ever have before, with 20+ hour days working, before collapsing into bed for a handful of hours – rinse and repeat.
The August Life in Style Tradeshow was a core focus, as was finessing the 2018 planner design, with some wonderful feedback from a 15-strong inner circle of advisors who kindly volunteered to support and offer feedback through the process (I couldn’t have done it without them!)
In the last week of July, Zalie arrived on my studio doorstep with a suitcase FULL of enthusiasm to shake things up around here for the better. With freshly world-wandered feet (literally straight from a plane South America), Zalie joined the team just in time for trade show week – and has been working alongside me ever since.
I also changed Emma Kate Co. from sole trader to a Company structure (which really just felt like a lot of paperwork, but also: a milestone of sorts!)
The first week of August was everything Life in Style! It was our biggest trade show yet, and we spent a wonderful four days catching up with our dear Australian + New Zealand retailers – and connecting with a host of beautiful new ones! With all new collection orders packed and sent out to the world, Zalie and I diverted all of our attention to one thing: confetti!
After months of secret planning behind the scenes, my dear friend Sonia and I held Brand Confetti – an intimate, relaxed, hanging-with-your-friends type 2 day workshop on everything business + creative, where we planned to share EVERYTHING we had individually and collectively learned in business. After a sold out, 36 strong crowd in Adelaide, we continued the fun in Melbourne. To say we were blown away would be an understatement of EPIC proportions. And both groups were SO wonderful, so present, so engaged, so positive, so interactive and so eager to learn.
With the biggest trade events complete for the year, and our 2018 planners signed off and manufacturing well underway, September was time to switch gears, and go wandering! While I flew off for a whole month in Europe with Charles, I left Zalie in charge of keep everything running in the studio (which she handled brilliantly!)
After a brief pitstop in the Hunter Valley, to deliver a big keynote at the Mirvac Retail conference in front of 150+ people (!) finally I could exhale.
Charles and I flew into Amsterdam for some days with family, before heading to Rome, Sicily and then onto the Greek Islands! While we were getting wonderfully lost in the late summer sunshine and cobbled streets, I worked on my first big project with Olympus, capturing video content for the first time on a new camera in my family: the Olympus PEN E-PL8.
While in Santorini, I took a deep breath and hit PUBLISH on our 2018 planners preorder. After a matter of hours, we had sold over a third of our stock, and were COMPLETELY inundated with orders flying in from all over the world. Within a matter of weeks, we had completely sold out…. of them all. Grateful!
Straight off my plane from Europe, I hopped onto another bound for Queenstown, New Zealand. I was lucky enough to be invited to join a group of beautiful photographers, bloggers and the Olympus family to launch the new OM-D E-M10 Mark III camera. Blog posts coming soon! For now, take a look at the trip hashtag – it was incredible! #OlympusQueenstownExcursion.
After an epic week back in Melbourne with Zalie, where we sent out over a hundred pre-orders of our new linen banner collection and made a quick appearance at Finders Keepers in Melbourne, it was back on another plane for me.
I had the amazing opportunity to work on a campaign with Love Great Britain and spend ten days on a solo adventure, exploring London and Cornwall. Blog posts coming soon!
No sooner had I touched down back in Melbourne, we received our 2018 planner shipment delivery, and thus began six huge days (and nights, and nights that became days) of quality checking, packing and sending out hundreds and hundreds of pre-orders.
Our little team of two swelled to five wonderful pairs of hands, for a while there. With our amazing + willing helpers (thank you ✨) and wine bottles cracked after the postman called every night, we shipped out every last one.
After those non-stop weeks back in the studio and clashing timezones, respective (big!) launches and the sheer hours required of us, Charles and I had hardly seen one another for a long while, so, we ran away for his [belated] birthday weekend to Byron Bay.
The weekend after, it was off to Bowerbird Design Market, and soon after, Finders Keepers again in Sydney – our final design market of the year!
In the opening days of December, I flew my darling Mum and our very special family friend Pauline to Melbourne. I took them away to the Yarra Valley for a weekend of cellar door hopping and girly indulgence. Every Wednesday night throughout the year, they get together, open a bottle of champagne and individually hand-fold + package our greeting cards. Every single one (over 50,000 this year alone) – so this was my little way of saying a huge THANK YOU. We stayed at the divine Botanica Editions, one of the most magical places I know to retreat.
On the studio front, Zalie and I hatched a plan in the name of the festive spirit. We teamed up with twelve of our favourite brands we had worked with during 2017, to hold our first 12 days of Christmas giveaway. With a lineup of amazing prizes, from Cultiver Linen to a $1000 Accor Hotels travel voucher, and thousands of entries to win, it was a huge success and the best feeling EVER to contact our lucky winners and spread this love into the world. And….we wrapped up our studio year with a frosé fuelled Christmas lunch at Mr Miyagi. Delicious.
2017. What. A. Year! Just reading through the above, my head spins with exhaustion and huge gratitude.