21 Jul 2021

Emma Kate Co's travel-inspired stationary

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Emma Codrington is a designer, writer and the woman. behind Emma Kate Co, a travel-inspired stationery and lifestyle brand from Melbourne, Australia.

We chat to Emma about how she came to be living life as she knows it, the importance of investing in yourself and what she's listening to right now!

Q1: In your own words, please tell us what you do and how it came to be…
I’m a designer, writer and perpetual adventurer - and my world is everything ethereal, punctuated with coffee. I divide my time up between running my stationery = lifestyle brand, living adventures and writing about them.

As long as I can remember, I have always been obsessed with everything paper and words. I studied graphic design, and during uni I earned my living with freelance wedding stationery. One bride had happened to noticed on my neat handwriting and requested it as the signature design feature across her entire stationery suite, and at that point, I really fell in love with typography. I practised and honed my handwriting style for years before I ever knew it was called ‘lettering’.

My first job out of uni was working for a boutique stationery brand, and although my role was in PR and creative, I learned a lot about publishing, trade shows and what running a stationery brand looked and felt like.

When I decided to leap into my own brand, many years later, it made sense to start with what I knew, and go from there. Stationery has never really been the end goal, but it felt a good foundation to build from, and a good way to start!

Q2: Where are you from, and how did you come to be living life as you know it? Was Emma Kate Co always on the cards for you or did you have another dream growing up?
I’m from Adelaide, South Australia, known for its vineyard-dotted hills that spill into the sea.
Five years ago, I was living in London, and working a very different life, as a graphic designer for a publishing house - a life of coffee to go, rush hour madness, Europe-hopping most weekends and travelling every single chance I had, outside of the 9-5 (well, that part hasn’t changed!). It was my semi-long-term plan, but when my sponsored work visa didn’t work out, my life in London came to a very abrupt and severed halt. Literally plucked out of one reality and thrown into another, I found myself on a one-way plane back to Australia with no plan B.

It was a new beginning in every sense - and because I had nothing planned to return to, I suddenly found myself with a whole lot of space and no immediate accountability.

I had always had a dream that I would start something of my own - it had always been a ‘one day’ vision, never attached to a timeline. Suddenly, I found myself with the rare and perfect chance to take a leap. The time was now! So I jumped in - full tilt!I worked like crazy for six months, designing my first ever collection. Then I booked a tiny spot at my very first tradeshow, and had forty stockists overnight. It’s grown from there! And I’ve never looked back.

Q3:What is your biggest pinch-me career moment?
There have been SO many highlights and pinch-me moments along the way. I’d say that doing my first New York tradeshow and entering the US market last year was a definite highlight. It was HUGE to bring that dream together. Excitingly, were immediately picked up by a beautiful Canadian bookstore chain with 200+ plus stores, so our stockist base expanded a great deal overnight.

But honestly, the biggest pinch me moments are always when a customer emails us, and says that our products made their day. Or, that I/we inspire them. Or, that our words hit home and resonated deeply. Or, that because of me, they booked a flight somewhere. The emails and messages like that make me feel like I’m on the right path and that our work does bring joy, light and meaning to others.

Q4: What does a day in the life of Emma Kate Co look like?
I always rise early and start my day with a big mug of English Breakfast tea, sorting through emails that have come through overnight, or lingering ones requiring a little more time, that I can sink into while it’s calm. Always tea before coffee.

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday, and often on other days too, I work out of our studio space in Armadale, Melbourne, together with my wonderful studio assistant and brand manager Arabella. I love these days of the week, because I’m constantly surrounded by good energy, good music and hustle. Coffee runs to our local Melbourne favourite Moby are a non-negotiable, as is laughter and studio banter, to make the deadlines feel a little less daunting.

On these days, I focus on the wholesale and product based arm of my business - where we’re in touch with our stockists, send online and wholesale orders out the door, prepare for new releases, upcoming trade shows or design markets.

On the other weekdays, I work from my home studio in Richmond. On these days I try to focus more on creating, writing and the tasks that require immersion. I will also take photos for branded campaigns, or write blog content on these days. I don’t create well around chaos - I need stillness and presence for clarity.

I almost always end my day with a glass of wine - sometimes out with a girlfriend, or often with the company of a podcast if I’m at home and not heading anywhere! During evenings, I love cooking dinner (or ordering in) at home with my fiancé Charles. He also runs his own business, so there is plenty to discuss, seek advice and learn from each other, constantly. We’re also currently planning our wedding, so there is a lot of that to do, later into the evening!

Q5: There’s obviously a lot of elements involved in Emma Kate Co. What do you find the most satisfying?
Creating is always the most satisfying! When I’m with my brush, I’m totally in it… lost in the moment, yet absolutely present. That’s the magic part.

These days, of course… most of my time is spent on emails, admin, looking after our stockists, preparing for trade shows and figuring out manufacturing. The reality of small business!

Q6: What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about little details. I love to do something wonderful or unexpected for a connection, or a client, or friend, or even a stranger. I’m always looking out little extra ways that I can bring surprise and delight to someone, or a situation.

I am also a big believer rising together. I think that there is room for everyone to succeed at their dreams, so I really believe in sharing what you know, the lessons you’ve learned the good or hard way, and little life hacks, small business tips and ways to do things better. Put good out into the world - it always comes back.

Q7: What are your top 3 superpowers?
Always showing up. If I say I will do something, I follow through (even if it takes a lot longer than planned, I will get there eventually!)

Being unattached to outcome. In the online space, and in business, opportunities that come about can often be fickle and uncertain. A key lesson for me has been practising unattachment at all times, to avoid the emotional (and energetic) rollercoaster of something incredibly exciting not eventuating. Over the years I’ve become very good at this! Instead, I focus on just doing my best, at every single moment, and trusting that if something is meant for me, it will come.

And I’d say…determination. I often say yes, and then figure it out. Even if if feels impossible, I know I’ll be able to find a way.

8: We’ve all experienced those times in business where you just feel like throwing in the towel. What tools have you learnt to get you through these difficult times?
Oh, so many times! From entire print runs done entirely incorrectly, to spelling errors on products (eek!), I have certainly been kept on my toes, right from the start! I wouldn’t have it any other way, though. Every single challenge is an opportunity to grow, and mistakes always make for the best lessons!

Q9: What advice would you impart on the next generation of women?
Invest in yourself. By signing up for online courses, night classes, or self-teaching and dedicating time to learning and integrating.

Carve space for working ‘on’ your business, as well as ‘in’ your business.

Q10: What does happiness look like through the eyes of Emma Kate Co?
A window seat. Dream chasing with abandon. And strong coffee!

Q11: What does your ideal Sunday entail?
Waking up leisurely, and enjoying a big mug of English Breakfast tea. Then heading to the South Melbourne market, to pickup market goodies and fresh produce with my husband-to-be Charles. After that would definitely be brunch and coffee! And then an afternoon walk, or wander… followed by a glass (or three) of wine + cooking up a beautiful dinner at home together. That sounds like a perfect Sunday to me!

Q12: Where is your favourite place in the world to have a vino? Where are you off to next?
Definitely a champagne in the garden courtyard at Hôtel Particulier in Montmartre, Paris. - entering very much feels like stepping inside a secret garden. You have to ring a doorbell, then climb up stairs, then pass a fountain and ring another doorbell before you enter a secret garden, which leads to the bar. It’s completely magical.

Next… I’m off to Wolgan Valley in the beautiful Blue Mountains of New South Wales for our mini moon! After that, to Jakarta for my (second) wedding. My partner Charles is Indonesian, so we get to have 2 weddings!

Q13: Who, or what are you listening to or reading right now?
Leon Bridges is one of my favourites. So divine and so soulful.

Q14: One last thing… share with us a quirky fact about yourself! Something that people might not know about you?
I studied Japanese for 6 years, throughout high school and also uni. I’ve been to Japan 6 times, it’s one of my favourite places in the world!


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