Kate Heppell is one of the Co-founders and Co-Creative Directors of Kip&Co. She grew up in Upwey in the Dandenong Ranges and Caulfield and went to St Margarets in Berwick. Straight after school she went to Melbourne University for the next 6 years, where she did Commerce / Arts. Kip&Co began 7 years ago and is been based in Collingwood / Abbotsford.
Tell us about how you got into this industry…
After Uni I worked as an accountant for 2 years. After that, Hayley (another Kip&Co Co-founder and my sister) opened an awesome little health food store, café and yoga studio called Sprout Health Store & Organic Grocer in Hawthorn which we ran for 5 years. I then worked as the Business Manager of the Melbourne fashion label, Obus. A few years later I had my first son, Hayley and I were ready for another business, and alongside Alex, we loved homewares and felt the industry was prepared for a bit of colour disruption. And so, Kip&Co was born.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
I work 2 full days (with no kids – all are at school or with a nanny); 1 from our Melbourne office and 1 from Barwon Heads at Hayley’s home. The day is Barwon Heads is devoted purely to design. This is essential. My day in Melbourne with the team is more about what’s going on that week, what’s coming up, strategizing over all types of business ideas we have brewing, meetings with collab partners, but primarily we spend a chunk of time with each senior staff member and go over exactly what’s happening in their area of the business. It’s an enjoyable day each week. We love our team of ladies.
What have been some of the biggest challenges in your career?
Hands down the juggle between work and family. The hard bit comes when I actually love my job (!!) but also love multiple days a week with my little kids and don’t like them going into too much care. Sometimes work is bottlenecking but my days with the kids are just so precious to me, and so I have to work late at night after they crash out. I know that I am only in the thick of it with 3 young kids, and it is getting a little bit easier every year. Eventually, I hope to not work at night (too much).
Best creative memory?
We absolutely loved our collaboration with Desert Designs where we got to work with original artworks by Jimmy Pike. And our multiple collaborations with May Gibbs as her mass of art is just heaven to look through and of course, play with and recreate.
What do you love best about your job?
Doing collaborations like those just mentioned and working alongside my 2 best friends!
What do you get up to when not working?
All types of family activities and we love-love-love travelling with the kids. Whether it be in Australia or overseas, it is these pockets of time with our little people that my husband and I just crave and enjoy so intensely.
What’s on the horizon for the future?
We have a couple of collabs in the pipe-works that have us all really inspired at the moment. And as for travel, I am off to Borneo with my husband and kids for 2 weeks late June, so we are all counting down the sleeps until that moment.
If you had any creative business advice, what would it be?
Say YES – to everything. Kip&Co was really founded on this mantra, and I really stand by it. We don’t say Yes to absolutely everything anymore, but honestly, we do most of the time.
If you could be anyone else for a day, who would it be and why?
I have wracked my brain, but I really am just so happy in my own skin. No one comes to mind. I think it would be suitable for all people to walk in the shoes of someone from a real minority group for a day. I guess I’d do that. Empathy is a hard thing to teach, but maybe this would help us all have it within in a more profound way.