If you’re in search of a creative-minded travel junkie kindred spirit, Emma Kate Codrington is your girl. Since she switched from psychology to design at university, this Aussie has actively put doing more of what she loves at the forefront of her life. Read on to hear about how she’s growing her business and brand one step at a time, her international #scatterlove collaboration, and how to learn from both success and failure.
Twitter or Instagram handle: @emmakateco
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (and everywhere)
Occupation: Emma Kate Co., founder + rainbow chaser
School: University of South Australia (Bachelor of Design)
Secretly Obsessed With: Succulents (well, not so secretly)
On My Nightstand: Aesop hand cream, rose quartz crystals, trinkets from my travels in Turkey and the book “The Rosie Effect.”
Last Thing You Read: “Not That Kind Of Girl” by Lena Dunham
How did you get started?
I’ve always had coloured pencils in my hand. At five years old, with an eye to hidden worlds, I wrote love notes to the faerie folk who lived at the bottom of my garden (while my wonderful, right-handed Dad replied to my little letters in his left hand, so I would never suspect.) Then, when I was 15, I met the founder of the international stationery brand Intrinsic. We connected powerfully, and Adèle soon became my mentor, and later my employer. She helped me realise that I could actually make a living doing the creating I adored. After finishing school I made a last-minute, heart-led switch from psychology to design. Because… why not? I jumped into a new creative world and I’ve never looked back.
When I was 19, I graduated from my degree and hopped on a plane to explore the world, solo. On that trip, I spent 10 weeks wandering around America, Canada and Europe, and fell head-over-heels, ridiculously in love with the world. These two big loves of mine (design + travel) collided, and I realized that I wanted both equally both in my life, more than anything else in the world.
What does your daily routine look like?
I’ve always been an early riser – I love to be up with the sun! I always start my day with brewing tea, lighting my oil burner and setting some intentions for the day ahead. I really love checking my emails, so usually do that first thing. As I work with all sorts of lovely people around the globe, it’s always a treat to wake up and see what’s popped up overnight.
My days usually alternate between freelance days (project and commission work for clients) and business days (working on my own stationery + lifestyle collection, launching in August!)
I tend to work from cafes a lot, as I love the background noise (and the good coffee at my fingertips). I have the best conversations with baristas - they become good friends. I feel at my happiest when I’m sitting in a cafe, tapping on keys, with sunlight streaming in, and a soy flat white by my side (or - barefoot + cross-legged on a plane.)
What key elements played into your success?
Preparedness to work hard - ridiculously hard. Giving it my all, and then some.
Investing in myself - by signing up for online courses, night classes, or self-teaching and dedicating time to learning and integrating.
Making soulful + kindred connections - it all comes down to connections, really, and being authentic, consistent and beyond generous with those. The best experiences and opportunities have all come from the connections I have made.
What’s the best piece of advice you received?
Say yes, and then figure it out.
I think really, sometimes you’ve just got to jump and hope the universe will catch you. Whether it turns out to be a success or failure, it’s always an opportunity to learn (and the not-so-successful jumps will always make good stories).
I also heard some potent words spoken by Brene Brown on heartbreak: you can only love as much as you are willing to have your heart broken. While I certainly have felt this to the fullest extent possible in love, I think this also applies to our heart’s work. The more heart we put into our dreams, the higher the risk, but it’s really the only way. We’ve got to give our everything to our dreams.
What struggles did you face getting to this point?
The highest of highs, and the lowest of lows!
For most of my teenage years I struggled with anorexia, and that would undoubtedly be my biggest challenge in life so far. For six odd years I was addicted to living a life completely in shadow, living and breathing the complete antithesis of my own rules. There came a point when I was so far immersed that every part of me, body and mind, was invested and entrenched in living a life of absolute precision. I was completely controlled by compulsions and rituals and the rules of anorexia, and never allowed to miss a beat. There was no time or head space in this all-consuming world to question the logic or confront the rituals. I was completely, utterly trapped. My experience of anorexia involved extended hospital stays, disjointed on-again, off-again schooling, and, ultimately, the very fight to reclaim my life.
This experience was awful, dangerous and dark, but it made me acutely aware of the fragility of life, and what it means to really fight for living.
Anorexia also carved such a depth in me. So much space was required to hold such heaviness and negativity. When the darkness left, a big empty vessel of infinite space remained, to flood with light and carry more than I would have ever had available without that suffering. I have such great capacity to feel intensely, and channel my light into the world in a beautiful, purposeful way. Living by my own rules – a full, unbridled and colorful existence – is ridiculously important to me now. I hold my freedom fiercely, gratefully and gracefully. And I don’t take anything for granted. I’ve fought so hard to get myself here - so now that I am, I don’t want to live anything but the life of my dreams.
For me, right now, in a very logistical, practical sense of growing my business, the hardest part is to be launching my business all alone. I have no idea about industry standards, or legalities, or accounting, or marketing, or strategy, and so every single step I take comes from a place of inexperience, ignorance... and ultimately intuition, and a dogged, entrepreneurial spirit. As I continue to grow, I’m going to need to rally the right people around me who believe in me and who will help manage the technical “stuff,” so that I can carry on and give my all to the creating.
Who was the biggest influence in your professional life?
Chantelle Ellem (editor of the lifestyle blog Fat Mum Slim) has been a beautiful influence in my creative world. We connected through our joint coach/mentor Julie Parker (who has also been a beautiful influence for me, professionally and personally). Chantelle has encouraged me to dream big, and really believed in my creativity and what I have to offer. She has been a beautiful, constant source of support. We’ve collaborated on a project called Scatter Love, which has had great success and I’m really proud of the love we have spread over the world. Practically, this project has been a great launching pad/source of exposure for my work and message.
With the travel side, my Mum and my family lineage have influenced me greatly. I was born with wanderlust in my bones, because I hail from a long line of seekers. In 1974, at 23, my dynamo mother resigned from her teaching job, left her home town of Lucindale in rural South Australia spent a year hitch-hiking across the world with her best friend. And then there was Florence and Athol, my Mum’s two pioneering aunts, who traveled through Europe in the 1940s by scooter, at a time where women traveling alone was almost unheard of. Travel has always been encouraged and a big part of my upbringing, so I feel that this side of me was always meant to be.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
A recent accomplishment that really meant so much to me was getting my writing published on Huffington Post.
After I left London, I found myself staying up late, sleepless, with a mind adrift and wild. Words just fell out of me. I sent them to a friend and she told me they were powerful and that they should be shared - that I should pitch it for publishing, so I emailed Arianna. And she replied - to me! And said she loved my voice. Just like that.
Having my words published on a platform I read and consume every day, and having Arianna - one of the women I respect most in the world - land in my inbox, was/is completely and utterly surreal.
When do you feel most successful?
When someone I don’t know emails me, and says that I made their day. Or, that I inspire them. Or, that my words hit home and resonated deeply. Or, that because of me, they booked a flight somewhere. The emails I have received from complete strangers have been nothing short of humbling.
I also feel successful when I make it to bed before midnight!
What are your goals for this year?
I’m switching up gears in my business a little (a lot) and shifting focus from being a freelance designer/a creative service to designing and selling my own stationery and lifestyle collections. I’ve just been accepted into the gift + stationery + home fair in London in September, which is terrifying and thrilling! I’ll make it happen - somehow.
My feet are itchy and yearning for adventures, too. I want to move to Europe and spend a few months living in different places here and there while I grow my business.
What advice would you give to girls looking to enter your industry/space?
Get out there and just do it! It’s okay to be scared – we all are – but don’t let it hold you back.
Also, don’t wait, or hold back, for anybody else. Go full tilt. Chase your dreams with everything you’ve got.