The founder and creative director of eco-chic New Zealand label Kowtow, talks green living from the inside, out.
With the entire fashion industry moving toward sustainable practices, from boutique designers, (KitX, Tome, Kacey Devlin) to industry heavyweights, (Stella McCartney, Tome, ASOS) it’s little wonder that Wellington-based label, Kowtow, is slowly but surely taking over the world.
Established in 2007 by Gosia Piatek, the label boasts a production process that is entirely ethical from seed to garment, including the use of certified, fair-trade textiles – none of which, contrary to what some might think, equates to a compromise on style.
Here, Piatek reveals a wellness routine that like her label, focuses on simple, clean practices and raw products that offer results nothing short of beautiful. Evidently, it’s easy being green.
What have been some of your proudest moments with Kowtow so far?
I started Kowtow on $5,000 with no fashion background, simply lots of passion and a good idea. My idea captivated people worldwide—sustainable and ethical clothing range from seed to garment.
And here we are today, 10 years later, with 15 staff in our Wellington workroom, two factories in India, agents in Tokyo, New York and Copenhagen, warehousing in LA and Belgium and just a few months ago, we opened our first international showroom in Melbourne. Pretty chuffed to where we have got to.
What is Kowtow HQ most excited about at the moment?
We are expanding like crazy with huge goals. We are already thinking about employing three to five new people for our Wellington workroom. We are always splitting our focus into three directions—online, New Zealand and Australian wholesale, and international.
I love thinking big and internationally; it’s where I thrive. And it fills our workroom with huge pride when we have amazing international retailers like Shopbop, LNCC and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop take on our ranges.
When did you develop a love for design and clothing?
I have always loved design and fashion. From a young age, with my mother’s help, I would stitch my clothes, as I didn’t like what the local stores had on offer.
Good design, whether it is in clothing, interiors, objects or architecture, excites me a lot. It’s my passion, not just my job.
How do you approach your personal style?
I’m pretty minimal. My wardrobe is fairly sparse and mostly Kowtow. I’m not a big shopper, so it’s lucky we make pieces I like to wear.
I like casual, loose, aesthetic with comfy shoes. I’m a very practical girl but also a fabric snob. I like natural fibres. Wise words are - don’t buy too much, don’t buy just because it’s on sale really. Think about what you need and if you will get good wear out of it. There is nothing worst than a chock-full wardrobe where you can’t find anything. It only creates morning anxiety!
What is your beauty routine?
My approach to beauty is similar to my approach to design and personal style. On the outside, less is more. However, what I put inside my body is another story. I am pretty obsessive over food trends.
I am a pescetarian and currently into green smoothies, which I boost with all my green powders such Spirulina, Cholera and Barley Grass. I mainly eat organic too, which I swear changes my mood and makes me more conscious. I am a huge believer that what you put into your body comes out on the outside – —better attitude, cleaner skin, brighter eyes, healthier teeth.
In terms of my traditional beauty regime, I wash my face with trilogy cream cleaners, I then follow on with Dr Hauschka face moisturiser and when I’m off to work, I wear Antipodes powder, as well as eyeliner and mascara.
For my body, I am obsessed with the Aesop hand moisturiser, which I actually wear all over my body after I dry body brush, which helps stimulate the circulatory system.
What is your secret DIY health weapon?
Eat organic, eat lots of raw, avoid sugar, wheat, drink lots of mineral water (I love Antipodes) and do regular exercise. This will make all your organs work well and make your skin, hair and general well- being zing.
Best advice you’ve ever been told?
I know this one is fairly standard, but it has really worked for me: Don’t give up!
If the momentum is there, no matter how small, with insane hard work you can get to where you want. There are no limits to driving your own business, you can do and be whatever you dream of. It just takes time and hard work.
And don’t ever become too precious, roll up your sleeves when needed and do what needs to get done., If you stay positive, your team will feed off your energy.
What do you do to keep fit—both physically and spiritually?
I do yoga, but these days with running a business and looking after an very active toddler, I don’t get a chance to go to evening classes, so I do I do my practice via this great site called Yoga Glo. It works well for me. I also try and do a hill run once a week.
I would love to exercise daily, but for some reason, my mind plays tricks on me, and I find lots of excuses why it’s more important for me to sit in front of the computer, checking my e-mails instead of exercising, which makes me feel a million times better. The mind is my own enemy!
Any de-stress regimes?
A combination of saunas, yoga and massage, is my ultimate, and I have found that if I do all three in a week, my mental outlook on life is a lot more balanced.
Working really hard, running a growing business, travelling back and forth between Wellington and London and raising a toddler does take its toll and I do have to take weekly time out (even if it’s just foran hour) to be a better version of me.
Interview | Divya Bala
Divya is a freelance writer, editor and content strategist with experience in New York, London and Sydney that works across fashion, culture, travel, and brand consulting. Previously on staff at British Vogue.