We sat down with Kate Hulett, one of our fave Fremantle business owners, to chat about making space to have meaningful conversations, hosting eclectic dinners and that time Kylie Minogue wore her hat.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got to be doing what you’re doing.
I am a Fremantle resident and business owner (and huge Fremantle advocate) who also takes film photos, works in creative programming, writes for money, and tries to shoehorn myself into other interesting stuff happening around town. How did I get here? A psychology degree gone awry. And age. (And undiagnosed ADHD?).
Can you tell us about the philosophy of your store?
My shop, Kate and Abel, was modelled on the original 'concept' stores of Europe, which I enjoyed visiting when I lived in London in the 2000's. The shops were normally owner-operated, were full of all sorts of interesting, unclassifiable products, plus art, books... stuff. And often had outdoor space, or a cafe of sorts.
Ten years ago, I opened Kate and Abel as part of MANY 2.0 (inside the old MYER, now FOMO) with an adjoining cafe, which I soon developed a love-hate relationship with.
How fantastic to offer people a cup of tea while they flipped through magazines, and gazed at the art on the walls!
I closed the cafe after about five years, and still miss it (as well as being incredibly relieved that I don't own a cafe). Might come back around to it at some point, I love the combination of hospitality and shopping, I see it as the same thing really... caring for people in my space, offering them nice things to look at, nice refreshments, a nice time. Making them feel good.
There is something for everyone in my shop (I'm dead serious when I say that), and as such, I hope everyone feels comfortable hanging out in my space.
What is a simple pleasure or daily ritual that brings you joy?
I go to bed at night and sigh with happiness (bed = joy), and then think about the next day's coffee. Coffee is the biggest cliche in my life/ simple pleasure that brings me joy.
What's on the menu when you invite friends for dinner?
I love eating, and I love lots of flavours and textures in my meals, so dinner at my place normally consists of a range of middle-eastern inspired salads, meats, potatoes, sauces, dips and pickles... I will always start off with salted crisps and a nice glass of bone-dry sparkling. If I'm being lazy, and if there's room, dessert is a walk down the road to Chi Cho Gelato.
Have you got a fave song we can add to our Sunday afternoon playlist?
Oooft, how can you choose ONE? Because it reminds me of the most perfectly written closing scene (in Fleabag), I could listen to This Feeling by Alabama Shakes on repeat, forever.
What’s your favourite Winterwares product and why do you love it?
I am a huge lover of ceramics, and I love a mishmash of styles, shapes and finishes. I especially love handmade stuff which naturally has character - and love - imbued in it. And things made in Fremantle? I've died and gone to heaven.
What I'm saying is, I love all Winterwares products. Because of my love of 'lots of flavours' (see above) the Nested bowl set is super useful to serve all my cobbled-together dishes (in a stylish way) with the knowledge that I can throw them (gently) in the dishwasher at the end of the night.
Name three things you can’t live without.
Food, water and air - so, broadly, and literally - 'The environment' would be my Number 1 choice. Our personal and collective impact on the planet is so important to think about in our day-to-day existence. Creativity, and Courage are my other can't-live-withouts. (I could have also answered with 'coffee').
Can you share a success story or memorable moment that stands out in your journey with your business?
Before I opened Kate and Abel, I was living in the UK making and selling hats. That's a long story in itself, but I'll cut to the payoff which is Kylie Minogue wearing one of my hats at a Madonna concert, pictured in the papers with Stella McCartney. That was cool. I still have the handwritten thank you note from Kylie. Today the best part of my business is chatting to people. Great conversations are fuel in my tank - and good, meaningful chats equal success to me.
Any upcoming developments or exciting projects we can look forward to?
I work with Lawson Flats (a work/social club in the city) on cultural programming. We've got some awesome talks and events in the pipeline which I'm really proud of (a series called 'Spaceship Earth' is my fave - these talks are focussed on environmental things, which - as above - we should all be clued up on). I'm also judging the Perth Centre of Photography portraiture awards later in the year, which is exciting as we've some incredible photographers in WA. I've also got about 1400 personal projects on the go, of which maybe one or two will get off the ground before the year is out.
Where can our customers find you and keep up to date with what you’re doing?
I am addicted to Instagram so that's a good spot to find me - @kateandabelperth - or if you want to browse through Kate and Abel products from the comfort of your sofa, kateandabel.com is the place to go. If you want to take a look at my photography work, head to @impatientdeveloper or katehulett.com