We’re sure you’re familiar with our popular Instant Goddess posts by now, and we thought it was high time we did a behind-the-scenes interview with the “Goddess” herself! Mum to an adorable 4-year-old girl, Katie Kay is all about helping other mums look and feel great, sharing quick and easy tips to go from drab to fab without punching a hole in your wallet and of course, leaving time for the best part of all – spending time with the little ones! Read on to get a sneak peek into her closet and hear all about how she balances fashion and motherhood:
Can you tell us a bit about your background? What brought you to Hong Kong?
You’ve probably heard this one before… I was the typical trailing spouse following a husband who works in finance! Previously, we had lived in London for 13 or so years and I was really, ready for a change. In the past, we had visited Hong Kong on holidays and had always harboured a desire to live here. So when the opportunity arose, we jumped at it and have never looked back. We’ve been here 6 years and really feel at home. For us, it’s definitely an easier and more enjoyable way of life than living in the UK.
Have you always been interested in fashion?
I love fashion and from an early age loved watching my mum get ready when she was going out, plus, of course, throwing in my opinion about what worked and what didn’t! The next day after a party I would quiz her to the point of exhaustion about who was wearing what down to minute details, what was her favourite outfit and were there any fashion faux pas?!
After graduating, I wanted to be a fashion buyer but destiny had a different plan and a varied career ensued in London from working in New Media at the time of the dot com boom to qualifying as a lawyer and finally ending up running my own fashion jewellery business before we moved to Hong Kong.
What is the inspiration behind Instant Goddess?
On moving to Hong Kong one of the things I noticed was the lack of affordable high street fashion options. Instant Goddess is all about making affordable fashion accessible for all mamas whether it’s introducing a new local label opening in Hong Kong or the best product picks online. But above all it has to be reasonably priced and wearable, and once it’s passed the Instant Goddess test, I write about it! It’s all about bringing mamas instant shortcuts to looking glam. I also throw in a recipe called Midweek Meal Inspiration which should be quick, easy and hopefully healthy… again the idea being to leave you more time to get your glad rags on!
What is your favourite part about blogging about fashion?
I love the creative outlet it provides for me personally, plus working with great products and having the opportunity to go to some really good fashion events.
Give us your 3 essential fashion tips and tricks for mamas:
1. Accessories often make the outfit, so make sure you have some great shoes and statement jewellery in your wardrobe to take a practical mama outfit from humdrum to ‘hello, mama!’
2. Before you buy, make sure you look over labels! Avoid everyday items that are dry clean only… you want mostly machine wash and some hand wash.
3. In the heat of the Hong Kong summer, avoid bright block colours, especially in polyester and silk, as you’ll end up with unsightly sweat marks. Print is your friend when the temperature shoots up into the 30s… oh, and don’t forget breathable fabrics too!
What is the best and worst part about the fashion scene in Hong Kong?
The best has to be the designer labels that you can find at reduced prices in the Soho boutiques and alike. The worst as I’ve already mentioned is the lack of high street clothing options and every Tom, Dick and Harry wearing that same Zara dress that you picked up last week!
Do you find it easy to shop in Hong Kong? What are your favourite stores/brands?Unfortunately for my purse strings I ALWAYS find it easy to shop wherever I am in the world! My favourite boutiques in Hong Kong are Déjà Vu and Betty Blue in Soho. They have new items delivered every Friday and you’ll often find designer pieces at massively reduced prices (they’re either factory over-runs, samples or seconds). For stylish and unique pieces, I also love local home grown labels: Aly & Rachelle, CHICAMEO, Luvmydress, What the Frock?!, and Zenvara. I also adore the statement necklaces from CATY and Callixto.
What other projects do you have in the works?
After writing regularly for Sassy Mama for 3 years, I’ve finally managed to find some time to launch my own Instant Goddess blog over on WordPress… so check it out, mamas! You’ll still see your favourite Instant Goddess posts on Sassy Mama so stay tuned for fashionable updates for you and your little ones.
And also, diamonds! You know what they say, diamonds are a girl’s best friend… Well, I am now working with bespoke jewellers Haywards of Hong Kong who specialise in diamonds and fine jewellery. I’m helping customers come up with design ideas for engagement rings, 40th birthdays and push presents (or if you prefer birthing gifts) which are particularly popular in Hong Kong and quite right too, after all that hard work! My favourite recent projects have been re-working diamond jewellery inherited by customers and giving it a modern edge.
How do you save time? What are your organisational tricks and tips?
Take help whenever you can… do not feel guilty for having or using a helper to help you with childcare! If you try and do everything yourself you’ll just end up exhausted and grumpy with your kids. I’m also big on writing to-do lists!
I wish I had more time for…
Oh you know, the usual really… doing everything a mum should do, plus having more time for writing, learning about diamonds and being able to exercise to get some resemblance of abs (although slight) that I had prior to having a hysterectomy earlier this year due to cervical cancer. And if you haven’t had a PAP smear recently, make time for that – it saved my life!
I always feel saner after….
Exercise! Or a glass of vino if it has been one of those days!
Favourite activity with the kids in Hong Kong?
Our current favourite activity that my 4 year old daughter, Gracie, loves is trampolining at the newly opened Ryze trampoline park in Quarry Bay. This is not only a fun activity for the kids but mamas can get a bit of a work-out at the same time, too! It’s also an indicator if your pelvic floor needs some due care and attention!
Favourite family-friendly holiday spot in Asia?
We love Fisherman’s Village near Bophut in Koh Samui, which has a great little strip of restaurants (many family-friendly) on the beachfront with some excellent clothing and jewellery boutiques for mama! I would definitely recommend staying at the Anantara if you decide to visit.
We’ve also just come back from a week in Hoi An, Vietnam. We are loving the recently opened direct flights to DaNang which only takes two hours and is a lot cheaper than flying to Koh Samui. We liked it so much that we’ll be going back at Christmas! We stayed at The Nam Hai which was uber luxe, but probably at the end of the day a bit too nice and sophisticated for a holiday with a little one in tow (although the staff were excellent with Gracie and they had a kids club too).
Activity that I do not love to do but do it anyway because my kids love it…
The dreaded indoor playrooms (not any one in particular but all of them!). Padded rooms akin to a lunatic asylum… anyone else come up with that comparison?! Enough said.
Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
When life throws a curveball try and be nice to each other! Take a step back, and a deep breath and actually think let’s keep being nice… often easier said than done, I know.
Favourite date-night restaurants?
Restaurants come and go in Hong Kong, but my current favourite is Carbone, the recently opened New York Italian resto which has a huge following in the Big Apple and I now know why! We went there for our 7th wedding anniversary and the food was to die for plus the service (so often hit and miss in HK) was faultless. Carbone has a lovely retro vibe with the “Captains” (waiters) dressed in maroon dinner jackets with yellow dickie bow ties and 1960s motown music playing… I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Don Draper or Joan Harris of Mad Men fame walk through the door. We loved the Sizzling Pancetta, Beef Carpaccio, Caesar Salad (prepared at the table) and the Veal Parm!
Can you talk us through your career pre and post babies? How did you get back into the swing of things after having children?
After having Gracie I felt I needed a creative outlet but wanted something that I could fit in with raising her. I received a mail shot from Sassy Mama looking for Style Bloggers, and I happened to have been shopping that day and decided to write in about where I had been and what had caught my eye. The very next day I got an email back saying it was perfect and just what Sassy Mama was looking for. I then had the idea for a regular column but it had to be affordable fashion as there was so much out there that wasn’t… Instant Goddess was born a few weeks later!
How has having kids changed the way you define work?
Work has to fit in with childcare so anything that can be done remotely rather than having to go into an office is perfect.
Do you have any tips for aspiring “mamapreneurs” and working other mamas in Hong Kong?
Word of mouth is extremely strong in Hong Kong. If you want to do something start talking to your friends and you’ll often be surprised about their connections and the knowledge that they and/or their friends have.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
You’re always going to worry, so get used to it!
Bedtime is always smoother when…
We stick to the routine! Bath, milk, bedtime story plus a bit of head stroking(!)… it’s all about a nice and calm atmosphere preparing Gracie for sleep time. I find if you rush it – everything goes out the window and it ends up taking twice as long to get them to sleep.
Even when my child has a family of his/her own, I’ll still…
want to be the trendy Granny, loaning out my jewellery and clothes to the next generation!
One thing I won’t sacrifice as a mama is…
My appearance! We’re so lucky in Hong Kong to have help with childcare that it’s definitely easier to fit in that haircut, pedi/mani and exercise too. I don’t want to ever be a frumpy mum, so it’s all about making time to stay fit and to try and look good with what you’ve got, while keeping it quick and practical!
My favourite moment of the day is…
Reading Gracie her bedtime story when no matter how crazy the day has been you have that little window of peace and tranquillity.
And check out the rest of our That Mama hall of fame here!