Meet Our Retail Team - Part 1

At Kowtow, we are lucky to work with a team of incredibly creative and talented people, and our retail team is no exception. From making art using recycled materials, to teaching screen printing classes, to studying medicine, the skillset of these individuals spans far beyond the walls of our stores. So with our stores closed temporarily, we thought we would take this opportunity to have a chat with each of these talented women & learn a little more about what life at home looks like for them. And just to make the experience a little more akin to popping into one of our stores, the team has made a playlist of the songs that they're listening to at the moment, so that you can tune in while you read x

Phoebe Tims

Phoebe Tims
Wellington Sales Assistant

Can you tell us about what you do outside of work and how you spend your time?

I am a full-time student and I work part time at Kowtow, most of my time is spent studying. I am studying a Bachelor of Design, and majoring in textiles. I am in my final year completing honours so we get to spend the entire year researching and making our major project. It is very weird this year and I honestly don’t know how it will pan out in terms of the making, if it is going to continue online in a virtual space that will be really interesting.

Can you tell us about your major project this year, have you got your concept resolved?

I am still in research, exploring my cultural identity, which is quite self reflective work, especially as I navigate and piece everything together through the process of researching. I think I will come to my own conclusions on where I place my cultural identity. At the moment I am reading, gathering, making, drawing, taking photos and seeing what is out there and what I make of it at the moment.

Do you have advice for creatives being productive during times when resources might be limited, or space might be limited?

For me, working from home is unusual, and finding the motivation to be productive creatively from your home space can be difficult. I find doing it in little bursts helps, as well as being kind to yourself and acknowledging that we are in time of unease.


Eloise Evans
Wellington Store Manager

Can you tell us about what you do outside of work and how you spend your time?

I love baking and cooking, and also do a lot of sewing, knitting, and dying as I studied Textile Design. I try to go for bush walks everyday with my dog (Albert). I am lucky to live near the town belt so you'll often find me in the Prince of Wales Park. Over the last year, I have made a conscious effort to attend as many festivals, shows, and gigs as I can. We have so many events come to Wellington, and I like to make the most of that and support our creative community. This year I have seen Chelsea Jade, French for Rabbits, Kate Tempest, Nadia Reid, Purple Pilgrims, Weyes Blood, and Aldous Harding. It's so inspiring to see female artists taking up space.

You are very much inspired by people and community, can you tell us about Neighbourhood Studio and your work before Kowtow?

I have worked for Kowtow for seven months now, and before this I ran a design and screen printing studio in Newtown, Wellington. At The Neighbourhood Studio I taught screen printing classes, hosted workshops by local, national, and international designers and artists. I’ve worked with Stone Street Studios in Miramar on pre-production for films, and provided custom screen printing services for local businesses and labels such as Fix & Fogg, Twenty-Seven Names, The Forest Cantina, and Little Yellow Bird. I also hosted regular pop events and markets featuring local creatives, and we were best known for our plant and ceramic sales. Over four years we created a beautiful community and I was able to meet and work with some of Wellington's best artists and designers.

What is happening in your house at the moment?

I live with my friend and her family so it's a very full house with four adults, three kids, and one dog. Right now, the boys are reading in the lounge on the couch in the sun, Lily is teaching Pepper how to sew, Greta is working from the dining table illustrating a wine bottle label for Garage Project, and Iggy is tucked away in the bedroom on his computer for work. With everyone home at the moment it's a never ending to do list of dishes, washing, cooking, cleaning, and dog walks, but we are coping well and making sure to take time out and be kind to one another.

Bri Simpson

Bri Simpson
Wellington Sales Assistant

Can you tell us about what you do outside of work and how you spend your time?

I am in my honours year of Fine Arts at Massey University, it is quite a practical degree that involves a lot of producing artwork as well as talking about art, writing about art and viewing art and being around art, its all encompassing which is really beautiful. It puts you in the middle of a community of artists and creatives, so I guess that takes up all of my time outside of work, especially last year when I was working as a research assistant for Drawing Open which is a drawing research collective. I was working on their project under Med Art which is drawing for dementia research.

Can you tell us about your major project?

This year my aesthetic in my work is very reductive and minimal and I have always kind of battled with that aesthetic and myself identifying as a feminist artitst. Recently, the more I read and the more I research, I find myself relating to a lot of post minimalist artists which often approach the minimalist aesthetic, but with that really human sensibility, which is something that I always aim to foster in my work. Alongside that, especially given our current climate, I think it is really important to apply that human sensibility to an interest in materials that we are working with. I know that in the Kowtow Library I offered the reading Vibrant Matter by Jane Bennett, that is a text that I reference a lot in my work. I love her idea of new materialism and not just viewing your own body but viewing everything around you as bodies, and unravelling that and playing with that tension.

Are you thinking that you are going to be approaching this in a different way now that you are working within these new parameters?

Before isolation, my work was heading towards a trajectory that was very atmospheric in its reductivity. It was work that you had to physically be around to talk to and be in an environment with the work. It was site responsive and the life of the work really lived within the space, it was activated by the people being in the room with the work. So, it has provided a new challenge when working in isolation, where I might have to communicate my work through photographs or through video or through sound recording. So, I guess I am going back to the drawing board in how I let the work speak for itself in a new medium. I am fortunate that I enjoy writing a lot and alot of my art practice is writing. I find myself working through those ideas and trying to communicate those ideas through words now more than ever.