Wild Kinship: Conversations with Conscious Entrepreneurs

This gorgeous new coffee table book, Wild Kinship, is a collection of conversations with the best in conscious small business. In it, NZ writer Monique Hemmingson talks with 28 inspiring creative entrepreneurs, people forging a new path and changing the world in their wake - including clothing designers, coffee bean roasters, skincare brand founders, tiny-home builders, potters, permaculturists and more.

It's also a book that's as lovely to look at and to hold as the content inside. It's filled with seriously beautiful lifestyle imagery by NZ photographer Erin Cave and has been printed in small batches on recyclable paper, with vegetable inks.

I've been dipping into it a little at a time, with my journal beside me so I can note down ideas, thoughts and advice that resonates with me, personally and professionally. There's so much gold in these pages, about operating a conscious business, yes, but also about balancing your livelihood with your lifestyle, about community and connection, and about making choices that improve our own lives, the lives of others and the life of our planet.

I had a chat with Monique about the journey to creating this book, what she learned from the people she met, and what she hopes you and I will take from Wild Kinship...

Why did you create Wild Kinship? What do you hope your reader gets from the book?
I started working on the book concept when I still owned my café Wild One Wholefoods. During this time I worked with many amazing conscious brands, and was continuously inspired by their devotion, in an often times hard industry. I realised they had a wealth of knowledge and some amazing stories that people could really benefit from hearing - business owner or not. It was from here Wild Kinship was born.

I hope the reader resonates with the opportunities they are being given by these small businesses and takes responsibility for their own impact. There are so many incredible environmentally-sustainable options out there now, and choosing these options doesn’t have to impede your lifestyle. On the contrary, I’ve found this degree of mindfulness to enrich my lifestyle personally. So I hope the reader feels inspired and creatively charged to go out into the world consciously, choosing who they support, where their dollar goes and contributes to a healthier world. I also really wanted to challenge thoughts such as: “I’m only one person, what can I do” and the pursuit of perfection which can make us feel hopeless. I think it’s important to note that no one is perfect. We don't currently live in a world where is it possible to be, but we need to start somewhere.

Tell us a little about the road trips you took with Erin to meet and photograph your subjects?
We spent two weeks travelling to parts of New Zealand, and two weeks in Australia. It was an adventure I'll never forget, from sunset swims on empty beaches in Tutukaka and practically living out of my car, to incredible candlelit five-course meals with organic French champagne in Byron Bay at Supernatural Cellars, and getting exclusive tours and tell-all conversations with these incredible change-makers.

We were at times quite literally shaken, post-interviews, our minds trying to process the enormous content and thousands of images we were getting daily (which was super difficult to cut back and fit into one book, there was constant talk of creating a podcast to supplement it). We were beyond inspired and fan-girling pretty hard.

Co-founder of Will & Bear, Alexander Norr - photography by Stefan Haworth

What are a couple of the highlights from those road trips and visits, from meeting all these people?
There really were so many pinch-me moments, it’s hard to choose. We were both in awe of beautiful Hannah of Country Kitchen (NZ) and her incredible homestead and studio. I could have talked to Jacob and Georgia of Nature Baby and Tama of Aotea Made all day. I loved hearing how their minds worked, and their vast knowledge. Being welcomed into the beautiful home of Maggie and Julian Dylan of Folk Byron Bay to chat hospo was like some sort of therapy and incredible closure for me, having just sold my own like-minded café. We also had a very memorable day in Sydney hanging out with Jana from The Secret Kitchen in her seaside Bondi apartment with picnics at the beach followed by a never-ending delicious lunch with Kirsten at her Bondi Orchard St clinic.

What did you yourself learn through connecting with your subjects in the book?
Coincidently my photographer Erin and I were both reading Johann Hari’s incredible books during our travels, and he speaks a lot about the importance of community and connection and how the lack of these nowadays is contributing to worldwide mental health statistics. And as we met these conscious entrepreneurs to talk sustainability, this same message popped up again and again. It's the idea of knowing your baker, your butcher, your grower, who made your clothes or skincare and what with; that this connectivity to our everyday products and these relationships within our community not only benefit the planet around us and said businesses, but our own physical and mental health. Our sense of belonging. Which is huge.

Jacob of Nature Baby put it perfectly when he said: “If you know who you are, who’s in your community and the effect your choices have, then you’ll be more aware to make better choices. Organic is just a by-product of being conscious.” The book became about this idea of wellness as a whole; mentally, physically, economically and environmentally through mindful consciousness and slow living.

Left image: photography by Bobby Clark

I'm sure there are so many highlights from the advice and answers your subjects gave, but what are a couple of your favourite quotes or some stand-out pieces of advice from those conversations?
Ah, so much! It really is endless. A few that come to mind would be beautiful, bubbly Olie of Wa Collective menstrual cups, who launched her company at such a young age after living in the foothills of the Himalaya’s in India and is making huge waves already. She said: “a better world is one where we can problem-solve holistically. Where we’re making changes to help the planet and the people that take us forward - but not at the expense of the other. I think we’ll have finally grown up when we can look at this world as a connected space.

Pete from Supernatural Cellars chapter could literally all be one big pull quote, it’s incredible. He mentioned “I want to live a life full of projects rather than a life full of endless toil. I don’t want to toil away at one thing, ever. It’s so dangerous to be defined by what you do. Be defined by who you are” which speaks volumes to me personally.

And the knowledge behind Pakaraka Permaculture and all that they are achieving is so admirable, Niva said in reference to the importance of community: “Nothing in life is singular, not even the soil ecology. Everything grows and blooms together” which is such a beautiful and accurate analogy. I really could go on all day, every single person brought something new and wonderful to these pages.

The book itself is sustainably produced - can you tell us about that?
Print media can typically have a high carbon footprint so I wanted to address that as best I could, and my publishers Beatnik really came to the party which is amazing. It’s a great example of the books premise really; we have printed in small batches on recyclable paper with vegetable inks, and all the kilometres we clocked have been paid back to worth offsetting programmed to become climate neutral. We paid attention to every facet possible, from the travel to the book's cover materials and the paper stock. It’s not perfect of course, but that’s the whole point, nothing's perfect. Doing something is always better than nothing.

Click here to read more about Wild Kinship, 
or use the Add to Cart button below to order your copy | $60

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