“The heart of every home is the kitchen” is the philosophy behind Australian expat Odette Williams's successful business OW. The New York-based mother of four children (Dixie, Matilda, Opal, and Ned) is passionate about encouraging parents and their kids to share in the lifelong pleasure of cooking...
Her belief? The smell and taste of food lovingly prepared together creates fond childhood memories. It could be anything from the smell of a cake baking to a homemade lemonade stand. “I actually studied and pursued acting in my twenties in Sydney. When I moved to NY and had my daughter, I decided I needed a career sea-change,” she says. She describes her business as a bit of an accident. “I kind of stumbled across it because my friend had given Opal this kids cooking set that was the usual cupcake deal and she loved it,” she recalls. Her daughter used the set all the time, for both cooking and for play, which inspired an idea in Williams. “I thought to myself how amazing the set would be if it had a more of a classic, timeless design. So I set about designing one, made a few samples then took them to some boutiques here in New York who started selling them. Before I knew it, I was packing and shipping aprons to lots of other boutiques and bigger brands.” And by bigger brands, she means J.Crew and Barneys. It’s no surprise these retailers have picked up OW. The talented Williams has designed the most beautiful mix of products such as linen aprons and wooden cooking utensils. We caught up with Williams at her Brooklyn home to find out more about OW and her love of cooking (and make some colourful fairy bread)…
What do you do when you wake up?
Make a cup of tea.
What's the best advice you've been given about motherhood?
It’s a marathon; long and challenging sometimes, but the most rewarding thing you’ll do.
What do you love most about being a mother?
I love having my own family. It gives my life a lot of purpose.
What inspired the move from Sydney to New York? Do you ever miss Sydney?
I love Sydney! I wish Brooklyn and Sydney were just around the corner from one another. I moved to New York because my now husband convinced me too. He was very persuasive as he managed to get me to move from Bondi beach.
How do you encourage people to create memories through food?
I’ve always been food obsessed and can easily schedule my day around meals. After the Apron Sets came other products that weren’t food related. I realised as nice as they were they were taking me away from what was really authentic to me and how I live my life. I want my life to be full of families, friends and good food because that’s when I’m truly happiest. So now when I design a product I ask myself if it serves this goal.
How would you describe your kitchen?
As close to heaven as I’ll get.
Can you take us through a typical day in your kitchen?
I love uncomplicated, homey food. This works for me too because I don’t usually have a lot of time or some nights energy to cook so I have a repertoire of go-to meals that are in regular rotation.
When did your love for cooking begin?
I love eating more than cooking but to eat well you’ve got to learn to cook. I really learnt everything from my family and some home economics classes in high school.
What are you top three tips for launching a business?
Prepare to work hard, get used to uncertainty and stay the course.
What has been one of your biggest career challenges?
Believing in yourself and what you’re building over a sustained period of time. I just keep working and learning as much as I can everyday.
Beauty product you can't leave the house without?
I could leave them all. There’s no real regime.
Boyfriend or skinny jeans?
Favourite social media platform?
Facebook. I get to see what all my family and friends are doing back in Oz.
NYC or LA?
NYC hands down.
Your approach to wellbeing?
Regular exercise works best for me. I’m not saying that that happens all the time though.
Do you prefer to text or call?
Coffee or tea?
Tea followed by coffee.
Your role model is?
What is your definition of success?
Being happy. Enjoying life.
What did your own mother teach you?
2016 is going to be the year that you?
You can never have too much of what in your wardrobe?
Are you a neat or messy person?
Odette's little list of loves:
My mother visiting and her caramel tarts in the fridge.
Netflix Chef’s Table.
Listening to music my Dad loved.
An evening drink.
The book proposal I’m going to be working on over the summer.