Chic certainly isnt a word youd usually associate with cleaning products, but in the world of Murchison-Hume co-founder Max Kater, theyre exactly that and more. Shes the clever woman responsible for transforming so many homes around the world with her covetable brown bottles filled with everything from floor cleaner to hand cream to dishwashing liquid. Theyre the kind of products youll want to have on display, and more importantly, genuinely safe and effective.
Mother to Benjamin, 16, and Charles, 12, LA-based Kater is as stylish as the products she invents. After she became a mother, Kater quit her job in fashion magazines to focus on her family. I gave up my editors chair to stay home and raise my children, she says. I applaud women who can manage both, but early motherhood and fashion weeks were too much for me.
Murchison-Hume started when her youngest son Charlie inherited her trifecta of eczema, allergies and asthma. After failing to find good-looking, safe and effective products to clean my house she decided to create them herself. My training as a stylist and fashion and beauty editor taught me to be resourceful. If you cant find something: make it! she says. I figured if I need a product to clean something, Im guessing other people do, too. Today, her brand is inspired by everyday family life (which is messy!).”
As Kater’s boys continue to grow so too does her expanding business. There is no balance for a female entrepreneur with children. My life is about work, family, sleep and thats about it. I get by with a strict routine and very early nights. We are all in our pyjamas by 9pm. Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs? Be prepared to sacrifice everything except family. Now her boys are older, things are getting easier to juggle: My kids are big enough now to understand that if I need to be somewhere, Im not going to make the soccer game. I try and to be amusing with them as much as I possibly can. Youve got to make the time you have together count no matter how old they are. Thats the key. We visited Kater at her beautiful LA home to talk everything from cleaning to clothes
What has motherhood taught you?
Patience, the importance of good manners a consistent daily routine.
What’s the best parenting advice you’ve ever been given?
The best advice I ever received was this: if they are crying, they can be fixed. If they arent crying, thats when you can panic’.
What advice would you give to your children on finding their career path?
I always tell them to do what they love (and then figure out how to make money doing it)!
When did you move to LA?
We moved back in 2011 and launched Murchison-Hume USA early the next year. I am a 3rd generation Los Angeleno so this is home for me. I love it because Los Angeles is whatever you want it to be: urban and gritty, rustic and beachy or cosmopolitan and chic. We have it all here.
Why is Murchison-Hume so unique in the market?
Even in the crowded US market, we stand out because we are the only plant-based cleaning brand that leads with style. Were 98% natural, but we still look, smell and work better than our competition.
How would you describe your home?
Imaginary! We are still renting in Los Angeles, but my style has never changed. I would describe it as Neo-Traditional with a huge helping of Chinoiserie on the side. I was obsessed with fashion for years. It was only when I got my first serious apartment that I began to cheat on Vogue with Architectural Digest. I mostly shop for interiors online. I have a serious 1st Dibbs addiction.
What inspires you?
Other women like me, who decided to roll the dice and go for it.
How do you juggle your work commitments with being a mother?
Work is work. My kids are big enough now to understand that if I need to be somewhere, Im not going to make the soccer game. But I try and to be amusing with them as much as I possibly can. Youve got to make the time you have together count no matter how old they are. Thats the key.
What are your tips for time management?
Google Calendar. If its not there, it doesnt exist for me.
Do you ever procrastinate?
Yes – by selecting next episode.
How do you focus?
I like my devices, but I still like to write it all down in my Moleskin diary. Im an analogue girl at heart.
Whats the most challenging part of running your own business?
Trying to be creative and dynamic everyday and still get home in time to make dinner. On the plus side, I love watching an idea turn into a real business that makes domestic life just a little bit better. Every time I see my brown bottles in homes around the world, its a real little buzz for me. It never gets old.
How would you describe your personal fashion style?
Casual mummy couture! I try really hard to mix my go-to J. Crew stuff with more stylish pieces from Flannel or bassike. I dress alarmingly like my boys for day. Its a problem. Comfort really rules now. I favour knits and simple separates over tight or more tailored pieces. If I cant get down and pick up a Nerf bullet in something, Im not wearing it.
Where are your favourite places to go in LA with your children?
Franklin Canyon and Tree People (for hikes); LACMA (they hate it but its good for them); Westfield Century City (for movies and shopping); Santa Monica or Malibu Pier for swimming, bike riding and beach.
What about Sydney?
In Sydney we are either at Westfield Bondi Junction, a friends house or at The Prince Edward Yacht Club. Thats my Sydney.
Words: Georgie Abay