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Father Rabbit at Home with Rebecca Caughey

We visited the home of the wonderful Cook and Nelson founder Rebecca Caughey. We spoke about Rebecca’s fabulous art collection, the proudest moments in her career, how she balances work and home life as a business
owner and more.
Tell us a bit about yourself, your home, and who you live with?

I’m Becs and together with my husband Nick we run Cook & Nelson, distributing innovative food and beverage brands including Seedlip, McClure’s Pickles, Tony’s Chocolonely, Noble Handcrafted Maple Syrup, Peel & Tonic and Lillie’s Q BBQ sauces. We live in a 1910 villa with our two kids - Ella (8) and Harry (6) - Ralph our giant labradoodle and our polydactyl cat, Thumbelina.Do you have a personal home or style philosophy?

I love great design and art so our house is full of little pieces of inspiration and our walls are covered with artworks and family photos. We have an eclectic style but love involving colour and personality into the house.

Do you have a favourite space or room in your home?

We have an open plan lounge, kitchen and dining area - that’s where all the madness happens! In the morning it’s full of energy, then when the kids go to school it turns into our office where we work from the kitchen bench and then after school it’s full of chaos again normally making Lego, painting or baking.What are some of your favourite items in your home, sentimental or otherwise?

I’m in an art group - 6 women from 2 families - and we have begun collecting New Zealand art. At the moment I’m lucky enough to be hanging our Henrietta Harris work “Pure and Light” which I just love - the painting is hung in a certain place that makes it feel like his eyes are always following you.
I also really love the Grandfather Clock in our house – it was my Grandfather’s clock. It reminds me of my childhood as it used to sit at the bottom of my Grandparent’s very steep staircase that my sister and I delighted in sliding down – the competition was always who could stop in time before hitting the precious clock!

Can you tell us a bit about your career and what led to you launching Cook & Nelson?

I’ve only had my own businesses - I started in music management when I was 19, that lead the management of Shapeshifter and Ladi6 for over a decade which was full of great adventures and worldwide travel.After having our children, Nick and I wanted to do something together that we could fit around family life so with no prior experience in food and beverage started Cook & Nelson - that was a huge step to leave the comfort of what we knew and leave everything we had built up.Can you share with us any of your proudest moments in your career?

My proudest moments are probably those which came to a point after a culmination of a lot of hard work. From my last career it was when we hit 10,000 ticket sales for an event and from Cook & Nelson it’s selling more than 100,000 toasties via our entrants in the Great Toastie Takeover (the national toasted sandwich competition we have created for McClure’s Pickles).
I’m also really proud of getting the representation of the brands we work with in NZ. When I went to England with our toddler and baby a few years ago and discovered Seedlip, it had just launched in the UK. I was in touch with them straight away as I knew I wanted to be a part of the movement and 18 months later our first shipment arrived and was sold out in less than a week. The no and low alcoholic movement and acceptance of it in New Zealand has been incredible to be a part of.

Tony’s Chocolonely has such an important message to convey, has a lot to teach us about brands’ responsibilities and it is completely delicious. We were in the first lock down when we were granted the rights to Tony’s Chocolonely and it was a huge lift to our spirits. Watching it grow and getting into more and more households has been extremely rewarding.

Where do you draw inspiration from and how do you avoid creative burnout?

I’ve found the last couple of years the hardest to draw inspiration from as normally international travel and being out of my every day routine is what sparks ideas and makes me relook and rethink what I’m doing. However, I’ve really found joy in getting back into regular exercise to take time to get off my computer and to reduce creative burn out.I do an awesome boot-camp a couple of mornings a week at a War Memorial Hall at the end of my road, play tennis at the local tennis club and do boxing with a good friend of mine and am always out walking Ralph around our local beaches. Being around the ocean is the place where most of my new ideas and creative thoughts form.
What are some ways you keep the balance between your home and work life?

I think having the realisation that you will never get complete balance was probably the best reality check for me! We are really blessed that with Nick and I working together we can make sure we can do everything with the kids - Nick is out the door first thing in the morning so I get to walk the kids to school and he is there to pick them up in the afternoon while I’m working. Once the kids are in bed it’s normally phone calls with our international brands. We make Sundays family days so we can do something together and try and get to our family beach house at Whangapoua on the Coromandel as much as possible as it’s all of our happy place.Quick fire favourites:

Books: I really love the “Do" series which are short books with great ideas - they are described as Inspirational Pocket Guides for Doers. I really have enjoyed the “Do Purpose” and “Do Improvise” books.
Food: I’m all about McClure’s Pickles and Tony’s Chocolonely.
Beauty Products: Aesop is my happy place - the scents that come with the products they create are so beautiful. I’ve also been really enjoying Aleph foundation -  I just love the lightness on my skin and as it’s in small containers it’s perfect for keeping in your hand bag when you need quick freshen up.
City: Berlin - I was lucky enough to live there for a year while working in music. The energy, the atmosphere, the random performance art around every corner, the park life and the artistic vibe of the place is one in a million. I think about Berlin so often and I just can’t wait to go back!
Podcasts: All podcasts about entrepreneurship and starting businesses are my walking soundtrack. I really enjoy the “Without Fail” series which are candid conversations with entrepreneurs, artists, athletes, visionaries of all kinds—about their successes, and their failures, and what they learned from both.

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