2 minutes with Kate Stewart
Occupation: Co-Founder of En Pointe Events
Business: En Pointe Events
So throwing a party is just about having enough booze on hand, yeah?
Cooking up a successful party is like cooking a fabulous cake. You need good ingredients, appropriate equipment, suitable environment, technique and style. Attention to detail and big picture vision are also important. It’s a mix of the right people, genuine hospitality, ambience and energy.
We like to really drill down to the five questions: Why are you having this event? What do you want to get out of it? How will we measure the event success? What strategically makes sense? Who are the guests?
What are the stand out events in the last couple of years and why?
I’ve been lucky to be a part of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival for the past seven years, both in a catering and design capacity. In 2012, we worked on the Fire Masterclass (through my first business Bright Young Things Catering) at Collingwood Children’s Farm with David Chang, Neil Perry and Lennox Hastie. That was an amazing day. I’ll never forget driving Lennox around town buying last minute foodie bits. He was impressed by the Murray River salt that I had stashed in the glovebox for emergencies.
In 2017, we were awarded the role of Event Stylist for the inaugural House of Food & Wine, a pop-up that hosted 13 events across 11 days, all with totally different looks. We transformed the warehouse space and laneway into a luxurious dinner party spot for 150 guests, a stand-up brunch party, a shared seafood feast and a quirky burger night.
Are there events you have refused or would refuse to take on and why?
Yes, ultimately we like to work with like-minded people. The safety of my team is a priority, and we won’t compromise on that. If a client refused event security when we’ve recommended it or keeps moving the budget expectations, then it’s not for us. It’s important that as an industry we respect our value. Discounting not only damages your brand but hurts the industry as a whole.
What skills have you taken from past business experiences to this position?
I’m so lucky to have been in my businesses for ten years now, and to have learnt so much along the way, with so much more to learn too. Making the call to close my catering business in 2016 was one of the hardest decisions but one that felt right. We were lucky to control our finish, to end on a high and to ensure our team were supported with their career transitions.
I’ve learnt to try to remove emotion from difficult business conversations, to cope better with the ups and downs of business and to say no. I’ve also learnt more about who I am as a person and what we should be focusing on as a business.
What makes an event ‘en pointe’?
The take your breath away entrance.
The menu that jumps off the page.
The story told with a side of wonder.
And the dance floor that feels like a magnet.
We live for the polish, for the little details, for the flashes of brilliance, for the ducks in a row, and the flawless execution, for the job well done. These are the things that make the difference between just another event, and powerful moments to remember. These are the factors that create magic. And on those important things, we’re always en pointe.
The key to any hospitality business is its staff. How do you approach this at En Pointe?
We are only as good as our team. I see our team as a family, and we so lucky to have such a talented crew. In return, we try to give our team flexibility, support and opportunity. This year we introduced a winter learning program, and are supporting our team with the funds and time to upskill in their area of choice.
Are event runners like ducks, calm on the surface but paddling madly out of sight?
Haha, I definitely have an ‘event mode’ where it’s all focus and straight to the point communication. There’s a vision that’s always in our head and a million things to check and recheck. That said, our goal is to make events and event set-ups as stress-free as possible – both for our clients and our own sanity. We recently worked out that Rocco (my business partner) and I have spent over 60,000 hours in events. As such, we’ve experienced most scenarios and can put processes and systems in place to minimise any surprises and allow the capacity to deal with any last minute changes with a cool head. Events are all creative thinking and finding solutions.
Sustainability is a growing concern, how does En Pointe deal with such issues?
It’s our passion to work with clients to help them express who they are through events. We think it’s our duty to suggest thoughtful ways to have a positive social impact and minimise waste in the process.
En Pointe Events is committed to reducing its impact on the natural environment by inspiring our staff, suppliers, clients and community to think, talk and act on sustainability issues. We’re so lucky to have clients that trust us and work with wonderful suppliers. We’re conscious that as soon as you have an event you’re having an impact, so we focus on minimising our environmental impact, whilst adding value to the local economy. Considerations include event locations, event design and activities, choice of suppliers, food services, energy consumption, transportation and waste generation.
You can follow Kate’s spectacular events on Instagram @EnPointe_Events and look out for their new business they are launching later in the year that will help events and event teams be more sustainable.
Interview by Amanda Kennedy. Amanda is an artist currently doing a writing degree. You can find her on Instagram @artbyamandakennedy