Kate Wood’s innovative and environmentally conscious approach to product design has hit a chord in trendy Berawa. The Yak spoke to partners Pim Gietelink and Dina Daly. Image: Ryerson Anselmo For Costes Portrait.
Kate Wood as a brand has made a positive and immediate impact on the retail scene in Bali, were you expecting things to go so well from the very beginning?
Pim: Thanks for the compliment. We looked for a location where we could stand out and built a shop that represented the creativity of the brand. It is not an “A-List” location or even in a main shopping street, so I didn’t expect an instant success. But thanks to Dina and her network, the shop got the right exposure and traffic arrived almost immediately.
Dina: Thank you again for your compliment and of course for the huge support of The Yak. We put a lot of effort and patience into building our store. It took us almost a year until we finally opened in May 2019. A few months later, we received a lot of attention and interest from the media, beachclubs and buyers.
Where does the company name come from, and what do you think about brand names in general in this day and age? What works and what doesn’t work…
Pim: Kate Wood, named after my daughter, was created out of a desire to build a legacy I could pass on to future generations. Many brands and shops are generic, so we try to create a unique shopping experience.
Dina: Nowadays, there are many brands and choices, but unfortunately the concept and idea is not always fully thought through. We didn’t come to this right away either but now we can clearly say that Kate Wood is a lifestyle brand. Almost everyone who works here uses KW products in their personal lives. We didn’t just design to sell it to you, we designed it to use it ourselves.
What is your most popular product in Bali, and how does that compare with your store in Shanghai?
Pim: The most popular product that people look at is the bamboo bicycle. It is like a magnet that attracts people into the shop. The best-selling products are the sunglasses, watches and phone cases. And that is exactly the same situation with our shop in Shanghai.
Dina: As Pim mentioned, our sunglasses are just flying off the shelves in Bali. We have received so many compliments. Now we sell our glasses in almost all areas of the island.
Why did you choose Berawa as the location for your second KW outlet?
Pim: In 2018 we were considering either Saigon or Bali for the next flagship store. I have been living in Shanghai since 2007 and was looking for the next place where I could live, produce products and have a store. After Dina did some research in Bali and checked many locations we thought this island presented the best opportunities.
Dina: We choose Berawa as it was (and still is) up and coming and it had some interesting and affordable places available. We thought it would be the perfect place to build an inviting shop that would stand out against other stores in the area.
How would you define the Kate Wood brand?
Pim & Dina: We are a socially-conscious business featuring handcrafted items made from renewable resources. Each item is unique due to the structure of the wood and bamboo, and from those materials we create lightweight and comfortable products for people who value beauty and quality.
We forgot to ask: where are you both from and what are your backgrounds?
Pim: I was born in Amsterdam and I studied at Hotelschool The Hague. So initially I worked in hotels and hospitality. Then in 2007 I was hired by a company that sells corporate promotional products and my job was to manage the design and production in China. Then in 2010 I started my own company and brand and I just followed up on products and styles I liked. I had to learn step-by-step and started with just a small sunglasses collection. Nothing spectacular. But during that time, I learned a lot about how to improve the quality and learn from my mistakes.
Dina: I am from Russia, moved to Shanghai in April 2012. Even though I have three degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Economics, I chose to work in the hospitality industry. When I arrived in Shanghai I studied International Hospitality at College Les Roches and I gained valuable experience working as a manager and General Manager at several restaurants in Shanghai for the next six years. My career was growing fast and I was proud of my success. In 2017 my life and profession changed completely when I joined the Kate Wood team. This began a new chapter for me and I love the creativity involved and being able to build the brand from the ground up.
There have been other wooden product brands, what sets you apart from the competition do you think?
Pim: When I started the company, I was also producing for other brands and we still do so for some private labels. Little by little Kate Wood has grown as a brand and I think
what sets us apart is that we offer a complete concept with many products instead of specializing on one range of say, watches. The bamboo bicycle is iconic and is a product that other “wooden” brands don’t have. Recently we started collaboration with Kayu Surfboards who are specialized in producing unique lightweight wooden boards.
What’s your most ambitious product, in terms of design and build?
Pim & Dina: That would be the world’s first bamboo electric fat tyre bike. This is like the Range Rover of bamboo bicycles. It has a six-speed Shimano gear system to help you conquer those snowy mountaintops and a lithium powered electric boost for when you want to cruise on sandy beaches.
Do you design all KW products yourself?
Pim & Dina: Yes, we do the design and manage the production ourselves. Creativity comes from daily life. Dina and I spend most of the time in one of the shops. And by talking with people you get important feedback. We’re proud of what Kate Wood has become, and we look forward to extending the brand even further.