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Inside Story: Kate Dawson

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Kate Dawson is the face and brains behind one of Canberra’s most stylish shoe boutiques, Sissa Sorella.

Opening in 2018, you won’t find bright lights or white shelves, just a warm and inviting space tucked behind Double Shot at the Deakin shops.

A Business graduate from RMIT University in Melbourne, Kate embarked on a career in logistics with Qantas in Sydney before moving to Canberra upon the birth of her daughter Ava, 12 years ago.

She and husband Jai ran Flint in the Vines at Shaw Vineyard Estate in Murrumbateman for seven years, before a stint in event management at the National Gallery of Australia. We get the inside story on her colourful life.

What is the first thing you do when your feet hit the ground?

I take myself up Red Hill with our two cavaliers Lola and Charlie.

Tea or coffee?

Coffee before 10 am and herbal tea all the way until bedtime.

Fave coffee spot?

Without a doubt, Double Shot in Deakin. The staff are fabulous and the coffee is consistent (and it’s only 27 steps from my store!). Convenient.

What’s on your playlist?

Jazz. For the store.

Biggest Netflix binges?

Suits, Handmaid’s Tale, Outlander.

Canberra needs…?

More independently-owned boutiques in our suburban areas.

A beach would be nice to smell the ocean and walk along the sand with the waves crashing.

Big-name musicals—we head to Sydney for the big musicals. I wish we had more here to help us all stay local.

Every home needs what?

A fridge full of fresh produce, a comfortable couch and a decent walk-in wardrobe.

Favourite places to unwind?

Home, hands down. Our home is our sanctuary. Preferably either in the kitchen whipping up a meal or sitting on my lambswool chair from Inside Story in Fyshwick, with a glass of pinot by the fireplace.

Reading?

I am currently just finishing up Boy Swallows Universe, and although I found it tricky at first to get into, I now can’t put it down. My other one on the go is Jacinda Ardern: The Story Behind an Extraordinary Leader. Next on my list is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

Which area of Canberra do you live in and why?

Inner south. School and work are close by so it’s very convenient and saves me a lot of time. I grew up in the area and just love the proximity to everything.

I also relish the sense of community around here and love that I see familiar faces on my morning walk, in the coffee line and even picking up groceries.

If you had $100 left in the bank, where would you spend it?

Southside Markets on a Sunday morning—fresh organic produce to cook up a nice meal and enjoy with friends. Avocados, berries, seafood and fresh sourdough would be on my list.

Been anywhere interesting lately?

Internationally, MICAM in Milan, Italy—the biggest shoe fair in the world. That was actually quite overwhelming. So much choice, so many shoes!

Locally, I took a very brief visit to Byron Bay with my daughter late last year. Not long enough, just three days.

It had been 20 years since I had been and my main purposes was to browse and admire all of the small boutiques doing wonderful things and to enjoy their fresh, wholesome food. I would definitely go back to explore a bit further.

Favourite sound?

High heels on a wood floor, particularly a deep sound from a solid block heel. It’s a sound of confidence and pride to me.

Where will you be in 10 years’ time?

Apart from probably having a shoe collection twice its current size, I try not to think that far ahead. And I’ve learned that everything is about timing. Being in the right place at the right time, making a decision that fits that time of your life and being brave to run with it.

Also, I don’t think that far ahead either because I am genuinely happy right now in my life with what I’ve achieved. I am wanting to enjoy the moments I am in now.

Summer/winter?

Winter. Give me wool, cashmere, scarves, boots and leather jackets with a glass of red and a fireplace

Special secret skill no one knows about (until now)?

I learnt how to fly a plane in my teens. I wanted to be a pilot. Maybe I could still fly if I tried?!

Fashion labels you most covet?

Ginger and Smart, Bassike, Aje, Camilla & Marc and Zimmerman.

What are you most likely to cook for dinner?

Rarely do we cook the same thing in our household. We are experimental, seasonal and delight in our time in the kitchen.

One of my favourite ways to cook is not to have a plan, and after going to the markets, just pull out some things from the box and put together a beautiful, fresh meal.

Last week in our market box my husband and I had bought some fresh prawns and calamari, prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, fresh heirloom tomatoes and some baby herbs, among other things.

We sat in our kitchen over a bottle of local Four Winds Sangiovese Rose and just cooked a couple of courses up and ate in the kitchen for the evening together.

PHOTOGRAPHY Tim Bean

This article originally appeared in Magazine: Time (AW2020), available to read free online.

Read it here

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