WorkLife Profiles: Kate Mather

Kate Dezarnaulds
Feb 19 · 9 min read
Kate Mather in her suite at WorkLife Kiama

Kate is a digital marketing expert, entrepreneur and ambassador for the freedom of a South Coast work/life. Kate has called Gerringong home for the past six years and is one of the founding members of WorkLife Kiama. Kate can often be seen on the South Coast sporting her signature leopard print mules and toting an almond milk flat white from The Hungry Monkey.

Here she sits down for a WorkLife Balance chat; letting us in on how social media is transforming the way local businesses flourish, why the greatest luxury is designing your own life and reminding us that most stellar days include a cold g&t with friends.

How and when did you choose life? What’s your tree change story?

It begins many years ago when I got the opportunity to move to Kangaroo Valley. I was born and bred in Sydney and had travelled and worked in different places. I had had a baby girl and wanted to get back into work, but didn’t know what I wanted to do. My background was in Marketing and PR. Then through an ex colleague I found out that the Kangaroo Valley Golf and Country Resort needed someone to go down for six months to reopen it. I took that as an opportunity to explore a tree change. We stayed there for 15 years. I did love living in the valley, but then the time came to give me and the kids a different experience. So we moved across to Gerringong. That was six years ago. Mollie was then 16 and my twin boys Jack and Harry were 10. At the same time I started my PR and Marketing business which specialises in Social Media Marketing, called Profile Digital Group. Then almost two years ago I started another business called South Coast Experiences, which curates specialty experiences that highlight the best of the region.

What was your greatest fear about making the leap?

Probably reconnecting with my kind of people. I had a strong group of friends in Sydney, plus family. So moving down here I needed to re-establish myself within a friendship world. Looking back, that wasn’t a problem at all. I found some fabulous people. Also because Mollie was only little, there were some normal fears about education and other key decisions, particularly when you’re foreign to the area, but it all worked out beautifully.

What’s been the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome?

There’s definitely been a process since I started my business of educating local businesses about the relevance and importance of social media marketing. It was a surprise to me that I had to go to Sydney and other areas in Australia to grab my initial clients. It’s only been the last 12–15 months that South Coast clients have come on board with social media. Yet this area has grown and developed enormously over the past two years. There’s now an expectation that businesses that hold their weight will have a social media presence. That’s certainly the expectation from visitors from Sydney. So I think local businesses are beginning to understand that social media allows them to present themselves in their best light and grow their businesses, without a huge outlay.

How does it work for the rest of the family? What’s been the impact on them?

The twins were born down here, and Mollie arrived when she was three, so they don’t really know any other life. What it has given them is an amazing childhood. In Kangaroo Valley Mollie had a horse, Honey. By the time she was 12 she would ride the horse to the local bakery, tether her outside, get the bread for the house and ride home. Mail from her pen pals that was just addressed to ‘Molly in Kangaroo Valley’ would find its way to her. We lived on the river, so she could take her horse down to the banks to swim and play. It was magical and she thrived in that world. Honey the horse definitely helped her keep her sanity in those tricky teenage years. For the boys, they love fishing and exploring. Now over at the coast they have the surf. One surfs and one skates. They can now venture out in such an easy, step by step way. I never have that fear that city families might have about teenagers heading out. There is a special kind of freedom in our lives.

What’s the biggest cliché of country life that’s turned out to be true?

I can tell you one that is absolutely not true. That you sit around with nothing to do. That when you’re out of the city life becomes a bit stagnant. Here life is busy and very, very full. If you have a cliched notion that in a coastal life you can organise your day so you can duck out from work and go for a swim at lunch, well, that is true. And you can always get a parking spot at the beach.

Is there anything that’s been a surprise to you?

The surprises are more like delights. And those delights are related to freedom. It’s about having the versatility to design your life down here. It’s as structured as you want it to be. Even though there can be stresses no matter where you’re based, here you have freedom of thought and freedom to choose a lifestyle that suits you.

The hundred thousand dollar question. When it comes to money, how do you make it work?

Six years ago when I started my business I went out on a limb. I put my heart, soul and money into it to make it work. I’m the sole provider for the kids, so there was a lot of fear in moving across to Gerringong, but I just knew I needed the versatility that this region could offer. I didn’t want to get stuck in a corporate job in Wollongong. At the time the boys were only 10. To make it work for Profile Digital Group I had to be a bit strategic. Money wise it was a risk- high risk to start. I had to look elsewhere before I could look in the backyard. I had to go back to Sydney to forge connections and clients there. I now have clients in the central coast, north coast and WA. Luckily, I can work with people who are based anywhere. I still work very intimately with their businesses. When a new client starts I make sure I tell them that I’m part of the team, even if I’m physically removed on a day to day basis. South Coast Experiences then became a nice add on that would give me two income streams. That’s becoming quite exciting.

What’s your passion project/side gig? Is there anything that you’re hustling on?

South Coast Experiences is definitely the passion project and the side gig. South Coast Experiences works with local businesses and accommodation providers to provide unique curated experiences. It can be anything from in house catering, to surfing lessons, through to bushwalks, to team building exercises for the corporate market. It’s working on tailoring clients’ time down here to meet all their wants and tick off any bucket list items they might have.

What is interesting is that the accommodation options on the south coast have definitely lifted in recent years, with places like Soul of Gerringong and Jerrymara Estate now open. Working with the owners and being able to offer that curated experience for their guests is something that benefits everyone. Some of their guests are high profile and are coming down to the South Coast for their family escape. I work for them putting on intimate events. If it’s for a wedding we might do things around that, like a breakfast the morning after, or taking the boys off for a surf lesson and a whiskey tasting while the girls are having a pampering session and a champagne and seafood lunch. When I started I wanted to tap into the corporate market, so they could come down and feel confident that someone would curate it for them and meet their objectives, then with the leisure market it’s about being able to offer a quality service. It looks like there’s going to be potential to operate up and down the whole South Coast. It’s definitely in growth.

Picture your book shelf at home. What’s the one book on it that everyone should borrow?

‘The Alchemist’ by Paul Coelho. It started a lot of my journey, having the confidence and resourcefulness to forge ahead and start my own business. I’m also a big fa of Lisa Messenger. Her books have always been inspiring.

What piece of furniture in your house makes you the happiest?

I love all of it. But I have a grey club lounge, with dark navy piping and jarrah handles where you can place a coffee cup or wine glass that I’ve had since I was 25. I’ve had it recovered three times. It’s the place where I lay my head. It’s come everywhere with me. It’s been through everything with me. On a sentimental level, that’s my most loved piece.

If people come to the South Coast, what’s the one thing they should eat?

In Gerringong there’s a fabulous new place called the Hill Bar and Kitchen. It overlooks the water and has an amazing view, with a great bar with cocktails. I would definitely endorse the grown-up lemonade and the barbecued squid.

What’s your go-to listen for your trips up to Sydney?

It’s my curated South Coast Experience Spotify collection of music, that really has a South Coast vibe. It’s under Kate Mather and most folks who want the real South Coast experience should be able to access it. If it’s just me, then I’m a sucker for belting out a tune to Smooth FM. Only one of my boys will let me put it on if they’re in the car.

What’s your best productivity hack to get the most out of each work day?

Call me old fashioned but I need my day to a page diary. I have tried apps and digital diaries but having the actual diary on the desk to refer to is my go-to in keeping me in check and accountable on a daily basis.

What’s the best thing about your membership to WorkLife?

It’s been a game changer. I’ve opted to have one of the dedicated office suites at WorkLife Kiama. To have somewhere which has a closed door which is completely detached from home is amazing. I’ve always worked well at home. I’m detached and I’m focused. But now that I’m at WorkLife I’m now so much more focused and my productivity has gone to another level. Just not having to think about any of the logistics of having an office is fantastic. I can arrive, get my water jug, make a coffee, there are snacks, everything is taken care of. For South Coast Experiences I need it to be community based, so I’m looking at developing a podcast. The fact that there’s potential for a dedicated podcast room in WorkLife Kiama is such a great match. To be able to meet clients in the boardroom is brilliant. The community at Kiama WorkLife is very interesting. Everyone is very respectful of the work people are doing, and there is a lovely business community feel.

Imagine tomorrow is a perfect snapshot of your Best Life. What are you doing?

I’m getting up early to have my walk on Werri Beach. It’s usually with headphones in, listening to a podcast. Coming back I’ll have my cup of tea and getting the kids ready for school and out the door. I’ll drop them off at Kiama High and come into WorkLife. I’ll focus on work in the morning and in the afternoon I’ll be getting a bit more creative, and going home at about 2.30, stopping off to have a swim at an ocean pool on the way to do some laps. If it’s a beautiful day I’ll meet some friends down at the beach and then go back to a friends’ for a few g and ts. I’ll go home and organise dinner with the kids, spend some time with them. They’ll probably have spent the afternoon swimming too. Then a wine with dinner and an early night. Things don’t get much better than that.

You can follow Kate and South Coast Experiences on Instagram @profiledigitalgroup and @Southcoastexperiences

Kate Dezarnaulds

Written by

Founder of WorkLife.org.au - coworking for inspirational tree & sea changers on the South Coast. + Partnerships lead for StartupAUS.org and NFP Board Director.

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