NAME: Kathryn Hawkes
INSTAGRAM HANDLE: @houseofhawkes @fronteriors
JOB TITLE: Co-Founder
MOVED TO THE UAE IN: 2005
South African born and raised, Kathryn lived and worked in London for a few years after attaining her Bachelor of Commerce degree in South Africa. Kathryn has such fond memories of those years when she flitted between temporary assignments at some fun organisations (Ralph Lauren Home, Capital Radio, and the Daily Mail, to name a few) whilst enjoying extensive travels in Europe in-between contracts. Each assignment offered new insights into different industries and more importantly, financed the next trip.
Kathryn and her husband relocated to Dubai late in 2005 and her first role here was Marketing & Business Development Manager for The Grooming Company. Kathryn had the privilege of working alongside the late Negin Fattahi-Dasmal, who became a dear friend. A formidable businesswoman and incredible mother (of four), Negin had started her entrepreneurial journey in her 20’s and pioneered the grooming industry in the region with the creation of N.Bar, 1847 and JetSet. She was a true visionary and learnt so much from her about building a business and how this city operates.
After having two kids in quick succession, she took some time out from full-time work to be a full-time mum in 2010. She didn’t last long.Kathryn was always dabbling with something on the side. She had a passion for design for as long as she can remember. In 2013, she created a blog, House of Hawkes, to share her love of interior design, news from the design world, favourite finds, and inspiring home tours. It quickly blossomed into a new career and a portfolio of design projects for both residential and commercial clients.
Over the years, I’ve collaborated with notable brands including IKEA, Bosch, Crate & Barrel, Hansgrohe, Quooker, Jotun Paints, and Nordic Homeworx to name a few. In 2018, House of Hawkes won the Amara Blog award for Best International Interior Design blog – undoubtedly, one of her House of Hawkes highlights.
The following year, she co-founded Fronteriors with friend and design colleague, Linda Dekkers. Fronteriors is an online, self-assembly concept that makes doors and other components to upgrade IKEA cabinetry - including kitchens, TV cabinets, wardrobes, storage consoles, and bathrooms. The concept of making custom fronts for IKEA furniture, or #ikeahacking, had existed widely across Europe and the US for a few years, but when they were looking to use the concept in their own interior projects, no one was shipping to the region. We spotted a gap.
What started as a ‘side-line gig’ quickly grew into an actual business and by late 2020, Linda and Kathryn had decided to put their interior design and styling work on hold as this start-up demanded their full attention.
Here they are almost four years down the line and they expanded their client base to the wider Middle East region, Europe, UK and the US. They appointed a second factory in Europe in 2022 and will continue to source manufacturing partners further afield. The intention with multiple manufacturers is to reduce the cost, transit time, distance, and carbon footprint between production facilities and their customers. Linda relocated to the US this September and will be setting up their representation there.
It’s been a roller-coaster ride thus far, and they had all the growing pains that come with ambitious expansion, but they grit their teeth and keep an eye on the future.
Here’s a look at a typical day.
6AM: My day starts with a quick check on sales activity and messages received overnight. With my business partner now located in the US, the first hour of my day is also my opportunity to catch her in the last hour of hers. After that it’s regular school morning chaos and a mad dash to get kids out the door by 7am. My husband and I share school-run duties, so I’m either leaving at 7am or enjoying a quiet house from 7-8am, when I’ll either start getting through emails or attempt a quick morning walk or home workout.
8-9AM: Depending on whether I’ve dropped kids at school or not, I’ll arrive at the office somewhere between 8-9am. I try to schedule any meetings in the morning, so that the afternoons are free for my task list. We have a weekly team meeting on Monday mornings where we review deliverables and set new tasks and intentions for the week ahead.
12.30PM: We always have lunch as a team, and I really enjoy the social time with the girls in our office. Everyone tends to bring homemade lunches in but every now and then we indulge and order in.
3PM: I need to leave the office by 3.15pm at the latest for school pick-up. With a very busy work schedule, I have contemplated employing a driver to run my kids around in the afternoons, but that time I get with them during school runs is precious to me. I get to feel connected and involved in their daily life and anecdotes, despite working full-time. Of course there are days when I just can’t make it all work, and on those occasions I rely heavily on friends or Careem!
4PM: I tend to work from home for the rest of the afternoon, but this depends on the day and the kids schedules. Mondays are ‘quiet’ afternoons and I can usually work from home in the afternoons. I have scheduled catch-up calls with Linda in the US from around 4.30- 6.30/7pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Wednesdays and Fridays I’m usually taking the kids to after-school activities, where I’ll sometimes work from my car or a coffee shop while I wait.
7PM: We aim to have dinner between 7-7.30pm. We are very fortunate that my husband doesn’t travel too frequently for work, so we value this family time around the table most evenings. After dinner, I try not to go back to my laptop and we either watch a series with the kids or attend to any homework they may need help with.
9.30PM: At this point in the evening, all things going well, homework is complete and both kids are asleep – although with teens this boundary is always being pushed.
10pm: I aim to be in bed by 10pm most nights…. But that is admittedly a very flexible deadline.