"My advice is to surround yourself with good people - those who constantly lift you higher, free from comparison and competition. I never would have started my own business if it wasn’t for a group of close friends who told me: ‘just go for it’."
As fellow women in business with shared passion to preserve the earth by living mindfully, we are delighted to introduce you to Zoe from Undressed Tablescapes. We got to know a little bit more about Zoe, what inspired her to start Undressed, her beautiful and delicate styling process and stance on sustainability within the produce sector. We hope you enjoy getting to know Zoe as much as we did!
Firstly, we would love to know how the vision of Undressed came to life?The idea for Undressed actually came to me at my local grocery store. I ran into a dear friend (now my incredible graphic designer) who asked what I was cooking for dinner. I rattled off a week’s worth of recipes and she said, “Yum! Can you please share your shopping list with me”?
Then, the pandemic happened so I started curating hampers brimming with fresh produce and recipes for my friends to cook while in lockdown. For each recipe I included my own sauce, ‘undressed’ from gluten, refined sugar and dairy to form the base of each dish. From there, Undressed has blossomed into an event styling and catering business – a way to combine my two great loves: the way food looks, and the way it tastes. My menus are predominantly vegetarian and always flexible, as I believe everyone deserves a seat at the table.
You have a true eye for styling and creating beautiful tablescapes, where did you learn this skill?
I’ve always been into how aesthetics makes us feel. I also love to eat, so combining the two seemed like a very natural progression. Setting a place for someone at the table is an act of love like no other, which is why I try to do it with great care and intention. Styling has really come down to practice - I’m certainly inspired by the work of others, and social media is a wonderful tool for this - but I try not to buy too much into table dressing trends, because it can inhibit you from finding your own style. Much like dressing yourself!
Along with your incredible skills to style you are an even better chef! When did your passion for cooking begin and who inspired you on your journey.
You’re too kind! It started very early on, as a child I’d pretend to host my own cooking show – talking to ‘camera’, and measuring ingredients out in individual bowls like I’d seen on television – to my mum’s horror, hah! But despite my questionable start in the kitchen, she’s always been a huge support. I’m also inspired by other incredible women in food, namely Julia Busuttil Nishimura, Alison Roman, Anna Jones, Claire Ptak - and of course, the food fairy godmother to us all, Nigella Lawson.
We believe sustainability extends to all areas of business and value your mission to produce predominantly plant-based recipes. What are your views on organic produce and limiting live-stock consumption?
When it comes to procuring produce, I always encourage people to buy the best that they can. If that’s organic, great - if it’s from small producers, farmers markets and independent grocers - even better. By doing this even the amount of plastic packaging is drastically reduced (I also love to take my Cloth & Co Basket Bag with me, it fits a weeks worth of shopping and is handcrafted by women in Ghana in partnership with ASIGE - Advocacy for Social Inclusion and Girls Education). To me, the way you spend your money is an investment in your future - and by shopping well you are not only investing in your own health, but the health of the planet.
Consuming more plant-based meals is certainly a positive way to reduce greenhouse gases from the agriculture sector, and my hope is that people feel empowered and excited to make this change. One of my favourite quotes by Jonathan Safran Foer is “Changing how we eat will not be enough, on its own, to save the planet, but we cannot save the planet without changing how we eat.”
As a woman founded and predominantly run business, we are inspired by your entrepreneurship. What advice would you give a young woman nervous to embark on a new business venture?My advice is to surround yourself with good people - those who constantly lift you higher, free from comparison and competition. I never would have started my own business if it wasn’t for a group of close friends who told me: ‘just go for it’. I’d also encourage anyone looking to embark on a new venture to hone your craft. For me, this took the form of a food styling course at RMIT - not only did it equip me with a new set of skills, but it gave me the confidence to back myself - because even with a great support network, the biggest supporter you need is you.