People of Asuwere - Harrison Stott
We have been lucky enough to see a number of members' businesses recognised for their amazing work over the past few years, but being able to watch the full journey from inception to launch has to be up there in our list of highlights.
An entrepreneur himself, Harrison Stott has done just that, and more. While juggling fatherhood, he’s been busy bringing New Zealand's first ghost kitchen concept, ‘The Kitchen Collective’, to life which is democratising commercial kitchen access to those starting out in hospitality, while empowering the more established players.
We had the pleasure of sitting down and catching up with Harrison again to see what he’s been up to (hint - a lot).
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m Harrison, originally from Wellington (proud Wellington College old boy) and now living in Auckland. I’m a husband, and a father to my almost one year old daughter Scarlett and five year old Italian Greyhound Twix. After working for start-ups for the better part of my career across New Zealand and the UK, I’m now the co-founder of The Kitchen Collective which we opened in April of this year.
Tell us about The Kitchen Collective?
The Kitchen Collective are purpose-built cloud kitchen facilities, which basically refers to a physical site of commercial kitchens that are optimised for food preparation and delivery. Put simply, it’s a restaurant kitchen without the dine-in service. Our first site opened in Glendene, Auckland in April of this year and comprises 20 private kitchens and a shared kitchen space with eight working benches. It’s currently the new home for some incredible food brands including a gourmet burger chain, a plant-based catering company, cakery, chocolatier and more.
You’ve also spent a bit of time in the UK. Has that shaped what you’re doing now?
Definitely. I used to work for Karma Kitchen in London which is where I was first introduced to the concept of Cloud Kitchens. The delivery market is huge in the UK, probably even more so now, so there was always a huge demand for food businesses to operate from a cloud/ghost/dark kitchen. Also being exposed to a significant amount of capital and being involved in a £252m series A round helped me learn and develop when it came to our own raise.
I was also lucky enough to meet some amazing colleagues and investors who taught me so much and the time I had with them blew me away - I always want to better myself and am grateful that certain people allowed me to do that using their experience and expertise.
How long has TKC been in the works, and what has been the biggest challenge for you in this journey?
We started putting plans in place in September 2020 but with the pandemic shutting the country down multiple times and having a huge impact on hospitality, the time just wasn’t right for us to launch. It wasn’t until August 2021 that we purchased our Glendene site and started building it and with our official launch in April - so it felt like a long time in the works but we’re here now!
The biggest challenge has been introducing the emerging concept of cloud kitchens to the New Zealand market and trying to help businesses understand the benefits. While it’s a very established concept overseas, here we don’t have as many set up so we try to always educate, adapt our own thinking, and open people’s minds to a different way of operating within our space.
What has been your proudest moment so far with The Kitchen Collective?
This is a great question as I’m not known for celebrating the wins as much as one should but the proudest moment for me was seeing the space being built in the early stages. All the planning, preparation and hard work to get to that moment was all worth it.
When I walked around seeing the timber frames of the kitchen spaces, I was proud to see that it was actually happening, not just a drawing on a page.
What is one piece of advice that has never failed you?
I’ve received a lot of advice from so many people at different periods of life that always comes in handy. But Steve Jobs once gave a commencement speech at Stanford in 2005 and he said something that’s always stuck with me and whenever I reflect on my life, it’s always true:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
You’re also a husband, and a father. Do you have any hacks for optimising your time?
This may not be the answer people want to hear but I wake up at 4am four to five days a week. Which I don’t know if that's a hack or just crazy - the jury is still out but this gives me around three hours to myself every morning to go to the gym or for a run, take the dog for a walk, catch up on any emails that have come through overnight and help out with any house chores.
It’s not for everyone but I always feel super productive in those few hours before the rest of the household and world wakes up. It gives me some ‘me’ time which is hard to find at other hours of the day.
How does asuwere fit into your life?
I enjoy shopping but definitely go in waves depending on the season and time constraints (shops aren’t open early enough for me!). The great thing about Asuwere from a clothing brand point of view, is the flexibility and options each month that fit with the season and allow you to see the fashion trends. The fact I can accumulate continually rather than all at once is perfect, although you can always add things on if the items are too good to pass up and I’ve got some holes to fill in the wardrobe.
Outside of the clothing, interacting with the Asuwere team and community has been awesome. The Clubroom sessions are a must, not only are they hugely insightful but it’s great to meet other members. That and the “meat raffle” prizes are worth the price of admission.