Brad: You’ve managed to be a high-profile and sought after wedding and event planner, an accomplished lifestyle expert, a designer of very well-received (and beautiful) home décor and house wares, and a successful author, with the first of three new books to be published this autumn. How do you do it all? And how do you find a decent balance between life and work?
Colin: I travel a great deal, like more than 200 days a year and always find time to add a vacation or a few days here or there. I exercise daily, I ride my bike all the time and have recently learned how to meditate and enjoy quiet time. It’s what keeps me going!
Can you narrow down the precise point in your life in which you decided to pursue what you currently do? In other words, what was it that formed the Colin Cowie of today?
I started as a one man show — chief chef, waiter and bottle washer. I used to wake up at 6 am and go to the flower market, arrange the flowers, do the marketing, then head home to cook the meal. I’d set their table, cork the wines, pour drinks, serve the meal, and do the clean-up. And I put 120 percent into everything I do. It’s kept me at the top of my field. My favorite days are always the day of the party or opening of a project. I never set out doing what I’m doing now. One step led to another and the dream has come to life.
Could you touch on your upbringing in Africa?
It’s amazing because I built an empire out of how I grew up. In South Africa we are very hospitable and know how to make people welcome. We all entertain and are used to having people in our homes. By embracing my African roots, I inspired people to bring guests into their homes and entertain them…..hence the start of my first business, a catering company.
When comparing yourself and your work to what others similar to you are doing, how would you say that what you offer your clients is different, or, “better” than what they offer theirs (without naming names, of course!)?
Customer service. A well- thought out customer service program that’s very proactive with great attention to detail is what sets us apart.
Overall, what for you epitomizes elegance and/or good taste, and along those lines, what do you feel is passé?
True style has nothing to do with what you wear or how much money you spend. It’s about how you treat yourself and those around you. I treat people with respect and am grateful for everything; they are the foundation for how I live my life.
Is there anything that people would be surprised to know about you?
That I am a pianist and wanted to be a surgeon!
How has your approach to your work changed over the years, if at all? Do you find that your clients have different expectations towards you now than they did earlier in your career, or even a few years ago?
I think the recession flushed all the fat out of the system. It made it an even playing field for everyone. So instead of the client picking up the phone and saying ‘I want you to do my husband’s 50th birthday,’ she now calls three people and puts us against one another to see who’s going to give her the best deal. The customers have become very savvy.
Image of Colin courtesy of bridalguide.com