Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Success Diaries: The VERY Surprising Moments Where We, Capsule’s Co-Founders, Found Success

We all know the ‘big’ moments of success – the job promotions, the weddings, the babies. But often it’s the smaller, quirkier moments in life where we really feel true, joyful and well-earned success, and a lot of the time, it’s the things you least expect that give you the greatest feeling of success – and trust us, it’s THESE moments that are worth celebrating (on the rooftop at the QT Auckland, perhaps!?).

Our co-founders Kelly Bertrand, Alice O’Connell and Emma Clifton reminisce on their own surprising moments where they felt successful and… well let’s just say, this story is a real journey and quite an insight into our different personalities!

This story is proudly brought to you with the support of QT Auckland – and check out our other stories in our Success Diaries here!

KELLY: A love of cooking borne a confusing and demoralising first impression

Success really does come in all forms, doesn’t it. Sure, professional success is always that matric we use to measure just how ‘successful’ we are, but as I’ve really learnt as I’ve written these Success Diaries stories, it’s actually not the big stuff that gives me a real thrill. 

Nah, for me it’s the little things that help me get through the day and make me feel like a Strong Confident Woman™ and I want to celebrate the things that make me feel/look like I’ve got my shit together. 

The moments when I make the perfect coffee – silky milk, just the right coffee shot, no bitter aftertaste – or when I curl my hair in the right way so it’s not boofy at the top (harder than it sounds!?). Or when I remember to take the clothes in the back of my car to the charity bin. Or when I managed to put together flatpack Mocka furniture by myself because hell I DON’T NEED NO MAN etc. 

But I think the biggest ‘little’ moment where I truly felt success was the time I made a stir fry properly for the first time. Stay with me, I promise the rest of this ramble isn’t just about cooking veges. 

When I moved into my first ‘adult’ flat after a string of insane flatmates and gross very-not-healthy-homes-approved houses, I declared to my new flatties that this was going to be the ‘new me’ and this ‘new me’ was going to learn how to cook. 

I figured a stir-fry was a good place to start – I mean, how the hell do you fuck up a stir-fry? Turns out, by assuming that the amount of sesame oil you can use is the same as how much olive oil you normally use.

I stunk the house out so bad and it really wasn’t the impression I wanted to make with my new flatties, who were looking at me like I’d lost my mind because who the hell doesn’t know that sesame oil should only ever be used SPARINGLY. 

It was such a demoralising start to my Independent Era, but after a bit of research, a bit of help from my flatmate Keiran who actually knew how to cook and a little more trial and error, I finally made a stir-fry the takeaway shop down the road proud. 

The reason why I look back on this as one of my most successful moments is that this instance was the catalyst for me to discover a passionate love of cooking, one I have to this day. Now I can whip up all kinds of interesting dishes – crème brulee, dauphinoise, sauces from scratch, even homemade gnocchi. It’s a huge part of my life and nothing gives me joy like a slow Sunday afternoon in my kitchen with a red wine. 

Who would have thought I had sesame oil to thank for it. 

ALICE: A potential DIY disaster-turned-strong-single-female MOMENT

When I found myself single and needing a new place to live in my early 30s (the roof of my dodgy Kingsland flat had caved in, so it wasn’t even a subtle sign to move on), something inside me screamed with excitement that maybe this was my opportunity to live alone.

It was a totally financially reckless decision, but one of my favourite ones nonetheless and I’ve since driven everyone in their 20s or 30s mad by trying to convince them that if they can kind of afford living by themselves for a while, then they should bloody do it. Everyone should!

One of my best friends lived two floors away, so it felt very Melrose Place (without the drama, or glamour?) to brew a cup of green tea and catch the lift to her place for a gossip in my pjs. And although my apartment was about the size of her wardrobe, the whole thing felt very Carrie Bradshaw to me. Or my other 90s icon: Ally McBeal (although I just Googled it and I’m not even sure that she actually lived alone?). Nevertheless, living in the city, working unhealthily long hours, having a comically disastrous love life (but thankfully no hallucinations of dancing babies) seemed like it had all the hallmarks of a successful leading lady in a 90s sitcom to me and I bloody loved it for most of it.

But, the moment I think I felt truly successful was when a couple of years later I schlepped across town to move to a quieter little block of flats, where I even had a little courtyard. The courtyard was roughly the same size as the shoebox flat, but I loved it. A week into moving in I resigned myself to the fact that I needed to buy a wardrobe and quickly found a cheap Ikea kit set one on special at one of those little shops that imports their stuff.

A week later it was ready to pick up from the store – so now, with a raging chest infection, I drove over and SOMEHOW fit all the boxes in my car (maybe all those years in the 90s playing Tetris did pay off).

But the true hard work was ahead of me. Maths and measurement and instruction books are not my forte (can you believe I look after the accounts at Capsule?! It’s remarkable that we’ve only ever had one slightly scary call from the IRD), but, four hours, two Nurofen, one stubbed toe, a scraped shin and three broken nails later I was basking in glory. I sat on a stool opposite the wardrobe with a lemon and honey tea and spent the next hour marveling at what I’d done. Over and over again I opened and closed the doors (which worked! One even had a mirror!) with my foot and sending pictures to everyone in my contacts list. 

I had done it. I was a success. I was Ally goddam McBeal!

EMMA: A glamorous façade, a toilet emergency and then, glorious comprehension

This story involves quite a gratuitous name drop but before that puts you off, I want to balance it out by saying it also involves me getting a bout of terrible diarrhoea. Glamorous, it is not.

One of the last big cover shoots I worked on at The Australian Women’s Weekly was a shoot with Rachel Hunter in Rajasthan, India. Rachel had a book coming out that I had helped write, and the deal for the cover story was that I would run a cover shoot with her in India. In the olden days this would have cost tens of thousands of dollars but it was 2019, so basically I had a budget of zero to cover full flights, accommodation, wardrobe and a travelling crew. 

Rajasthan in June is the hot season, and while we were there they had a heatwave where it hit 45 degrees every day. We had to wake up at 5am to have the photoshoot over by 9am before the temperature was too hot, we travelled to three different cities in a van where the air con died repeatedly, and we did two photoshoots for two different magazines in extremely fancy locations with, again, no budget. I also ignored all advice about getting sick while travelling because Indian cuisine is my #1 favourite and then basically had to stop eating halfway through. At one point, I had to run out of my interview with Rachel because I was going to shit myself. She was extremely kind and understanding! Also, the food was worth it!

The reason I have picked this as a moment I felt surprisingly successful was because I never wanted to be in charge of anything – I had no secret dreams to be an editor. I was perfectly content with being the second-in-charge, there were no leadership aspirations for me. But in organising that shoot and tackling that week abroad, I realised I liked being the one that people asked the questions of, I liked running a team and I was capable of it. Of course I got overwhelmed all the time – I cried a lot – but in the end, it made me feel like I was more capable than I realised. It gave me confidence in myself, and there’s no greater success than that.

(It also created a new benchmark for me in terms of stressful projects. As of yet, nothing has been more stressful than organising a week-long photoshoot in another country, where I didn’t speak the language, during a historic heatwave, for free.)

This story has been brought to you with the support of our incredible partner, QT Auckland. Capsule has a special relationship with QT – it’s where we ourselves celebrated our own success with our first birthday bash, and where we continue to go to toast ourselves and each other. Popping bottles on the Rooftop, sharing success stories over a long lunch at Esther, a private party in the Premiere Harbour Suite with your very own bar – trust us when we say it’s the perfect place to celebrate your success, whatever that looks like for you.  


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