A Day In The Life Of Katie

We all love a bit of a behind-the-scenes insight every now and again, so we took the opportunity to interview Katie, owner and creative force behind Pomegranate London. Read on to find out what a day in Katie's life is like whilst she's away in India on a buying trip...

Jaipur buying trip

So Katie, we'd love to know, how do you start your day?

I’m an early riser, time difference not withstanding, and the morning always needs to start with a cup of tea and a quick flick through messages, news and emails to check all is ok on the home front and to reply to anything that looks urgent and, in truth, mainly sending emoji messages to my son. 

We were staying at Narain Niwas Palace this trip and the hotel has a lush garden with a beautiful swimming pool so a morning swim was the order of the day - I wish I could transport this garden and pool to London.

Thereafter a quick shower and breakfast.  Breakfast is aloo paratha and these must be fresh and steaming hot off the griddle and accompanied by a large bowl of plain yoghurt to dip them in. Very yummy.

A shout out also to KaCoBa - a cute coffee shop near to our hotel - that kept us caffeinated and ready for action.

Did you have a packed schedule on this particular day or did you have a bit more freedom?

Before we travelled I had mapped out specific days to see certain suppliers and the 10 day trip was very quickly filled up. 

There doesn’t tend to be much wriggle room and time goes fast when you are selecting and choosing.  It is surprisingly time consuming and you get totally lost in the process, to the extent that I set alarms so I don’t miss the next appointment scheduled!

Gemtone selections in India

Who did you spend the day with, or were you on your own?

For many years I have been travelling on my own to India but this trip I took Jackie, who was has been working for me since we opened the shop in 2009 and it was a revelation.

Having 2 pairs of eyes and someone on board who knows the business as well as she does was invaluable.  Otherwise we spent the day with our suppliers and their work force.

How far did you need to travel to get to your appointments for the day?

We stayed in a central hotel and many of our suppliers have show rooms nearby.  A few of our suppliers, with a more extensive manufacturing capacity, are based on the outskirts of the city and that can take an hour or so to reach.   

Uber is widely used in Jaipur and this has made it a lot easier to move around - no need to haggle with Tuk Tuk drivers and spend hours getting lost.

Choosing gemstones

Did you have any clear objectives for the day or anything you were particularly excited about seeing or doing?   

Each supplier requires a different work pattern, with some it is looking through stone packets with others it is checking over new samples and with others refining orders and looking at available stone and finishes and seeing work in progress.  I am always excited about everything I am seeing and there will always be things that have come out particularly well and exceeded expectation.  

This trip was also about face time. We know the world has been revolutionised with online communication tools but proper in person communication really puts all of that in the shade.   We have a huge sense of community and friendship with the people we work with and this is bolstered by the time we spend in each others company.   The more time we spend together, the better the work and the end product.

Preparing lunch in India

Did you get to stop for a lunch break? If so, where did you have lunch - anything tasty you could recommend? What’s your usual lunch choice?

Lunch and eating with our suppliers is a big deal and they are all extremely generous at making sure we are royally fed and watered. With some of our suppliers we work in their home offices so lunch is taken with their family and with others home food is shared from a tiffin lunch box in their office. 

Home cooked lunch is always the best and it normally consists of simple daals and vegetable curries served with rice.

I was watching Michael Palin last night and he spoke about the fundamental importance of sharing food with people:

"I believe very strongly that sharing food is one of the most important elements of making contact with people. It's the way of sharing, once you sit down to eat together, in every culture and every civilisation, that’s where you share your thoughts and your moments.”  

This strong connection we have with the people we work with is reinforced by our trips to spend time with them and this results in the work & design that we are able to achieve.

How did your afternoon pan out?

After lunch we will either carry on with the same supplier or travel on to see another and will usually finish working at 6.30 pm. 

Did you have any particular inspiration or any new ideas during the day?

There are always new ideas and our workshops are always showing us exciting new packets of stones and work in progress that they think might suit us.   As I have said before, I work in a very fluid way so there is no hard and fast list of what I want to design and I enjoy being taken off course and exploring new ideas.

There are always new innovations too with finishes and setting styles or a new type of fixture that you hadn’t considered before.  After so many years I know that there is still so much to learn and see - it never stops.

When are you at your most creative generally?

I don’t think there is a particular time [or indeed place] but I think my mind is always on the go and inspiration can strike equally looking at gemstones or walking the dogs.

Did you manage to get in any free time and if so, how did you use it?

I am usually really bad at taking time out when I am in Jaipur and want to cram as much work time in as possible but as Jackie was with me this time and it was her first time in India it felt only right that we take a weekend out to go to Agra and visit the Taj Mahal.

 Visiting the Taj Mahal

Our friend kindly drove us to Agra and we spent the Saturday at the Taj Majal and the Red Fort and then on the way back on Sunday, we visited Fatephur Sikri. Not bad to get to see one of the wonders of the world on a work trip.

It was my second visit and it was as wonderful as ever. We also squeezed in a drive at dusk one evening to go up to Tiger Fort where you can get an amazing view over Jaipur.

What time did you finish work and how did you plan to spend the rest of the day? 

We normally finished around 6 or 7 pm and then it was either supper back at the hotel or supper with friends out and about or at their homes.  Narain Niwas has 2 briliant restaurants on site - Palladio and Shikaar Bagh so it was quite difficult to tear us away from them.

 End of the day in Jaipur

I would highly recommend both of them. I would also highly recommend a Margarita at the Blue Bar… the perfect way to mull over the days events and makes plans for the next. 

What time were you ready for bed and what’s your usual wind down routine? 

Bed time is from 10 onwards and I always watch an hour or so of something before I go to sleep and this trip I was mid way through Stranger Things.. which may account for the fact that I did not manage to get to sleep very early… but it was very difficult to turn off!!