5 Minutes with… Unna Burch
Hi Unna, you’ve just released your new book ‘The Forest Cantina – HOME’ cookbook. How is it all going?
It’s been really busy, but great! A lot of work, planning, time and love has gone into this project so to get to this point of launching the book, it’s really exciting! I love that people are now finally able to see and enjoy the book.
Your photography style has been attracting big brands in New Zealand, how did they get in touch with you?
I am so lucky that I have had the opportunity to work with some really incredible New Zealand and also international clients. I love working with their products styling and photographing content for them to use.
I have created a ‘hire me’ section on my website, which you can see HERE which has all the details about how to get in touch.
You’ve built your brand from scratch, and now have 16K followers on Instagram. What tips would you give to a rookie that is just starting on social media?
It is all about content! You have to put a lot of time into the images that you share to build followers. People follow you because they like your asthetic, or the message that you share, so to keep them wanting more, make sure that your content and the images that you share are good. Think about all of your favourite accounts that you like to follow online, and what makes them stand out. A simple rule of good content: executed well will bring in the social media numbers.
It’s the dream of a lot of people to make their creative hobby their own business, how did you make it work?
I am naturally creative and I’ve finally found something that I love doing, which is the foundation of what I do. I wasn’t trying to do something that didn’t come naturally. For example, if I wanted to be an accountant, numbers are definitely not my forté so I would be working AGAINST my natural talent. It is much easier in life to ‘go with the flow’. Sometimes, like for me, the answer was right under my nose and I didn’t see it for a long time. Now that I am in the food industry in my 30’s, I think to myself, “Well duh! That is so obvious now!”
Also, you have you really want it and work hard at it. You can’t just be talented and then sit back and expect it all to just happen. I never had the intention in the beginning of working with these big food brands or writing two books. Again, I went with the flow — taking on opportunities as they came up and giving everything that I had to these projects. I work very long hours (in between daily life as a mum and a wife) to make it successful.
I have noticed the beautiful de-bossing on your book. How do you think design details influence your success?
As a creative person, details absolutely matter. I get obsessed with the little things that end up making the bigger picture and aesthetic of my brand better. The more thought and consideration that you put into your business it shows people how much you care for it, how much pride you have for what you do. That, in turn, makes people gravitate towards what you are doing. I thought my logo (which I commissioned to be hand drawn by Barcelona-based graphic designer Joan Tarrago) would look so beautiful de-bossed. And I am so thrilled to have been able to do that on my cookbook cover… now I need business cards to match, hehe.
In your book we can find some Fair Trade recipes as well as a whole section about sustaining yourself from your own backyard. Do you think people are shifting towards that lifestyle?
In terms of Fair Trade, I think if you are in a financial position to be able to buy quality ingredients, I believe that you have a responsibility to acknowledge the source of your products. All the things that we don’t grow here in New Zealand (cotton, coffee, sugar, spices, bananas, etc) these are all grown by people. I believe in paying these farmers fairly for their work as they are often exploited. It is so easy when we are shopping to disconnect from where these things are coming from, but once you know the brands and packaging to look out for, it’s easy! It becomes just a regular rhythm to buy and support Fair Trade.
Suburban self-sufficiency is a section I added to the back of the book to give a guide to producing backyard ingredients. It is about making the most out of the space you have right now, even if you are just renting. I think there is a shift in my generation of people wanting to have that connection to our food. And, as a parent, it is great for the kids to see too.
Where is your favourite place to chill in Wellington?
Home is number one! If I had to choose between going out or staying home (especially in winter), home is always the first choice. We do love going out on the weekends though, to the markets (we love eating at all the stalls), and our favourite places to eat at are Nikau, Prefab, Satay Palace, Fishermans Plate, Chow, Laundry Bar, Tommy Millions, Customs, Five boroughs and Cinta, to name a few. We also love taking our dog, Caviar, out for a walk at the dog beaches or through the city, stopping at a cafe along the way.
Thanks for your time, Unna, and all the best with the book!
Find the book HOME (with free national shipping + international options) HERE