She's definitely her mother's daughter - all warmth and bubbly conversation with an abundant joy of life. But what comes across also is that she's very much her own woman with a fervent love for family, a happy heart and a strong head for business.
Kate Hudson's latest book, Pretty Fun: Creating and Celebrating a Lifetime of Tradition
With her recently cropped hair and characteristic whimsical style dress, Kate plonks herself down on the chair, smiles broadly and we raise a glass of bubbly. This sets the tone for lunch, the purpose of which is to talk about her new book, Pretty Fun: Creating and Celebrating a Lifetime of Tradition. As is natural when women get together, the talk veers from one subject to another - anecdotes about growing up, finding yourself, having a purpose, Ayurvedic teachings, the importance of family and friends - traversing topics with eagerness and ease.
As Kate talks, it's clear that these things are very much at the heart of who she is. And her book, a collection of stories, ideas and recipes are about the importance of gathering, marking events big and small and enjoying the company of the people who matter to you most.
Your first book, Pretty Happy: Healthy Ways to Love Your Body was a New York Times bestseller. What led you to write your latest book, Pretty Fun?
Growing up, my parents had careers that demanded a lot of them. Despite those demanding schedules, they were always present for us kids and they let us know that our time together was meaningful by making the most of it, which in our house meant lots of food, drink, conversation and laughter. For our big, crazy blended family, they made it a priority to preserve what you might consider traditional values in a very nontraditional life. When I started my own household, I carried those traditions with me and gave them my unique twist. That philosophy is what this book is about.
You talk about the soul-searching that led you to discover how to feel your absolute best, inside and out. What did you discover?
I discovered how to slow down, tune in and figure out how to give myself what I need to feel my absolute best, inside and out. I realized how important true connection was and how to take care of myself in a more complete way. Mind and body. Body and soul. Pilates and hot yoga and spinning and sometimes just a nice long hike. Holistic and balanced.
It's an ancient Indian prescription for health that integrates mind, body and spirit. It teaches that true wellness is achieved only when you treat the whole person. Honouring my body with healthy foods, exercise and being disciplined with meditation or breath work. Taking care of my spirit. It's about how you feel when you laugh or how happy you are when surrounded by your closest friends or when you're sharing stories about your day with your family over a meal that you prepared yourself. These are spirit-feeding, soul-satisfying things and that's exactly what gathering – and Pretty Fun – is all about. Connecting with people I care about makes me feel complete.
What are your thoughts about gathering as a way to express gratitude? It's been proven that people who make a practice of being thankful experience more joy. When we invite people to our home and make them feel special, we're expressing gratitude for them. You can use gratitude as a reason to gather, like a Mother's Day brunch. No matter what, you can always make space for gratitude at a gathering.
So, you're in Australia to promote Pretty Fun, how are you enjoying it? I love being back in Sydney. Fool's Gold was shot in Queensland which was a tough gig! It's great to be back and I don't get back enough. I think the last time was about five years ago and this is my fourth visit. It's always great – I love it.
Do you notice any difference between American women and Australian women? Actually, of all the different cultures, I think Australia and the US are quite similar and I think Australian women are the most relatable for me. Being a California girl, Sydney is very familiar though the Australian accent is the hardest for me to do.
You've been in the spotlight from the day you were born. What's it like?
It's funny because you'd think growing up with it you'd have gotten used to it. But it wasn't really like it is now when I was younger as people were respectful and left you alone. We moved to Colorado when I was young so we had a lot of time out of the spotlight as my parents wanted to raise us outside of LA. When I got into acting, it was because I wanted to be an actress not because I wanted to be famous. Though when you become an actress, you get famous so it's a catch-22. You get to a point where you just have to accept the attention and the paparazzi and I have to be grateful that at least there's a relevance that allows me to keep working. It would be great if they just wanted to get really good pictures, but today there's so much negativity that people just really want stories and pictures that are not flattering, something they can judge which does make me feel self-conscious sometimes.
Did you always want to be an actress? I always knew I wanted to be on the stage but I really wanted to be a singer. I started auditioning for acting parts just to get work and then got really lucky with great roles being offered and went down the path I was given. But I love to sing and my heart is in music and when you love to sing, even if you can't sing, you need to sing. I've been making music all my life.
Growing up in the family that you have, did you feel pressure to succeed in acting?
No. They just wanted me to be happy and to work hard. Whatever we chose to do, my parents supported it. We never felt this expectation to have to be what they wanted, we were just encouraged to work hard and be happy and have fun doing it. And I am the only girl with three brothers so I had to really hold my own and I think that gave me extra drive growing up as I felt I needed to prove myself. I thank my brothers for that. I was always driven to a goal but not an idea of success which I think actually helped my success. I've never had the feeling that I had to be the best at something – it was more I needed to do my best at something and that came from my parents and the strong family unit. In my family, failure was fine. I never felt I had to do everything right. Every woman in every walk of life will have moments with kids, working, complicated relationships and feeling as though she's trying to do everything and failing. I thrive in those moments as they are the ones that help me to understand the "why" of that moment. Sometimes you have to fail and reflect to find real success and happiness. I don't regret any of the hard moments, the mistakes I made in business and my career and the lessons I learned from them. When someone has a joie de vivre, it encompasses the hardest, darkest moments as well as the most elated, happiest moments and when you can live that fully, I think you've lived a great life.
Are you a natural optimist?
I think I've inherited the optimistic gene from a very spiritual mother and finding my own spirituality has let the small stuff not bother me so much. People have issues in their life and you want to respect their issues and "stuff", but sometimes I want to go 'You're going to die. Do you really want to worry about this?' I don't want to get to the end of my life and think, wow, I spent a good 6 months being really annoyed about this person or really upset that I didn't get this job. I really want to live life in a way that doesn't sweat the small stuff.
What's been your secret to success?
Luck, loving what you do and hard work. I think that's been the case with my business career as well, though in creating a business, it's also been about authenticity which is different from acting where you're portraying someone else.
Kate Hudson. Talking all things Pretty Fun. Copyright: 2018 Business Chicks
You were one of the early supporters of the "TimesUp" movement and it'd be great to know more about your thoughts on this.
It started out being about the women in our industry and the experiences we've all had. It was about giving support to a much larger issue. That was the main focus of the group of women in Hollywood. Not so much 'it's all about us' but more about every field where women are being harassed or abused. It's the right time for this dialogue to happen. What's been amazing is that women finally feel able to discuss this openly and not worry that they're going to be damned for talking about an experience that has traumatised them, or having fear of losing their job for coming forward. It's about how women support women and now more than ever it's important for women to feel part of a community where we can support each other and not compete against each other. It's not just about harassment, it's an overall story of the presence of women, not being put in a corner, the pay gap, domestic abuse or otherwise. It's that moment where we say we've had enough and we want to encourage men to raise their consciousness and meet us on a different level. In using my platform and voice, I struggle with that sometimes. I don't like standing on a soap box or using my platform to do that. What makes me happy is to spread love, not to get political attention. There are things that I am particularly passionate about that I'll speak up on. I'm not an activist, I'm a feminist – I have a lot of strong beliefs about certain things but I've chosen not to be an activist. If I'm going to really get behind something and be an activist, people will know about it.
Tell us about your Fabletics business.
Fabletics is an "athleisure" brand which is more about lifestyle than performance. I wanted to create products that would work for everyone, not just athletes. We're a digitally native company but four years into business, we have 22 retail stores across America. Membership is optional and right now we have about 1.4m members. What membership allows us to do is to gather data and through an algorithm, understand our customers so that everything we do can be more custom fit to them. We also have a great work environment with over 600 employees. I had no experience with tech jargon but my acting experience helped me to understand budgets, growth, a formula that works for the audience, something that resonates with people. I wanted to make a product focused on quality but still hit all different body shapes and something that would be inclusive of everyone. What was challenging was the quick success and moving fast enough to supply the demand. There were things, mistakes that happened along the way, but we didn't let them get out of hand and got on top of everything and made it successful.
Where did that time go?
It would've been easy to keep talking but Kate has places to go and people to see on a very tight schedule (and she needs to get some time in at Bondi Beach while she's here). It was clear from the moment Kate stepped into room that she's friendly, fun and very genuine and is definitely a girl's girl, living her life with intention and generosity towards others. Her book, Pretty Fun, is a reflection of who she is and reading it warms the heart and encourages us all to embrace the importance of "gathering" - whether with family, friends, colleagues or even strangers - and being thankful for the opportunity to be part of a community.
Grab a copy of Pretty Fun at your nearest bookstore and head straight to page 121 for some Easter celebration ideas. It's also the perfect gift for Mother's Day with stories of motherhood and the traditions that mothers pass on to their children and future generations.
With thanks to Business Chicks for the opportunity to lunch with Kate Hudson.