Zeenat Wilkinson is a freelance stylist and the founder and creative director of digital publication SAUCE - a community-based, online lifestyle platform that celebrates diverse voices, sharing advice, inspiration and recommendations from noteworthy people of all backgrounds.
Covering topics across culture, style and beauty SAUCE engages in honest conversations that inspire thoughtful dialogue and reflection. Though sometimes serious in subject matter, each story is delivered in a way that feels accessible and considered.
We spent a morning with the ever-inspiring Zeenat to learn more about her personal style, instinctive approach to editorial curation and how brands can best use their reach to engage in authentic and important conversations.
Hi Zeenat! Can you tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your career journey?
After studying both fashion design and psychology, then spending some time working as a fashion stylist and editor in both London and Mumbai, I moved to New Zealand in 2012, after meeting my partner here. I worked in PR and a handful of local titles for the first few years. During that time, I had this realisation there was an enormous gap in the market for a publication that is accessible, relaxed, but still curated and luxurious. This led to the start and launch of Sauce in 2017.
What inspired you to start the platform?
Sauce was my response to the fact that women of colour and differently abled people just were not reflected in this broader media spectrum at the time in New Zealand - that was a huge driving force for starting Sauce. I also had plenty of experience from working in publishing, along with a ton of support from incredible creatives living in Auckland.
Can you talk us through your approach to storytelling, how does it inform the topics you choose to discuss?
We are extremely instinctive in our approach. There are no schedules or editorial calendars, Liam (editor @ Sauce) and I try to keep it extremely agile and that’s really where the magic happens (with any creative process for that matter). The organic and authentic way writers and contributors are willing to share a piece of themselves is a testament to the success of Sauce.
Zeenat wears the Harper Boilersuit in Antique White.
In what ways do you explore your own identity through SAUCE?
Sauce is raw and unapologetically honest and those qualities have always been a part of my personal ethos and identity. Perhaps it's the Sagittarius in me that doesn’t seem to have much of a filter? And in many ways our collective growth, identity and self-discovery has been an evolutionary process.
What conversations do you wish were more talked about, and how can brands engage in an authentic and constructive way?
Conversations around identity but also women and non-binary people’s reproductive and mental health is so important. We all need to be able openly speak about our failures just as much as we do our success and growth, and that’s something I would love to see brands do too.
What does your creative process look like?
My creative process is extremely intuitive. If I am inspired by an idea or a topic or person, I act on it right away. I am also big on writing things down and that helps me visual the process better.
Details of the Harper Boilersuit in Antique White.
Tell us about your workspace – how have you created a space that inspires creativity and motivation?
My current workspace is very practical. I have a huge screen that connects to my laptop so that I can see things nice and clear. I like having all my diaries close along, with a big bottle of water on my desk. Cleaning my desk the night before doubles my productivity so that’s something I am working on doing more and staying on top of it. I sometimes burn a sage and do a cleansing ritual to create a positive energy.
What does your work-from-home routine look like?
I still look after my nine-month-old baby and work simultaneously. I work when she naps and at night. I don’t have much of a life at the moment, but I LOVE being close to her and being able to spend as much time as possible with her so working from home will always be something I do so I can spend time with my family easily and walk my dog. I also work from Textile Lofts in Parnell when I can; it’s such a beautiful space and gives me a break from being home. I will have more of a work-life balance once she starts daycare too.
How would you describe your personal style?
Comfort is everything for me. If something is too tight or itchy (I don’t care if it’s Prada), I won’t wear it. I love natural colours and simple design.
This season, we’re embracing a timeless, versatile, and responsible wardrobe. Can you share with us your top 3 transitional essentials?
A boiler suit is great for cooler months ahead, easy to throw on a jacket on top if needed. I also love a good pair of high waisted jeans. Lastly, a soft jumper that feels like a warm hug.