This week we caught up with Zara Dawson, owner of The Little Norfolk Cottage, and owner the Golden Ticket Company London, a property finding and concierge service for film companies and stars. Originally from Norfolk, Zara now splits the majority of her time between London and Los Angeles, but tries to get back to Norfolk as often as she can.
Good Morning Zara, we love following your stories on Instagram, tell us a little bit about yourself...
I left home in Norfolk at 16 to go to drama school. I was very lucky that I worked consistently for 10 years appearing in West End musicals, a soap, BBC dramas, films. I met my husband Lex when we were performing in the West End together in 2003! Once we decided to start a family, we had to go down the IVF route which you simply can’t do alongside shooting 18 hours a day, so I had to put it on the back burner for a bit. We then started our company Golden Ticket London which looks after actors and creatives in the entertainment industry whilst they’re shooting here in the UK. We started it as just the two of us from our dining table in South East London and 10 years later we have a team working both here and in Los Angeles.
What does a typical day look like for you?
We get up and out fairly early to drop Jax at preschool. My day will generally be spent looking round incredible homes with our clients! Anything from cool Notting Hill apartments to large £30m estates out of London. Once we’ve found the property which fits their brief, I’ll then start on the design and furnishing of it, working alongside them or the film studio to get their temporary home just as they want it, adding in private gyms & home cinemas if needed, working with our guest’s security team and figuring how we can keep them away from prying eyes during their stay! I’ll collect Jax from nursery, make sure we have some quality time together before dinner, bath and bed and then I’ll do some interiors shopping for the homes I’m designing. Each day is so different and it’s all a juggling act. I can be out and about with the biggest Hollywood A-lister in the morning and back at Jax’s football class in the afternoon! It’s a pretty crazy job but we love it.
It sounds like you lead an incredibly busy life! How do you adapt your everyday routine travelling between the US, London and Norfolk?
We work between two time zones - London & Los Angeles, it’s a real juggle but we make it work. We kind of have our own time zone - working throughout the day and then Lex will generally spend most evenings (after Jax is in bed) catching up with LA once they’re awake. We spend a few months a year in LA, and also try to get back to my family and our cottage in Norfolk as much as we can. It means we’re always on the go but it’s kind of the pace we’re now used to.
Your favourite Norfolk place and why?
Brancaster Beach as early as the tide allows! It’s just such a beautiful, peaceful spot and I feel worlds away from any stress sitting there!
What are your top 3 Norfolk recommendations for your Norfolk Cottage visitors?
The Crab Hut in Brancaster Staithe for the most incredible crab baguettes
Warehouse Antiques & Collectables in Setchey. A huge warehouse full of vintage and antique pieces - I never come out empty handed!
Wells & Walsingham Light Railway. I love nothing better on a summer’s day than to grab a cake from the cafe at the ‘station’ in Wells, hop aboard the mini steam train and ride through the Norfolk fields! So beautiful and a treat - with or without kids!
You not only have your cottage in Norfolk, but one in The Cotswolds too, tell us about that one and what made you choose that area?
We actually sold our Cotswolds cottage 2 days before lock down was announced! We’d had a sale agreed on a place in Primrose Hill which we were going to do as a holiday let, but the world had other plans! We hope, once this uncertainty has passed to get another property and do another ‘Little’ cottage somewhere. We bought the Cotswold cottage back in 2015 - just as we were starting IVF. We then had a huge renovation project 3 hours drive away and an extremely troublesome pregnancy to contend with. Luckily, both worked out ok! We chose the area because it was very close to both Soho Farmhouse & Daylesford. We’d had a site visit of Soho Farmhouse about 6 months before it opened and knew it was going to be very popular so we bought the cottage close so people could stay at the cottage yet use Farmhouse throughout the day. It worked perfectly and was a very busy ‘Little’ Cottage.
Where is your favourite place to escape to when you have a little down time?
We’ve found a secret little spot on the Kent coast we like to head to. It’s always deserted and is just beautiful. I can’t tell you the spot otherwise everyone will head there!
I have personally purchased a few of your beauty product recommendations from your Instagram account! Which are your top 3 all-time favourite products?
Nini Organics Halo cleansing oil is an absolute game changer
Balance Me Vit C Repair serum is incredible and leaves you with a real glow
Josh Rosebrook Vital Balm Cream. Not cheap but once you use it, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.
We absolutely love the décor of your cottage, where do you get your inspiration from?
I adore Soho House interiors - our friend Vicky was their design director and designed Farmhouse (as well as their Malibu and Barcelona houses - both of which I love), so I took lots of inspiration from her. I just love how every space looks lived in and cosy yet is so effortlessly stylish. Instagram is wonderful for inspiration too. I can and do spend hours scrolling on there.
Which are your favourite interior stores?
I love Zara Home for high street. My favourite place to buy vintage/antique pieces is either Sunbury or Ardingly antiques for eclectic one-off pieces. Oh and of course, eBay.
What's next for you? Do you have any goals for the next year or so?
Well we’re looking to move house plus Jax starts school in September! Work wise, we’re working on some great movies right now looking after some amazing actors so I just hope it keeps going from strength to strength. We’ve also started a private jet division of the company so that’ll keep us busy. Oh, and we’ll be heading back to Malibu at some point which is where we got married on the beach last August!
Just for fun, here’s a little speed round!
The mantra I live by is... BREATHE
My foolproof dinner party dish is... Chicken Fajitas!
The song that gets me up on the dance floor is... We Built This City by Starship
I am currently reading... Calm with the Very Hungry Caterpillar. Jax and I read this together, teaching children how to tap into their feelings and take a moment of calm.
My best ever holiday was... California last summer. A client gave us his Malibu Hills home for 6 weeks. We got married on Malibu beach and made the most incredible memories as a family. Priceless.
Zara, thank you so much for your time, it has been so good catching up, hearing all of your recommendations and how you manage to balance such a busy life. Your job sounds amazing – extremely hard work I am sure, but incredible! Good luck with the house move,and to little Jax for his first day at school in September - such an emotional day for a parent!