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Kae Shibata

Female Founder Spotlight: Kae Shibata

5 March 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder

IWD Inspirational Female Founders Spotlight: Kae Shibata
IWD Inspirational Female Founders Spotlight: Kae Shibata

Kae Shibata, Founder of Cartografie, started out in East London studying fashion at university. A million miles away from food and cooking, which was what she always truly loved. After graduating, she eventually wound up working with Vivienne Westwood Couture, making wedding dresses of all things. It was a job she really enjoyed, but it was just that, a job. One day she decided to follow her heart, and her stomach, and walked into the kitchens of the Ritz. She managed to talk her way into a position in their pastry team. She started at the very bottom of the ladder and worked as hard as she could, to learn as much as she could, as quickly as she could. She was 26 at this point and all the other newbies were 16/17. It was a difficult few years! She eventually progressed to Sous Chef in 2018, which is part of the kitchen management team and a little bit later, left the Ritz to have her son, Rex. During lockdown 1.0, she decided it was time to go out alone and launched Cartografie Chocolate with her partner Sven (Hanson Britt) and friends of theirs, the world-class Studio Minerva design agency. Today they have their incredible chocolate studio on London City Island, which reminders her of the haute couture studios of high-end fashion. She makes all of the chocolate herself, by hand, in their studio, which is exactly as she wants it to be. 

Wh­at would you love to sh­are to encourage oth­er women to start th­eir own business?

I seem to have done all the things possible that people see as hurdles or blocks for women in their career. I’ve had a baby, I’ve changed career direction later on in life, I moved into a field I had no formal qualifications for and a field that is completely dominated by men. If you believe the negativity then this could put you off. But all I ever wanted to do was work in an area that I was truly passionate about. The desire to achieve a goal, for me far outweighs any pre-set idea of what success looks like. Yes, I’m scared of failure, but I’m not going to let that get in the way of running my life, and my business, in the way that I want.

What are your top 5 tips for en­trepreneurial success?

Take days off – the heavy weight of stress and exhaustion will 100% definitely stop you from being productive and doing your best. You need to factor in time to recoup and spend time with loved ones.

Take time to understand every aspect of your business. Website building, SEO, Logistics, Social Media, Packaging, Cooking, Baking, Internet connection, Plumbing, anything! Everything you could imagine will go wrong at some point, you need to know what to do in that situation! Trust me!

Surround yourself with successful people. I heard this one a few years ago but disregarded it as it didn’t make sense to me then. It wasn’t relevant to where I was in my life at that point. There is so much to learn from other peoples experiences, don’t be afraid to ask, be humble and take on all the advice that you can.

Get a great accountant. The last thing you need is money worries on top of trying to organise and run a business

Treat everyone in the way you would like to be treated if you were working for you.

Who are the 5 women who inspire you the most?


CJ Hendry

Chrissy Teigen

Dolly Parton

Rosa Parks 

All for different but quite obvious reasons!

What is your favourite saying/inspirational quote?

It’s not a quote, but something that I find inspirational is the word “Kuyashii”. Growing up in Tokyo, Japanese was my first language for many years, but I moved to England before I was a teenager so that slowly changed. I’ve always been faced with a wall of cynicism; whether that was because I’m a woman, because I looked different from other people, or because I ate traditional bento boxes for my lunch! Kuyashii is that emotional drive that I get for wanting to strive further and harder than people believe I can. It’s hard to describe but it’s an internal burning feeling which just forces me to do everything I can to make something a success when I’m told it can’t be done.