THE LITTLE NEW ZEALAND CAMPING EMPIRE
THE ZEMPIRE STORY
Zempire® is the little New Zealand camping empire built by husband and wife team Richard and Sophie Knauf. From small beginnings, a dedication to smart design and “the last 10%” has seen this Kiwi company quietly build a global community of devoted fans.
New Zealand’s spectacular but often rugged mountains, forests, beaches, rivers and coasts are where we put our designs to the test. Down here at the bottom of the world, the fresh sea breezes, strong UV light and sometimes wild (the locals like to call it “invigorating”) weather are nature’s perfect testing ground. If they can stand up to these conditions, they can thrive anywhere in the world.
Strength and durability are essentials for any great outdoors product - but it’s the dedication to design that makes Zempire® something special. All Zempire® products are meticulously constructed for ease of use, packability, and extra comfort. Every detail is considered. What’s more, they look great and are fun to use.
It’s the little things that matter
Then there’s what we like to call “the last 10%”. These are the design features that elevate a product to something you’ll want to tell your friends about. It might be the way something packs down in lightning fast time, easy-pump “no arguments” air frames for quickly putting up tents, or glow in the dark zip pullers for those middle of the night bathroom visits. We’re continually testing new ideas, and it’s your feedback that keeps us striving to be even better.
Over the last 16 years, the Zempire® team are proud to have built a global network of like-minded distributors and inspired people worldwide to explore, roam and reconnect with a simpler way of life. Zempire® is now one of the fastest-growing camping brands in the world and can be found in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia and North America.
So, are you ready to join us in the great outdoors? Build your own little empire with our range of products designed for adventure seekers.
Zempire’s Richard Knauf, a Kiwi, grew up skiing and hiking in the rugged central North Island plateau. It’s a beautiful area known for its volcanos, waterfalls, thermal springs - and for being exceptionally hard on gear.
Exploring mountains and ski-fields across the globe later in life, Richard gained an appreciation for the way a well-designed piece of kit could elevate his outdoor experiences.
This passion for truly great gear led to a role in sales and product management for a national outdoor brand. When that company closed, there was only one thing for it. Take a leap and pour those customer insights and product knowledge into a new design-focused camping brand.
Armed with enthusiasm, designs and a spreadsheet, Richard headed to China. There he met Sophie, a manufacturing specialist for the outdoor industry. As they say, the rest is history (if history was made up of a heck of a lot of late nights, hard work and coffee.)
Today, the Zempire® team continue to be on the ground in China each year, working with trusted manufacturing partners and quality checking every single production run.
At our heart, Zempire® is a family business, with Richard and Sophie across every design decision. We’re so fortunate to be doing what we love – thanks for being a part of our journey!
MEET SOME OF OUR TEAM
Our fearless leader and designer extraordinaire. Richard's passion for the outdoors and desire to see more families outside enjoying it drives him to keep finding new ideas and new ways to make camping easier and more accessible. All the suggestions and feedback we receive, at his request, will end up on Richards desk and a part of the planning and consideration for the following season's range.
The real boss and the buffer between incredible ideas and making them happen! Sophie is our connection to our factories and the people that take our innovative designs and make them real! I guess you could call her the gatekeeper and quality controller. Both Richard and Sophie are often found in the factories pitching and putting any new product through the motions.
Ian qualified as a master baker and confectioner after 3 years as a chef before turning his hand to the outdoors industry. His career has spanned from working in the executive team at Ronhill Sports, Senior Director at Grangers and Brand Director of Sprayway before becoming Director of Zempire UK. Ian is an international athlete having represented Great Britain at Orienteering at both Junior and Senior level for 15 years. He loves the outdoors, particularly snowboarding, mountain biking and walking with his son and daughter.
Marcus’s extensive background in product development & his love of the outdoors gives him great insight into new technologies and designs behind our products. From a young age, he was always out wild camping in the woods, but the reality of having a young family means that he now spends most of his camping trips in large Zempire family tents rather than shelters in the woods! He strives to try as many different things as possible in life, in recent years canoeing & bushcraft.
Danny has built up a vast amount of experience from 23 years in the outdoors trade before joining the Zempire team. His passion and drive for Zempire is only outshone by the made-to-order high vis polo shirts you’ll find him wearing at our tradeshows & events across the UK. When he’s not out on the road selling – in his words “the best tents in the world” - he loves to travel, ride his motorbike around various parts of Europe & get out walking with friends & family.
Ate is the face of Zempire in Europe, currently working across the Netherlands, Germany and Austria! He has worked in the Camping and Outdoor industry since 2001 and has a great passion for travel, skiing and enjoys spending quality time with his friends and family!