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.

OUR ROOTS

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

RICHARD

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.

SOPHIE

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.

LIL

Our man on the street visiting our retailers, attending shows and helping to ensure everyone has access to the training and info they need to sell our products confidently. Lil is the hands-on connection between Zempire and those that you visit in retail stores, so he spends much of his time travelling. You will also recognise Lil's face in our product videos.  

RYAN

Ryan looks after our customer enquires, chances are if you send us a question the response will come from him. Ryan works with product development to ensure all specs and information are correct and for this reason is our team's go-to person for product questions also. He stars in many of our product videos so you will most likely recognise his face in these.

BRAD

Brad is our customer service legend dealing with all our spare parts and warranty requests. He organises our warehouse with meticulous care and can be found sometimes buried in a tent assessing or fixing it. Brad has an intimate understanding of our products and works closely with our retailers and customers to ensure our warranty process is as quick and pain-free as possible so everyone can get out camping again as quickly as possible.

JUSTINE

Using the information provided by the product team Justine creates opportunities to voice and distribute the knowledge and passion far and wide. From social media to website creation, brochures to online videos, partnerships to advertising she is always looking for new ways to share the Zempire story with the world and make sure everyone gets out camping in Zempire gear.

CONSTANZE

Constanze is our inhouse designer, so everything you see Zempire has more than likely passed through her creative mind. Product branding and packaging, brochures and flyers, videos and images, advertisements and more. She is often given rough ideas and raw content and somehow turns them into a glorious finished masterpiece. She is also known to be the one behind the camera, capturing the magic from the get-go.

CECILE

Without Cecile and her analysing, organising and logistics, we wouldn't have our products where we need them by the time we need them. Forecasting and ordering stock is a huge task, and often one that changes by the minute, not to mention managing the shipments and arrival dates. Cecile puts meaning to the saying 'many balls in the air', but she is an expert at juggling and getting them to land where needed.