Boundaries. Is there such a thing? As we’re building our businesses, creating our personal brands, and sharing the good, bad, and *real* moments on social media, where is the line between our public and private lives anymore? We scrapped the interview questions for this episode in favor of an honest conversation with our guest, Kate Arends. She created the lifestyle brand Wit & Delight and what started as a personal project to get to know herself became a resource for her 3.3 million followers to feel less alone in the ups and downs of their journey through life.
She shares food, design, and travel, and publishes deeply personal essays to explore her journey through divorce, mental illness, and an undiagnosed learning disability. Through it all, Kate expertly crafted a deeply personal brand with a focus on her passions. I ask her about the whole process, how she creates boundaries while maintaining a brand that is so personal, and what she would do if she started over today… To hear the full discussion with Kate Arends, press play on the player above.
Opening Up about Her Personal Struggles
Kate stared Wit & Delight at 24-years old to share her passion for design — the blog was (and still is) filled with beautiful imagery, inspiring photos of interiors and fashion. But as Kate evolved and the brand grew, she realized she wasn’t totally in love with it anymore. Target came knocking and wanted to partner on a product line, and Kate knew she couldn’t walk away from Wit & Delight, but she had to find a new way to connect with the business she’d started. Kate recognized that in those 10 years, her life had improved so much because she spent time working on herself from the inside out. At 1 AM she sat down to write a post about her “Apartment of Firsts”, a personal post about her divorce, discovering an undiagnosed learning disability, diving into mental illness, and so many more topics that Kate felt she couldn’t keep to herself anymore, hoping that it would land with someone else who needed to hear it. Kate did the work herself, she processed her feelings and dug into her emotions first, and then she decided to share it online… This process is something she keeps going when posting on social media, too.
A Moment of Pause
I loved Kate’s view of creating boundaries for herself and her online presence, she said, “There’s a moment of pause that needs to happen between us and our phones, that I think we’ve lost as we see authenticity as a great way to connect. We need to make sure we have boundaries with ourselves first. That authenticity piece, if it’s about connecting with your audience and having a discussion around a topic, and it’s not going to affect you in the space that you hold for yourself, then go for it. But if you are feeling raw and soft and your ego is triggered, and one negative comment could put you into a ‘sneaky shame spiral’ it’s really important to give yourself time to heal.”
The Permission to Be Successful
“I still, to this day, apologize when people ask me what I do,” Kate said. She explained she still has to give herself pep talks to break out of the deep seated fear of being “too much” or making too much of a splash. Can you relate? Women often feel like we have to be agreeable and make sure everyone likes us, but Kate realized that the most important decisions she’s made with her business were ones that came from a place of NOT being agreeable or likeable. They came from standing up for herself in a way that no one else would or could. “You have permission to have big dreams and big goals and the only person’s opinion who matters is [yours].” When you start to feel yourself dimming your light, quieting who you are because of what society says you should be, remember that you have permission to be successful. OWN exactly who you are and what you want to do.
Starting from Scratch
In this episode, Kate and I dig into what we would do if we were starting our business from scratch TODAY. Kate shared incredible advice about starting with what she’s best at — creating connection. She’d start a podcast (and she’s in the process of launching on now) to continue to cultivate the connection and community that she’s so skilled at creating with her blog. For someone starting today, Kate says it’s best to find something that you can do and create and grow without draining yourself of energy. But sometimes (a lot of times) our businesses require things and tasks that we don’t necessarily love, but they need to get done. Kate’s advice? She structures her days and weeks around the things that are hard for her to do because she knows that once they’re done, she can do all the fun things that fill her with fire.
More from This Episode
Mental illness and entrepreneurship, the learning disability test results that both shocked and enlightened her, how she separates emotion from her work to grow from criticism, and so much more… This episode is a real, raw, and honest conversation with a woman who has gone through so much and is standing tall in a successful business today. Press play on the player above for the full interview and join our discussion on Instagram @goaldiggerpodcast.
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Photo by 2nd Truth