We can all agree the the current political climate is iffy at best. But one of the amazing things to come out of such a trying time is the surge of women joining together to stand up and support one another when it’s needed most. I caught up with Kate Urich, founder of Wildess—a collection of handmade, feel good feminist fashion pieces that remind women how truly badass they really are, to talk about Wildess and the work she is doing and how Wildess came to be.
Kate is the definition of a stellar #LadyBoss and I had the chance to ask her 10 questions about being a badass entrepreneur boss bitch and following your dreams. She even dishes out some advice for those who may be thinking about starting their own business.
1. Tell me a bit about your background. Have you always been an artistic person? Did you start creating art as a child, or did your artistic side come later in life?
I'm so happy to see some new babes around here these days! 👯 I'm Kate, the HBIC at Wildess. I live in my beloved Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with my partner and our pit bull mix (@orchidtheballerbreed). I started my business to honor my deep love for badass women and making things with my hands. 👐🏻 When I'm not making feminist flair or writing my newsletter, I work as a digital marketing strategist for arts organizations. Although I've always been more of a city girl, I love taking time for myself hiking and camping in the PA wilderness. In fact, I'm en route to the Allegheny National Forest as I write this to unplug for the weekend. See you on the other side! 👋🏻
As a child, I was always drawing, building or making something. My mom taught me how to sew when I wanted an extravagant Halloween costume at about nine years old, and I explored that all through my teens. In my fragile middle school state, knowing how to sew and alter clothes was a huge deal, because I was between kids’ and women’s sizes and desperately wanted to look cool and different. I don’t know how cool it was, but I think I was the only eighth-grader wearing dresses of her own creation.
2. Taking that first step in starting a business can be extremely hard. What was the driving force behind creating Wildess?
I started an iteration of Wildess, the handmade business, after graduating from college and being underemployed for some time. I was surrounded by a lot of creative women and wanted a way to support them and challenge myself, so I set about creating my first clothing line. It was extremely rewarding, and I loved dressing my badass friends, but that first version of the business didn’t have a clear point of view. Wildess really started when I decided to fully lean in to the feminist messaging I was too scared to use at first, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the community that has responded to this.
3. How do you market your business? Has social media made a big impact on the growth of your business?
Social media, particularly Instagram, has been the driving force behind my business’ growth. Wildess is still a scrappy little business, and I really don’t have much of an advertising budget. I’m a marketing professional by trade, and I do my best to put out consistent messaging and use what I’ve learned from day jobs to market Wildess. I’m lucky to have some amazing and generous close supporters that spread the word in person as well.
4. What goals do you have for your business moving forward? How do you go about setting goals for yourself? Are you a list maker,or are you more of a go with the flow goal setter?
I have big dreams for Wildess! My favorite thing to come from this business is a small, but close community of badass women from all over the country. I’d love to find a way to bring those women together more, both online and in real life. In terms of setting goals for myself, I like to set aside time for introspection and see what my intuition wants for me. I work backwards from there by making extensive lists in my planner and using spreadsheets to track my progress.
5. Let’s take a second to talk about your workspace. You definitely have a pinterest-esq work space setup and we’re totally in love with. How did you go about creating a workspace that is conducive to creativity?
#marchmeetthemaker day 3: workspace 👑 I started my first (failed) business in my mom's basement, and Wildess had humble beginnings in my studio apartment. When my partner and I found this place, it had an extra room just for me. I'm obsessed! ✨ It gets the best sunlight in the apartment, which means my dog loves to keep me company while I work. ❤️ #livingthedream
I was super lucky to find an apartment with a whole extra room just for my studio space. After starting Wildess in a corner of a studio apartment, this was a huge deal. My studio is the place where all of my boldest pieces live. My partner is fantastic, but he’s not a big fan of having a multiple feminist posters hanging in our living room. The studio feels 100% unapologetically like just me. That may sound narcissistic, but I find that having it this way encourages total creative freedom and makes me feel like I can just about accomplish anything.
6. You write a feminist newsletter called Feel Good Feminism. What is your favorite part about producing the newsletter?
Do you know about #feelgoodfeminism? Every week, I send the queens on my list a feminist pep talk and news about boss bitches in the arts, writing, science, and business/politics. 👯 We get more than enough negativity going through life as women. I try my best to keep my words to you positive and productive. 💌 Sign up at bit.ly/feelgoodfeminism ✨
Feel Good Feminism is as much for me as it is for my readers. As the name implies, I only include links and stories of good news, specifically about women doing incredible things. Compiling the stories to include is such a delightful break from the usual news cycle. And, of course, the women that read the newsletter are just the best. It was following the 2016 election that I realized how special it was. I felt so strongly that I needed to say something to that community of women, and I was really honest about how I was feeling. I got so many messages from women who said they needed to hear that, and it made me feel so much better knowing that women from all over had each other to lean on.
7. At Her Track, we’re all about lifting up and empowering women from all walks of life. All of your pieces that you sell embody similar messaging. In your opinion, what is the best way women can support other women?
I think it’s so important to simply listen to and believe other women’s experiences, even when they are very different from your own. There are so many patriarchal systems in place to try to keep women from becoming too loud or too powerful, and we all need to recognize that while we may not all want the same things, supporting each other in achieving all kinds of things makes it easier for other women to do the same. I’m not planning to be a parent, but you can bet I’m going to push for better parental leave and childcare policies because that’s important for so many other women. When one woman wins, we all do.
8. Where do you pull the inspiration for your designs? What has been your favorite piece that you’ve created?
Currently, my products are all based on feminist mantras. I love things that are just bold enough to get knowing smiles from other women, but are subtle enough to feel comfortable toting around on the daily. I keep an ear open for words or phrases that fit those requirements wherever I go. My personal favorite has to be the “Bitch in Bloom” clutch, because it combines my love of reclaiming words for ourselves with my deep desire to be a true plant lady.
9. There are so many amazing women who are out there in the world standing up for women everywhere. If you could have dinner with just one inspirational woman, who would it be and why?
This is such a hard question! There are obviously so many women that I would love to just exist in the vicinity of. Just one, though? Janelle Monae. Her music guided me through my own feminist awakening, and again through my intersectional feminist awakening. I would love to know how she got the confidence to dream up and execute a multi-album, science fiction, hip hop opera. Talk about walking in your f*cking vision! I’m getting all worked up just thinking about it.
10. Do you have any advice to give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?
Niche. It. Down. If you think you’ve figured out your niche, narrow it down even further. You’ll never be able to please everyone, so don’t even try. Make something that you’re intensely proud of and be unapologetic about your values every step of the way.
No idea is too small. If you’ve got an idea run with it. Something great may be just around the corner. And even better, your local girl gang is always going to be there to support you.
Be sure to check out some HT’s favorite picks from Wildess:
We love all the products at Wildess and love Kate!
(feature image photo credit goes to Libbie Schaffner)