Tiller’s founder, Kathleen Sheppard, sat down with Kate DeWitt to continue our Female Founders/Creators spotlight. Kate launched her podcast, Her Vision, in October of 2020 to feature visionary women aligning their personal & professional purpose. Kate aims to share these stories in order to empower & inspire women in all fields and backgrounds to realize their true potential and follow their passions.
Tiller: Tell us about yourself!
Kate: I’m 26 and originally from the Bay Area. I graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design but after graduation realized that it wasn’t my passion so I shifted my focus to Interior Design which had always been my dream growing up. After 3 years in the industry, I noticed my interests shifting a bit and that’s when I started to build my website Katie-D.com and my podcast, Her Vision. In my free time I enjoy running, yoga, reading, and journaling. I also always have a podcast on in the background (How I Built This with Guy Raz is one of my favs!) and I'm usually daydreaming about how I will design my future home a good portion of most days.
T: What sparked your interest in starting something of your own and what was the inspiration that led you to start Her Vision?
K: I have always been very drawn to entrepreneurial women who had interesting side projects but I wasn’t sure what that could look like for me. Then when Covid hit at the start of 2020, I suddenly felt all of this pent up creative energy that I didn’t know what to do with. I wanted to start something but I didn’t know what to start. After thinking about it, a blog seemed like a good jumping-off point so I started posting design-related content with no real plan. Then after a few months of posting, I realized that what I enjoyed most was the engagement with other creative people who I featured on the blog. That led me to start the Her Vision written series which has recently transitioned into the Her Vision podcast!
T: Tell us about Her Vision - when did you start the business and how did the process go?
K: Her Vision is a conversational platform for creative visionary women to share their stories. It started as a blog series where I reached out to women who I admired and asked them questions about their career journey so far. Each woman who I reached out to for the series was a reflection of what I wanted my career to look like one day. The process was really fun but the writing side of things proved to be a roadblock so I started brainstorming ideas for how I could continue the series in a more conversational and tangible way and that’s where the idea for the podcast started. I ended up booking 5-6 guests to really understand how to start a podcast. But having the guests locked in, really forced me to commit and figure out how to make it happen so in hindsight I’m glad that I went in blindly!
T: How were you able to launch and monetize your blog/podcast?
K: I spent a lot of time watching tutorials on YouTube before launching the podcast. I spent about 2 months developing my branding, finding the tone of the podcast, conducting practice interviews with my family, and researching the interview techniques of other podcasters. I record all of my interviews on Zoom, edit each episode in GarageBand, and use Anchor as my host platform and distributor. Anchor has also made it easy to include ads in my episodes which has been a great way to begin the process of monetizing.
T: What does your brand stand for? What is your inspiration and mission?
K: Her Vision is a platform for creative visionary women to share their stories and perspectives. I believe that talking to people and listening to different stories is so important for molding our life visions and/or carving out the path to get there. We can’t be something if we can’t see it and I hope that Her Vision will help women to start building their own vision or help them to fill in the gaps. I also want to encourage people to break away from what they feel is expected of them and start living the life that they dream about.
I have worked with a few different life coaches and they have all encouraged me to get really clear on what my vision is for my life. Through making vision boards and writing down where I saw myself in 5-10 years, I realized that my life was really in my hands and if I wanted this amazing life I wrote about then I had to go out there and make it happen. That concept of envisioning your most fulfilling life was definitely the inspiration behind the series.
T: What is the most difficult part of starting your own business?
K: The most difficult part has been embracing the slow burn that comes with starting something new. I tend to think in a very ‘big picture’ way and I can get very excited imagining what an idea could be one day. But of course, getting an idea off the ground can take months or even years. I’ve had to learn to get comfortable in this beginning stage because there’s a lot of necessary learning and growth.
T: What has been the most interesting/rewarding?
K: The most rewarding part has been the connections I’ve made with women across so many creative industries. I learn something new from each woman who I talk to and by the end of each conversation, I feel connected to them and their creative process. Another thing that’s been interested is the variety. I have a handful of questions that I ask all of my guests yet each interview is so different because the guest is answering from their unique perspective. I find that so fascinating and it really never gets old!
T: How have your previous experiences shaped Her Vision and what makes it so unique?
K: I’ve spent a lot of my life craving meaningful connections with other people, assuming that everyone around me didn't feel as disconnected as I did. I felt like I had things to say and opinions I wanted to discuss but I wasn’t finding those common interests with the people I was surrounding myself with. Her Vision was born from my desire to connect with like-minded creatives and create a friendly space for authentic conversation and storytelling. Through Her Vision, I’ve also discovered that I am definitely not the only one out there who has felt disconnected, which has made moving through life so much easier!
I think what makes Her Vision unique is the thought and intention that goes into each episode. It’s really important to me that each guest has a good experience during our interview and also when they listen back to the interview. I struggle a lot with perfectionism so when I first started interviewing people, I was constantly beating myself up after each conversation and only focusing on my mistakes. Now I start each interview telling my guest some form of, “I know this is a little nerve-racking so I’m embracing imperfection during our chat and I want to offer that to you too.” It instantly takes the pressure - for me and hopefully my guest too!
T: What is your exact role and what does a typical day look like for you?
K: Right now I work 3 days a week at an Interior Design firm and the other two days I work on the podcast and new side projects I’m developing. On my podcast days, I try not to confine myself to a specific schedule and always give myself time for computer breaks, fresh air, and maybe a little creativity if I’m feeling off that day. I’ve also learned that it’s important to set realistic goals for each day when you’re working for yourself so you don’t get burnt out. I usually give myself a manageable list of 3-4 things I’d like to accomplish that day and if I have the time and energy to do more, I will, but I try hard not to put pressure on myself. My usual tasks range from, potential guest outreach and correspondence, pre-interview zoom calls with guests to get a brief overview of their career before the real interview, interview prep and actually conducting the interviews, podcast editing (by far the most time-consuming!), and social media prep for each episode. Although I’m still very new to the solo entrepreneur world, I have found that my days are more successful when I create a loose structure and leave room for self-care.
T: What advice would you give other women about following a dream and starting something of their own?
K: My advice is to start paying attention to what lights you up and go after that. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in what other people want for us or what we think we ‘should’ be doing. But don’t let other people’s visions cloud your own - that’s something I’m still working on! I think it’s still important to listen to other people’s opinions but I try to extract the bits that are in line with my values and discard what isn’t. I’ve also found it really helpful to invest in career coaches and networking programs so I’m getting a variety of options and perspectives.
T: What has the process of transitioning out of your 9-5 been?
K: Transitioning out of my full-time role has been a positive experience and I feel really fortunate to have two days a week to focus my side projects. Covid gave me a lot of insight into what works for me and what doesn’t and before 2020, I reluctantly accepted that I would probably spend the majority of the career locked inside an office. But now I see that there are so many different ways to work and it’s all about finding what’s right for you. I’m still in the process of figuring out the right balance for me but with my current split schedule, I feel like I'm headed in the right direction.
T: What does the future hold for Her Vision? What are your goals and what's coming next?
K: I hope to continue growing the Her Vision brand organically and see how it wants to evolve! I’m looking forward to connecting with more inspiring women who are creating cool content and in the future, I hope to merge my passion for interiors with my newfound love for creative collaboration. A big goal of mine for 2021 is to leave California and move to the East Coast. I’ve spent my whole life living in the SF Bay Area and I’m ready to explore a new area of the world and hopefully gain some new perspectives too!
You can find Kate on Instagram at @hervisionpodcast and listen to the Her Vision podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts!