Many people ask me how I started my company. I think it all started when I was 6 years old going door to door asking people to buy things from me. I saw it as a game then, and I still see it as a game now, 39 years later. Back then I got to go camping or ice skating for free with my neighborhood friends, but I didn’t care about the prizes then, I cared about selling the most, and about winning. Now when I win, I get to take 9 months off in the year to travel and work on my projects.
When you are trying to figure out your passion, sometimes the clues show up at a really young age before anyone has a chance to tell you it’s a bad idea. Like my mom. She would say, “God damnit Katie….you want what you want when you want it!” But I think that intense drive to go after what I wanted helped me to make my dreams reality.
At 13, life was really messy at my house. My mom’s “best friend” lived with us, drank excessively and regularly beat us all up. I would retreat to work at the ice cream store. That’s when I learned that passion and enthusiasm could sell anything. My goal was the banana split, and anyone remotely confused with what they wanted got the ultra enthusiastic sales pitch. If they bought, I won. If they didn’t, I’d try again with the next customer. This worked out well for my boss Sal, who used to be a banker, but decided to quit his job, open an ice cream store, become a hippy, and go anti corporate America. He grew out his hair and beard so long he looked like Charles Manson. I liked him though, because in the evenings, he would let me do my homework at work while he moped the floors.
Pursuing your passion when you feel like you can’t pay the rent, feels like taking the nuts off your ice cream sunday because you are on a diet. But paying the rent from a job that makes you miserable is like never allowing yourself to have the ice cream in the first place. I know that practical people, like my partner, the data guy, will say. I’m a hippy dippy who lives in la la land, but come on people, we have to do what lights us up or we are going to die unsatisfied with the life we led, then wish we had done it all differently anyways.
When my “was-band” and I started Filosophy, I had NO CLUE about running a business. There was no business plan. I had no idea who my customer was, no place to sell a product and no idea what a product line was. All I knew was that travelling around the world and shopping at artisan markets lit me up and I wanted to start something that would have me doing more of what I loved and less of what I didn’t. By creating a company that sold artisan handicrafts from Thailand, I knew I would HAVE to return each year to buy more. Travelling and shopping artisan markets were built into the framework of this business, all things I love, and the selling part...well that’s just the cherry on top. And this is how Filosophy was born.