Katie Sands: “In order to feel good, you must do good”

For me, the most important part about being an influencer is having the power to influence — and I believe we should use that power to help others. It’s so important we all share a little bit of what we have with those around us, especially those in need. As a part of our series about stars who […]

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For me, the most important part about being an influencer is having the power to influence — and I believe we should use that power to help others. It’s so important we all share a little bit of what we have with those around us, especially those in need.

As a part of our series about stars who are making an important social impact, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Katie “HonestyKate” Sands.

Katie Sands (@HonestlyKate) is a multi-hyphenated “entrepreneur-ess” on the rise known for her trendsetting in fashion, beauty, and health + wellness. As an Amazon Live Style Host and recognized lifestyle personality, Katie is highly sought after for her expert tips, including outfit inspo while on a budget, must-have product recommendations, daily routines for overall well-being, and advice for personal success. A master curator, Katie’s goal is to inspire global audiences in ways they can create the life of their dreams and find comfort in both body and mind to truly thrive.

Regarded as an authentic voice in her generation, Katieuplifts her engaged community of over 250,000+ for positive change and social connection. Philanthropy and advocacy are at the heart of everything Katie does. She firmly believes that in order to feel good, you must do good. Katie currently serves as the youngest board member of the Make a Wish Foundation and contributes as a Speaker/Host for UJA, WIZO, and the Sunrise Association.

Katie has made it her mission to center the importance of mental health awareness and charitable giving across her growing digital platform and brand. She prides herself on bringing her followers along for the raw and vulnerable journey in sharing her life’s work and challenges. Most recently, she broadcasted her weekly therapy sessions to cut the shame and stigma that many experience when seeking mental health support to highlight to her community that they are not alone in their struggles.

Her latest endeavor is a first of its kind partnership with Phat Buddha, a brand she wholeheartedly backs because of their philosophy. Together they have created the first-ever athleisure line made BY her followers, FOR her followers, from start to finish. The creation process was unique, as it all happened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Feeling like she wanted to connect with her followers during this tough time, Katie opened up the stage for them to design the line, empowering them to take part in the creation process strengthening her online community. Using IG polls Katie asked her followers and now “fellow creators” for their opinions and preferences on every single detail — down to the fabric type — to customize each piece to truly make wearers feel like they can accomplish anything in it. For example, one user has scoliosis — and requested a different cut for her pants — and so Katie saw to it that the pants were cut in such a way to ensure the most comfortable fit for her co-creator. Katie believes bodies can do amazing things. These clothes dress doers. She wants THEM to be sewn right into the fabric.

Not only is this the first time for Katie and Phat Buddha to follow a process of this kind, which puts Katie on the forefront as a designer for the future, but it stayed true to her mission — bringing people together when they felt isolated to form an online “creation” community, and making women feel comfortable about their bodies (with tailoring specifically for their needs). The three-part-capsule collections will drop in parts — first portion coming at the end of July, followed by the next drop early August, and the final drop in October just in time for the holidays. A percentage of Katie’s proceeds will go towards the JED foundation for mental health awareness.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I created Honestly Kate in 2017 as a platform I could use to reflect my journey as a young woman navigating the ins and outs of New York City. I started my blog as a side project during my second year at the William Esper Acting Conservatory. I knew so many people trying to pursue their dreams in the Big Apple — and let’s face it, they all wanted to look good whether on the subway, at a job interview, or just out for the night with close friends, because you never know who you may run into. From the beginning, it’s been my goal to inspire girls to curate their own futures and let them in on my fashion and beauty secrets along the way. The brand has since evolved into a full lifestyle brand.

What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?

I would say GO FOR IT! You never know where the connections you have created will take you. I have met the most incredible people and brands through starting my own. Sharing more of “my secret sauce” on a new series I started called Behind The Brand. www.iamhonestlykate.com/blog-adviseme/my-secret-sauce

Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?

My grandma taught me how to sew at a very young age. I’d beg her to take me to the garment district for fabric and then make myself clothing, pillows, and teddy bears out of it. Later, at my Quaker school, I rebelled against the dress code by adding my own fashionable flair to the uniform. I got in trouble, but it was worth it! Then, in college I decided to concentrate on costume design, which combined my love for theater with my fashion instincts. My grandma always encouraged me to go into design.

How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?

I believe that in order to feel good, you must do good. Philanthropy has always been a huge part of my life, and over the years I’ve recognized the power it has to completely change lives and make the world a better place. Last year, one of my main goals was to play a bigger role in charitable organizations. Since then, I’ve joined the board of Make a Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children diagnosed with critical illnesses. It’s important we give back to our communities, and to use all the power we have to influence others to do the same.

Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?

For me, the most important part about being an influencer is having the power to influence — and I believe we should use that power to help others. It’s so important we all share a little bit of what we have with those around us, especially those in need.

Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?

I try to use my platform as a way to promote philanthropy. I feel so lucky that I have been able to use my platform to connect so many like-minded people from all over the world with organizations that do such great things for those in need. I have had so many followers reach out thanking me for getting them involved and showing them how easy it can be to donate your time.

Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?

Get more involved in philanthropy. Once you find what you are passionate about, think of ways you can use that passion to give back to others. We are a generation that is extremely self-involved. It’s important to work on charitable efforts beyond ourselves, our friends, and family.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or an example for each.

Realize that success does not happen overnight. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and neither was a brand. Sure, some people may have quick, unexpected business successes throughout their careers, but that is extremely rare. Building a brand takes dedication and hard work — it is not easy. Be prepared for the journey. You will have to work the hardest you ever have, especially if you’re building something from the ground up. Know that some days you will want to quit. Don’t — keep pushing. Growth is not linear, but it is worth it.

If you want something you have to ask for it — keep consistent when it comes to reaching out to brands that you’re interested in collaborating with. Brands will say no, and sometimes they won’t even respond, but keep reaching out. And don’t think you’re being annoying; persistence is not annoying; persistence means you are passionate. Just because somebody says no today doesn’t mean they won’t change their mind a few months down the line. Don’t let “no” defeat you.

NETWORK AND LISTEN — My second piece of advice is to get feedback from people you trust. Go to as many events and on as many coffee dates as possible so you can pick peoples brains and hear what they have to say. There will always be people who will come before you, and there will always be people who will come after you.

LEAVE YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR — never be afraid to ask your friends or other businesses to promote you. Think of it this way: you’re running a business, and leveraging your network is a vital part of growing that business. I actually used to leave my business cards in restaurant checks in hopes the restaurant or the server would follow my blog. There’s no shame in the hustle!

STAY TRUE TO YOU — Lastly, be sure to document as much as possible while still setting boundaries. It’s easy to get caught up in “needing” to post the perfect picture, but a lot of the time it’s more important for your audience to get a sense of who you really are and what your personality is like. So, don’t be afraid to share behind the scenes outtakes of your photoshoots, or moments when you’re being silly at home. Just make sure you set boundaries and take breaks from social media whenever you need to, because being healthy in the way you grow your business is key for its sustainability.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would start a philanthropy movement in the fashion and beauty space. I would try to get every brand I work with to team up with a philanthropy that fits their values. For example, my new capsule collection #HKXPB with Phat Buddha is donating a percentage of proceeds from sales to the JED Foundation, which is an incredible organization that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. The collection was inspired by my work with mental health awareness advocacy and getting out of your own head. It was important to me that we team up with a philanthropy that does the same.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?

I feel it’s important for creatives to understand that not everything they do needs to be completely original. In fact, almost nothing we do can be original, as we had to be influenced by something in order to come up with our ideas in the first place.

People love to talk about how the fashion and beauty industry is unconditionally saturated, but I strongly believe there is a place for everyone — and that authenticity should be celebrated over originality, as they are two different entities. Instead of trying to say something completely new, we should aim to say something in our own way. We should take what speaks to us and make that a pillar for what we base our creativity on.

If you think about it, is anything truly original? I remember having this conversation in college after reading Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and comparing it to She’s the Man (I majored in Theater, so I took a lot of literature classes). Essentially, they have the same plot — one is just a more modernized version of the other. Instead of seeking to be original, She’s the Man garnered influence from Twelfth Night and authentically portrayed the same characters and themes. If we shift our focus from “I need to create something new” to “why does this speak to me”, I think there are infinite possibilities of what we can conceptualize and create. For someone who works in fashion and beauty, I have been influenced by so many designers, stylists, movie stars, and fashion icons, that it feels almost impossible to create any sort of new style. But when I combine my influences into something that feels uniquely and authentically me, that’s when I feel like I’m doing my best work. That’s when my creativity soars.

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would LOVE to have breakfast with Jay Shetty. He has become such a positive influence in my world, especially as I navigate my own mental health awareness advocacy. He tells it like it is by de-stigmatizing social norms and mental illness

Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success!

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