“Done is better than perfect: We allowed ourselves to be paralyzed so much in the beginning because we thought we had to have the $10k website, or the perfect style post, or the perfect instagram. Perfectionism paralyzes, while excellence activates. I learned that I can strive for excellence and still get something out there even if it’s not perfect. If I wait for perfect, I’ll never get it out there.”
I had the pleasure to interview Kat Harris, Co-Founder of the online magazine The Refined Woman, host of The Refined Collective Podcast and panelist for MoxxieMade’s inaugural Supper Series event on June 26th. Kat is a “Texas girl living in Brooklyn” who loves dance parties, craft cocktails, and sauces of every kind. Whether you’re best friends or strangers on the subway, you’ll learn quickly that Kat is passionate about God, family, yoga, adventure, Beyonce, Justin Bieber, and women knowing their worth. Everything Kat does — writing, speaking, hosting events, photography, — gives Kat the opportunity to share her message: You are worthy, your voice matters, and you belong here!
Kat’s past clients include: Brunello Cucinelli, Carolina Herrera, BHLDN, Anthropologie, Free People, Free People Movement, Lululemon, Soul Cycle, Propel Magazine, Darling Magazine, Lauren Scruggs Kennedy, Krystal Bick, Nick Onken, Anne Klein, Tata Harper, The Giving Keys, AYR, Breather, Boro Hotel, The Williamsburg Hotel, Sincerely Jules, Freda Salvador, Negative Underwear, Chinae Alexander, NARs, Yoga Vida, Conscious Magazine, Oh So Glam, The College Prepster, Luxe30, Jupiter Jewelry. Kat has hosted events and workshops with: Brunello Cucinelli, Anthropologie, Free People, Soul Cycle, and more
Thank you so much for joining us! What is your “backstory”?
I’m a Texas girl with a Bible degree. I graduated college and left two weeks later to work for a non-profit doing advocacy for child soldiers in Northern Uganda. I lived out of a van for a few months, made $7 a day, and learned there that all people are creative — it’s just figuring out what it is that lights you up! For me, I discovered it was photography. After the non-profit world, I somehow met and convinced one of the most successful photographers in the nation to hire me with zero experience (I don’t know if you believe in God, but it was like this divine moment). Working for the photographer changed everything. From not knowing how to turn on a camera to four years later starting my own photography business and moving to NYC to pursue editorial photography — my life has taken so many turns. In the midst of that, I started The Refined Woman — a style blog for working women — which has evolved to be a space for women to share their stories. It’s become a bigger passion than I could have every imagined. I can look back and see a similar thread through all of it: my passion to empower women to embrace their value, worth and identity — whether through public speaking, brand strategy, photography, or writing. I want to be a voice of hope and courage to any woman that my path crosses.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you launched “The Refined Woman”?
● Oh gosh — where do I begin? We come from humble and scrappy beginnings. Two weeks after launching The Refined Woman as a style blog (almost 6 years ago!), my business partner at the time Emily and I booked a ticket to New York City for Fashion Week. At the time we had a poorly made Tumblr, maybe 200 instagram followers, and thrown together business cards, and that’s about it. We were both photographers, and I had shot runway before so we went to New York Fashion Week with no invites or contacts, and snuck our way into every show that week. We ran around New York in the sleet and snow having no idea what the hell we were doing, but we hustled our butts off. We ended up getting backstage at most of the shows, and meeting/shooting everyone from Bill Cunningham to Karlie Kloss to Jenna Lyons (one of my style icons) to Garancé Doré. We were EXHAUSTED, and I could never go at that pace anymore — but I think that early hustle and fire within us got us where we’re at today.
What do you think makes “The Refined Woman” stand out? Please share a story.
● What makes The Refined Woman different is that I’m not afraid to share the in-between messy moments of my life. I tell my story how it is: from a place of not having it all together, and oftentimes saying “I’m struggling right now” or, “I feel alone right now — does anyone else resonate?” I may not have it figured all out — I don’t think I ever will — but I’ve learned that I can invite others along on the journey with me. You might think that when I share my fears, limiting beliefs and insecurities, I’ll experience shame or rejection — but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Instead, I’m met with a crowd of brilliant but real humans saying, ‘Oh my gosh — you too?! I thought I was the only one”. Once I take off that back-breaking ‘Super Woman cape’ of having it all together all of the time; it gives others that same permission to be where they are at, too — in process and imperfect.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
● There are so many people who have supported and continue to support me, so it’s hard to say just one. One of my dear friends Tutti believed in me before I ever believed in myself. When I was struggling with anxiety and could hardly get out of bed she would get her computer and sit next to me as I was curled up in my bed unable to talk. She has taught me how to be more gracious, and how to practice self-care, and this girl reminds me of what’s true when all I want to do is run and hide behind the lies of my insecurities.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
● Ooooh….YES!!!! Oh my gosh, I’m soooo excited about a secret project I’m currently working on. I can’t say much about it now, but it does have to do with my personal story on being a 30-something virgin in New York City in 2018 navigating the dating scene. Do I have some stories for y’all!!! I cannot wait to share more soon. And I also have a new podcast, The Refined Collective — we just finished our first season. It’s been so much fun interviewing some of my heroes and talking about everything from race and diversity to sex to anxiety to running a business and much, much more!
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
● My vision is to empower women to embrace their beauty, identity and value through storytelling. Everything I do — whether speaking, writing, content creation, brand strategy, photography, etc. — is a vehicle for my message. I can only hope and pray that by sharing my own story and experiences — my own heartaches, fumbles and failures, as well as my wins — other women will feel empowered and encouraged, and be able to do the things that feel they were created to do and be a voice of hope and light to others!
Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
● The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I think I’ve read it at least 10 times. It’s all about what makes an artist a professional vs. an ametuer. He believes that to be the artist that we need to be, we must be disciplined and show up every day — regardless if we feel inspired. If we wait for inspiration to strike, it may never show. However, if we show up faithfully each day, and hone in on our craft — out of the small baby steps taken each day — great things can happen.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company,” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
● 1. Treat it like a thing before it’s a thing: when I started TRW; it was just a style blog with one of my girlfriends. It was sort of on a whim, and we didn’t have a ton of money so we piecemealed it together. It took us a few years to realize that other people/brands weren’t taking us seriously because we weren’t taking ourselves seriously, and we weren’t growing because we were treating it like it was a silly blog. Once we shifted and started taking our brand seriously and began to truly invest in the business, things really began to pick up!
● 2. Running a business with your friend is HARD!: I currently am CEO of TRW, but I initially had a business partner. We were good friends, and to be fair people did warn us that running a business with a friend is hard,but we didn’t really know why. I wish people would have given us more tangible advice, like create a terms of agreement from the beginning, and get ready to talk about money and uncomfortable things all the time.
● 3. Along those lines, I wish someone would’ve told us to have clear cut job descriptions and expectations. One of the hardest things was that we kept disappointing each other because we didn’t have clear goals.
● 4. Done is better than perfect: We allowed ourselves to be paralyzed so much in the beginning because we thought we had to have the $10k website, or the perfect style post, or the perfect instagram. Perfectionism paralyzes, while excellence activates. I learned that I can strive for excellence and still get something out there even if it’s not perfect. If I wait for perfect, I’ll never get it out there.
● 5. Practice Balance from Day 1: In the beginning I was pulling 80 hour work weeks because I was running a photography business and also trying to balance TRW. I was willing to do anything and everything for the job. Two years ago my health shut down. I was experiencing a ton of health problems, and debilitating anxiety attacks. It really forced me to pause and reevaluate my lifestyle. I now have weekly rhythms that help me stay balanced like I don’t check my social or email before 9:00a.m., I pray and meditate 5 days a week, I work out 5 times a week, I eat three meals a day, and , I have one day a week where I do zero work. Those may seem like little things, but it took me a long time to create that rhythm.
How did you get involved with MoxxieMade?
The girls reached out to me to speak at their June 26th event on living courageously. I feel incredible honored!
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world who you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Absolutely. Beyoncé hands down. She is such an innovator. As an artist and business person she constantly pushes the boundaries — whether she’s dropping a surprise album with no launch lead up, or creating a compelling visual album going through the different stages of grief — she always takes risks and does things that other artists haven’t done before. She is vulnerable, and unafraid to invite others into her story, and has taken massive risks for the sake of her own personal growth, i.e. letting her dad go as her manager. She is feminine, sexy, and powerful, and nurturing. Everything she creates has a story, message, and deeper sense of purpose that she is inviting others into, and I don’t think she’ll ever settle with the status quo. For this reason, and so many more, I would just love to have a meal with her and get to know her story more… She has inspired me so much.
Originally published at medium.com