Kate Albrecht is the one-woman powerhouse behind Mr. Kate, a modern, chic lifestyle brand and jewelry line. Whether it’s vintage shopping, DIY home decor, or healthy recipes to impress everyone at your dinner party, Mr. Kate has advice and ideas – like a 20-something well-dressed Martha Stewart on a college budget. We are inspired by Kate’s energy and creativity, and her quest to push against the gender norms. She talked to us about starting her own business and overcoming the fear of loving her inner domestic goddess:
1. What woman, besides your mom or grandmother, do you find inspirational?
Wow, there are so many! I really admire the superwomen type women that are entrepreneurs and also mothers, they do it all! I know she is controversial for some, but I really respect Bethenny Frankel. I find her hilarious and totally love that she doesn’t apologize for her brash sense of humor. Many times men are praised for their outspokenness but I think Bethenny is a great example of an incredible entrepreneur, mother and funny chick! I mostly admire women who are unique and unapologetic about being themselves.
2. You are decidedly a lady, so why the “Mr.” in front of Kate?
The Mr. in front of the Kate really embodies so much about my brand. I have always been fascinated by gender ‘norms’ and consider myself a bit of a feminist… a very girly one! I am a career woman, who is also a domestic goddess, at least I strive to be both every day. I think that it challenges the gender norms to be both of those things and that is what Mr. Kate is all about, being whole. We all have a masculine and a feminine side to us and I think qualities that are attributed to both sexes are interchangeable. Just like I am a career woman, there are also guys out there that want to be stylish and live in a decorated home. I hope to inspire anyone, no matter who or what sex, to be who they want to be, and own it!
My logo being the mustache and beauty mark is a combination of two symbols that are traditionally masculine and feminine. Plus it’s quirky and funny and bottom line is, I want to inspire people to have fun in life! My jewelry line has many unisex pieces which, again, blur those pesky gender lines.
3. Mr. Kate is a lifestyle brand with an emphasis on style, vintage, DIY and cooking. How did your interests in these areas develop?
My business is an extension of my life. Really, it’s how I live my life, by being an active participant in all aspects that make our daily lives functional and rewarding. I’ve always used style to express myself, even when I was in junior high, wearing vinyl pants and cropped tops and blue lipstick. I am fortunate to have been encouraged by my parents to be unique and honor my creativity. Shopping vintage has always been exciting, it’s a way to always get something one-of-a-kind! In this economic climate, it’s also a way for people to decorate their homes and re-vamp their wardrobes on-the-cheap. The DIY ethos I apply to the entire Mr. Kate lifestyle – it’s about you being you, expressing yourself and Doing It Yourself! It’s so rewarding on so many levels to do a DIY project and have something to show for it that is completely of your own doing. I apply that to cooking too! Cooking for yourself and your loved ones, which can be quick and easy of course, is as rewarding as it is necessary. I am not a trained professional in a lot of these areas, just self taught, which I hope is inspirational to people as well. You are the only one that can be an expert on your own life
4. Tell us about your plan on redefining domesticity. Why is that important to you?
As I mentioned before, I was always irked by gender norms. Those things that were ‘expected’ of you because you were of a certain sex. Domesticity is one of those things that has always been attributed with females. I found myself trying to rebel against my desire to ‘keep house’ i.e. decorate my home, cook for my boyfriend, etc. I judged myself saying, “You only want to do these things because that’s what you’ve been taught by society and tradition!” But when I started coming up with the idea of Mr. Kate as a lifestyle brand, I gave myself a stern talking to. I decided that it’s okay to be ‘girly’ because I am also ambitious and smart. That it was naive and ignorant of me to judge anyone either way, whether you’re a stay-at-home mom OR dad or a career oriented person, etc. I know that I am capable of all of the above so I should just embrace it and make domesticity mean that: “I’m a smart chick, who can cook you a mean dinner AND be a self-made-millionaire”… millionaire is pending by the way. This idea works for guys as well who want their homes to be a reflection of who they are. It’s very Jungian really, we’re all striving to find the balance of the masculine and feminine archetypes.
5. Mr. Kate is also a jewelry line – which came first, the jewelry line or the lifestyle advice? With a background in art, how did you start designing jewelry?
My jewelry line came first because I started it as a small business to supplement my acting career at the time. About three years ago I realized that acting was too fleeting of a profession for me and the little work I was doing was not satisfying my creative ambitions. Thus, I decided to commit myself full time to Mr. Kate. I had always admired the business model that Martha Stewart had established so I’ve challenged myself to become the Martha Stewart of my generation.
Designing jewelry came easily to me after I took a jewelry making and metal-smithing class in college at Loyola Marymount University. I went on to take the advanced classes to understand my medium through and through, i.e. fabrication, wax casting, mold making, stone setting, etc. I think as an artist you have to know the capabilities of your medium in order to create. I then just started making jewelry pieces that I wanted to wear, and people liked them, so I kept going!
6. What’s your favorite piece that you’ve created?
Gosh, that’s tough! They are all my babies. I love this new collection that is coming out in April, it’s called Days Of Ore and it has some great pieces. But a favorite right now might be the Mr. Kate Logo Rosary because it’s my logo (mustache and beauty mark) on a stick, which reminds me of old opera glasses. It’s delicate and quirky at the same time!
7. Who do you want to work with?
Oprah! I’d love to pick her brain. I’d also love to work with Stella McCartney because I love her commitment to animal-friendly high fashion. For interior design, I’d love to work with Kelly Wearstler, her aesthetic is always surprising and delightful. I could go on and on, there are so many creative people out there!
8. What part of running your own business is the most challenging and do you dislike the most?
The most challenging part for me is editing myself. I obviously have a big creative appetite and running a lifestyle business means you inherently dabble in many topics, thus, the challenge for me is organizing my creativity. I’m not a very organized person because my brain is always jumping around so I have to force myself to commit to the business side of my business. The creativity is easy, the logistics are annoying but necessary. Fortunately now my boyfriend Joey Zehr is the president of my company and he’s very business oriented. I also have an operations manager, Kailea, who is very organized and has really neat handwriting… which I don’t!
9. Any advice for ladies who are just starting out in a career path similar to yours?
I would say the number one thing for any entrepreneur is work hard. Often you are the only person starting your small business so that means you must wear many hats and work longer than the normal 9 to 5 hours. The lucky thing is that you will probably like what you’re doing because you are working for yourself and for your ‘big idea.’ Set goals, be organized and continually check in with yourself and make sure that each step you’re taking is contributing to the big picture. Lastly, stay inspired and happy, it will take its toll on your creative endeavors if you are a big old stress case.
Check out the Mr. Kate website
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