Why You Should Always Trust Your Gut
Name: Kayla Boehme
Current City: Seattle, WA
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Telling your family that you have set your sights on pursuing a life of creativity can be one of the biggest hurdles one can face. Well meaning parents may push us to pursue more traditional jobs all while shaking their heads in frustration, wondering what they sent you to college for. Friends start to forward job listings, you know, just in case. It is because they love you that they want safety and security for you, and a passion driven career doesn’t always equal money in the bank. However, when Kayla Boehme tried to plead with her family to ditch her creative ambitions and join the family biz, they didn’t meet her with open arms. Instead, they pushed her to listen to her inner voice and trust herself. This intuition and passion led her to open Pipe & Row, the Seattle based concept store that the locals can’t get enough of.
In a few sentences, please tell us about yourself:
Why is it so hard to talk about yourself? I’m 29 years old, an ice cream fanatic, fairly sarcastic and always have way too many projects goin’ on. I am a Seattle native who's been in the business of pursuing fashion girl dreams since she was 14 years old, starting out peddling handbags to friends. I graduated from Washington State University with an Apparel Design Degree. I lived in NY for three years and had a brief stint in LA. I have twin 5 year old niece and nephew Piper and Rowin for who the store is named after. [They] are my best friends. I actually have a second niece Wren, so I guess I will have to open up another store for her ;) I love being around inspiring people and inspiring others to pursue their business goals.
When did you decide to pursue your current career path?
I have always had an “itch” for fashion but tried very hard to pick an easier and more stable industry, however, I just couldn’t get myself away from it. Growing up in my parents’ craft stores I did the cashier, pricing, buying and even went to the candy shows (SCORE! as a kid, amirite?). Retail has simply been ingrained in me since as long as I can remember. My parents would always tell me about markups and buying and from a very young age they really listened to my opinion which helped give me confidence in the biz. I have always been enamored with people’s shopping habits, and the psychology behind that. After trying out many different jobs I knew I liked being creative, while still being very involved in the business and numbers side as well. To me, one does not make sense without the other. After years in the fashion industry I knew I had to either do something on my own or move on from the fashion industry. Even at 25 I was almost burnt out. Honestly, I tried so hard to move away from retail, but it is what I am good at, what I know, and although it may be hard to admit sometimes, it is what I love.
How did you go from idea to execution?
This is kind of a funny story. I was working for my family’s company for a few months- which was supposed to be temporary- and was actually really liking it. I decided to ask if they would have me full time. My brother, knowing deep down this is not truly what I was passionate about, told me yes but that I would need to give him 2 full years and hang up my creative profession. He suggested (and would not accept a final answer) to take four days to think about it before deciding. I was so gung ho on moving onto this “professional” career and to move into something stable, but of course the universe has other plans. That night I went to drinks with an old friend who asked for my help to facilitate a fashion event at his new restaurant. Right when he asked I was like “NO!! I just said I was moving on from this!”. What resulted was a 4 hour conversation about how I would waste my talents sitting at a desk and it just wouldn’t be the right fit for me as a person. As mentioned earlier, retail and clothing is what I love, it is what I’m good at and I love balancing creativity and business. After many tears and fighting it, I knew the right thing for me was to open a store.
Do you have a mentor?
My dad. He really trusts my opinion and perspective in business and I trust his. He had craft stores which is a completely different business in some ways, but he has a way of asking me questions where I can see a new perspective of outcomes and solutions. We will talk and I might come away with more questions, but he gets me out of a rut. I am not afraid to ask questions, but it is often difficult for me to know what question I need to ask and my dad helps to relay my thoughts back to me in a fresh way.
How does the city you live in influence your creativity?
A huge reason for opening the store was that there were hardly any stores that actually cater to the cool, modern, fashion loving Seattle customer. Ya, ya, I know many people wear North faces and don't have a lot of style, but there are so many people in Seattle with amazing style and a creative side. When I am [in the process of] buying, I hold something up and always think ‘where is she going?’. If an answer doesn’t jump out to me then I pass. For instance, there are a lot of sexy professional clothing, but I don't know any sexy, skin-showing lawyers, do you? Seattle is modern, simple, a little bold, versatile and comfortable and I try my best to compliment that and bring out people's’ best sides.
Has rejection ever affected your creative process?
For sure. I don’t think I could be successful without it. When everything's going great you aren’t forced to look at the deeper issues. My best work is when I am under pressure and/or sales are down.
Name 3 lessons you’ve learned from building your business:
- Trust your gut
- Know who your customer is and cater to them. If you have something for everyone, it works for no one.
- Take time for yourself. I am still learning how to do this. It is so hard to make my own mental health first. But if you don’t step away from your work, it cannot grow because you are not growing.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue the same career as you?
Figure out who your customer is, and what void you are filling in the marketplace. Financially plan for some failure. Stay true to who you are and what you want, but don’t be afraid to change your tactics. Find people who inspire you and keep them close to you.
What has been the pit and peak of your week so far?
Pit: Being so sick right before our busiest time of year!! So much for catch up.
Peak: Going to an amazing chef table dinner with of my best friends.
In your words, what does it mean to be a “creative”?
Re-imaging an idea into something others have not thought of or in a new perspective.
Top podcasts for creatives and why:
I am a podcast queen, but honestly listen to such a random assortment! This American life, More Perfect, My favorite Murder, Bodega Boys. But here a few that kind of relate more to the creatives out there:
Finish this sentence:
I want people to remember me as: A strong, inspiring, fun gal.