Boss Lady: Kate Hersch

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we chat with Kate Hersch, founder of August Morgan, an amazing line of hand-embroidered linen cocktail napkins. Kate shares with us what it means to empower women to live positive and organized lifestyles along with advice for future #bossladies.

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1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career.
I live in Austin, Texas and am a wife to Robert and mother to Lily and Gus. I generally work from the morning after drop off at school until 4 when it is time to pick kids up and begin the evening routine of dinner, homework, sports, etc.

As a family we love to travel and eat. You will never starve in the Hersch household!

I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BFA in Art History. After graduation I went to work at Sotheby’s in New York. I was in the Bid Department in Client Services. I was the person on the phone bidding for clients in the salesroom.

At Sotheby’s my friend introduced me to needlepoint. I was hooked. I never get on a plane with a piece of needlework. Unbeknownst to me, needlepoint would kick start another career…..

2. What prompted you to start August Morgan?
When I moved to back Austin I would frequently go to thrift stores and see old needlepoint pillows. I knew the amount of work that went into them I decided to “rescue” the needlepoints.

I then began August Morgan as a pillow company. I took vintage needlework and had them remade into a new pillow with a canvas back, invisible zipper, and down insert. The pillows were modern with a tip of the hat to the past. They were sold in stores across the US, in Barneys NY and on Anthropologie’s website. I loved creating these, but they were time consuming and produced a small profit for a lot of work.

I then came up with four designs for embroidered cocktail napkins, and now we have over 40 designs. The napkins, like the pillows, were traditional with a twist.
Now I have my clothing line that is like my pillows and cocktail napkins; traditional with a touch of whimsy.

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3. You (semi) recently added clothing to your product assortment. Do you find that more challenging to sell/work with on an e-commerce platform?
I actually think it is easier to sell clothing than cocktail napkins online. There are some serious e-shoppers out there!

4. How do you make August Morgan stand out against competitors?
I don’t worry about competitors, but I do fiercely protect my own designs. My cocktail napkins are constantly being copied and I have a great lawyer. We send out cease and desist letters a few times a month. This is expensive but worth it to me. I won’t let anyone take the glory for my hard work and creativity.

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5. What has been August Morgan’s most successful form of marketing? (In terms of obtaining new customers)
Finding Instagram tastemakers to promote my dresses.

6. When it comes to building your brand, what is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?
Not to be trendy, as that is not my personal style and it should not reflect my company. To be true to my vision and taste.

7. Where do you hope to see the company in 5 years?
More clothing and more fun. A broader lifestyle company.

8. What inspires you and fuels your creativity?
Watching other women create, succeed and work hard.

9. What advice do you have for those looking to go from employee to entrepreneur?
Just do it. Do not care what anyone else thinks and says if you want it bad enough.

10. Who is a #BossLady that inspires you and why?
I admire Aerin Lauder for her personal style and how it is reflected in her beautiful products.

Just for fun…

Your happy place is: My annual winter trip to Jamaica with my family and two other families.
The one item you can’t live without it: my dogs! Golden Retrievers are the best!
Favorite Instagram account to follow: @awkwardfamilyphotos
The last show you binge-watched: The Crown
Cocktail of choice: Vodka soda with a lime. Preferably Stoli. I’m old!
Song you could dance all day to: This week it’s Wish I Knew You by The Revivalists
Trend you wish would disappear: Active wear when one is not exercising. Let’s leave that at the gym and dress for the day.

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Local Love: Nfuse

Two sisters, Ann Ahl and Emily Zollinger, discovered the benefits of Magnesium on a family vacation and set out to create a way to add it into their daily routines. Ann’s husband Peter had been working with magnesium his whole life and shared its health benefits but how it was a relatively unknown mineral. So they decided to try it out. “We started taking magnesium ourselves and felt revitalized, but oral supplements had downsides,” said Ann, which led to experimenting with alternatives. On a trip to Ecuador, Ann and Emily learned that milk of magnesia is used as a deodorant. Magnesia reduces stress, relaxes muscles, protects the heart, improves sleep, AND combats body odor? “The result was no smell and smooth, beautiful-looking skin” Ann told us. And who does not want that?

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After years of research and experimenting, nfuse™ launched into the natural deodorant market, but with a completely new approach or ‘a deodorant done different’. nfuse™ is free of toxins like aluminum, parabens, and phythalates, which all have the potential to be harmful. Instead, nfuse™ is full magnesium, a nutrient over 50% of Americans are deficient in. Each use delivers about 300mg of magnesium to your highly permeable underarms. nfuse™ is “a deodorant that fuels our body with an essential mineral that is critical to the active, healthy, lifestyle we try to lead”.

Since the official launch in June of 2016, nfuse™ Deodorant has taken over the Mid-Atlantic region, appearing in retailers like Whole Foods and MOM’s Organic Markets and independent boutiques, gyms, and stores. Locally, nfuse™ is sold at Houppette (in Greenville, DE and Kennett Square, PA) and at Janssen’s Market. As for future plans, Ann Ahl says, “The sky’s the limit for nfuse™…people love this ‘deodorant done different’ and we plan to add new scents and other products that deliver magnesium and solve everyday problems.” We can’t wait to see what nfuse™ does next!

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Client Spotlight: Motivate the First State

We are so excited to be working with Motivate the First State and the Keeping Up With Jack challenge!

Motivate The First State launched in 2015, with the help of Delaware Governor Jack Markell. The program urges users to lead a healthy lifestyle while also helping Delaware non-profits. Motivate the First State uses the Plus3 platform, an app that tracks activity while also creating a community of likeminded individuals. Users log their physical activities (walking, biking, running, etc.) and their healthy habits (eating, water intake, laughter, etc.) All of these actions cumulate to ‘kudos’ that are converted to monetary donations to charities!

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A year later, in 2016, the movement grew with more participants, sponsors and non-profit partners. Individuals get the choice of which charity they want their activity points to count towards. Currently, you can donate your dollars to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware, Special Olympics, Urban Promise, YMCA, JCC, The Fellowship Of Christian Athletes, and Young Life.

Now two years later, Jack Markell is keeping the momentum going and logging himself! This summer he left from the Oregon coast and is in route to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware all while underneath the banner Motivate The First State. Jack will be riding his bicycle 3,680 miles across the country with every pedal allocated to Delaware nonprofits. Jack Markell shared his goals, “My goal is twofold; to motivate the citizens of our state to get active and lead healthier lives, and to bring much needed funds and resources to these great Delaware organizations.”

While we all cannot necessarily bike 3,680 miles we can follow Jack along the way and even Join the Action! We all need motivation to get off the couch and get moving to live healthier lifestyles. Start small and work your way up to 3,680 miles. Now stop looking for excuses and start today, join the community!

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Boss Lady: Sarah Zero

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we chat with Sarah Zero, founder of Wellstruck, a Delaware based brand design company. Sarah shares with us what it means to empower women to live positive and organized lifestyles along with advice for future #bossladies.

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1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career.

I’m based in Delaware, where I live with my husband and pup (#SmallsPup — yes, she totally has her own hashtag). Lately we’re into day trips near home, sitting at the bar when we go out to eat, and binging on Master of None.

I have a degree in Visual Communications and over 10 years of professional branding experience. I’ve worked in-house at a brand department at a large corporation; on a small team at a boutique agency that specialized in nonprofit branding; and even as adjunct faculty, teaching Visual Communications at the college level.

That led me to found Wellstruck, a brand design company. I love branding because it helps entrepreneurs get clarity, confidence, and credibility. It’s rewarding to connect business owners to clients who truly value their expertise.

2. What is a typical work day like?

I spend my mornings at my local coffee shop, Brew HaHa! I get there around 8, order a large green tea, open up my laptop, and knock out all of the frogs on my to-do list. By the time I leave the coffee shop around 11, I feel like I’ve already had a super productive day.

Then I head home, take the pup for a short walk, and watch mindless TV while I make myself lunch. I’m a big believer in recharging to maximize productivity.

I schedule client calls for the afternoon (from my home office), along with any intense creative work that requires my big monitor or lots of desk space. When my husband gets home around 5, that’s my cue to wrap up work. I check back on my to-do list and set my priorities for the next day, then close my laptop around 6.

3. What was your inspiration behind starting Wellstruck?

I have always wanted to own my own business, even before I knew what I wanted to study in college. After falling in love with the world of branding, I was even more interested in starting my own business because of the lack of women-owned branding agencies out there. Branding is a very male-dominant industry that glorifies working insanely long hours — I want to play a role in changing that up. I believe I can do great work without sacrificing everything else in my life.

4. What has been your most successful form of marketing for the company?

Our most successful form of marketing has been Wellstruck Lady Boss. I founded Wellstruck Lady Boss in 2014, and have hosted these intimate monthly gatherings for women business owners since. It started as a passion project inspired by my genuine desire to build a community with real relationships. I think the fact that we don’t think of it as a marketing effort is exactly why it has been so successful. Genuine relationships take time, but they’re worth it for many reasons.

5. What advice would you give to women who aspire to be entrepreneurs?

You will never start with a finished product. Get over it and get started! The sooner you start, the sooner you can iterate. Iteration is how you perfect.

6. What are your favorite roles to play in the company?

I love when a client sees her potential from our perspective. There’s always a moment — sometimes it’s when we finish defining her brand; sometimes it’s closer to the end when everything is more refined. When it happens — ooh! Goosebumps every time!

7. Where do you hope to see the company in 5 years?

I want Wellstruck to be known, and I’m interested in growing it from a lifestyle business (that depends mostly on me) to a legacy business (that depends more on my methods). Right now I have solid methods formed, and I’m figuring out how to systemize as much of it as possible without sacrificing any of the goodness that comes from one-on-one client experience. I’m excited to eventually add smart, talented designers to the team and teach them the methods!

8. Who is a #bosslady that inspires you?

Allegra and Rasa from Birchtree Catering! They are strong, smart, hard-working, and damn good at what they do. I look up to them more than they know!

Photography by Brittney Raine

 

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