We had the good fortune of connecting with Kali Kirkland and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kali, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think I’ve always been a risktaker. For most of my early-mid 20’s, it was unknowingly. I don’t think I realized I was taking risks that would turn into these life-changing rewards. But, when I took these risks, it was always with the best of intentions. Moving to New York at 17 years old, dropping out of college to start a very low paying job – even if it wasn’t what I wanted yet, were all calculated decisions driven by my desire for freedom or need for change, or simply because I felt called to do it.
My career in hospitality came to an end in the Fall of 2019 when I decided to launch my own business. What was supposed to be an events business, quickly turned into a design and branding business. I booked my first client, a friend of mine for $500. Then another referral came in, and I booked another for $500. I was introduced to a friend who agreed to coach me through this first part of business building in exchange for a website. That was singlehandedly the best investment that I made in myself at the time because it allowed me to look at the personal aspects, and limits I had around being successful in business.
Within 2 months of the start of the New Year, and only 4 months in business I booked a retainer contract at $5k per month.
But as we all know, a pandemic ensued, and with a 2 week trip to Bali planned for mid-march, I had some major risky decisions to make. I decided to dissolve the contract that was “safe”, due to misalignment in the ways we worked together – and took a flight out of JFK airport to Bali a day before all the airports shut down.
It was the best decision I could have made for myself. I spent 15 months learning, failing, and relearning how to actually build a business that was sustainable, learn about personal development, and just become a better all-around human.
After my time in Bali, I decided to come back to the states. Feeling like that was the better decision, as I really believe once you get stagnant somewhere it’s time to move.
Learning to trust my intuition has been a game-changer for me. Since I’ve been back I’ve started 2 more businesses beyond my branding & website design business. A crystal/bracelet online boutique called Divine Souls and an affordable athleisure line called Cheeks Athletic.
What should our readers know about your business?
What’s crazy cool is I now have 3 businesses under my belt.
The first is my baby Ane and Arther Studios. This is my branding and website design business, where I primarily work with established female-founded brands and new female-founded companies. Formerly, Kali Kirkland Creative, I changed the name to Ane and Arther Studios after a panic attack 😂 in the jungle of Bali. I was way too attached to the business and I felt like I was losing my identity. The names Ane and Arther came to mind, and I quickly realized that those could be a sort of alias for me. The feminine and the masculine energies of my business. So that’s exactly what it is, Ane is the feminine, and Arther is the masculine which bridges the business to be able to operate inflow. I’m able to take a step back and appreciate what I created without the feeling of overwhelm.
A&A was probably the easiest business to start but the hardest to sustain, as it requires a ton of brainpower and a lot of hours spent designing. To actually grow the business I had to start to contract out work to developers and assistants.
One of the biggest challenges I faced was when I took too much work during the first year and ended up having to refund a client. Being able to come forward, apologize, own up for the mistake and make it right was really humbling. Your integrity and the way you communicate with your clients are mega important. That mistake taught me that life isn’t over with 1 unhappy client, it’s the knowledge you receive and what you are able to change and fix once you analyze what went wrong.
I am still learning and growing but I am proud to say that I’ve worked with an amazing group of women who are 6-8 figure entrepreneurs and have been featured in so many amazing top-tier fashion publications.
My two other businesses were born over the past 6 months.
I wanted a business that incorporated my spiritual practices, so my boyfriend and I decided to create a crystal jewelry company, called Divine Souls. I had never started a product-based business but had worked on others, so I had a bit of knowledge. I was also able to cut costs, as I did all the branding and web design house, and all the photography myself.
I wanted to create something that gave back, share my knowledge of personal development at a time when a lot of our world is suffering, and just let people feel like they can get past any pain with the help of kits that are for manifestation, self-love, etc.
And the newest business to the lineup is Cheeks Athletic! This one came from a dream, literally. My boyfriend woke up one morning and goes “ Hey, I had a dream to start an athletic line called Cheeks”. No other information, just that. I sat on the idea for a while, until I felt the inspiration to go all in.
Cheeks Athletic is an affordable athleisure line empowering women to look and feel their best in whatever they wear. I wanted it to be body positive. I wanted the clothes I sold to be monochromatic, trendy, but also super soft and comfortable.
This brand was so much easier to start because of everything I learned from Divine Souls.
I guess the main thing I want the world to know is that you really can do anything beyond what anyone tells you. Our brains and egos like to keep us safe. But if you don’t take the risks, whether it’s leaving the job that is soul-sucking, or starting the business even if you don’t know-how, you will literally never know – and who wants to have that regret.
I’m also going to debunk the myth that you need a ton of capital to start a new business. I am 100% self-funded, and I did not have thousands of dollars to start. It’s all possible you just have to believe in yourself!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I mean first and foremost I would have my girls spend as much time on the beach having picnics. I am such a beach girl, I love to surf so that would be a stop one.
I’m also a huge fan of Orange County and spent a lot of time in San Clemente with my aunt. I would definitely do a day trip with my friends there just to explore, eat, and drink.
Cafes and coffee shops are my favorites, as someone who primarily works from her laptop and hates to work at home. I would definitely recommend Urth Cafe in Downtown LA, Carrera Cafe, and Verve Coffee Roasters.
With my background in hotels, I love a good hotel bar, so BrokenShaker at the Freehand.
And then for cocktails, Death & Co., and Bathtub Gin. I’m big in the speakeasy vibe.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people who deserve recognition, and way to many to name here but they all know who they are!
Let’s start with my very first brand & web design client + and mentor now, Jocelyn Kelly Reid. She taught me so much about mindset, business, growth, and expansion at the bones of my business. She fully supported me and continues to do so to this day. She has not only been incredibly successful in her own business but has reached so many women to help them become successful personally and professionally.
Of course, my family for always loving and supporting me in my influx of crazy ideas and travels. My parents have always tried to help and support me within their means, even if they didn’t understand my decisions. I will forever have immense gratitude, love, and respect for them.
My partner Jamie, not only does he push me to continuously be my best self, but supports me in all my businesses. He’s the operations and brains behind things as I tend to get caught up in the creativity.
And an absolute game-changer of a book that I encourage anyone who feels stuck in business or life, Feel Free To Prosper by Marilyn Jenett.
Instagram: @aneandartherstudios, @kaliierinn