We had the good fortune of connecting with Karen Roberts and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Karen, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Prior to 2020, I just went hard from the time my feet hit the floor until I gassed out about midnight. This year brought in to focus the extreme need for balance in these areas due to the effects of the pandemic and justice issues we’ve confronted this summer. It’s an interesting dynamic since on the one hand as an entrepreneur, I expect to be grinding it out (daily) to get Hautebutch out there, it’s imperative that I keep myself as mentally and spiritually fit in order to be effective and enjoy what I’m creating. I’ve incorporated a few things to assist me in that quest, for example – I’ll work on Hautebutch tasks for 2 hours, take a break to play with my cat Molly, make a fun phone call and then back to the grind. After the next couple hours work, I may do some work on our tiny house we’re building. All of it, including my work brings me joy! The calls, pings etc continue but I leave my gadgets in a different room while I take those few minutes.
I meditate, workout, weekly acupuncture is a must, I laugh a lot and make attempts to truly connect with people versus grinding 12-14 hours, it takes a toll on the creative process, to say the least!
When I first began this practice, I felt guilty as though I was taking time away from the company- this was old thinking. I find that it has helped my state of balance and actually allows me to be more productive overall and yet maintain a sense of self. When I’m content within as a result of self care, I’m better able to meet the day, much more focused and creative versus muscling through it.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I design clothing for and manage Hautebutch. I started designing before I had any idea how to run a queer clothing brand. I’m both happy and proud that I was able to teach myself though reading, asking questions and applying those teachings to a point where we actually created a line of clothing that had never before existed. While my way wasn’t the easiest way to go about it and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else, it was my unique journey and experience. The challenges were and have always been capital but that’s not a surprise for a black woman owned business! Additionally, it’s been quite the hurdle sourcing factories that will give us fair prices. I’ve learned that no matter how passionate you are about your brand, about targeting the problem your business solves-and bringing it to the world…. building community, assembling a great team and obtaining the funding you need to see it through is key. I want the world to know that while we have encountered challenges we have also seen what is possible. We deeply love serving our community and being a part of advancing the queer agenda.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would take them to a few of my fave eating spots- Stark restaurants, couple of spa trips and out to the ocean.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to two folx! When we started Hautebutch, I worked on my first prototype with Sara Rothan. She is an incredible garment engineer and teacher. I learned so much from Sara, she guided me throughout the production process and was a great friend to me. Ryann Sessa, our social media rockstar! There were days this summer when I couldn’t find my voice and Ryann carried us through, lifted my spirits and encouraged me tremendously – I’m so appreciative that they joined our team! Ryann is an amazing individual and an incredible writer. We owe a great deal of gratitude to Vish Lalwani of M&M and Ryan Whittenburg of Tshirt Underground, 2 of our awesome suppliers for their support over the years, we couldn’t do any of this without them. Also want to salute Nik Kacy for such loving support and collaboration!
Grace Villafuerte James Alexander