We had the good fortune of connecting with Kate Micheaux and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kate, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
This is a great question, especially given the current climate where many of us have had to move our workspaces into our homes for the foreseeable future. When I first started in the workforce, I was a teenager and just trying to make as much money as I could, while still being able to hang out with my friends on the weekend. I think that was a pretty good balance at the time. I made money to be able to go out and spend it on a good time with my friends. As I shifted my mindset to be more career oriented over the last few years, and focused my finances on paying off my student loans, my life was definitely work heavy and socially lacking. I spent more time with my coworkers than I did my own family. Sometimes I would question why I was paying rent because I was basically living at the office. When I had time off, I didn’t know how to relax. I found myself checking my email all the time and feeling like at any moment I could be fired and my life would crumble because work had become my entire life. I was able to pay my loans off, but it was a very stressful time in my life and I felt like I didn’t have an outlet because I ate, slept and breathed work. Now that the world is different, we’ve all had to slow down a bit and put things into perspective. I’ve been able to start my own business and give my self a schedule that is a lot more manageable and realistic than some of my previous jobs. Now with that, I’ve had to designate office space in my home and separate it from my living space. When I’m at work, I’m in my office and when I’m not at work, I’m not focusing on my email or business plans, I’m just enjoying my home. I personally have spent a lot of time figuring out what’s important to me and mainly that comes down to my friends and family. I have found that I can always make more money, I can always buy more things, but time is the one thing I can’t get more of. If you think about it in business terms, there is a major demand for time and only a small supply, which makes it very valuable. I think about that every time I set aside time to do something. Whether I am working on my business, having a meal with my family or getting coffee with a friend, I try to value both my time and their time. I think that helps me to keep a healthy balance .
What should our readers know about your business?
My business is a faith-based, female owned and operated small business. And by small, I mean it’s 100% run and operated by me. I get to be the employee of the month every much, which is fun, but sometimes stressful because I can’t fire myself. One day I hope to expand, but for now I do everything from product design, to finances, to taking drink orders and everything in between. It has definitely been a shift for me as I come from the world of film and theater production, where everyone has a specific department and job that they do. I have had to overcome a huge learning curve that started pre-pandemic and then I took everything that I leaned, threw it out the window and started over once the month of March rolled around. I think I’ve done a pretty good job at adapting, making my business all online and making sure that everything is done with people’s health and safety in mind. It has been a very strange time to start a business. I know a lot of people who saw the pandemic as an opportunity to create an online business and prosper in these challenging times and I wish I could say that I had that foresight, but I just so happened to be starting a business and then the Covid wave hit, so it must have been fate. I think the major challenge for new entrepreneurs, pandemic times or not, is just knowing how to start. You get an idea for a business and you can see it in your head, but knowing how to actually implement that is a whole other beast on its own and it’s not something we really teach in school. I’m very blessed to be living in a time where most information is just a click away on the internet. I’ve been able to research and figure out what I needed to do to start my business. In addition to that, I’ve surrounded myself with some really great and knowledgeable people who have both helped to steer me in the right direction for my business, but who also hold me accountable to follow through on my actions. Some days that’s more challenging than others, especially in the era of binge watching, but businesses take work. If you don’t put in the work, then they just stay in your head as an idea and never come to fruition. Laziness is the enemy of brilliance. My whole goal in starting Armor Up, was to create clothing that inspired me. With so much negativity in the world, in a culture that feels like it is groomed to tear people down instead of build them up, I wanted to create a brand that put some positivity back out into the world. I wanted to be able to clothe myself in love and inspiration, to act as a shield as I faced my daily battles. My mission is what drives me to do everything possible to encourage people to live their best lives. I do that by creating products that inspire people to face their everyday battles head on. From the moment you wake up to the second you fall asleep and every moment in between, always be ready. Armor Up.
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.
This is a tough question! I think if we weren’t in pandemic times, I would want to show my best friend the diversity that exists in Southern California. I would spend one day in Big Bear on the slopes, just taking in the fresh air and cool powder. The next day I would probably head to Zuma to get an early morning hike in, then catch some waves on the beach before getting lunch at Ollie’s. We’d definitely have to cruise down PCH for a while before heading to Pasadena to get A’Float Sushi and maybe catching a movie. If we were hungry after the movie, we could hit up El Indio in the Valley because they are always open and have the most amazing burritos, especially at 2am. We’d have to be typical tourists and spend on day at Disneyland followed by one day at Universal Studios. We would have to go catch a Dodger game and eat Dodger dogs one day. Lastly, I’d love to take my bff to hangout in Downtown LA to spend the day. We could hang out in Little Toyoko, eat some ramen at Daikokuya, take a walk over to the Last Book Store and then maybe catch a show at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. I think if you put that all together, that’s a pretty good snapshot of Southern California to me.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to give a special shoutout to Yolando Mitchel-Brown and My Creative Space for pushing me to start my own business and showing me the ropes along the way. I’ve never learned so much in such a short amount of time, so for that I thank you! I’d also like to shoutout Dr. Letisha Hines for the love, support and for helping me maintain a healthy work life balance. And lastly I’d like to thank my family for the encouragement along the way.
(c) Armor Up, LLC 2020