We had the good fortune of connecting with Kat Bohn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kat, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
My thoughts on balance: Balance is a lifelong practice that goes hand in hand with self-discipline. To master balance, you must learn to be tremendously patient with yourself and your expectations of the world around you. Things will always go wrong. How you choose to react to those things will either throw your balance off or allow you to maintain it. The old cliché saying is so true; “the only constant in life is change”. In my own experience I’ve found that if you can train your mind to overcome the fear of change, then all aspects of life become a bit easier to process as they occur. In turn, you are more likely to achieve balance and feel gratitude.
I had very little guidance growing up. Life was turbulent and I was wild. I loved art, music, being outdoors, and I was not afraid to take risks. As soon as I was legally able to, I dropped out of high school, moved to Richmond, and went straight to community college to become a dental assistant. While I still had more than my fair share of fun, I learned early that I was the only person who could discipline myself and if I didn’t, then life could quickly unravel. I was often the “lame” friend that would go to bed early and was overly prepared for any situation.
I contribute a lot of those past struggles to my current success and ability to maintain somewhat of a healthy balance. Now here I am years later with a newborn baby, a house, a dog, a husband that I helped immigrate here only a few years ago, a full-time job, and 2 start-up businesses. It’s a lot! Sometimes I regret not starting my own business sooner. Maybe I’d be further along? However, it all comes back to balance, and I don’t think the balance of my own journey was ready until recent years.
A few things I do to keep my balance in check are planning, self-care, and practicing gratitude. I keep a fun vision board with long term goals & dreams so that they’re always on the forefront of my mind. Each weekend I make a to-do list for the upcoming week in which I re-prioritize as I check things off. Self-care can be any number of things: getting enough sleep, taking short breaks to “reset”, getting outdoors, stretching, breathing, traveling, etc. I believe it’s critical to sprinkle in self-care items throughout the week or else you risk falling victim to the overwhelm of life. Lastly, gratitude. I keep a gratitude journal where I write weird affirmations to myself and list things that I’m grateful for, or wishes for myself & others. Above ALL, remembering to be grateful for the ups & downs of life is the absolute key to balance & self-discipline. I am living proof!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Starting Chickpea was both exciting and terrifying. I had no idea where to begin! The idea first came to fruition while I was, quite literally, relieving myself in Guatemala 😀 using a competing brand of female urination device. I decided in that moment that I was going to create my own brand/version of the strange product that I liked so much. It would be more compact and eco-friendly than existing products on the market. I’d use the profits to live a life on the road and help others on a large scale. I had BIG ideas and felt like it would be so easy – an instant success. Fast-forward almost 4 years later; I’m just getting Chickpea off the ground and my travel dreams are on the backburner with a new baby, a career, and a landscaping business here in Virginia. I’m proud of my progress though and it’s cool to watch it transform organically.
It’s taken a lot of mistakes, research, and realizations to reach this point with Chickpea. Product development is like a giant puzzle and if you can just get started, the rest kind of falls into place. One of my greatest regrets was starting out with one of those A-Z invention companies. I’d heard horror stories, but like a fool I did it anyway, because I wanted quick results. Little did I know, it would hold me back in the long run. My advice to anyone developing a product is to figure out the steps on your own! It will save you a lot of money, keep you more involved in the process, and thus expand your knowledge far more than paying someone else to do it for you. Start by building a relationship with an intellectual property lawyer, and don’t be afraid to reach out to your local SCORE office or SBA to find a mentor. There are SO many resources available for serious individuals starting a business. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself. Keep trying, keep learning.
I’ve come a long way from just the idea phase, but I still have big hopes and dreams for Chickpea. What I’ve accomplished so far is just the foundation. I want Chickpea to be so much more than just a urination device: more products, philanthropic efforts, a network for like-minded, creative, individuals. Just recently, Chickpea began sponsoring @thurro_alexander’s live hiking & outdoors gameshow on Instagram which has been super fun! We’re also in the process of finally getting on Amazon! Fingers crossed it will be a year of growth for Chickpea.
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.
When I think of my city, Richmond, Virginia, I think of music, art, the river, and good food! Every section of town has hidden treasures. I’ll give you my idea of a week-long local showcase.
My personal favorite part of town, the Southside, is known (to me) for it’s amazing James River access points & trails, excellent flea markets, and authentic Latin food. We’d start the first day by hitting up Gallo Pinto Restaurant for breakfast. We’d see what’s new at the Jeff Davis Flea Market and swing through Sabrosita Bakery for a pastry on our way back. Then a quick tour of Riverside Drive where we’d land at Pony Pasture for a dip or a stroll. Last but not least, dinner at the Galley, topped off by a Nightingale Ice Cream Sandwich.
Breakfast on the Northside would definitely be at Stir Crazy. We could have a chill day at the Botanical Gardens or we could be adventurous and try off road go karting at G-Force. We’d head back to MacArthur Ave for dinner at The Mill. On the way out, we’d swing through Once Upon a Vine for a fun bottle of something bubbly before we head downtown to catch a show at the Camel, Broadberry, or Gallery 5. Hopefully Jouwala Collective would be playing somewhere.
Oddly, the view from the top of our City Hall building is quite spectacular (and free). Chef Mamusu’s African is, in my opinion, one of the best lunch spots around. She keeps the freshest hot bar in the world. However, there’s also an amazing deal at Lemon Indian Cuisine. Of course we’d have to find time for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Science Museum of VA. We could walk around pretty much anywhere in the city to get a good look at the incredible street art that has taken over the buildings. At night we could check out a cheap movie at the Byrd Theater in Carytown.
Bar & brewery hopping downtown is a must, if we can handle it. A short walk over the hanging foot bridge is Bell Isle for another outdoor adventure. Or the Capital Trail that stretches all the way to Williamsburg, following the James River. The East End is home to the Lily Pad Restaurant, right on the river at a small marina. As well as Nile, in historic Church Hill: the best Ethiopian food you’ll ever eat.
There is seriously way too much to fill just one week. There is a festival here on any given weekend (the Folk Festival, to name one of the best!), so many great thrift stores, history, beautiful views, talented musicians, amazing artists, and endless legendary restaurants.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There is a long list of people that have stepped in and out of my life, mentoring, encouraging, or commiserating along the way. I’m so thankful for them all! However, when I really try to pinpoint a specific influence, it all comes back to my 2 older brothers. We lost our parents young and my brothers are at least a decade older than me. If they hadn’t been who they are, then I wouldn’t have become who I am.
My oldest brother, who generally drives me bonkers, is the reason I have my current career as a Site Acquisition Specialist. He took a chance on me and, though I was skeptical at first, I have acquired knowledge, friendships, and valuable skills that I can carry with me to the end of my days. He barely made it through high school but has climbed the corporate ladder to the very tip-top. He is the epitome of self-discipline. We don’t always agree on things but I admire his success and he challenges me to become a better person, take on more responsibility, and be more accountable.
My other brother is almost the opposite. He’s more of a dreamer. He has several college degrees, he’s an avid traveler, an incredible artist & cook, and an empath (like me). He inspires me creatively and always supports my wild ideas. In 2016 I decided to get my passport at the very last moment and go with him to Nicaragua – my first international excursion. That was that trip that truly opened my mind and changed my life forever. Soon after, we traveled again together to Guatemala; the adventure that inspired me to start Chickpea.