We had the good fortune of connecting with Katie Richards and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katie, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Throughout my life as a serial entrepreneur, a lot has changed over the years in regards to work life balance. The main reason for this is because my responsibilities in life have changed over the years. When I started my first company in Chicago during college, I was young, could work around the clock, stay up endless hours innovating, working, growing my business. I had little to be responsible for other than myself. I had a full schedule of classes which I strategically setup on Tuesdays and Thursdays only from early morning until late afternoon. This allowed me to have the other days to work on my business. Taking a big risk at the time to start a new business was not a big deal because I felt at that stage in my life, there was little to lose and a lot to gain. And when I have a vision, I have no quit in me. I have never been one to give up when times get tough, I adapt, evolve, and keep going. I knew from a young age that someday I wanted to be a mom and have a family of my own. I hoped one day I would be blessed with children. With this in mind, my end goal was to be able to work for myself, from anywhere, to have financial freedom, and achieve a positive work life balance that would allow me to be at home to raise children and be present in their lives. One business led to another as I always stayed open-minded to new opportunities along the way to help take me to the next level. Before meeting my husband and starting our family, I started a nutraceutical company, manufacturing and distributing natural health supplements to health retailers, large natural grocery chains, and healthcare professionals. I lived it all day, everyday for the first 4 years, working 16-18 hours, never turning it off, traveling, entertaining clients, attending conferences, and trade shows around the US. I had very little work life balance at this point in my life but it was a sacrifice for the big picture, my end goal. I continued to run and grow my company after getting married and welcoming our first little girl. I have to give credit to my husband for helping me achieve better work life balance. My comfort zone was to work, work, work but mostly because I loved what I was doing, to me, it didn’t feel like work at all. But he encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone a bit and add some balance in my life. And that I did as we traveled the world quite a bit in our early stages of dating. I remember thinking I couldn’t leave my company, there was too much to get done, no time for vacationing right now. It wasn’t until we were on vacation in beautiful Tulum, I remember laying in a hammock and I had no cell phone service. I thought I could either panic or give into the situation, take a deep breath, and relax. After returning from our short trip, not only was business right on track but I felt so refreshed and even more motivated getting back at it. Wow, a new perspective I had on work life balance and the importance of having it in my life. After getting married, we welcomed our first daughter into the world. Adjusting to being a new mom while running a business was exhausting and challenging but I am up for the challenge. Although trade shows and entertaining clients didn’t happen anymore with having a little one at home, I evolved and changed the way I did business. It worked and I continued to grow my company and put hours in while our little one slept. Becoming a mom gave me a whole new outlook on life and what is really important. All of a sudden, being present and not missing one moment with my little one was more important to me than working endless hours and financial success. So I learned to maximize my productivity during working hours and shut it down to take breaks and be with my little one. I’m not going to lie, it was challenging. I was reluctant to lessen my work load on what was my “work baby” for so many years, something I built from ground up. I was determined to have my successful career and be a full time stay at home mom too. I tried to continue at my usual pace, even taking our daughter to visit clients and do product drop offs with me. I truly had the best customers and cherished my relationships with them. But balancing work life got even more challenging after getting pregnant with our second child. I knew it was time to start a new chapter in life, have a new focus that was more in line with my motherhood role so I decided over the next 9 months, I would prepare to sell my company. Timing worked out perfectly and I concluded training the new owners less than a week before giving birth to our second daughter. It was so nice to be able to focus on a healthy delivery and adjusting to being a mother of two without stressing about sales, orders needing to be filled, where production was at, setting up marketing campaigns, all the things that were a part of my day to day for seven years. But about two months after bringing our daughter home, I missed running my own business. So, I needed to figure out what to do next. With my focus being on work life balance for a happier, healthier home life, I decided to center my next business venture around motherhood. Shortly after welcoming our second daughter, I published my first book called Kale and Kegels: Helping Women Experience a Healthier, Happier Motherhood. In conjunction, I utilized my background in fitness, health and nutrition to become a health and fitness consultant. This has given me the freedom to work when I want, from where I want, while keeping my main focus on my family. I would have never imagined the abundance of unconditional love I feel being a mom. I always heard it was a different kind of love, a greater love, but it was that and more. So, just twenty two months after welcoming our second daughter, we welcomed a third daughter. What a blessing all three girls are to our family. I have fully embraced motherhood, it is my life’s purpose, my why. And for the first time in my life, I can honestly say, I achieved my end goal of a strong family home life raising three little princesses. In case that isn’t a full time job in itself, about a year ago, my husband and I started a new business venture, a hip, beautiful, and spacious vacation rental in the heart of North Scottsdale. With over 20 five star reviews and Superhost status within our first year, we are having a blast running it together as a family and opening up our rental to people around the world who are looking to visit AZ. What I learned over the years about balance is that its importance, at least for me, changed with each stage of life. And in order to have true success in my opinion, not solely financial, but success as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter, sister, and friend, it is important to have balance in life. Balance is essential to staying healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally. My happiness in life increased when I discovered balance.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I take pride in all I do in life. Of all my accomplishments, I am most proud of being a mom to three amazing little girls. Besides being a full time stay at home mom to a 4 year old, 2 year old, and 5 month old, I continue to consult and promote my book Kale and Kegels: Helping Women Experience a Healthier, Happier Motherhood which is available through Amazon. I am certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Weight-loss Specialist, and Personal Trainer. My newest business venture over the past year is running our vacation rental, a hip, spacious and beautiful property in the heart of North Scottsdale. In addition, I am overseeing the building and development of two additional rental units. What I am doing now is most rewarding and I enjoy running these businesses from home with my husband and girls. I think it is so important to lead by example, showing them that one day, they too can be a mom and run a business of their own, be an entrepreneur. It is not always easy juggling everything but what gets us through the challenging or crazy times is a lot of laughter as a family. Whether I am raising our girls, writing a book, consulting someone about health, fitness or business, or running our vacation rental, I want the world to know that I care, that my heart is always in the right place, and I put 100% into everything I do. My journey to present day personally and professionally has not always been easy but all the challenges along the way got me to where I am today and honestly, I wouldn’t change one thing.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I absolutely love living in Arizona! Between the sunshine, amazing trails to hike, and so many yummy restaurants, it is truly the best. There is nowhere I would rather be than out in nature with my husband and three little girls which is where you can find us pretty much every weekend. Some favorite hikes with our three girls (4 yo, 2 yo, 5 mo) include Brown’s Ranch Trail, Marcus Landslide, and Gateway at McDowell Mountain. The rare chance we can get out for a hike without kids, our go-to for a great trail run includes Pinnacle Peak, Tom’s Thumb, and Gateway Loop. Whenever we have friends or family in town, we can easily tailor our outdoor activities to match their proper fitness level. But, if not out hiking or running, some other fun things to do around town include concerts at the MIM (Musical Instrument Museum), exploring Butterfly Wonderland or the Botanical Gardens, checking out the awesome Singh Meadows farmers market or boating on Bartlett Lake. For shopping, my two favorite spots are the Scottsdale Quarter and Kierland Commons. So many great stores, restaurants and beautiful outdoor areas. When it comes to dining out, I definitely have my favorite spots or handful of go-to restaurants. Once a week my husband and I get a babysitter for a couple hours so we can hit one of our favorite restaurants to enjoy some delicious food, relax, and talk without interruption. For breakfast, a place that never disappoints is Eggstasy of Scottsdale, both the Shea location or DC Ranch. You have to try the Roasted Veggie Skillet with the Jo P’s Protein Cakes and Chicken Sausage. Uh yummy! Oh and the portion is very large, definitely enough to share. For dinner, here are my picks: Sicilian Butcher (Turkey Meatballs & GF Pasta w/Arrabbiata Sauce), Local Bistro (Local Arugula Salad and Chicken w/Artichokes), Herb Box (Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash Enchiladas), True Food (Chicken Chopped Salad, Vegetable Crudités, Spaghetti Squash Casserole w/Ground Turkey…pretty much everything!), North Italia (Zucca Chips and Roasted Vegetable Salad), Pomo (GF Diavola Pizza and Mista Salad), Fat Ox (Table-Side Caesar, Any Small Plate Pasta…Yes, Please! and the 1/2 Chicken), The Mission (Caesar Salad and Chicken Tacos). Okay, I am a little bit of a foodie! Although 90% of the time I love to cook all our meals at home, I do look forward to date nights with the hubby.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I can thank many people throughout my life for their amazing support, love, and encouragement. I have been fortunate enough to have had some great mentors that helped challenge and shape me into the person and entrepreneur I am today. However, the person that comes to mind that has been very instrumental in my life and deserves a shoutout is my stepfather, Steve. From the moment he became a part of my life at the age of 5, he has had such a positive impact on me and continues to 28 years later. He has been unwavering in his support and encouragement through every new idea and business venture I shared with him over the years. From a young age, he taught me the importance of negotiating, investing, smoozing, and “saving your pennies” as he would often say. This was his way of teaching me how to be good with my money. He has always been my sounding board and although many times I am hoping he simply sees the same vision I do and will agree that something sounds like a good idea, he has a way of respectfully playing devil’s advocate to make sure I am thinking about it from all angles and have truly weighed out all the pros and cons. It is just what I need. When starting a new business or venture, I am not looking for someone to just tell me my ideas are great, I respect someone that can challenge me, teach me, or make me look at things a different way. Steve was not an entrepreneur himself but rather successfully climbed up the corporate ladder in Global Sales Management for 42 years. I am so grateful to have him in my life and want to truly thank him for all he has done for me over the years.
Other: My husband Grahame and I share a passion for everything health and fitness! We created GratieFIT in 2016, a health and fitness platform where we share our favorite healthy recipes, give fitness tips, and let people see a glimpse of how we stay active and healthy as a family. Website: GratieFIT.com Instagram: @gratiefit Facebook: facebook.com/gratiefit