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Going Wild for Wildess

Jordyn Hronec, Copy Editor

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If you’ve been recently inspired to hop on board with the feminist train or you just really want some sunny optimism filling up your life and inbox, I highly recommend paying a visit to Pittsburgh resident and North Hills alum, Kate Urich’s, website, wildess.com. There, you’ll find information regarding Kate’s business, a place to subscribe to her weekly e-mailed newsletters, and her store, where you can purchase one of her hand-made, feminist-themed clutches. Kate’s success, being featured in articles by Buzzfeed, the Huffington Post, and Bustle, has not gone unnoticed, and it’s her success that makes one proud not only proud to be from Pittsburgh, but proud to be from North Hills.

Kate is succeeded here on the hilltop by her younger sister, Ellie Urich. And I found Kate’s instagram (@katewildess), which first introduced me to her business, through Ellie. Kate Wildess, as she goes by on her website, runs her shop on the side of working for arts organizations in Pittsburgh. A visit to her website will also tell you that she donates 20% of her profits to a different charity organization each month. This month, she’s donating to an organization that provides aid and supplies, specifically baby carriers, to fleeing refugees in Europe.

Personally, I’ve become super inspired by Kate’s success, as well as the cause that she so strongly advocates for. As a result, I decided to ask Kate a few questions about her experiences.

Q: How did you start your business and/or where did you draw the inspiration to start it?

A: I started the first iteration of my business about a year after graduating from college. I had a hard time finding a job in my field after school, and I had a lot of creative energy, so I decided to start selling the clothes I had been making for years. Luckily, I already had a sewing machine and a computer, so start-up costs were low. Eventually, I realized that it was super hard to sell clothes that fit lots of body types flawlessly via the Internet, so I switched to accessories.

Q: How long does it usually take to make the products you sell?

A: Depending on the product, I’ll typically spend 30 minutes to one hour cutting, painting, and constructing, with drying time in between.

Q: Where did you learn to create your products?

A: My mom taught me how to sew when I was about nine years old (thanks, Mom!). It started with making Halloween costumes, and evolved into making my own clothes as a teenager when I didn’t like (or didn’t fit) what was available in stores. When I got bored with following patterns and tutorials, I started drafting my own!

Q: How would you define the term ‘feminism’?

A: For me, feminism is all about choices. I believe that women should be able to make the choices that are best for them without societal pressure to conform to a certain mold or stay within certain limits.

Q: Do you ever face opposition or judgement from others regarding your feminist beliefs and how do you deal with it?

A: Sometimes! I’m lucky to be surrounded by a lot of people who generally agree with feminist ideas like equal pay for equal work, access to healthcare, etc. When I do come across judgement, I tend to choose my battles for the sake of my own mental health. Some people just are not open to a discussion.

Q: Do you have a personal favorite product that you sell?

A: I love all my products, and rotate through using all of them. The “Witch, Please” pouch is my current makeup/travel bag.

Q: How do you select the different monthly charities that you donate to?

A: I’m an intersectional feminist, which means I’m concerned with how issues of gender, race, sexuality, class, and ability interact with each other. I try to choose nonprofits that, together, approach all kinds of issues that affect women. Last month, my business supported a nonprofit environmental law group; this month, I’m donating to supply baby carriers to refugees.

Q: What are some ways people could incorporate the feminist cause into their daily lives?

A: 1. Vote with your dollars! Look into the companies that you spend money with – where and by whom are the products made? Are the materials ethically sourced? Who sees most of the profits? Try to shop from small or local businesses owned by women and ethnic minorities when you can.

  1. Listen to girls/women and non-binary folks when they tell you about their experiences. Believe them.

Q: What would you say to people who identify as any gender other than female who may feel hesitant about supporting feminism?

A: When feminism works, everybody wins. Think about it – if we close the wage gap and I make more money, that means more resources for my household and less pressure on my male partner to be the breadwinner. If women are able to choose if, when, and how they start a family, that means fewer children live in poverty or without familial support.

Q: If you could say one thing to anyone looking to start a business, what would it be?

A: You can’t please everyone, so don’t even try. No matter what your product is, it’s important to get very specific about who exactly it’s for. Otherwise it will resonate with nobody. It can be very scary to narrow down your audience like this, but it’s the only way to stand out.

Kate Wildess began her out-of-home business of making “feminist flair” in November of 2015. Since then, it has only grown. If you’re interested in getting your own girl-power inspired accessories, then I totally suggest hitting up Kate’s website (wildess.com). I would also take a moment to subscribe to her weekly newsletter, Feel Good Feminism, where she provides subscribers with encouragement, as well as information on specific influential women who are doing amazing things, of which Kate is definitely one!

(photos courtesy of wildess.com and @katewildess on Instagram)

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