I launched a special blog series to honor and champion other women in business. This is a companion service to a podcast that launched in 2020.
My intention is to share insights of lessons learned by businesswomen and also elevate their services to the greater community. The goal is to inform and inspire other women with ideas in order to empower them to grow their own business ventures.
Isabel Kateman is the owner of Striped Dog Creative. It is a web design and strategy firm serving clients in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and beyond.
- What is your business?
Striped Dog Creative – I’m a website designer who specializes in strategic websites. Essentially, I work with female service-based business owners and non-profits who have trouble streamlining all their information and explaining their services in a clear and concise way and I help them organize everything with their ideal consumer in mind. Then, I create an elegant and organized website for them.
- How many years have you been in business?
I’ve technically been in business over three years. This started as a side hustle when I was still working at an advertising agency job in NY. I’ve been doing it full-time for about a year.
- Why did you pick this trade in particular?
I have a background in digital marketing and strategy. This business initially started as a 360-degree marketing firm, but over time, I realized the parts I loved best were the web design and strategy. So about a year ago, right around the time I took the business full-time, I stopped offering all the other marketing services and focused on the website design and strategy portions. I can honestly say that I absolutely love what I do now.
- What are the top three reasons why a business owner should invest in your service/product?
A website is usually one of the first, if not the first touch point a potential client will have with your business so it’s always good to have a strong website that authentically shows off your personality. A lot of people think they can design their own website. It’s not rocket science, with enough time and patience, you can probably teach yourself one of the basic platforms. But knowing custom code, understanding the placement and layout of text and images, and making sure your copy is strong will take a lot of time. Trust me, it’s way easier to focus on your business and hire a professional to design your site. I focus not only on the design of your website but on the strategy as well. People buy based on emotion not logic. So if you’re not connecting emotionally with your potential consumers, they’re not going to want to work with you. People want to work with people they know, like, and trust. That’s what I do for my clients. I make sure your website is not only beautiful, but that it really shows off your personality and creates a positive feeling when people land on your website.
- If you could go back to your younger self, what kind of advice would you give yourself about your pursuit to create your own business?
You’re going to hear that you learn more from the failures than the successes and you’re going to roll your eyes and think it’s a bunch of BS. It’s not. Don’t be afraid to fail, be afraid of not learning from the failures and making the same mistakes twice.
- If you could go 5 years in the future, what do you think your future self would share with you?
Running a business is hard and that’s okay. If it was easy, everyone would do it. Stop being so hard on yourself, take little moments to appreciate yourself, and enjoy the journey.
- Who influenced you – professionally?
I’ve had so many influences! I don’t just have one answer here. There are so many women in business that are killing it. I try to soak up as much advice and information as I can, especially through podcasts. I love Marie Forleo, Kristin Kaplan, Courtney Chaal, and Paige Brunton.
- When was your moment of realizing, “you know what, I got this!”?
Haha can I say I have that moment multiple times a day and also I never have that moment? I feel like being an entrepreneur means as soon as you do an embarrassing dance feeling like you’re at the top of the world something comes up that you never thought of or didn’t expect. I oscillate between patting myself on the back and needing a margarita about seven times a day.
- How do you keep your momentum going to keep a healthy pace as a business owner?
I’ll definitely let you know when I achieve that. I often wake up in the middle of the night to jot a note down on my phone or have to force myself to literally turn off email so I can enjoy a weekend. Some weeks are better than others. I think unfortunately COVID has made this even harder because usually I’d take a few real vacations each year, with email auto responses and places where I don’t get cell service. But the past year hasn’t had those so it hasn’t been as balanced as it usually is.
- How do you celebrate your wins?
Usually by going out for a meal with my husband or my friends – I love Thai food, sushi, and ice cream. Sometimes I also create goals if there’s something I want but don’t absolutely need for my business. The last thing was wireless headphones. I told myself once I booked a certain number of clients in the quarter I could buy myself wireless headphones. It was a great motivator and they were totally worth the splurge!
- What advice would you share with someone who is thinking about, or just beginning, managing their own business?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. In my previous business, I completely had analysis paralysis. I was so worried about making sure things were perfect before I put them out into the universe that I wasted too much time and didn’t get enough done. I poured over blog posts and Instagram captions for days before hitting send; it was a total waste of time. Again, we learn more from the failures…
- What surprised you the most as a business owner?
How emotionally difficult it is. As a solopreneur, especially in the era of COVID now, you’re completely alone. There are lots of other female solopreneurs but no one will understand your unique struggle. All of the decisions are on you, all the work is on you, it’s just yours. Going it alone was a tough decision for me, but ultimately, I’m really glad I persevered. The flip side is all the wins are 100% yours too!
- How do you describe your entrepreneurial spirit?
Ha I don’t know how to answer this question. Intense, type A, recovering perfectionist, positive.
- How do you feel about the word ambition?
I think it’s everything. You need so much ambition if you’re going to go out on your own and start a business. Ambition and a really thick skin.
- Are you more of a every little bit counts kind of person or an all-or-nothing kind of person?
I’m working on being more of a little bit counts kind of person. But I’m definitely more of an all-or-nothing person. I’m really hard on myself and I tend to hold everyone, including myself, to really high standards. But I’m working on appreciating the little things and being more grateful.
- Using a scale of 1 (scaredy cat) and 10 (super brave) as far as taking risks, where would you put yourself?
In business, I’m probably like an eight. I really just push myself and go for it. I figure if I fail, then I’ll learn something. And if I succeed, then I’ll be glad I did it. In real life, I’m a 2. Bungee jumping, skydiving, swimming with sharks, these are all things I’ll avoid at all costs.
- How much time do you devote to professional development/learning each week or month?
A lot. I’m in a mastermind/group coaching program right now that meets weekly. I listen to podcasts whenever I can and go to networking events weekly where people present on educational topics.
- Any suggestions on resources: books, podcasts, online learning, blogs + tools?
See #7 – I listen to podcasts from other female business owners.
- What is your personal / professional vision?
My goal is to be able to help women in business at all stages. I’m starting to put together a class to teach new business owners what to put on their website, how to strategically connect with potential clients, and how to learn Squarespace. I’m currently working on tailoring my 1:1 service for business owners who have been in business for a few years and need help strategically streamlining their services and effectively communicating them to potential clients.
- What question did I not ask you and should have?
My favorite dog breed – West Highland Terriers
- Five things to know about you:
- My first language was Hebrew and I was completely fluent in it until about age six, but I don’t remember any of it.
- I am extremely Type A and organized and genuinely find it fun to rearrange rooms, reorganize kitchen cabinets, and clean out my file drawer each year.
- I drink iced coffee all winter long, I have been known to carry around iced coffee on the streets of NY in 20° weather.
- I loathe summer, hot weather and humidity and would be happy living in leggings, boots, sweaters, and jackets all year long.
- I’m very anti-woo-woo (horoscopes, crystals, etc.) but I’ve started a daily gratitude and affirmation practice that seems to be working so I think I’m now sort of woo-woo.
- How did your business get the name Striped Dog Creative?
It started as a side hustle when I was still working in the NY advertising agency world. I was really worried about using my own name in case my coworkers or boss ever found out so I wanted a name that was completely unrelated to me. We had just rescued our first dog, Tobey. She has a white stripe down her back and little white edges to her paws. I was trying to think of a name while staring at this cute dog and it just hit me – Striped Dog Creative.
- What is your favorite flower?
I actually hate flowers. I’m not a flower person; they always die. If I had to choose, I’d say orchids, but my husband knows to never get me flowers.
Coffee or tea? Depends on the time of day – Americano in the morning; ginger tea at night.
Tahiti or Paris? I’ve never been to Tahiti and really want to go.
Are you an intention setter or goal setter? Definitely a goal setter.
Favorite quote? “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.” Henry Ford. I think about this quote almost every day.