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Chicks We Love: An Interview With Katie Duncan Of Wanderwild & Her Advice For Female Entrepreneurs

Welcome to Chicks We Love! Here at Chip Chick, we love inspiring women to follow their business dreams while giving them the tools they need to make it happen.

Chicks We Love is our new series showcasing, well, chicks we can’t help but just love! Get ready to meet some of our favorite exciting female entrepreneurs and hear all about their wisdom for helping you to succeed too. If you want to subscribe so you can stay up to date on all our Chicks We Love interviews, click here.

In this article, I caught up with Katie Duncan of Wanderwild. Here is Katie’s inspiring story and her words of wisdom for you!

Photo courtesy of Katie

What was your inspiration behind starting your company?

The inspiration behind Wanderwild was twofold. From the time we entered motherhood, my co-founder Kelly and I felt we were better parents, meaning more patient, fun and engaged, when we were out of the house.

When we spent too much time at home, there was too much multitasking on our parts, fighting amongst siblings and general boredom. We found early on that if we got out for a few hours every day, the time spent was really sweet, special and memorable.

We felt like other parents might be of that same mind or might want more support for how to feel confident packing up and spending the day out exploring with their kids. We felt that it was in these moments, that we made the best memories with our families.

Second, we liked our kids to be able to carry and be responsible for their own things – what we now call “life beyond the diaper bag.” There was a certain aesthetic, size and style that we were wanting and couldn’t find in the marketplace.

We wanted a blend of youthful designs that were also timeless and not cartoonish. We also love personalization and wanted a bag that had a nice solid contrast where a monogram would pop and not get lost in the pattern.

So, we refined these two ideas and decided we’d love to create a line of backpacks and other gear that have the style we’re looking for, as well as support the idea of a community of families getting out and making memories together.

What is your favorite aspect of the brand or product line?

What’s been really fun is that the aspects of our products that are our personal favorites are also the things we get the most positive feedback on from our customers. One, it was really important to design a backpack specifically for kids.

We built it for their size, their bodies, and their small hands. We built it with the pockets where we thought they would want them. It’s not an adult technical backpack just shrunk down for kids.

It is built for kids. We also love that it is a really durable bag. It just wears so well. We have so many parents tell us their packs look brand new, even at the end of the school year. We love hearing that. Quality is important to us. And we LOVE the prints.

They really speak to kids, like our Aviator Camp, Dino Dig, Wild Flower and Heart Burst. They also have a really classic and refined look to them that we know parents approve of. Coupled with the solid navy contrast to make embroidery pop, it looks youthful, yet polished. 

What do you aim to accomplish in the next year?

We’re really focused on all of the ways we can grow the brand to serve our community. We think we make the very best backpacks for kids, and we’re adding more patterns, styles and lunch boxes this summer.

We are also working hard on producing great resources that inspire families to give back to our community and create family experiences that are memorable.

Photo courtesy of Katie

What’s the most difficult part of being an entrepreneur?

I think a lot of entrepreneurs will say that the blessing and challenge is wearing all of the hats. You get to do the work that stirred your heart, for me that’s design, but you also have to do the bookkeeping and chase trails of paperwork.

Even in the difficult tasks we feel tremendously blessed to get to do all of these things.

What advice do you have for other women that would like to start their own company?

Remember that it’s a journey. You have to have passion for the million steps that it takes to pursue whatever business you have your heart set on.

And it really is a million steps! Kelly and I say to each other, “progress is progress.” You just have to keep going. But for real tangible advice – find a mentor. Someone that has some wisdom about what you’re pursuing so they can point you in the right direction, but also someone that will invest in you and cheer you on in the process.

Mentorship and personal development are so important to the process.

Why and how did you end up an entrepreneur? Was it a path you always envisioned pursuing?

In a way, YES! Kelly and I have always been DIY-type of women and had dreamed of building something great together.

We saw an opportunity in the marketplace and felt led to pursue it. We are so thankful we did.

What tools do you recommend for other women who would like to be entrepreneurs?

We use a lot of tools that others use, such as Asana, Dropbox, Illustrator, etc. Those are all pretty easy to get recommendations on, but the best “tools” we’ve got are actually the team of partners we’ve set up.

Our attorneys, publicists, accountants, photographers, writers, manufacturing partners, the list goes on – most of our partners are also women entrepreneurs, so there’s a special kinship there as well.

Photo courtesy of Katie

How do you overcome failure or fear?

The first step is accepting that you’ll fall short over and over and over again! It’s just part of it. We don’t really look at it as “failure,” but instead an opportunity for growth.

I know that sounds cliché, but in our minds, some plans just don’t work out as we expected and we just have to course correct.

You get better at pressing on if you adopt a behavior of learning, fixing, and moving forward.

What habits contribute to your success?

Kelly and I don’t have a lot of consistency in our schedules, so creating consistency in our habits is really important.

We do tasks as early as we can, even if they don’t need to be done just yet because having time in the future when it is due isn’t guaranteed.

We write out specific goals and are careful planners and then it’s really just about dedicating time each and every day to work towards what needs to get done, even when it’s hard.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

Well first, we need to acknowledge that whatever that “balance” is looks really different from person to person and we honor that.

One practice that we’ve been really committed to as a team is to observe a sabbath on Sunday. We post a nod to rest and rejuvenation each Sunday to social media, and we really try to use that day to spend with families and do the things that fill us up and prepare us mentally/spiritually for the week ahead.

What does your typical day look like?

The beauty of being an entrepreneur is that truly every day is different. Our priorities start with family and health, which means that those two things are non-negotiable each day.

As my dad once told me, “know when to throttle up and throttle down.”

We truly take this to heart – when margin allows we make extra time for those who matter most and when deadlines are looming, our work days are longer, often before our kids wake up or after they go to bed.

What’s the one thing you can’t live without?

Our people! No matter what season we’re in personally or professionally, we couldn’t do this life without our nearest and dearest family and friends.

They’ve been our biggest cheerleaders, our steadfast advisors, and our truth tellers.

Perhaps this is why we believe wholeheartedly that we are not just building products, but also a community of families devoted to building lifelong memories and making a difference in our world.

Bre is a female millennial go getter residing in New York. One part entrepreneur, one part geek, she obtained her degree in Textile/Surface Design from The Fashion Institute of Technology.

She has held some exciting roles in both fashion as a designer working for brands like Victoria’s Secret and Henri Bendel, as well as in ad tech working for publishers like Ziff Davis.

Today she operates her own luxury label Bre Avery, along with Chip Chick Media which reaches millions of women each month.

Bre is passionate about teaching women how to build a business and be an entrepreneur, in addition to keeping her readers informed of the latest technology trends and exciting products to improve their lifestyles.

You can send Bre a message here.