Toni Reece: Hi there. This is Toni Reece, and welcome to the Get Inspired! Project for Berks County Living magazine. Today I have Katie Kozloff-Banks with me. Hi, Katie.
Katie Kozloff-Banks: Hi. How are you?
Toni: I’m great! How are you doing today?
Toni: Good. So, Katie, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Katie: I have the activewear line called Katie K Active. We are an inclusive brand of premium activewear. What that means is we are activewear that spans the size range, small to 3X.
Toni: Okay. Where do we find you?
Katie: You can find us online at katiekactive.com and around in different stores across the country.
Toni: Great. Thank you for showing up for the Get Inspired! Project.
Katie: Yes, thanks for having me.
Toni: Let’s go into the Project. What does inspiration mean to you?
Katie: I was thinking about this. There’s so many different ways to think about inspiration – people that motivate me or make me think differently about my life and want to do more. I think my family inspires me, my friends inspire me with what they’re doing, and all around you everywhere.
Toni: So when you feel inspired, you’re motivated.
Katie: Yes, very much so.
Toni: What does that feel like?
Katie: It’s kind of a rush. I love looking at different things that will inspire me. I think if you go through phases and you start to think, “I need some inspiration,” I’ll just start looking around and take into account what my friends or family are doing. I start thinking, “Wow! They’re doing all this with their life. I want to do some more.” Then I buckle down again.
Toni: Okay, so when you might be in a slump you’ll look around and say, “Okay, I like that. That’s pretty cool. Now I’m moved to action.” Right?
Katie: Yes. I think even when you’re feeling inspired and motivated, it just kind of snowballs. I think when you try to take a look back and see, “Oh my gosh, what have I accomplished?” that just pushes you. It’s all good to have that level.
Toni: I like when you said that inspiration feels like a rush.
Toni: That’s a cool feeling, you know?
Toni: Is that that “pit in your stomach” feeling?
Toni: Yes. Where it’s like, “Ooh! There it was!”
Katie: Yes, exactly.
Toni: I get it. So when you get that, how do you put that into practice here in Berks County?
Katie: To get inspired, I was going through maybe like a slump, and I felt like I wanted to take advantage of the different pieces that Berks County has to offer that could inspire me. I joined the Lean In group through …
Toni: Women to Women?
Katie: Yes. Women to Women. I’m part of the Incubator. I think that really helps. I just started to network with different people. Being a woman, I’ve tried to connect with women who I find inspiring, and then I’ve met with them for lunch or breakfast just to hear their story and talk to them. I think connecting and networking with people, everybody is inspiring in their own way.
Toni: They are. A couple things I just want to touch on that you had mentioned is that you knew you were in a slump, and you needed to feel that rush. By joining different networking groups and talking to people, you felt reenergized?
Katie: Yes, very much so. I think you go through a slump and maybe you need a little direction. I found mentoring groups through GRYP (Greater Reading Young Professionals). The Lean In circle was awesome. It’s been cool.
Toni: Then once you became reenergized again, what did you do? How did you put that inspiration into practice?
Katie: I go home and I make a list of everything; kind of brain dump and start working backwards and thinking, “Okay, this is everything I want to do. How am I going to make it happen? How am I going to break it down into different pieces?”
Then I start figuring it out, whatever that goal is or thing that’s now got me inspired and, “Now I want to do this.” I break it down and figure out how I’m going to attack that.
Toni: Do you have a specific example that was just recent?
Katie: I think probably the big one was I felt I needed to have a mentor and advisor group. It took some time, but that’s what brought me to the Incubator, and that has been so helpful. Working and meeting with different people in Berks County who said, “You should go check out the Incubator.” They are helping me do the goal setting, so that’s accomplished that goal where I felt very much like I needed some kind of guidance, and now I feel like I have plenty of people. I have this great network of people that depending on what business issue or life problem is, I have a specific person for each piece, which is awesome.
Toni: Oh wow – so now you can get a rush from several people!
Katie: Yes. If I’m feeling down about manufacturing, I have this. I think it’s also great to compartmentalize it, but then I can say, “This is where I need help,” and go to that person.
Toni: This is an interesting way to look at getting inspired. It helps you with your business knowing how you get inspired. You took that action, went out and networked, so that you can purposefully be inspired.
Toni: I love that.
Toni: Who in Berks County inspires you?
Katie: I feel like there are so many people. The people that I have met with recently are Steve Fritz through GRYP mentoring. He’s been very inspiring to me. Julia Kline – I met with her, and she’s very inspiring. Sally Weaver I’ve met with. All these people, and then there’s people now at the Incubator like June. She’s been really inspiring and helpful. I think it’s just having people who can advise me. My husband – he’s doing his third Iron Man in three years.
Toni: Wow – oh my gosh!
Katie: Inspiring and crazy. I think even just friends. I think when you start talking to your different friends and you see what everybody is doing; everybody is busy, but everybody is doing really great things. I think that’s cool. For as busy as everybody is, they’re all doing really neat, cool things with their lives. I think that’s always inspiring, talking to people.
Toni: Is that your common denominator on people who inspire you in Berks County? People who are doing really cool things?
Katie: Yes. It’s cool things, but they’re not just say sitting and letting life live them. They’re living life, not just letting it go by. That’s inspiring to me – somebody who wants to do something, whatever that means – being the best mom or being the best person on a board or something like that. I think it’s great to see when people are doing something with their life.
Toni: Yes. So what do you want your legacy to be?
Katie: I think with the activewear, I’d really like to have the inclusiveness. Right now, so much of the clothing industry is very divided between plus size and straight size. It doesn’t really seem to make sense. I think everybody wants to fit in and be trendy and fashion-forward regardless of whether it’s activewear or regular clothing. I think we’re a unique brand with our inclusive end of everything, that we offer everything in each size and each style.
I think that’s our legacy, is giving women the confidence to be who they are. For us, that means giving women the confidence to live a healthy, active, life, and that they should have access to feel the best about themselves and live a healthy, active life regardless of their size.
Toni: Wow – what a legacy for your company to leave for women! That’s fantastic. Katie, thank you so much for showing up to the Get Inspired! Project. Best of luck to you.
Katie: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Toni: Take care.