“Talk to people, read, go to art exhibits, try new musical genres, experience different places and people. All of this will inform your creativity and expand what you can do with it.”
We all have so many amazing ideas to spread to the world. I’m very happy and honored that this interview with Katie Stoltz, will not only get you an insight of the great person she is but the creative work she is doing. A few years back Katie decided it was time to be her own boss and launched her own business, Venues and Vows. Her passion for life is infectious, she knows what she wants and goes for it.
When I met Katie I felt really good around her, I love that she’s been around the world and her soul reflects the places she has been. Her experiences reflect the way she approaches work and creativity.
I can only imagine what goes in to planning a wedding. Finding the dress, flowers, photographer, and the perfect VENUE! If you are looking for a nontraditional place to get married, Venues and Vows is the place to go. Katie knows that weddings don’t have to be so serious and traditional, it can be a unique and wonderful experience and she will make sure to find a place that will reflect that. I caught up with her to find more about how she decided to follow her heart and start this adventure to become a great entrepreneur.
My blog will continue to be an open space for women who inspire me and are working really hard to be themselves and pursuing their dreams. Please read on to the words of wonderful Katie and be inspired to start your own extraordinary journey.
Who are you and what do you do?
Hi! My name is Katie Stoltz (a lot of people call me “Stoltz”) and I’m the Founder of Venues & Vows: www.venuesandvows.com . We are an online marketplace for wedding and event venues but with one very big differentiator: we don’t list traditional wedding venues (no hotels or golf clubs) – we only list private estates, farms, ranches, beach houses…you get the picture. We also identify properties that are ideal for bachelor/ette parties, vow renewals, rehearsal dinners, honeymoons, etc.
Where did you grow up and how does that shape what you do today?
I grew up in State College, Pennsylvania which is where Penn State University is located. I grew up being a big Penn State fan and went to college there.
Because I grew up in a relatively small town, I very much appreciate the community feel but yearned for a big city and to travel. That desire gave me the drive I needed to leave State College after living there for 22 years, and I moved to NYC right after school. I soon realized that I wanted to see the world before I officially “hunkered down” in the corporate world, and backpacked through Europe for a little while. Since then I’ve lived, worked and traveled to about 40 countries.
Name something you love, and why?
Dogs. Laughing. Dancing. White wine. PowerPoint. Dogs make me laugh. White wine usually makes me dance a little more. And, I’m just really good at PowerPoint…after 10 years of creating countless presentations, I have an odd affinity for it, and it’s one thing I’m not shy about touting.
What skills or talents do you think would make you even more successful?
Knowing how to code would be super duper.
How did you find your passion?
My passion is entrepreneurship and I’m not sure
I found it – I think entrepreneurship found me. I’ve always had a fire in me for this…when I was about seven years old I wrote a list of “100 ways to make money” – one of those ways included renting my brother out on an hourly basis; I used to sell candy on a TV tray at the end of my driveway; I set up a neighborhood carnival and sold “tickets” to all of my friends. The tickets were actually leaves from the tree. So, I think this passion would actually be really difficult for me to ignore!
What is your ideology as a creative person?
Chug! Chug! Chug! I find the more information you can take in, the better ideas you will have. Talk to people, read, go to art exhibits, try new musical genres, experience different places and people. All of this will inform your creativity and expand what you can do with it.
How do you overcome your fears?
I’m not sure I overcome them. I kind of deal with them in the best way I know how. I’ve found that talking about my fears helps to confront them instead of ignoring them.
Please tell us more about Venues and Vows.
I had five friends get engaged at the exact same time. They had crazy spreadsheets and Pinterest boards and spent hours (DAYS) looking for a venue. Every time I talked to them there were two pain points they kept reiterating:
- I don’t want to have my wedding at a “traditional” venue because that’s what everyone does; I want it to be special and reflect the style of my fiancée and I.
- The prices are bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.
Their experience made me want to fundamentally change the way people approach their wedding. It should be a weekend celebrating your love with the person you choose to spend the rest of your life with. But it seems like weddings have gotten so watered down that they are minimized to a 6-hour event and half of your time is spent saying “hi” to guests. And that six hours costs you the same as buying a brand new, luxury car. Why? I just don’t get it. So, I’m hoping to shake it up, starting in Austin https://www.venuesandvows.com/austin-tx
Who inspires you today?
Women who code. Talk about an uphill battle…it’s hard enough to be a woman in the tech industry but to be a woman who codes in the tech industry – that’s a double-whammy. I give them major kudos for following their passion in a male-dominated specialty and industry.
Professionally, what’s your goal?
I have different tiers of goals:
The first tier is for Venues & Vows and what I hope it achieves. There is no transparency in pricing, there is an utter lack of flexibility in what you can do with vendors, the event is too short and the cost is too high. I want to change that.
The second tier is for professional growth. I want to expand my capabilities past powerpoint (haha) and strategy, and become a strong leader that is consistently operationally effective.
The third tier is for my lifelong professional goals. Ultimately, I want to pass along what I’ve learned in 10 years of consulting and the experience I’ve had owning my business onto other women. I’ve got a lot of ideas on how that will come to fruition and it will be exciting to one day pursue those goals.
How is it owning a business as a woman?
It’s tough. Before starting my own business I worked in a male-dominated industry (consulting) that made it impossible to break the proverbial glass ceiling. I also see that across the board in the tech industry. Unfortunately I don’t think we (women) do a great job of supporting each other enough. It puzzles me – we’re in this together…we’re all looking for that talented developer or lawyer or graphic artist. We all need sales to survive. Help a sister out!
What business advice have you happily ignored?
“Get VC funding NOW.”
What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to start their own business?
If someone tells you that you’re naive for believing you can do something, that is good. A little while back, I traveled throughout nine African countries by myself running a survey project. I would meet with local contractors to run the surveys (because they were in a local language), stay in “motels” in the middle of the jungle, and travel in the back of trucks on dirt roads for hours and hours. I had to sleep on the floor of an airport, dragged myself to the U.S. embassy doctor because I had water poisoning, and the list goes on…I was just naive enough to not be intimidated. Because I had never worked in Africa before, I didn’t know if this was normal or not – but it didn’t matter because I got through it, because I believed I could.
If you believe you can do it, GO DO IT. I can’t tell you how many people have shot my ideas down (there have been A LOT of ideas) but I truly believe in my own capabilities.