Today, we continue our ongoing series, Everyday Heroes! This series includes interviews of “everyday” people who are loving Jesus and loving others well through their vocations and calling. I am so excited for you to meet Kate, so let’s get started!
Charity: Kate, Welcome to the blog and thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Kate: Hi! I’m Kate and I’m twenty two. I am a recent graduate of Texas A&M in College Station, TX, where I graduated in May with a degree in Biomedical Engineering (seriously by the GRACE of GOD!). I bought the store, Northgate Vintage in August of 2012 and managed to keep the store running through my senior year of college. Towards the end of that year I did some major decision making. As much as I LOVED being in College Station and running the store, I was drawn towards a job opportunity that came my way. I took a job with St. Jude Medical, in Austin, TX. It is a biomedical device company. I work for the Cardiac Rhythm Management division which covers the sales and programming of pacemakers and defibrillators. My job is to program the pacemakers to understand and respond to each patient’s intrinsic cardiac activity. It can be pretty intense but so rewarding. To relieve some of the stress of my job I’ve settled into some hobbies. I love running with my roommates golden retriever, Riley! She adds an extra challenge…I’ve almost landed flat on my face twice when she forgets I’m next to her! I’m also taking a barre class. This January I’m joining the Austin Rowing club with my friend Mollie!
Charity: Wow, you are one busy girl. I am amazed that you bought and operated Northgate Vintage while you were still in college! Tell us a little bit about your store Northgate Vintage, where is it located, what products does it sell and who is your target audience?
Kate: Northgate Vintage is a unique shop located in the Northgate area of College Station. To get up to the shop you have to climb a spiral staircase from the street level! It is housed in one of the oldest buildings on Northgate so it carries a sense of historical charm. Northgate Vintage or NGV, sells boutique clothing, jewelry and TOMS as wells as a selection of Men’s and Women’s Vintage clothing. The goal of NGV is to be an accessible and affordable for college students. We offer high quality clothing with style at a price that won’t break the bank!
Charity: I love your commitment to offering affordable fashion what college girl or non college girl doesn’t love that! I know the story of you becoming the owner of Northgate Vintage is unique, can you share about it with our readers?
Kate: It’s a pretty unbelievable story, which is why I refer to it as a miracle! I knew the previous owner of the store that occupied the space. He decided to pack up the small business life and pursue other opportunities. After finding out the space and the store were up for grabs I immediately started dreaming about what I would do with a store! I imagined what I would sell, what it would look like, who would come in, and the potential impact I could have on students and customers. I truly believe these were God-breathed dreams!
My Dad happened to be a part of a small investing business, Vital Seed, that invests in Kingdom minded entrepreneurs. In a matter of days I met with them, spent hours explaining and answering their questions about my dream, and walked away with their support and a check in hand! Three weeks later the shop opened up for business!
That was just the start; from the very beginning I know I had the FAVOR of God on the whole effort. He provided incredible friends that gave up so much sleep and time and energy to support and help me. I am still in awe of my community and how they loved me so well! Becoming the owner of Northgate Vintage was a whirlwind adventure, and I am so thankful for the divine way it happened.
Charity: That is an incredible story Kate. I love how when God puts dreams in our hearts they are always too big to accomplish on our own. It always takes His power to fulfill them. I love that you trusted Him to give you what you needed to make these dreams a reality. What is your favorite part about being a small business owner?
Kate: I love the freedom to make decisions and guide the business in certain directions. I enjoy being able to have a vision and have the ability to see it happen. While the challenge is an added stress, it is rewarding to see the business improve and my “baby” grow! I also get to share it with an incredible friend. This past summer, Julianne Webber, became my business partner! She is a woman that walks in so much wisdom and is such a loving support. Together we make decisions about our employees, events, and clothing. It’s such a blessing to have someone to carry it with me, and also someone local in College Station. She’s also amazingly gorgeous.
Charity: I agree, she is so beautiful! As are you! What challenges have you faced starting a small business?
Kate: The first year was obviously challenging as I was finishing my last year of undergrad. I don’t know if I would advise starting a physical location business while still in school! It was pretty rough for a couple months. (I’ll take this moment to apologize to friends and family for my disheveled appearance during this time haha). There were several nights a week that I was up until 3 or 4am and usually my days with school and work were 8am-10pm! Yikes! So thankful that season is over!
Charity: I don’t think I have ever seen you looking disheveled! But wow, I really can’t imagine keeping that schedule, only the grace and passion of the Lord could have kept you going during that period! I know you have been referencing your Christian faith throughout the interview, but could you explain to us more how your relationship with Jesus affects your business practices?
Kate: I fully believe this business is a gift from God. Because of that I treat the whole experience differently. I make decisions to steward the business and see it grow because I want to see God given all the glory. I am not out to make my fortune with this business. While I do operate to make a profit, and make the largest profit I can, the outcome of the store’s performance does not affect how I view myself or how I feel as a business owner. You see, it was never mine to begin with. Having this freedom allows the business to be generous with its income. I love being able to give to different ministries and organizations and bless people in need. NGV also carries many products that give back to ministries and sustainable third world efforts. As a Kingdom business its sole purpose is to give God glory and see the name of Jesus made known. Having that as a purpose drives our decisions to be full of integrity, honesty and to strive for excellence, and it removes the weight of failure. I can’t fail because it’s God’s dream!
Charity: That is so powerful Kate. I loved what you shared about your worth not being based upon the performance of the store. It can be so difficult (I know!) to not base our worth on performance, but when we are where God wants us and obeying what He says to do, you’re right, the weight of performance is taken off us! Thanks for that fresh reminder, I needed that today! How does owning Northgate Vintage fit into the calling on your life?
Kate: I never grew up dreaming of owning a shop. I’ve never called myself an expert on fashion or business, but I have always liked starting things. I think God has given me the desire and capability to see dreams pioneered and begun. I don’t know exactly what this looks like for the rest of my life. I would like to think that this store will continue to grow and continue to be a haven for college students on Northgate for years to come. I imagine I could move back to College Station and continue to work in the medical field while still running the store on the side. I also have really thought about church planting too. Who knows? It could be the perfect amount of work for me as a stay at home mom …..wayyyyy in the future ha…ha. I’m excited to see what unfolds!
Charity: I’m excited to see too Kate. God has already done amazing things through your life, I can’t wait to see what He does in the future. What would your advice be to readers who are interested in starting a small business, specifically one in the clothing industry?
Kate: I would say the most helpful thing would be to work for a clothing company. Work retail in a small setting, and in a large setting. I think that understanding the processes and the work that goes on behind the scenes will really give you a picture of what it takes. I would recommend reading some blogs for small businesses and getting in touch with your local small business development center. Spend several months planning and creating a business plan. Also do research in your local area for similar businesses and determine what will set you apart! Once you’ve done that you will be in much better place than I was to talk to investors.
Charity: That is excellent advice Kate. Anything else you want to share?
Kate: Just that sometimes you don’t have to have it all planned or figured out. Sometimes risking everything with God is ridiculous! But as ridiculous as it was I learned so much. I took a crazy risk (with the blessing of my parents and mentors) and was challenged in ways that I never would have been if I hadn’t. It was crazy but I don’t regret it! I also just want to say thanks for taking the time to interview me! I love your blog and you!
Charity: Awwwww, thanks Kate! I really appreciate your encouragement and you taking the time for an interview. If our readers would like to contact you or learn more about Northgate Vintage, how can they do that?
Kate: I would love to connect with anyone who has questions!
Kate’s Email: firstname.lastname@example.org