Interview: Katie Carrion | Dr. Z sits down with San Diego’s Little Dame shop owner Katie Carrion [Part 1 of a 3-part series]*

Dr. Z sat down with Little Dame shop owner Katie Carrion to talk about life as a woman business owner.

Michelle: What are you most proud of in terms of your business?

Katie: There’s a lot to be proud of.

I’m proud of surviving COVID most recently. We’re about to be celebrating our fifth year anniversary this month. I’m really proud of that and that I had faith in myself and invested in myself for that many years. I’m really proud when I can help an artist feel fulfilled. My space. I’m proud…there’s so many things.

Also, just the growth that I’ve seen in my shop visually and technically, I’m proud of the fact that we’ve just created a little name for ourselves here in San Diego.

Michelle: That’s awesome

Katie: Thank you.

Michelle: What are, what are you known as, I mean, what is your business sort of known as?

Katie: We’re known as being kind of a creative boutique.

It’s like a shopping experience. A gift shop, but you can find like unusual things there. It’s not like going to every gift shop where you have the same name brands. I think people really find it interesting that they can support small business, and small local artists in a shopping atmosphere.

We’re known for being kind of art forward and art centric. The fact that our space is more multi-disciplinary, like shopping and tattoo, I think that we’re known for that.

Michelle: That’s so cool. When did the tattoos thing come in?

Katie: We expanded in 2019. For four years we were in a 250 square foot space.

It was like a shoebox. But it was a really great small venture, to grow into being a business owner. Then we moved into the corner spot, which was right next door in October 2019. So it’s like at the end of 2019 and with the additional square footage, we’re like, okay, we need to add a service.

That’s when we opened the tattoo boutique, it’s a small private studio style of a tattoo parlor.

Michelle: Ooh, I want another tattoo, but I promised my little old man, Jack [Dr. Z’s son] I wouldn’t get another one. You know that show “Family Ties?” Jack is the conservative Republican in our liberal peace, love, and harmony household. But I digress.

What inspires you?

Katie: Artists inspire me, people who are going out on a limb and trying to pursue something that’s unconventional inspire me because it’s so scary and hard. We really have to rely on our being and what we really believe deep down in. So specifically, I mean, I’m like an artist, so I do music, ceramic.

“People who are going out on a limb and trying to pursue something that’s unconventional inspire me because it’s so scary and hard.”

I have my shop, so I pull inspiration from a lot of different places. Like I just saw Erykah Badu the other week and I love Erykah Badu as a person and a musician and an artist, because she’s named herself seven times. She pursues whatever she wants. She’s just unapologetically herself, which I really love and find inspiration in.

I’m inspired by my dad. My dad is an entrepreneur who came from a farm family in New York and then moved out here. My mom married him, not knowing what his career would be. Kinda like me and my husband.

Michelle: Really?

Katie: Yeah. And I love that my mom just saw so much good in him. He went to college after my brothers were born and became a CPA and just grew from there.

Now my dad has his own company and he’s built it from the ground up.

Michelle: Oh, that’s really cool. What did your dad do when he met your mom?

Katie: My dad was a box cutter.

Michelle: Wow.

Katie: The reason why he had to go to this college was because he got carpal tunnel in both his arms.

It’s kind of old fashioned thinking, you know, my mom came from a privileged family, so her parents were like, what is he going to do? You know what I mean? And she’s like, well, he’s a genius.

I followed in my mom’s footsteps. I met Oscar [Katie’s husband] when I was only 23. He was working at Ross and Topshop. Also, he was a tutor and a guitar teacher.

Michelle: Cool.

Katie: I watched him find his career. And now he’s a teacher at High Tech High and he’s completely blossoming there. People love him and he’s in a grad program.

He wants to go into education administration. I think that he’s doing great.

I’m excited to see how his teaching career is going to go. I’m just inspired by people who blindly follow their heart.

Michelle: Right.

Katie: Following a path.

Michelle: Right.

Katie: I think that’s what I’ve been doing this whole time.

Michelle: Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. Are you 32?

Katie: I’m 33 now.

I just turned 33 on October 11th.

Michelle: Oh, are you Libra?

Katie: I’m a Libra.

Michelle: October 3rd.

Katie: I’m actually a triple Libra.

Michelle: Oh my God, what does that mean?

Katie: My sun, rising sign, and moon are all Libra.

Michelle: Wow. Insane. You’re very balanced.

Katie: I’m trying to figure out what it really means in my life. I think what I see in myself, I can relate to all the Libras; I’m very direct. I know what I want.You know how you were saying you feel like a visionary. I feel like I am visionary again with my music projects and my business. My art. It’s like seeing the future. I’m like, well, this is the next thing we need to do.

“I feel like I am visionary again with my music projects and my business. My art. It’s like seeing the future. I’m like, well, this is the next thing we need to do.”

I need to know. And I fall asleep. there is a balance or at times I feel a little insecure. But most of the time I’m like, I know this is the direction. I’m going to go and see each project through.

Michelle: It only took me to age 45 or 50 before I realized how I’m a true Libra. I’m bipolar. I swing from one end of the spectrum to the next. You know what I’m saying? I’m not balanced. So now, at this age, I’ve found balance.

What I need to learn is to not like go balls out, like, go, go, go, go, go and then sleep for a decade. I need to find my body, mind, and spirit balance.

You know what Strength Finders is?

Katie: Is that like the human design?

Yeah. I haven’t done any of that, but I’m interested in learning about it.

Michelle: I did it when I was in my forties. I’m so impressed that you’re so together at 33 and it took me to my forties and fifties to get my shit together. I call it the fuck it fifties.

I had to wait till I was 50 to fuck it, you know?

I mean, before that I was just angry all the time at the injustice of everything, you know?

So, I did the Strength Finders. It’s like 72 questions and you have 15 seconds to decide whether you agree or disagree with the statement. There is no middle option.

Based on the results, I’m an activator first, which is like, action. I take action. Let’s go change the world right now. And then my next strengths are input and intellection. Which is I love a lot of data, research, and having conversations and that’s, the balance is let’s go, let’s take this risk. balls out or, calm down, like research.

Katie: Okay yeah, the research part is like, let’s really look into it. And then there’s the art–

Michelle: I just have to recognize it. You first have to acknowledge where you’re at.

Katie: I definitely think I should look into that… human design, so I can really hone into my strengths, you know, like as business owner working by yourself you can observe all day, but to come to the conclusion of what I’m really good at.

Michelle: Yeah. Yeah. And it does help with that in terms of yeah, I’ll never be a CPA. I’ll never be a bookkeeper. I’ll never be detailed oriented. I just won’t. And that’s the point. I need to stop beating myself up or changing myself. What are those things I’m good at and should focus on? And what are those activities I can farm out?

I mean, anyone to sort of like, what are their strengths and how do I build that up rather than, you know, they have, you know, introvert and they’re not really good with customers, right?

Katie: Yeah. To find your strengths and work from that? Yeah, for sure. Yeah.

* Earlier in 2022, Katie closed Little Dame on Adams Avenue.  She had been there for seven years, however, the challenges of post-COVID proved too much.  As the saying goes, when one door closes another one opens.  Katie, being Katie, knocked down the doors and you can find Little Dame at See Hive in Liberty Station.  You can stop by any day of the week 11a to 6p, online, or find her at one of Little Dame’s events.  You will find the same fun and eclectic offerings in the new space, as well as art from other artists.