Interview: Katie Carrion Dr. Z sits down with San Diego’s Little Dame shop owner Katie Carrion [Part 2 of 3-part series]*

Dr. Z continues the conversation with Katie Carrion about the challenges she had and the strength she’s mustered being a woman business owner.

Michelle: So I know you’ve had a lot of challenges. And so how have you overcome those challenges?

Katie: Oh man. So there’s been a lot of challenges over the last six years. Just kind of finding our way through as a business and learning what works and what doesn’t work. My biggest challenge this whole time is my business partnership breakup. I had a partnership separation at the end of 2020. And thank goodness I was in therapy like throughout the whole thing.

So therapy is how I got through that. 

Michelle: Really? 

Katie: I think therapy helped me a lot. 

Michelle: Did you go to therapy 

because of this or just, 

Katie: I was already in therapy. I started probably because of confusion due to my business, just am I doing where am I, is this what I meant to be doing? And if it is then how can I learn tools to manage the stress of being an owner?

But I started going to therapy and there was some really. Formative questions that are being asked in the sessions. And I just realized how happy I was. Facing that head on having the conversation that had to lead up to the break up, which was really hard because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I can’t live like this anymore.

then the separation happened and I think it was hard, but I’m really happy that it happened because that led me down a new path and I’m happier overall, how I dealt with it was. Just taking time to myself, regrouping with my original vision and mission for the business and being still really believe in that original mission.

And I need to just find it within me. To move forward, focusing on that. I lost a lot of clients and a lot of customers because of that, it was like a divorce. Just having the confidence to move forward in that and not like quit and just fail because of all the shame and the trauma and the drama that was happening.

Every morning, I would wake up and just like, listen to podcasts and spend time with myself and go to the shop and focus on my work. And eventually, you know, I gained and still gaining new clients and new customers and I still. Focusing on what I want the shop to be, because before it was like all compromising and that can be really hard, especially if you’re working with someone you’re really different from really, really different.

“Focusing on what I want the shop to be, because before it was like all compromising and that can be really hard, especially if you’re working with someone you’re really different from really, really different.

Right. And I think that’s very clear now to the community and to customers that okay, Two people are now doing what they’re being their true, authentic self they’re living out their vision separately, which is great. 

So just, I guess how I faced the challenge was focusing on how I was going to change my business, to fit my needs and the vision that I have.

Michelle: It just sounds like you’re very again, sort of direct? You really know. as someone who’s gone through a divorce, when you were talking about that, it sounded just like that, like the shame and well, you know, he’s a good guy, you know, and I don’t want to hurt him, but I’m dying. Yeah.

So you have the conversation, especially with some of it is so different. I mean, Bill was completely different. 

Katie: sometimes you just feel that way. it just wasn’t compatible for me. I had to be honest with myself because for lot of years, I wasn’t doing maybe some lighter challenges.

Lighter challenges learning how to approach each issue as an adult, you know, instead of being I’m so angry, I’m going to just lash out at this customer or this client or this vendor. And just approaching it in a professional manner, takes time to learn how to finesse conversation.

Because in business and in life, you have so many interactions. Some of them are not going to be the greatest and you have to take time. My mom calls it the 72 hour rule. That’s like three days.

Michelle: That’s great. Especially for someone that’s so impetuous, it’s so emotional, 

Katie: I know I’m very emotional. I’m very passionate. So I’m taking the time to really regroup within myself before I approach the issue is important. There are so many challenges I can think of. Do you have any questions, challenge questions, trying to think about our challenges.

Michelle: Well, a little bit about being a woman. I just wondered if any of those be in business. Dealing with challenges, dealing with emotions. Is there a lens of like woman’s perspective that you have or are there challenges having exposure for your business? 

Katie: Right. Yeah, you’re right. I opened my business when I was 27. The reaction from people it was hard to be taken seriously at first. So that was just really difficult being approached with respect in general, when you’re dealing with like insurance brokers. Or going to banks and trying to open a credit card was really difficult for us. We had to like go try to attempt in your credit card, like three.

Wow. Even though we had already been open for two years, so we functioned for two years just from debit, which is insane. And 

Michelle: congratulations. 

Katie: Thank you. I guess, just being taken seriously as a woman in business, when you’re young, was difficult. But also I found it kind of fun. I kind of just take it to be like, I am the business owner here and you know, you can’t really like trick me into.

“…just being taken seriously as a woman in business, when you’re young, was difficult.

You know, buying into your scam or whatever their offering. What was really fun as we opened in 2016, right? It was fun, but not fun. Cause like Trump was coming into office and a lot of women were feeling a lot of fear. Around like what laws he was going to change and how that would affect us, our choices of the body.

And I don’t know who it was that called me. I think it was the business association and Adams avenue was like, do you want to be interviewed on the news about Trump and the women’s March was happening? And I was like, yeah, let’s do it. I have some conservative family members. I didn’t care. I was on Channel 8 being like, Talking for, you know, I felt the responsibility to like speak for women in our city or in our country to be like, we don’t really agree with Trump and his police system and pro choice and all of that.

We really cared about free choice, which is sad that we’re here again during that today. But moments like that made me feel really like empowered around. I have a voice and it’s really cool that people are even asking me, vocalize my views on it. So those are empowering moments yeah. And– 

Michelle: –way to step up because that isn’t, that isn’t easy.

I mean, I’ve even experienced where Nicole will say to get out there. I mean like, and do videos like the cult of personality and you’re trying to empower women to have voices. It’s just stand up and say, here I am ugly, wrinkles, whatever. And if I don’t do it, who’s going to do it right.

If I don’t do it, who’s going to follow. Right. I’m like, yeah, go ahead, Katie. You go out there. Take care of, so it’s good for you. 

Katie: Yeah. When random opportunities will arise and it’s like fight or flight. Right. You got to like jump in there, which I’ve found that I’ve always been able to do. Like, I I’m a singer in a band, so that gave me a lot of practice being like, okay, I’ve been able to be in front of people and speak, even though sometimes I don’t love what comes out of my mouth.

I’m like, but I did it. Another huge challenge. The six years that I’ve had this you know, when we started, I kept my coffee job for two years into the business. So cause I started the business with a partner. We would split up the week and so I kept part-time jobs. So some days I was waking up and opening a [00:17:00] coffee shop in north park at 6:00 AM.

Giving off at 12 and then driving over to the shop and working at the shop from 12 to six. And when I get to the shop, I mean, I’m just sitting there at my desk, so it’s chill. But I think just having the perseverance to keep doing this among financial challenges and having to keep multiple jobs most of the time I think it’s really important to note that because I want it to be realistic for people.

“But I think just having the perseverance to keep doing this among financial challenges and having to keep multiple jobs most of the time I think it’s really important to note that because I want it to be realistic for people.

Who want to go into business. If you talk to people who are new into business, they go into shock.

They really they’re just like, hold on a minute. I have to do any of my making. And then they picked, that’s why businesses closed in one year. And so as a startup, You know, we really weren’t taking money home for like two to three years. Then I was just depending on other sources of income, which I was fine with, I’m happy about because I’m an artist.

So I was teaching art and I still do that today. I [00:18:00] still keep multiple jobs. Right along with running my business, because I think it’s realistic. it’s not ideal, but right. You know, we live in the gig economy. 

Michelle: Right, right. 

Katie: Things. Aren’t the same as they were, you know, and like 1960s, seventies, eighties, Everything’s more expensive jobs. Aren’t really paying that much, 

 It’s super common. It’s very common. I don’t think that necessarily is about being a woman. I think that women are like so much stronger than people give credit to the fact that we like see a need and we’re like, okay, I’ll get another job. And we’re just like quietly doing that.

Well, You know, it’s not really acknowledged, but I think that the reason why people have to have multiple jobs, it’s just depending on like their career path, you know, like I chose to open a business and I saw a need where I’m like, I need to have more money that it’s [00:19:00] not, you know, reliant on the business.

So I’m going to get another job. But it’s also because of what my passions are. I wanted to like pursue art as well. So I’m an art teacher. 

Michelle: So. Yeah, I do it. I think it comes down to maybe not necessarily being a woman, but we are drawn to people that are drawn to passions, which are a lot of artists, a lot of healers, and a lot of humans do not get paid for caring about humanity.So how this is what, why we’re doing, what we’re doing is. How do we change that narrative where our work, I mean, we should be making millions of dollars for what we do. 

Katie: Yeah, exactly. 

Michelle: I mean, for the healing and for the art and the connections and all those other things. So this is why I get so geeked out about this is really why we’re doing what we’re doing. We talked about this before, about where do you find [them]?

* 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.