Biz Bites with Ethically Kate. How to build a personal brand, build community and change the world.

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Show Notes

The first episode of Biz Bites features Kate Hall (you will know her as Ethically Kate) talking everything personal brand, instagram growth, community building, delegation and work-life balance (but without the bullsh*t). Our Snappy Snippets feature business owners changing the world with their enterprises and some big questions around what they are superstars at! No intros, no waffle (okay, well not much), just helpful snappy answers to help you build your businesses!

Our sister podcast is called 'Now, That's What I Call Green'.

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Brianne: How did you start building your brand, Ethically Kate? When did you decide you were going to do it? Why? How? Origin story, please make it villainous because I only like villain origin stories.

Kate: So Ethically Kate began when I was born because Ethically Kate is me, but also main catalyst moment for Ethically Kate as a brand was August 2015 I watched the documentary the true cost which is about the fashion industry's impact on people on the planet, and that was just a bit, that was probably the only moment in my life that it's ever felt like a BAM! Lightning bolt, this is my purpose type thing. Most other things evolve, you know, and form over time, but that was, literally happened overnight. And I changed my personal fashion habits. I tried my best to look into who made my clothes, what were they made from. I was just asking all these questions and I was not a social media person. I had maybe, I don't know, a handful of posts on Instagram but I really unsubscribed to the Instagram kind of world. I was too much out there living life, I kind of made fun of people who lived online and still do. And my family still loves to take the piss out of me. But I find it hilarious now that that's what I do, but also it makes sense. I've always been a communicator. I just could not not communicate these things. It was a disservice for me to withhold it. So I took to Instagram because that was the easiest free platform, visual, to share, I could tag the brands, the good and the bad, and I just kept on talking. I never decided, hey, I'm gonna go on Instagram and I'm gonna become New Zealand's biggest sustainability influencer. That was never a conscious thought that happened in my brain, but over time, that was 2015, 2016, 2017, I was starting to realise that people really wanted to listen and they wanted to know where they could buy the good stuff and how they could do better, especially in New Zealand, because there's amazing influences over in Canada, the UK, United States, but in New Zealand, there's very little places to go for information. So yeah, I just kept on talking. I left my full-time job in September 2017. I started an in-home childcare company and had 23 staff and also was Ethical Kate was my social media then and also I was a freelance writer. I was managing the blog sites for sustainable companies’ blogs about all sorts of sustainable stuff when they wanted to not just offer products, but also information and then I was running I don't know around seven different Instagram accounts just because people saw that I could do Instagram, so that was my bread and butter, freelance writing. And then it just merged into now public speaking, being an author, and content creation. So it happened naturally, but I'm low-key quite a strategic person, even subconsciously. So even though it wasn't a target and a goal, I'm always reflecting on my decisions.

Brianne: Yeah, you are quite a strategic person. That could sound like a backhanded compliment. It certainly is not meant to be one. How do you measure the impact or do you? The only reason I've asked that, it's sort of a random question, is because you've mentioned that the true cost, right? And I imagine you're not the only person who had that sort of come to Jesus moment, right? But how do you know or do you or are you able to measure it, how much impact you've actually had? Because I suspect it's significant.

Kate: Yeah, I find it really hard to measure it, which is why I often can't apply for like all the amazing grants and funding and stuff that I see these little things pop up. I'm like, oh, that would be so good to help me with this project. But all the measurement questions are like, how long is a piece of string? I think personally for me, I get messages, like lots of messages a week saying, I've changed this and it's been so good, which is awesome. I have sometimes done polls on Instagram stories, which like, you know, up to 10,000 people see. And so that's a cool way to be able to be like, have you changed something? You know, just a yes or no answer. And then there may be, you know, a few thousand people that say yes. So that's kind of a specific measurement. I guess I could total the thousands of people I've spoken to, but it's a really good question because it's something on my to-do list to get better at measuring the impact.

Brianne: Cool. No, but it's nice that you still have a rough idea and again, using social media. Tell me about your thoughts on TikTok? I only say this because I am forever bleating on at my business of many members that they need that they've got this unparalleled marketing moment, whether it be TikTok, whether it be Instagram, but video marketing is relatively low barrier to entry and you can tell your business story so easily and there are many, many examples of brands that have quite literally been built on it. You're not on TikTok yet?

Kate: No, I haven't been on it for months, mainly because I was in India and it was not there.. so it kind of threw that out the window.

Brianne: India doesn't have to Tiktok?

Kate: Yeah, you can't download TikTok in India.

Brianne: Interesting.

Kate; They're really big on Instagram over there, like really big. You meet them and they say and what's your Instagram handle?

Brianne: Oh, right.

Kate: Yeah. So I'm not on TikTok for a few different reasons. And some of them, I'll list them in order of importance and how much weight they play into my decision to not be on TikTok yet. I say yet because it's always a possibility. The first one is I just don't have the time and capacity. I just, I thrive on Instagram, business is going great, and I really want to focus on my website and blog, which I own, and Instagram seems to do really well, and Facebook at directing people to it. So I also see that TikTok is not as good for getting people, you know, and to click another link and it goes somewhere else. Like it's really great for brand awareness and everything, but if my main purpose is more views and people looking at my website, which is one of my key goals, it doesn't really line up with where I spend my time and energy.

Brianne: Super good point, yep.

Kate: Secondly, I have, and you should ask Tim, my husband, about this, because he knows so much more about it, but I can't retain the information in my head. It's banned in India and other countries and stuff for a reason and I absolutely understand that Meta and everything have all sorts of, or lack of, all sorts of privacy things around data and how that's shared and blah blah blah….but for people who have compared the two and when we were talking about TikTok it is quite a lot more risky and I won't go into that. And again, it's not first on my point because it's not something I know heaps about, but I think that's been in the back of my mind not making me investigate TikTok as much because I've heard from different people, especially my husband, who I trust his opinion and research, that it's not ideal. So I even struggle personally with the fact that I'm on Instagram and Facebook, you know, like the ethics of that, right? The irony that I’m on a platform like that. Because also one of my main things, like the first chapter in my book is called Wellness and it's about leaving your phone out of your room at night. And my goal is to ironically get people off of social media. You know, I think that's why I do focus more these days on like my newsletter and my website and spaces that people can go and not shorten their attention spans and dull their minds. So I'm not saying… I totally understand TikTok has a lot of great info, but I think I'm just focusing more on those spaces.

Brianne: No, it makes perfect sense. It's always good to understand how people have built their businesses and why they've made the decisions that they do, because you've been obviously incredibly successful on social media. It's always good to understand why. What do you think the secret has been to building Ethically Kate and the community within if you put aside your natural self, right? So a big part of it is you because you are approachable, positive, friendly, open, keen to have discussions, all those things we've discussed previously. Is there anything else? Because building community builds brands, right?

Kate: Yep. Building community builds brands. I would say my understanding and how I view social media has really helped because it has Helped me not let my head go down the rabbit hole as much. I view social media just as another realm. It's the same as our social realm in person social media is that so I do all the things that I do in my real life on social media. I reply to comments quickly because if you ask me a question and then I was like……You know I mean? And I’m not saying that I sit there answering questions instantly, but that's just one example of like yeah It does help if you're responding to things and you're being a person about it

Brianne: Yeah

Kate: So I think that's what I have always tried to say, is trying to be a person about it, not putting myself on any sort of weird pedestal or, you know, I am a brand. Actually just being a person about it and being really honest. This even goes into just the brand in general, if we go away from social media for a second. When I reply to emails, to corporates or to anyone, I am probably quite brutally honest. I never sit there thinking, should I send this email? I've never had an email sitting in my draft inbox that I'm wondering whether to send. I don't sit there. I literally just press send, I just make decisions.

Brianne: That's like the opposite of everybody's email advice. If you're angry, don't send it.

Kate: But I guess I'm not – when I'm pitching that, I'm not saying it's the angry emails that I send. I'm more thinking if I haven't replied to someone for ages or if I can't do a particular date, I'll tell them that I can't do that because I'm prioritising my family right now and I'm having dinner with my parents. Do you know what I mean?

Brianne: I love that. You don't make up some nonsense about it.

Kate: Yeah, and even if you're talking to a university student who has asked you to be part of their study or on their university podcast. You treat them and talk to them the same as you would talk to the CEO of something, you know, that's coming, getting you to come in to speak to their huge business. So, yeah, being pretty honest, I think that has meant for a lot of people I've also been able to teach a lot more because sometimes I've said that and like the whole I'm actually valuing the need to prioritise my family or something something along those lines right now people have come back and gone “Oh my gosh, that's so refreshing. I'm gonna take a week leave.” It's instigated and for me that's why I think we can exist is not you know is for sustainable living as a whole not just Environment type of stuff they think about sustainable for people and wellness. So I'm also doing my job by doing that. So yeah, I think those are some key, key things that have probably, that's just how I've always communicated with people, but I think it's helped people really remember me and remember our conversations and trusted.

Brianne: Yeah. I think I have one more question. You and I have talked a bit about separating Kate from ethically Kate and how you grow the biz without absolutely caning yourself for time, right? So this is something that comes up again quite a lot with businesses because I encourage people if it's appropriate for them to front their business to a degree because people buy from people, people want to understand who's behind a business. You obviously saw what I did with the Ethique, what I'm doing with Incrediballs, but it worked out well with the Ethique because it stood on its own two feet quite quickly. How have you done that with Ethically Kate and what do you plan to do in the future?

Kate: Yes, if I walked away from Ethically Kate right now, there wouldn't be Ethically Kate. Maybe I'd have the asset of the website and whatever to sell or give to someone, but it wouldn't exist. That's always in the back of my mind because to me, that's not a sustainable business and I need to work on that. But to me, it is a really hard thing, because like you said, being a person is your greatest asset. But then also, you have to think about the longevity of the business and what you want to do. So for me, I'll talk about two things. One, like how I've been able to actually continue to grow the business, but have me less involved. And then secondly, how I'm actually able to grow the business but not destroy my soul. Firstly, the whole physical thing and you only have so many hours in a day. Last year especially, I think it was last year, it was the year before, I made an intense goal of any task or anything that I'm doing, I need to think, can someone else do this? And if the answer is yes, then get contracts and stuff to do that for me, which I said to do and which is has been awesome. So I think for me actually like honestly asking myself that question is really hard too because I sit down, I use a signer for all my workflow things and now I go can I do this or can my research assistant? Do it and I said, oh no, I'll just do it because I can I just know the... blah blah blah. And then I actually asked myself honestly, can someone else do this? Yes, they can. And I think reminding myself that I'm not as special or important as I think I am, that actually other people can do it, especially with a little bit of training. So that was really helpful for me to actually just make it a full broad umbrella goal. Anything I'm doing, can someone else be doing this? Obviously to a point, because I can't, I don't have the funds to hire full-time people right now, but yeah. Secondly, separating Ethically Kate from Kate, so my soul is not crushed, has been just the constant thing on my mind because Ethically Kate has taken away from me as a person, it's taken away from my family, it's taken things away from my husband, those people have had to sacrifice me and time and capacity and energy. That's just a fact. And I acknowledge that and I really want to do better so that it takes away less. And so, yeah, I just worked on practical strategies around business, work time, social media time, changing habits like sitting down and messaging my friends and family before starting work, doing different things like that and having full social media free, business free days. Not just having a half day here and there, actually waking up at sunrise to sunset offline has been helpful for me personally, also for the business actually, in a funny way. But yeah, I think that's really, really important, separating those two things, because ethically came out of me, and how can I let it now continue to go? And that's a really hard one for me. I actually don't have a lot of answers to how it can...

Brianne: But it's good that you're thinking about it. And I think your message is strong enough to stand on its own two feet, and you will always be the face of it. It doesn't need you to do everything.

Kate: Yeah, I feel like there's a lot of different avenues that it could go down, you know, different people with, you know, I don't know, lots of guest writers on the website or, you know, blah, blah, blah, all this type of thing. Yeah, I think I'm in that decision-making mode right now around what different pathways, as you know.

Brianne: Yes, it is a tricky balance to walk. I have no doubt you'll manage. What would be your advice to somebody wanting to build a personal brand on social media, particularly in the sustainability space but not exclusively so?

Kate: Just to start sharing. Don't just share the sustainable stuff because it's really, really boring. Try to share as you can and feel comfortable. Other little bits and stuff of your life because at the end of the day no one's going to trust your advice unless they know you a bit better. So if you are starting a personal brand around that, again, treat it like just another social realm. That means not only creating content but engaging with a lot of other content. Find your people, comment on their stuff, you know, and treat other people as you would like to be treated. So comment on their things, you know, comment meaningfully, not just a little heart emoji. Not that that's bad, that has a time and a place, but, you know, be vocal and just get – it's so – it's amazing how easy it is to when you start just sharing any sort of content, but you're engaging and commenting on people in your same niche, how much it just flows from there. Even going into, say you want to do sustainable lifestyle influencing stuff, go onto my Instagram and click who I'm following and go through those people. A lot of them will be similar people out there. Or even my followers may have some sort of sustainable leaning that you can go in and engage in their content. Just treat it, again, like a social world that you're out and about you're talking to people you're networking you're being inspired by different content

Yeah, but I think from the first get-go. Set boundaries around what you're going to share where your personal lines are what things are yours and yours alone. What things are your communities to share because I have big parts of my life that I don't share but people think they know them all and it's important that you keep something for yourself and for those who are in your media realm. And also set boundaries. Don't have your bed by your phone. Anyone who has their bed by their phone, even if you're starting a business or share on social media or not, never have your bed by your phone. Your bed by your phone?

Brianne: We know what you mean.

Kate: Your phone by your bed. I put mine on charge in another space and have hours in the morning without it. That's really important to creating good content and to be able to show up properly rather than exhaustedly in both realms. Both social media and in person.

Brianne: I admire the intent. I am NOT going to do that. My point is always like what if somebody dies or if there's a fire and you don't hear your phone Um, I'm just not there yet. But I admire you for it.

Kate: I know that some people have certain situations you need a phone by your bed but get a landline or something.

Brianne: What is a landline? What even is that? I don't know a single person with a landline anymore. I don't even think they ask on forms anymore. It's adorable. Anything else you'd want to say about building some kind of personal brand? My point would be be consistent because we're doing a social media challenge at the moment at business with Beta and we started off with quite a few people and a few people have been like, oh, I don't know what to say today, so I'm gonna skip it. I get it consistency is the only way to succeed on social media, but it's fucking difficult.

Kate: Yeah, do you know I also say to like so I used to kind of yeah run people's social media and and do some kind of social media consulting stuff some people actually shouldn't show their face and talk on Instagram

Brianne: No, I know you mean, but I've just never heard anybody just be that honest.

Kate: No, but genuinely and I have said that to people both for and not like when I've been working with some companies I've been like hey you Have a really good talking voice you You know you would be great on camera and some people would say “hey, I can see you're really uncomfortable on camera” and focus on the beautiful infographics with your amazing info or something else, you know, who else in your business could do it like seriously that would probably be a big point because yes I need consistency. I agree with getting out of your comfort zone, but some people should just pick up on, they'll know, the people listening will know that they're so uncomfortable online and that actually may not change too much even if they practice. It's not going to change so much that you're going to actually enjoy it and your audience will know that.

Brianne: Yeah, you've got to really try it and give it a nudge, but if it doesn't come, it doesn't come and that's fine. There is no one way to show up on social media.

Kate: Yep, yep. But it'd be worse, I think, for people to just try to continue sometimes.

Brianne: Yes. I hear you. It is funny how you can turn on a camera or a microphone to someone and they'll go from perfectly normal to this weird perfect phone voice and their facial expressions are suddenly disjointed. And you think, what the fuck? What's happened to you?

Kate: Yeah, cameras, one of my friends, she's the most extroverted, outgoing person ever. The most well-spoken, incredible. The second you put a camera on her, she will shit her pants. It's so, it's just so crazy to me to see the contrast in a person when they're being, you know, recorded, you'd think they would be like, yeah. And they're amazing on camera, you know, when they get into the flow of it. It's quite psychological, these things. It's not as simple as just the surface level how to do social media. It really plays into our psyche and all these different personality traits and stuff.

Brianne: It surprises me, and perhaps naively so, but how many of these Business But Better members who are really frightened of putting their face out there, and I, for a while, I struggled to empathise because I was thinking, what is the worst that could happen? Because that's how I think, is what is the worst that could happen? And I mean, yeah, you could be trolled and there are total deaths on social media and I get it. But it's so much deeper than that for them. It's like themselves seeing themselves. It's actually nothing to do with other people. It's actually nothing to do with other people. So it's all very interesting.

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