Q+A: Caty Cote, Flourish Collaborative
Caty started earning her design stripes as a teenage intern for a high-end residential interior designer in New York City, learning the ropes while hauling totes of fabric and (gratefully) being present during all aspects of the design process. While at the Interior Design program at SCAD, Caty also fell in love with Fiber Arts and the ability to create a personal, handmade product. Most recently, Caty has worked as a design consultant for a products-based company, guiding clients to make aesthetic connections. FLOCO is able to use Caty's experience as a thoughtful design curator to create a solid and honest identity package. Because we're #fearless, we wanted to give you a deeper look at what we're currently dealing with, both as individuals and as a team.
What's the one thing people typically don't know about you?
A lot of people don't know that I'm classically trained in voice- I even applied to colleges as a "music" or "musical theater" major! I sang in public often and for lots of different events. It wasn't until the very end of my senior year of high school that I met an interior designer who would become my mentor, and my career focus shifted. Nowadays, my singing is mostly limited to my apartment or my car and is usually Adele or Ella Fitzgerald. (Erica wouldn't let me use "Beyonce" anywhere in this post, so I'll save her for another time.)
Why did you want to start Flourish Collaborative?
I always knew I wanted to be a part of a workflow that was unconventional, and where I could redefine the rules of what it means to have a successful career. I remember being 21 and interning for a super established, high-end architectural firm and absolutely hating it. Even though I was in an enviable position, I couldn't get past what I felt was a pointless corporate structure, and most importantly not feeling like I was allowed to be myself. It was also the first time I felt that as a woman, my job was valued far less than a man's. If the secretary was out of the office for lunch, it was one of the "girl's" (as the women in the office were called, regardless of position) responsiblities to answer the phone. When Erica approached me with the idea to start this fabulous "thing" that helped creatives and also was opportunity to fulfill our own career needs, it was the perfect time to go after what I wanted. Two boss ladies working together and running the show? Yes please.
What were some of your hesitations going into it?
The biggest hesitation going into FLOCO was being afraid I wouldn't be good enough-a good enough designer, a good enough business owner, a good enough partner. I am a staunch perfectionist and in lots of ways, that trait makes my life really fulfilling, because I don't settle for anything I don't want. Being a perfectionist becomes hard when your biggest competitor is yourself and you don't give yourself enough credit. Erica is my biggest cheerleader and doesn't let me fall into this trap.
What has been your #1 struggle as Flourish has gone from concept to launch?
My biggest struggle so far has been trying to stop myself from playing fortune teller. When you start a business, no matter how many books you read or how bad-ass your business plan is, you never know what's going to happen. I'm realizing that's okay. Even throughout the projects Erica and I have worked on, we can go into them thinking we have this totally solid idea of what it's going to be, but then the project turns out to be something completely and wonderfully different. It's like we're finding these valuable nuggets that we wouldn't have found if we didn't start to begin with.
How has your concept of Flourish shifted from day one and now?
The concept for Flourish has stayed the same for me, but the execution of things has changed. I don't think Flourish will ever not be about giving the tools creatives need to be successful, but our process, our exact target, and our delivery has evolved.
What's the single thing currently keeping you up at night?
Excitement. Days can be long and it can feel like there isn't enough time or manpower to get things done, but worrying about those things never keeps me up. It's the excitement of creating and giving something valuable to people who deserve it.
Where do you see FLOCO in five years?
Well traveled, well slept, and well immersed in a thriving creative community. I want FLOCO to be a total reference guide for what it means to keeping it real and creating your own successful path.