In this interview we speak to Kathy Divine who has been doing great work in Australia with the creation of her plant-powered women conference series. It was great to hear what motivates Kathy and discover her plans for 2018 and beyond.
To celebrate International Women's Week (yeah, we think it should be a week) and our upcoming Vevolution Topics: Entrepreneurs event on the 13th March we've created an IWD series where we've hand selected some inspiring entrepreneurial women to tell us their stories. This series is in collaboration with Badass Vegan Women.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and the Plant Powered Women conference – how did it all start?
I'm the author of vegan books and founder of a magazine Australian Vegans Journal. The Plant-Powered Women Leadership Conference Series came about as an extension of one of my books Plant-Powered Women. Several of the women featured in the book will be speaking at the conferences. My first vegan advocacy project was my blog www.vegansarecool.com. It launched in or around 2009. While I was interviewing vegans for my blog, I started publishing books and everything grew from there.
Why did you create a conference specifically promoting plant-based and vegan women?
Vegan women make up the majority of the movement and do incredible work promoting veganism and advocating for animals, yet are not the most visible. In Australia, there was a lack of opportunities for vegan women to be seen and heard. When I looked into it, I found out that vegan women are, in fact, very keen to speak about their work, impart their knowledge and experience, basically be seen and heard more. Once the news got out about the conferences, I received numerous messages and emails from women outside Australia wanting to be involved. That's when the conference series idea started to move beyond Australia. We've received interest in it from all corners of the globe. It's incredible.
The publishing industry is notorious for being a male dominated industry. What has your experience been being a female author?
I honestly wasn't aware of that. The way I approach everything is to keep in my own lane: do what I do and just focus on producing the best work I can with whatever resources I have available to me at the time. I don't compare myself to anyone else. My focus is on being the best version of myself and striving for excellence. Being an author in general requires a lot of discipline, work, and belief and passion in your subject matter. I'm hyper focused in that sense, so I don't tend to notice what is going on a lot in the outer world.
Definitely, within the niche of 'vegan' the speaking opportunities and the attention is definitely more on men, no matter what they are doing. The conference series has definitely been inspired by those observations and it has all turned out well because it's shaping up to be an amazing set of events.
What five words would you use to describe your career path?
Self-made, innovative, creative, unconventional, varied
In the past some people would frown upon making money out of veganism. Being a vegan entrepreneur what are your thoughts on this?
For me, it's very important that I provide great value, no matter what I am doing. If you provide great value and solve a problem or provide a great service or product for someone, they will be grateful and will tell their friends. Focus on the long term, establish trust and really care about the people you are serving. In this way, people will be more than happy to support what you are doing.
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
My spiritual teacher Supreme Master Ching Hai and her idea to create a worldwide chain of vegan restaurants – Loving Hut. The philosophy of the restaurants is all about advocating for veganism in a positive way and serving the community by providing delicious vegan food for a reasonable price. This has underpinned everything I do: great value, great service and positive vegan advocacy.
What drives you to work everyday?
The image of a vegan world, and a peaceful world. Knowing that we can all do our little parts to create this and that together we will make it happen.
For women entrepreneurs, what specific advice would you have for young women who would like to become an entrepreneur? Are there specific advantages, disadvantages to being a women business owner?
Do something you are really passionate about. Do your market research and due diligence. Crunch your numbers. Understand the importance of branding and marketing. Approach it as an adventure and understand there will be lots to learn and lots of work. Have fun! Don't take yourself too seriously. Don't get caught up in your own PR (stay humble, remember your vision, realise that a big ego will inevitably lead to disaster in one way or another). This is all general advice I would give anyone wanting to start a business.
To young women I would say, believe in yourself. You have incredible potential. Experiment, explore your talents. Give yourself the freedom to fail and begin again. Life is an adventure. Ride the wave. You don't need to have it all figured out straight away. Let life evolve as it does and approach everything with a playful curiosity.
I don't know much about the advantages or disadvantages of being a women business owner, but I know that if you find your niche within a niche and really focus on that, you can be really successful. Focus on your positive work, ignore the haters and keep producing great value for your customers. Be consistent. Be truly honest and authentic. Within all of us, we have something unique that will set us apart and we can all take advantage of that, in a positive way, to create something special for the world. When you find what that is within you, you will have all the advantages you need. I turn my weaknesses into strengths and I think this is important in creating a positive business mindset. I am not known for being a great public speaker, but yet I have created a series of speaking events that are going global. That's pretty funny when you think about it! I enjoy having fun with life and challenging myself.
My advantage is my hyper focus. That is something that stems from being on the autism spectrum. Having this kind of focus comes in handy when being a publisher because it requires a lot of concentration. We all have advantages and disadvantages in our individual situations. Quite honestly, my life isn't often easy at all, but I strive to capitalise on what I can do and make the best out of it. This hyper focus has also helped me in the mentoring service I offer to first-time authors. Be innovative in what you offer and figure out how you can create multiple income streams based around the theme of what you are doing.
What do you do for fun and to relax outside of being an author, mentor, coach + conference organiser?
I love playing the drums. I've been playing for a couple of years. Music is a great outlet for relaxation and drumming has been found to have multiple therapeutic health benefits. The beach is my heaven on Earth so any beach-related activities like surfing, stand-up paddle boarding or even body surfing provide great fun and enjoyment for me. Also, just hanging out with close friends and eating at my favourite vegan restaurants is fun for me too.
How can women entrepreneurs help each other?
I love this! My favourite topic.
“Collaboration, not competition” is my favourite saying.
Support and encourage each other. Share tips and advice. Be genuinely happy about the success of others. When we genuinely come from a place of wanting to see others succeed, opportunities will come up to help each other thrive.
How do you find inspiration?
Inspiration finds me. Daily meditation infuses me with inspiration. I would be nothing and nowhere without it.
Who are some of your favourite inspiring female entrepreneurs?
This is a massive question! There are so many. I hesitate to mention anyone for fear of leaving someone else out. Anyone who is working towards a peaceful, vegan world inspires me.
What are your hopes for your projects in 2018 and the future?
In 2018, my aim is to create a series of inspiring conferences throughout Australia, continue to help aspiring authors publish their first book successfully and create an online course so more people can access the information and experience I have to offer in terms of successful independent publishing. Beyond 2018, I aim to publish a new book based on the conferences and vegan women in leadership and continue my studies towards becoming a naturopath for animals.