*Kaitlyn, Michelle, and Willow are the founders of Scout Lab–a brand design firm focused on building brands that cut through the noise. The trio is bringing 35+ years of brand experience at Airbnb, Levi’s, Fitmob, and more to give brands the spark they need to connect with a modern audience.
Tell us a bit about your story. How did you decide you wanted to quit your jobs and build Scout lab?
MN: The company was originally a side hustle. Kaitlyn and I had been consulting for awhile with a few of our friends–and then–we met Willow. Willow was working on her own projects on the side and we decided to come together!
KB: We started working on pitch decks for Scout Lab, which felt so exciting. Not too long after, there was this magical moment where Michelle, Willow and I were all looking for the next step in our career. I realized if we didn’t go full-force into Scout Lab, someone might get a full-time gig before we could get off the ground. For me, that’s when Scout Lab transformed from a side hustle, to a bonafide main hustle. We landed our first client and the rest is history.
What is your favorite part of what you do?
WH: My favorite part of what I do is working alongside smart, ambitious people on solving problems we care about. We work with cutting edge companies that are changing the game in their respective fields–be it in agriculture, health and wellness,or fashion. Our work keeps us inspired and gets us up in the morning. The digital landscape is also always changing so there is always something new to learn and implement– which we love.
How have you been able to lift other women up? Can you talk a bit about how you’ve seen the benefit of women supporting women?
WH: It fortunately comes very naturally to us, so we started by supporting one another. In the beginning, it was a function of finding female entrepreneurs who had a vision and supporting them. Now it’s a function of finding companies, big and small, that embrace diversity and setting them apart from the crowd.
KB: We constantly have our eye out for badass female entrepreneurs. One of our first clients is an amazing hatmaker who we met out one night shortly after we incorporated. She was talented, incredibly sharp, had an amazing vision for her retail business and was essentially looking for an enabler to tell her, “you should do this.” We ended up onboarding her as one of our first clients. Fast forward six months, and she has now launched her website, Teressa Foglia and her first retail location in New York.
MN: We also work on building personal brands for female executives. It’s a service we’ve created that we believe can really help empower individuals to develop and own their voice.
What was something meaty you had to overcome to get to where you are?
KB: Knowing where to start! There’s this terrifying moment when starting a service business, which comes directly after you decide to jump into the deep-end and just before you have a defensible client portfolio. You’re left pushing forward on hope, a vision and a lot of coffee.
WH: We endlessly sourced our network and did cold outreach. You have to have blind faith that your experience, intuition and vision will resonate with others. Thankfully for us, it has. Getting over that initial fear of failure can stop a lot of people from ever starting in the first place. We’re lucky we’ve had each other to inspire us through those times.
We're all about information here. Can you think of a time you learned something that made you feel more powerful?
KB: Women need to understand the massive economic power they have in our global economy. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bridgetbrennan/2015/01/21/top-10-things-everyone-should-know-about-women-consumers/#5fb74c126a8b. However, we’re the first to be ignored when it comes to brand creative or product design. It makes total sense when you learn that 11% of creative directors are female. This is a major issue (and an opportunity!) that we’re tackling head on.
How do you stay sane? What are some of your favorite habits for wellness?
MN: I have a two year old pug who is also a certified Emotional Support Animal (ESA). I’ve suffered from generalized anxiety, insomnia, and panic disorder most of my adult life and finally my doctor added a dog to my regime in addition to pilates, yoga, a healthy diet, and medication. Taking my dog on walks is a good reminder to slow down and take care of myself–especially when we get busy. There have been times for all of us when our self care began to slip! Now we always make time to exercise and get proper sleep.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever gotten?
MN: “It’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission”. I think a lot of women can relate to this. It basically means take the plunge, don’t be afraid to fail, and if you do fail you can ask for forgiveness later.
Modern women are no longer sitting around waiting for someone to tell them what they can and cannot do.
What does being a Modern woman mean to you?
KB: Being a modern woman means owning who you are unabashedly. If you’re loud, be loud. If you’re soft, be soft. If you’re creative, be creative. Now more than ever, the world needs examples of women who walk all different paths in life. We’re doctors, we’re politicians, we’re entrepreneurs and we’re housewives. We need to celebrate all paths of womanhood equally. Being a modern woman simply means you call the shots in your life, regardless of external gendered expectations.
How do you think about fertility in the context of your life? Do you think that will shift?
WH: Being young female entrepreneurs, we are all deeply invested in our careers. Studies have shown that women’s increasing access to opportunity in education and the workforce often means having children later in life. Regardless we don’t believe you need to want children to want access to information on your fertility or your health. Women should have the ability to know what that means for them. Fertility is commonly a taboo topic, but we don’t believe it should be that way. From a medical perspective it is such an opaque subject and it can be hard to know how to navigate it (until now thanks to you guys!). We want women to have access to information in all aspects of their lives and fertility should be at the top of that list.
MN: We believe that with access to fertility information women can further understand their bodies, and therefore make the best decisions for themselves. This applies to all kinds of women, not just the ones who want to start a family.