We are continuing the “Celebrating Phenomenal Women” series with Katie Schmidt!
What a small world – Katie was my RA in college my freshman year. She was a kind, beautiful person inside and out who had dreams of becoming a teacher. Today, she’s changing the world as a teacher, small business owner, wife, & mom. When I first launched the nomination form, I secretly hoped someone would nominate her because she’s one busy entrepreneur!
Can you tell readers about yourself?
I go by Katie, Kate, Mama, or Mrs.Schmidt. But you can call me Katie! Two things you should know about me—I adore my family and if I’m not creating, I get sad. I have a degree in English education that I put to use daily teaching to Chinese students via the Internet. I’m also currently searching for the perfect high school to teach at—I had to leave a perfect little school in new York due to my husband’s job.
Can you explain your job teaching Chinese students? How did that start?
I work for a company called VIPKid. It’s an online one-on-one English tutoring company. Kids in China are paired with teachers in America! One of my close friends told me about it and she said I should apply to be a teacher for it. I’m so glad I did—It’s a really fun, easy, and rewarding job. It’s a perfect side job for me because it’s flexible. I can do it anywhere that I get internet access. Best of all? I can wear sweatpants and not have to leave home to make money. I’m able to decide what time and when I want to teach. Because of the time difference, it’s night classes. I teach a few 25 minute classes a night. I work with ages 5-13. The students are a DREAM and they’re SO cute! They’re always excited to see me and learn English.
Let’s talk about your photography journey for a minute. What got you to fall in love with it?
I’ve been so obsessed with photographing EVERYTHING for as long as I can remember. When I graduated from high school, my mom and dad threw me a party and I was gifted lots of advice and money from close friends and family. The advice I carry with me always, and the money? Half was put into my college fund (as was the policy growing up in the Garcia house) and the other half I spent to buy my first DSLR camera. I started by photographing friends and family that would let me. Soon I started charging and as my work improved, I was able to make a decent amount and take pride in my work. I look back at some of my first work and laugh at how awful it looks to me now. But that’s what is cool about sticking with something—you get to look back and see how far you’ve come.
How about your Etsy shop? What was the motivation to start that up?
My Etsy shop started when I finished college. I moved into a house with my new husband in a new state with no idea where I was headed next (career wise). I found so much comfort in creating my beauty products and helping others with similar skin issues as myself. I shut it down when I got a full time teaching job, but still gifted my creations to friends. It’s up and running again and doing better than ever! I love my creations and have so much confidence that others will too.
Do you still hope to teach again? If so, still high school English?
Oh goodness, yes. I would love nothing more than to get back into a classroom! Teaching is who I am. Whether it’s teaching Of Mice And Men to nervous and quiet freshmen, or teaching my daughter itsy bitsy spider, or teaching a friend how to do a DIY project. Teaching is a huge part of who I am. I miss the classroom, and would love to jump back into it, but for now, I’m enjoying being home with my daughter.
In your opinion, which has been more challenging for you – being a teacher, wife, mom, or business owner?
Is this a trick question? Because honestly, it’s all so hard. It’s not easy to teach adolescents or to change diapers or to keep up with a business. It’s not easy remembering to let your husband tell you about HIS day when you’ve been wanting to vent to someone all day. It’s all hard. But when the day is done, I have a daughter to kiss goodnight, a business and jobs to be proud of, and a husband who loves me for exactly who I am—a busy body.
Now you seem to like to have a full plate, how do you make time for yourself? Do you ever get burnt out?
I think the best way to avoid burn out is to know when to take a break. I feel like being a teacher has taught me this best. If I’m feeling exhausted or irritable, I know to stop and take a break. I listen to my body and emotions. If I need to get work done but I’m not feeling good or 100% me, I put it off. Work that’s done when you’re not yourself isn’t worth doing. You know? You’ll just look back at it and redo it, so just take a pause and return when you’re ready.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Chesnie and I wake at 7:30 and eat something healthy. She eats so slowly. I always finish 25 min before her. While she finishes, I read to her. We’ve always got a stack of children’s books on our kitchen table from our local library ready to read at bfast! At 8:30, we either play or clean or both simultaneously. She’ll do LEGO’s and I’ll vacuum. Usually it’s more playing than cleaning. She loves following me and helping. Depending on the day, we run errands or watch Mickey Mouse clubhouse or play some more until nap time. She goes down at 12:30/1 and sleeps for 2.5ish hours (god bless her). While she sleeps I do a VERY quick workout (I’m taking like 10-20 minutes), get some Etsy work done, Edit pictures, take a shower, schedule, package items, research, and prep dinner. Usually I’ll also sit down and watch an episode of friends or new girl (and eat a snack) if time permits. Once she is up, we make dinner together and play, build, and read some more. We eat once my husband comes home around 5:30/6. My husband reads Harry Potter as we wind down for her bedtime. She goes down by 7:30 for the night. Once she is down, I usually teach a few online classes (1.5 hours worth). Then I lay the hell down and relax—usually by 9:00!
What kind of music do you enjoy jamming out to? Unless you prefer a more quiet atmosphere while you work?
With a big cup of coffee and some 90s music, I’m able to accomplish anything! I’m also a big fan of country when the weather is warm. Oh! And once Halloween is over, the Christmas music is on 24/7!
Have you faced any disappointments in your career/hobbies?
Oh too many to count. Teaching has shaken me in so many ways. But it also has shaped me and built me to be who I am today. As a mom, I feel guilt almost hourly. I think most moms can relate. Are we spending enough time reading? Are we doing too much Mickey Mouse? Should she eat more veggies? I’ve been disappointed in myself for trivial things my whole life. I always thought maybe it was a low confidence thing, but my husband helped me realize it’s not about low confidence, but about passion. I care deeply about everything. And that in itself is exhausting. If you care and are passionate, you’re bound to feel disappointment. They just go hand in hand.
Who is your biggest motivator – your cheerleader, the one that helps get you through the rough days?
I am very lucky to have a mom and dad who believe in me. They’ve always pushed me to be my best. I’m also the luckiest to have a husband who encourages me to reach for the stars. He hasn’t ever told me “don’t do it” Or “you cant.” Also, my babe. Her little laugh gets me over any bad moment, day, or week. She needs me and I need her.
It’s safe to say you’ve traveled a little around the States. If you had to pick one city to settle down in for good, where would you go?
There really is no place like home. Really. After being away, I can confidently say I can not wait to go back to WI. Although if I win the lottery, I’ll be buying a cabin in Montana, a beach house in Florida, a barn in Washington, and an apartment in Boston (specifically Beacon Hill).
What was your biggest struggle, getting to where you are and the person you’ve become?
Controlling my passion. And control in general. I had learned to let things go, to put them on pause. I’ve learned to not let a passion become an obsession. And as for control—I’ve learned to let it go (for the most part). I use to get so upset when things didn’t go exactly to plan. When control was lost, I would start physically shaking and tearing up. It’s a real, terrible struggle. I’ve learned to bend a little and let things unfold. I am still very much a control freak, but becoming a mother has taught me to relax a bit.
What would you say to the younger Katie?
Oh my god. So much. First of all—good work on making GOOD friends. I still have so many friends from my childhood. Secondly, be kinder and more patient with your teachers. Thirdly, the problem might be you but it might also be them. And lastly, the best is yet to come—keep your eyes and heart open.
I, like many, feel awkward in front of the camera. What advice can you give to the ladies before they step in front of the camera themselves?
Pretend it’s not there! Don’t even look at it. Start by talking with your spouse and holding hands and just breathe. The person behind the camera knows what they’re doing! Trust them.
Have any plans for this summer?
This summer I’ll be husband-less. Boo. My husband is in the Navy and will be underway for a few months. So as much as I’m looking forward to the warmer weather, I’m also okay waiting for it and enjoying having him home. To keep busy, I’ve decided to do the local farmers market. I’m going to have a tent and booth there selling OHSO. I’m very excited to get out in the community and spread my products to the locals!
One of the motivations for this series is to prove that we women can raise each other up without having to tear someone down in the process. What advice do you have for the woman who feels torn down right now?
I love this message. Making someone else feel small won’t make you ANY taller. My advice to worn out, torn down, and deflated women? You’re not alone—I see you. I AM you. We are all only human and we are all so fragile. When I feel down about myself, I have found that helping others ALWAYS makes me feel better. Always. Guaranteed.
Thank you, Katie! I think it’s safe to say you encourage all of us to take a break from the Netflix binge & get busy with our dreams.
And don’t forget to follow the shop on Instagram too!
Interested in working from home, teaching English to Chinese students, like Katie? Click here to learn more.
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