Sarah Kilpatrick is the Co-Founder & Chief Brand Officer of Kefi, a modern family club designed for kids and parents.
Here is what Sarah had to say when we asked her about building and creating:
GenHERation®: How do you make effective decisions?
Sarah Kilpatrick: I tend to make decisions with my gut and instincts. It’s important to consider all of the “what ifs” and consequences of a decision without getting hung up on them. The best way to filter out the noise is to ask pointed questions to gather all of the relevant context and differing viewpoints. Once I have those inputs, I can hold them up against our vision, mission, and strategy, pass them through the gut check, and then make the ultimate decision.
GenHERation®: What is most important for entrepreneurs to keep in mind when pitching to investors?
Kilpatrick: Focus. This means staying true to your vision by doing one or two things really well. It’s easy to get carried away and want to be everything to everyone, but if you go that route, you’ll end up overpromising and letting everyone down.
GenHERation®: How should organizations create and maintain their culture?
Kilpatrick: Culture starts at the top and is formed with or without your active participation. As leaders, we’re constantly contributing to the normalization of certain behaviors, good or bad. It takes intentionality and effort to create and maintain a healthy culture, which is simply the totality of behavior you do (or don’t) allow. If leadership is taking a passive role and not actively leading the charge, talking about “culture” quickly becomes a gimmick that is disingenuous to the team and the customers they serve. We have to lead by example and incorporate our values into everything we do and say.
GenHERation®: What are two ways to promote diversity of thought in the workplace?
Kilpatrick: In one of our recent team meetings, we talked about the concept of radical candor, inspired by author and executive coach Kim Scott’s new book. Creating a diverse and productive work environment means acknowledging your own shortcomings, facilitating honest feedback amongst your team, and maintaining a dialogue. At Kefi, we regularly bring the team together to address feedback our team submitted anonymously, both good and bad. We take the time to listen to concerns, taking special care to acknowledge and express gratitude to our associates, which also fosters camaraderie and transparency.
GenHERation®: How can you bring your whole self to work, while also being a brand ambassador for your company?
Kilpatrick: Bringing your whole self to work and being a brand ambassador aren’t mutually exclusive. Know there’s a distinction between yourself and the company brand and try to focus on the areas where they overlap. This is especially important if you’re in a leadership role. For example, I can have a personal “brand” as a private individual, but in order to be an effective leader, I can’t have a different mission or focus from the company. At Kefi, we value and recognize families of all different shapes and sizes, and we take the same approach in our hiring process. We celebrate the differences everyone brings to the table, but the fundamental commonality we share is a mutual respect and understanding that everyone should have the opportunity to play and work to their fullest potential. As long as you believe in that core value, being a Kefi brand ambassador comes pretty easy.
GenHERation®: What are two key elements of creating a well-known brand?
Kilpatrick: Consistency is key. We’re still a young brand, so we’re taking the time to build a consistent look, feel, and tone. Over time, this builds trust because our customers and partners know exactly where we stand. Also, if there are opportunities to collaborate with other trusted, more established brands, do it. Mutually beneficial partnerships can be a really great shorthand for existing and new customers to better understand your values.
GenHERation®: When it is time for a business to scale, what is the first step it should take?
Kilpatrick: Don’t just scale for the sake of scaling. Growth has to make business sense and meet a market need. If you’re ready to scale, take stock of how it will impact the quality of the product and services you provide to your customer base. Are you able to maintain it or improve upon it? Are the processes and systems in place able to scale at a manageable rate? If you’ve answered no or you’re unable to answer those questions, scaling may not be the right move.
GenHERation®: What is the most important skill entrepreneurs should possess?
Kilpatrick: You have to believe in what you’re doing more than anyone else. Whether it’s keeping a smile on your face while dealing with naysayers or helping your team stay on track, it’s important to be in it for the right reasons. Being an entrepreneur is hard and if you’re expecting to get money and status without putting in the time and work, I guarantee you’re going to be disappointed. Having conviction in what I’m doing has also helped me get the grit and confidence I needed to work through tough situations and not be afraid of failure. I love the saying “mission matters more than me” because keeping that vision and goal in the forefront of your mind is like having a north star to guide you on your journey. When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re not just coming up with an idea — you’re creating an entire ecosystem made up of teams and groups that exist on collaboration.
Sarah Kilpatrick is the Co-Founder & Chief Brand Officer of Kefi, a modern family club designed for kids and parents. After law school, Sarah’s passion for entrepreneurship and creative thinking led her to join Chick fil A’s Red Wagon Ventures group. Red Wagon Ventures is the venture arm of Chick-fil-A, founded in January 2017 to create new, non-food businesses that deliver significant growth outside the current Chick-fil-A operations. During her time there the concept of Kefi – a modern family club – was born. Sarah then joined Kefi full-time and served as the VP of Culture + Brand Activation. Kefi is a sophisticated playspace for the next generation of parents. Offering a safe and stimulating environment for kids to learn and play while parents relax in one of the adults-only coworking spaces, take a yoga class, or catch up with friends at their café. Currently located in Atlanta, Kefi is looking to launch in several other cities over the next few years and Sarah is helping to scale the business nationally.