Kate Kittredge, Floral Designer

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Kate Kittredge, Floral Designer

City: San Francisco, California

Passion: Floral Design

Business Sitewww.bloomthat.com

When Kate reached out to us, without even meeting her we could tell she was a muse. She not only shared her story of leaving a high status job, at Google to pursue her love for flower design, but also offered to help us as a company and indeed curated and designed our flowers for Shine. Besides running her own business, Kate is the Creative Director at San Francisco's most loved startup Bloomthat.

On Tuesday morning, Elle, our videographer extraordinnaire woke up at sunrise to accompany Kate through her ritual of visiting the flower market, then stopped by her studio for some arrangements before spending time with her beautiful child Noe. 

This video left us with tears of hope and admiration about what one can do to live a passionate life.

 

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Chip Conley: Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, Thinker

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Chip Conley: Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, Thinker

This story is part of the Special Edition series by Souls of San Francisco for The Passion Co.

 

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City: San Francisco, California

Passion: Curiosity

Business Sitewww.fest300.com

Personal Site: www.chipconley.com

 

What’s your story?

“I grew up in Long Beach, LBC; I went to Snoop Dogg’s high school. I was the curious white boy in a predominately black public high school.  Loved it. Long Beach Poly High School. No high school in the US has more NBA and NFL pro athletes than that school. They call it the school of scholars and champions and it was.”

Pretty awesome.

“Yeah, so after that I went to Stanford, got an MBA and studied visual art. I moved to San Francisco when I was 23 and two and a half years later I started a hotel company called ‘Joie de Vivre.' My first hotel was in the Tenderloin and it’s called The Phoenix.”

I know that place. You guys host ArtPad there! That’s an awesome event.

“Yeah, I love that one. That was my first hotel 27 years ago.  Since then I’ve created 52 more boutique hotels. I like doing creative things. I’ve written 4 books, I travel around and give a lot of speeches. My passion is a website I have that features the 300 best festivals in the world. It’s called Fest300. I’ve been to 32 festivals in 22 countries this year. "

32 festivals this year?

"What can I say…I’m a curious white boy. Cultural curiosity is something I learned very early. I’m fortunate that I was ‘the other’ growing up because that’s not something many white people experience. And I’m gay too so that’s another layer. Being ‘the other’ is very valuable, it can be very painful too, but there’s some value in it that helps you to understand other people. "

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"The world is full of ‘the others’. We have 7 billion people on the planet today, we’ll have 10 billion in 30 years so we better get to know ‘the others’."

So that’s what the festival circuit is all about?

"Exactly. It’s all about cultural curiosity. I went to a whirling dervish festival in central Turkey that celebrates Rumi, the poet: the first whirling dervish. It was beautiful. And to go as an American to a muslim festival in a very devout part of Turkey is something we need more of."

 

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Natalia Bushyager, Café Owner & Chef

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Natalia Bushyager, Café Owner & Chef

City: San Francisco, California

Passion: Hospitality

Business Site: www.picniconthird.com

Personal Site: Kitchit Profile

 

The first thing that came to mind when I met Natalia was Passion. I kept hearing from different friends about this super incredible woman, who landed at Chez Panisse's kitchen door and now is pursuing her dream of opening a cafe and running multiple food initiatives in SF. Natalia opened her home for us and with true hospitality served us a delicious white fish dish and incredible wine. We learned about where her confidence and passion come from. I also learned what a huge heart she has. Natalia offered to help me with a fundraiser and followed through, giving her all despite her busy schedule. The truth is that she does it with everyone and everything.

On Passion

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I’m from South Carolina and had an acre garden growing up so I have always been growing, gathering, preparing and preserving food. My momma also encouraged my brother and I to cook in the kitchen. I experimented in our home kitchen following the expected path of high school and college. After college, I moved to Chicago in anticipation of going to Northwestern to pursue my Physical Anthropology career in academia. Waiting for the fall semester- and the coldest winter in the past decade- I found myself throwing dinner parties a few times a week. I decided then that my passion was cooking and hospitality and I should pursue it.

On Mastery

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I started with recognizing my passion, coming up with a plan and then putting all of my energy into it. When I was an unpaid intern at Chez Panisse, I biked 10 miles to work at 6 am and got home at 7 or 8 pm nightly. Slept and repeated. It was my world and I had the space to do it with no distractions.
I have lived in the Bay Area for 5 years now and have worked in 3 Top 100 Best of the Bay Restaurants: Chez Panisse, Camino & Foreign Cinema. I also went to a start-up catering company and grew it from 2 to 50 employees in a little over a year and a half. Currently, I’m opening my own space in SOMA called Picnic on Third. During construction of the restaurant, I teach cooking lessons and also throw dinner parties using Kitchit.

On Transition

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I enrolled in culinary school in Chicago and told my family (they weren’t surprised at all). After a month of school, I decided I should get into a kitchen. I dropped out and flew to the Bay Area, and with no formal kitchen experience, I walked into Chez Panisse and asked if I could have an internship. They accepted!

On Failure

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I am not sure if I would call this a failure or just part of the process. With me, I started from scratch in a kitchen. Compared to the other cooks my age, I was way behind and had years of learning, practicing, and honing my skills to become competitive or even hireable. I had amazing mentors and was able to execute and repeat the techniques sufficiently and then proficiently.
I have been an intern, line cook, executive chef and now a business owner/chef and am able to troubleshoot more effectively. I am capable of extracting the lesson from the failure and moving forward.

On Fear

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My biggest fear is that my body will not be able to keep up with my career. I am generally healthy: I exercise, eat well and get enough sleep, but I get very sick about once a year. Two years ago, I had a H.Pylori (stomach ulcer) and last year I suffered from the symptoms of typhoid. I also have sustained neck and back injuries that flare up.
My biggest fear about living my passion was money. Line cooks make about $12 an hour and living in San Francisco is very expensive. I had to figure out how to thrive in this industry. I generally overcome my fears by visualizing myself overcoming them. Usually, it is an interaction or situation that I fear so I envision myself running through the situation multiple times before going into it.

On Money

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I decided to become a cook right after college, so I didn’t have a lifestyle yet. It was easy to move out here and follow the dream. Money became difficult when I wanted to travel again. I moved to catering for a more money and a daytime/weekday schedule.

On Self-Love

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Self-love for me equals confidence, whether unfounded or not. I think my confidence and sheer drive have allowed for me to move up in this industry.
I take care of myself by setting limits and having days off. Running a kitchen is a stressful and rigorous job: on-call every day of the week. Boundaries really help and travel, of course, without technology. I don’t work out but my job is very physical and I do enjoy biking.

On Inspiration

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My husband, Jesse inspires me. He encourages and supports me to master my craft. He is also very driven in his career and is an excellent soundboard for strategy and career moves. My momma also inspires me. She is my biggest fan and has been my cheerleader for a long time.

On Support

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I have a ton of mentors in all departments: Legal, Financial, Life, Food. One of my favorite food mentors is Leigh Loper. We started line cooking together three and a half years ago at Foreign Cinema and then she was my right hand at the catering company. She is extremely talented, knowledgeable and involved with food. She is my other half in the kitchen.

Advice to the Community 

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I think the first thing is identifying your passion (Note: my definition of passion is something that you naturally gravitate to and do in your spare time). You should be learning and practicing your passion when you are not working. Also, I think there is a big difference between passion as a hobby and passion as your job. Do the research, do it part-time and test it out. It would be a shame to jump into something that you do not find fun anymore or don’t have the skills necessary to execute. If you find yourself thinking about your passion and practicing/learning it, then go for it. Jump in with a smile, it’s fun!

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