For L.A. based writer and artist, Kate Ferguson, creating is life. Although she spent a fair amount of time navigating through odd jobs and low paying freelance gigs, Ferguson knew she wanted to create for a living and now, that’s precisely what she is doing.
As the editor and brains behind Divvy Magazine, created to support all things expansive, elevating, and artistic, Ferguson is on a mission to share her love of art, innovation, culture and authenticity.
I spoke with Kate via email and I’m so excited to have collaborated with her and to share her journey with you. Read her interview below where she talks freelancing, building Divvy Mag and the courage to share your story.
Can you speak about your journey to creating Divvy Magazine? What inspired you to create this platform?
I like storytelling in all its different forms and I’m curious about people in general, so that’s probably where my inspiration started. Also sharing - the name Divvy came from divvy up. But I’ve been making magazines and newspapers since I was a kid so I think I always kind of had that in my head. I was really into what people say and why, but also ads, design - all that.
I started freelance writing professionally a few years before I started my own digital magazine. At the time I started writing, I was studying acting and tiring of odd jobs. I wanted to figure out how to do creative work that would also support my other creative work, if that makes sense. So I started writing, which was a mixture of entertainment journalism and really random content writing for other businesses. I first got a writing internship, which I applied to with some personal blog posts. After I had a few professional samples I found another gig on Craigslist, and kept repeating that cycle until I could go freelance full-time.
I had many great experiences doing that, but it kind of stalled and my career wasn’t progressing the way I hoped it might. I was balancing tons of small (often low paying) gigs at once, which wasn’t really sustainable for me at the time. I was looking for the next growth step and couldn’t find it.
Around that time I started a two-year period of screenwriting in the evenings, and writing day and night is a recipe for mushy brain. I then paused on a lot of the freelance writing and pivoted to doing more marketing/PR/social media work, which offered a little more stability. I had pondered starting a site of my own for a while and eventually it just seemed weird not to. It definitely took a while to get the gumption…I owned the domain for a couple years before I actually started. But once I did I couldn’t stop.
As for the concept of Divvy, there’s definitely an intention of offering a voice/space to authentic people doing interesting and creative things, at any stage in their career. Initially it started as a lot of stuff that simply interests me. I like pop culture and sub cultures, I’m passionate about everything from mental health to music and fashion. I like untouched film photography but also highly manipulated digital art. I think that when approached from the theme of expansiveness and growth, a lot of different topics can be addressed in the same place. My hope is that people visit because of one interest and then stay because something new spoke to them! Or that they want to collaborate in some way. That’s what it’s about.
Have you always been a creative person? What are some of your favorite mediums to express yourself with?
Yeah always. Growing up I was writing, taking photos, acting for an imaginary audience, drawing, and at the point that I could get my hands on a video camera, making movies with my toys and forcing people to be on my imaginary talk shows. I went through a long period of time as an adult where my creativity dulled a bit, I felt a lot of pressure and had A LOT of fear about fully expressing myself. Which is the worst feeling. I still feel that sometimes but eventually I got back to most of the mediums I’d enjoyed as a kid. I love taking and editing photos, making collages, designing t-shirts, blogging, journalism, screenwriting. I have a short film in pre-production, which I’m really excited about. One thing I have yet to return to (that I think about a lot) is dancing. Gotta have creative hobbies outside of work too!
Why do you think we need art? How do you think self-expression influences or benefits our society?
I think that creativity is a life force and that expressing it is a way to honor the self and humans in general. We need self-expression to be able to do good and make changes, whether that’s a shift in large scale ideals or how we express love in a personal relationship. I think a lot of issues go back to fear and lack of communication or exposure to new things. We get really caught up in our own day-to-day life and sometimes limit our experiences. Imagine if everyone felt a little safer, or a little more welcome. It feels good to be heard.
I read once that the root of the word courage is “cor”, which means heart, and that an act of courage was defined as sharing your story from the heart. That really stuck with me. It’s all connected.
What do you hope viewers and readers take away from Divvy Magazine? What are your long-term goals for the platform?
I think there’s a lot of great stuff out there and a lot of great people creating and doing it, so the more of that that can be shared, the better. If readers come to Divvy and think “wow that’s interesting” or “ how beautiful” I think that’s a win. Especially if they haven’t seen or heard it in that exact way before.
Running it has been a solo project up until this point, but I’m right in the process of negotiating a business partnership with a financial and business development firm. If everything goes as planned that would mean growth and connecting with a bigger audience, which is the dream. In addition to developing the concept further and increasing content, some plans include adding an e-comm store. I’d love to add some original video content or do a podcast at some point. There’s a long list of goals that are a mixture of business and creative ideas, we'll see how it goes! As long as it’s doing good, I’ll feel good.
You have got quite a workload, from writing for your website, thekateferg.com, co-running a luxury apparel line, Strapped and as well as working for a creative development agency, Cold Dust Creative. How do you fit it all into your schedule? What does your daily routine look like?
At the moment I’m splitting most of my time between Divvy and working as an independent contractor doing freelance work within social media, editorial, and marketing. Cold Dust Creative is in its infancy and from where I’m developing some of those freelance projects. When I started Divvy it was partly a personal blog, so eventually I separated the two, forming thekateferg.com, where I blog about random life stuff. I don't have any crazy plans for that one quite yet, I just like to write.
I’ve never had a traditional 9 to 5 job, which probably speaks to my stubbornness as much as anything, but I’ve gone through plenty of trial and error figuring out how to be productive while working remotely. Save for meetings, I usually work from home. I’m an early riser. I either network or read while I eat, meditate for a bit (very important for me), then head to my desk where I spend a lot of time! Most days I go to the gym or do yoga at some point. When I’m working on a group creative project, (like screenwriting or something), I have those meetings in the early evening. I do generally work on the weekends as well, but more on my own projects, stuff that takes more imagination and less communication.
As for fitting it all in…there really are a lot of hours in the day. I try to worry less and do more. I don’t know if anyone can show up as their best self all day every day, but I think not making things more difficult than they actually are is helpful. Just showing up is a big part of it.
I love projects, so I think I stay tapped into that mindset to some degree. When I watch TV, I watch acting and script choices. My boyfriend is also a creative and we do some work together, so even when we’re at like a basketball game or something we might talk a bit about joke writing structure or business plans. Sometimes being present is being still and observing and sometimes inspiration comes through activity. Who knows, it’s a balance. I try to take a trip every couple months.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs or aspiring writers?
I would say…don’t wait for permission or second-guess your ideas. You’re the only person who knows who you are, so you might as well listen to yourself. There’s not any real meaning in “rejection” or “failing” as long as you learn and keep going. Remain a humble student. Follow your gut, but be gentle because you’ll never know everything. You’ll grow and your goals will change and then you’ll grow some more. You get to define success. Also, a lot of cliché sayings like “hard work pays off” are repeated so frequently because they’re true, but you don’t have to be a “starving artist” to be an artist.
I’d also say be flexible because life is weird, stay positive because you might as well, and network your ass off because it helps. You have to let people know what you’re passionate about!
What are you currently reading?
I usually read a few books at once. Right now I’m reading ‘The Body Keeps Score,’ by Bessel Van Der Kolk, which is about trauma healing and the mind body connection, ‘Shoe Dog,’ which is Phil Knight’s story about starting Nike, and ‘The Relive Box,’ which is a book of short stories by one of my favorite authors, T.C. Boyle.
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