Last month I did a feature on Kovert Designs, a wearable technology company that focuses on getting people to find a balance between life and technology - not letting their iPhone or email take over their life. We found the brand and initiative so interesting that we decided to do a feature on the company's #fiercefemale CEO, Kate Unsworth. Kate is the founder of the company and truly preaches the good vibes of the brand mission.
Her love for technology came from an unexpected area - music. "Through my love of music I found technology, which sounds so weird, but it was really an interest and understanding more about sound from an electronic perspective; and also about music and how harmony works. A lot of that is mathematical."
She went on to explain how her love evolved into what she would study later on in life, "I played with a lot of electronics as a kid just fixing sound systems and stuff. My dad was an engineer so it taught me the basics. Then I went on to study math at university, and 20% of my degree was clothing." Through her passion for design and music, she found that math was a part of deepening her study of each subject. This led to her love for technology, and eventually she became a technology consultant.
"I'm the kind of person who goes with what feels right, even if it isn't a rash decision. I never intended to own my own business; I just followed my heart, and this is where it led me. Everything started to fall into place."
It was during Kate's time as a technology consultant that she came up with the idea for Kovert Designs. The concept is a result of her own experience - she was working 24/7 and completely, "flat out."
"I was so dialed in because everything is so easily accessible, and it's so easy to get sucked into work. We write emails in between conversations and in the middle of the night! I got to the point where I said this is completely unrealistic - I cant live my life like this. I was probably an extreme case. I'm the type of person who likes to go all in on something. I was loving it and thriving, and even when my boss and clients would say stop answering emails on the weekends and in the middle of the night, I couldn't help myself."
"I realized that a lot of the problem with over connectivity is not the fault of technology; it's the fault of us. We allow ourselves to check and get sucked in."
After having the realization that she needed to make change for not only herself but also others in her situation, Kate realized the next phase of this required two parts.
"I realized that there had to be a two part solution: One part had to be the technology tools to help you manage digital noise, and the other part really has to be a kind of lifestyle. How can we help people find that balance in their life? That part of it is more of a life-changing thing. That's when we started to dabble more into neuroscience, psychology, and habit science to understand how the brain works so we can really understand this two-pronged approach."
Kate isn't all talk, either. She enlisted the help of actual neuroscientists to study how humans react to using technology and how their lifestyle and mindset improves when they aren't sucked into it 24/7.
"We're really keen on making sure everything is grounded in science and real research. This also stems from my own personality - my own ingredients: I love yoga, meditation, and science. I really wanted to focus on being mindful in the present.
There are some people that don't realize they're stuck in the hamster wheel. The people we encourage to go offline for a day or a couple of days we found have come back to life with such a fresh perspective. They begin to reaccept things, and it gets them to the point where they realize they need to make a lifestyle change. Part of what we are doing is this movement - even though I don't like that word! It's not about a product, it's about encouraging people to take time offline so they realize they can gain that additional perspective on their life and do what they need to do in order to be happy."
This goal of a balanced mindset inspired Kovert Design's newsletter, Tribe. Says Kate, "A huge part of what we're about is spreading the message and the scientific reasoning behind it to set that balance. We want to inspire people, we don't want [the message] to be exclusive, like you can only live this life if you buy our product. There are lots of ways to live a balanced life without paying a single penny."
When asked if she had any struggles or obstacles as a female CEO, she had a very optimistic response: "I've not had that many obstacles, because I've been really lucky to meet people that have supported me and believe in me and listen to the reasoning behind what I'm doing. I think that's given me more credibility, because there's real substance to it as opposed to just an idea.
You could argue that I haven't had the experience a lot of women have had, which is not being taken seriously in a corporate or technology environment. I studied math at university, and I was one of very few women who did. My post grad was economics, and I was one of very few girls there, so I'm comfortable being in the minority. I am used to it! It's not that there are few women in the industry, it's that there aren't a lot of women that are qualified; there are so few female engineers. How can you expect an equal ratio if we aren't encouraging young girls to get involved in those fields?"
Kate's next step is getting involved in STEM-education focused initiatives for young girls and women, and she currently mentors young women. Her best advice? "If you surround yourself with people who believe in you, it gives you that strength to just own who you are and whatever you're about and to just go for it."