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Meet Trailblazer Katie Warrick

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katie Warrick.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’ve been working in the Salon Industry for around 13 years beginning as a receptionist and wearing many different kinds of hats along the way: Receptionist, Lead receptionist, Manager, Front of House Manager, being the Account Manager for a hair-care line, Salon Consultant, punching bag, emotional support, cleaning lady, you name it, I pretty much did it when it comes to helping run a salon. Last year, however, I found myself feeling quite unfulfilled like something was missing and I wanted to do so much more with my life than just work at a hair salon, especially with how troubling these times are. I wanted to do something that really helped people. I grew up attending a church called Prince of Peace where my Mother worked as the Head of Children and Youth Ministries until she passed away at the age of 53 in 2008 from Cancer. The older I get and the longer that she has been gone, I have found myself making decisions based on how I can make my Mom proud of my life choices. I realized that I really wanted to begin working with a non-profit and I got in touch with my Mom’s friend who is the COO for the West Valley Food Pantry in Woodland Hills which is located on the Prince of Peace Church grounds, after meeting with her I have become their Volunteer Communications Liaison. I volunteer with them on my days off from the salon and go to the office every Monday. Being able to be involved with an organization that helps feed over 3,000 people with 26,000 meals a month feels like the very best use of my time and days off. Working with this organization has really become the passion in my life.

Has it been a smooth road?
My biggest struggle has been finding a work environment that I can be fulfilled in both financially and emotionally. I bounced around a lot in my twenties trying to find out who I was, who I wanted to be and where I belong. And I think it’s okay for that to be ever evolving throughout life. It’s just in this past year at the age of 34 that I found my desire to work with a non-profit. I like to think that I’ve taken a long way round in my life and been many different versions of myself while trying to find myself. I didn’t get married until this past February, I don’t have any kids yet, I wanted to really find my place in this world. When I was younger, I had no idea that I wanted to be doing this. My best advice would be to just take a moment, breathe and don’t sweat the small stuff. Life really is short and precious and everyone deserves to be in a place where they feel appreciated, doing something that is meaningful to them.

We’d love to hear more about West Valley Food Pantry & Rua Salon + Spa.
I give it my all at every job I’ve ever had. I always care too much, which is my greatest strength and my greatest weakness. I am always striving to make the place that I work the very best that it can be. In regards to the West Valley Food Pantry – I am the main person responsible for all correspondence between the donors and the Pantry. So many people offer to volunteer handing out food during the week, they do not have many people that volunteer to help out in the office. Actually assisting the COO, working in the office every Monday, I write letters, thank you notes, take in donations, log donations, keep track of donors in our database, update their systems it may not sound like glamorous work, but it is absolutely essential in order for the West Valley Food Pantry to function, since they are a non-profit their livelihood fully depends on the generous donations from individuals in the community and different grants. This is the West Valley Food Pantry’s 33rd year in service and they feed over 3,000 people each month in the San Fernando Valley and Ventura County. We are currently working on a Back Pack and School Supply drive that will finish the end of July accepting school supply donations that we give out to the families for the upcoming school year, along with their food during the month of August. The backpack drive is something that my Mom actually started with the pantry, so being a part of this, warms my heart and I know I am finally working in a place where I belong, where I can help bring some good to the community around me.

Finding a mentor and building a network are often cited in studies as a major factor impacting one’s success. Do you have any advice or lessons to share regarding finding a mentor or networking in general?
I think it is important to have people to look up to. With social media nowadays it is even easier to find a network or niche that you can follow or join in and be a part of. Take the time, do a little research, reach out to people, it may be difficult at first, but you will be glad when you do it. Follow people, blogs, podcasts, artists that inspire you and make you feel good- you never know where your ideas can come from. While deciding how I wanted to transition to working with non-profits I discussed how I was feeling with my husband, I reached out to one of my Mom’s friends who currently helps run a non-profit, and I have an amazing mentor in the salon industry that I constantly chat to when I need advice or to bounce ideas off of. While I was deciding to take a step away from salons and into the non-profit sector, I talked with all of these people while I was deciding what I wanted to do and now I still work at a salon managing a front desk and I get to volunteer every week at the food pantry. Having these people in my life allowed me to help find a work-life balance which is so important, for everyone.

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Images credit: West Valley Food Pantry

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