Inside My World: Kate van Horn, Co-Founder of The Good Fest and B+YND
“I always tell people I'm not that afraid of business risks. If you go through of things earlier in life and overcome it, nothing can scare you. I had to overcome so much on a personal level far before I ever became the Co-Founder of B+YND and The Good Fest or created my blog, Kalein It. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but as difficult as it was, that period of time was a gift. Now, I feel ready and self-aware when it comes to my business. I have a lot of women who reach out to me because they connect to my background with disordered eating. Often times they are in recovery as well, or looking to make changes to their life to live their happiest. If they are toying with being an entrepreneur, I always tell them they’ve overcome far worse, and to go for it because you deserve a life that lights you up.
When I was growing up, I experienced sexual abuse and it changed about how I viewed my body at a very young age. Eventually this manifested into an eating disorder in high school and I went to treatment in my college years. I used unhealthy ways to numb out my anxieties, through controlling my food and weight, and I struggled with my friendships and relationships because it was as if I was more comfortable in chaos.
College at Arizona State was supposed to be a fresh start, but I ended up using orthorexia as the coping mechanism when I faced changes in my life. I ended up over-exercising and controlling what I ate too much, so it morphed into anorexia. When I went to treatment for my eating disorder was helpful, but didn’t deal with the underlying reasons behind WHY I was experiencing so much anxiety, so I went back to therapy for a second time, to really tackle the trauma and emphasize mindfulness.
When you go through trauma you focus on the past, you can get stuck there. What I was asked to do for the first time was focus on the present. It was 3 months of intensive therapy. I was 22. I slowly fell in love with yoga at this time. I’d do Youtube videos in my bedroom at night and found it so calming. I started wanting to treat my body more compassionately and cooking my own food in a nourishing way. It was a creative outlet for me and was coming from a healing place. I began to experiment in the kitchen and though “hmm I should take pictures and write recipes for this.” I had gone back to work and was working for an ad agency at the time. It wasn’t something I was passionate about, so I put my passion into working on Kale.In.It on nights and weekends. I started to see it grow and had always wanted to be my own boss, so I decided to take the leap.
I quit my job and started nannying part-time in order to have more time to work on Kale.In.It. When the little boy I was watching was napping, I would work on posts. Luckily the family I was working for was super supportive and knew my long term goal of creating my own business. In I started created lots of relationships online with people like Jess Baumgardner (@healthcoachphilly). She and I met for coffee here and there and slowly built a friendship. The Good Fest started like over coffee. One day, Jess asked if I wanted to meet. She said, “I want to do something cool and new in the city. Do you want to meet for coffee and pass around ideas?” We were at coffee and she said, “Do you want to start a wellness festival?” and I immediately said, “Ya let’s do it!”. We soon after joined forces with my third partner, Jen. She was also familiar with event planning and had a great background in food. We all have different strengths and decided to go for it!
What surprised me the most about becoming an entrepreneur was the level of work of course, but not in the traditional sense. The reality is that you never shut off. You think about your business ALL the time. I always thought the "it's your baby" reference was dramatic, but now I couldn't agree more. You can’t help but think about it and day dream about new ideas! In the past I always gave my work 110%, but I never knew that starting a business would be this fulfilling. It takes accountability, self discipline, and also a willingness to roll up your sleeves and move forward when things don't go as planned. Tough skin is certainly necessary, and you can't beat yourself up everyday about mistakes, productivity, or where you SHOULD be in the business. You have to accept the present love all stages.
Failure means you’re evolving, that you’re onto something new. I now look at failure as an opportunity. When a brand says no thank you when I ask them to partner with my individual brand, or the festival, it rolls off my back. I trust that timing wasn't right, and I think of how I can serve them better next time. It’s a fun challenge. Improving and setting your own bar higher as an entrepreneur is the most fun.
We’re in our second year and are entirely self-funded. I think people are shocked that we just went for it, didn't really "invest". We hired an event planner, chose the venue and date and voila, it happened, a GOOD Fest was born! The planning process is detail oriented, and we u utilize our resources. Canva is our "graphic designer" and social media is our form of marketing. First step was cold calling and emailing. Speakers, sponsors, potential vendors, my partners and I got on the phone with anyone who would listen and said, “Hey - we know there is zero proof of concept, but there will be a couple hundred women in the room who will listen to you.” We said, “Do you believe us and do you want to be a part of this?” and some people and “yes” right off the bat. That got us going.
- photos by Alida Zimmerman
What helped us in the beginning was focus. We thought there was a need in the community and that’s what drove all this. That’s what I’d tell new entrepreneurs to look for. If you’re passionate about a wellness festival or something entirely different, just go for it. You never know what will happen. When Jess, Jen and I launched the first Good Fest, we thought, “Oh, maybe 50 people will come.” When 350 purchased tickets, we thought wow - this was something that needed to exist. When you see a need, don’t wait. Bring your unique perspective to it. The Good Fest is about that spirit of, no matter who you are, no matter where you are in your journey, you are welcome. We’re all on a journey. Why not do this together?
We always wanted The Good Fest to be a different kind of experience. We were careful to use the word “festival”, because we didn’t want it to feel like a conference, nor did we want it to feel like an industry event where everyone needs to be an influencer to participate. We knew we wanted to make it open to anyone who loves and enjoys wellness the way we do. We also didn’t want it to be just a yoga festival. Yes, we made sure movement and yoga were a component, but there was also a wide range of content and talent from other cities. In the first year we toyed a lot with the question of whether to make it a Philly-only festival or to build it with a multi-city model because we feel it’s needed in other cities as well. What we do is bring accessibility to wellness. We want everyone’s voice to be heard and for everyone to know that they belong, and we have no doubt the wellness community is strong is cities everywhere. Women deserve that space to gather and celebrate themselves and this lifestyle.
The proudest moment of creating the Good Fest was probably right after the first event. We ended the day with a toast as a team on stage and looking out into the crowd - it was so surreal. In Philly, we felt that weird relief of “holy shit we pulled this off.” It was beautiful to see the connections made, the content inspire, the day just flowed. We had people from all over the country come, it was wonderful. I think they felt they were part of something special. Like they heard and believed in this event first. Jess and Jess and I can’t express our gratitude enough. The LA event was easily our second-proudest moment, but for different reasons. It felt like 10 times more difficult than the first event. It was way more complicated. 3 times as many speakers and twice as many vendors in our marketplace,. We didn’t have one room to outfit . We had a monstrous 2- floor venue with SO. MUCH. SPACE to cover. We felt like true event planners the second round.
We really admire events like The Girlboss Rally and Create Cultivate who do a fantastic job of curating an experience. We really wanted to deliver that in our own way, and tailored specifically to wellness. We obsess over the decor and try to deliver as best we can - even as a start up in our first year. Most importantly we always review every detail of how the event was executed, note where we can grow,
The future of The Good Fest and B+YND will be about going to more cities. We'll announce our new city at the upcoming GOOD Fest in Philly on August 11th. From there, we’re hoping to host three festivals per year, plus our retreats and workshops. We’re toying with the idea of Good Fest pop-ups like smaller half day events with 100-150 attendees and other 400-person pop-ups in different cities – more people, but the same good vibes.”
Tickets to and information on the next The Good Fest are available here
Looking for more inspiration from amazing women in wellness? Check out our interviews with: