MEET KATIE: Introducing Katie Ruddell - owner and founder of hugely popular vegan cafe, Kokomo Foods. After spending over ten years working in the marketing industry in Vancouver, Katie decided to make a major change in her career. Inspired by her years spent living and traveling abroad, Katie grew passionate about creating accessibility to fresh and nourishing plant-based food. In 2017, Katie opened Kokomo with the goal to bring creative vegan dishes and year-round sunshine to the people of Vancouver. Located in Chinatown just a few steps away from the Brunette Flagship Store, Kokomo soon became a favourite lunch spot for many - including Team Brunette who began ordering weekly. Following a highly successful year, Katie and her small but mighty team opened Kokomo’s second location in Kitsilano this summer. When she’s not working on all things Kokomo, this inspiring babe takes time for herself through running, cooking, tuning into Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and constantly working towards her goals.
What does babes supporting babes mean to you?
It means community, love, working towards a greater good, showing up real, unfiltered and truly supporting eachother in that. When I think about it, I picture my friends and I drinking wine, sharing a blanket and crying and laughing, in that order.
Do you have a life mantra/motto that you live by?
What would Kris Jenner do? I’m serious, but I also start each day with a mantra that changes based on what I need/where I am in my life. It goes like this: “I am ____, I will ____”. Today’s was “I am kind, I will trust”. I then meditate on that and truly feel the “I am” part in every organ, cell, and breath. I continue to return to it throughout the day when I feel challenged, frustrated or just have an extra moment to re-ground.
What is your spirit animal?
I have never had an answer to this question! Sea Horse?
What is your proudest babe moment or achievement?
I am bad at stopping, acknowledging and celebrating. I can’t even think of one moment – it just keeps rolling! This is definitely something I’m working on. Every time we bring on a new hire, I feel proud of who we’ve attracted, that someone feels aligned with our values and wants to be part of what we’re creating. Every time time I see someone holding a Kokomo cup/bowl outside of Kokomo – I sometimes can’t believe people actually know about Kokomo outside of my bestfriends, and that they chose to eat one of their maybe 2 or 3 meals that day with US!!! That is a wild, grateful feeling.
What is your most used app?
I use inbox by gmail, which basically treats your email inbox like a to-do list. I swear by it. But I just found out they are phasing it out. I also use a meditation app called Mindfulness, Slack to communicate with my team and Evo! Haha who knew I was so practical?
What product would you seriously stockpile if you found out they weren’t selling anymore?
Tim’s jalapeno chips (you can only get them in the States, and if you saw my pantry right now, you would think that they aren’t selling them anymore and I’ve stockpiled, but no, just obsessed).
What is the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome in business?
There hasn’t been one big one, but a million little ones every day. I am always failing, learning, pivoting. My daily mantra is often: I am ok, I will flow.
What emoji best describes you?
I hope it is 🌞
But I think it is more frantic like 😝
What was the best piece of advice you received when you were first starting your career?
Before I started my first internship at a local ad agency, my teacher reminded us that we were not entitled to this job. I believe I am lucky to be where I am, usually learning from the people I am working with, and how I show up every day, my drive and my work will determine whether I deserve it or not.
Who should EVERYONE be following right now?
Two very conflicting accounts:
What inspired you to start pursuing your business?
I’ve always known two things about myself: I have a lot of energy and I am obsessed with creating perfect experiences for people. From day one, I knew these two things would come into play to create a business, I just had no idea what it would be. Something creative? Something in nutrition? Something in brand/events?
At the same time, I was working at Lululemon and engrossed in this community of active, inspiring individuals living massive lives with big goals. We were all leaving the house at 6am with our iphones and a pair of running shoes, and not returning home until 10pm. Our lifestyles were evolving as technology and fitness shifted, but I was missing the nourishment component. I believed I wasn’t the only one missing this and that I was uniquely qualified to bring this to my people. So my purpose became clear: create the space (both energetically and physically) for people to get up to big things, through connection, environment and nourishment.
When I dance I look like….
Depends on how much champagne I’ve had to drink.
Again, could look like 🌞
But I think it is more like 😝
What is your go-to karaoke song?
Kokomo by the Beach Boys.
No, that’s a joke. Karaoke is not a good time for me. I don’t know the lyrics to anything, except for the soundtrack to Grease!
Tell us about a Babe who has supported you?
My boss turned bestfriend at Lululemon, Chelsea. She hired me, was fiercely loyal to my development (not always a feel-good thing!!), and taught me about vulnerability in leadership. Because we spent so much time together in a bunch of different environments and situations, she knows me and my tendencies better than most people who have been in my life forever. She will always be my boss. She gets the call whenever things get tough, and she is still just as fiercely loyal to my leadership and development. Again, it doesn’t always feel happy in the moment, but I am so grateful for her honesty, truth, and humanness.
How would you describe your personal style?
Oh man, I change as the weather and seasons do. I come ALIVE in summer, maybe summer is my spirit animal? I love loose-fitting, free, uninhibited clothing. It also has to be practical enough to jump in the dish pit if needed. I have such a hard time staying true to myself and my style in the colder months, Alexie Gray, a local stylist in Vancouver helps me out. :)
What’s your favourite thing about living in Vancouver?
The babes around me.
What is the most fulfilling part of your career?
Supporting our people and creating every day.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I have a million and I don’t even feel guilty about them the way I probably should. Eating in bed, drinking wine in bed, Keeping up with the Kardashians, Very Cavallari, wearing pajama pants really high up on my waist, noodles at all hours, and any form of potato.
What quality are you working on yourself right now?
There’s a few: my delivery (I can get really excited/firey and it can come out quite abrupt), slowing down, and asking for support.
What advice do you have for those trying to break into the restaurant industry?
For anyone starting a business, I’d say this: be comfortable with what you don’t know and hire someone who does.