My name is Katie McIntyre and I am an artist, innovator, designer. My disciplines span from everything from industrial design, fashion design, animation, 3d illustrations, album covers and art installations. I grew up in Canada, and moved to the US for art school at RISD. Afterwards, I worked in the tech industry for google creative lab and then apple. I focused on developing new kinds of products across different departments, all that involved some level of innovation, along with art directing films. Afterwards I launched my own studio to focus on empowering women using design and technology.
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
My years growing up were always quite remote, to some extent I always felt isolated in one way or another. I spent a lot of time drawing, and I was on the school’s debate team, but I didn’t always connect with larger social groups, largely because I think I’ve always been a little different. I have amazing friends from my childhood and high school years but very individualized relationships. One of my best friends during high school was actually someone who I protected from bullies, and the bullies ended up torturing me a lot in retaliation, but I felt I could take it more. Largely it was male groups that would harass me, grabbing my bra strap in the hallways and calling me a whore, hiding my backpack outside and spitting in my food. Typical sort of high school bully stuff.. but what nerd hasn’t been bullied? I was really close with my grandmother June, who sadly passed away. A lot of the formative positive memories I have growing up are influenced by her. She was very talented and creative and she always encouraged that side of me. She was also very strong and determined, her phrase was “I don’t believe in giving up”. I think a lot of what I do is to honour her and the role she played in my life. She grew up with very little as an orphan and I’m sure with the right family set up, she would have been world famous for artistic and musical abilities, in some ways I think I inherited her gifts so the world could see them. As a child and teenager, I always wanted to be an artist, which shifted to art director and then I am a Creative Director of my own studio now so I guess it worked. I became a lot more into technology all the time but I was always inspired by artists like Monet, Andrew Salgado, Jessica Walsh, Stefan Sagmeister. I would say those were some of my earliest role models, along with women in my family.
Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.
Yes, there was. I was so passionate about technology; it was sort of an obsession for me during college. I wanted to learn the highest-level rendering software, I interned at Apple and some of my skills I felt were overlooked or undervalued and I wanted to prove people wrong about what someone like me could do. I built my own computer and got really good, and I had some good experiences in tech but ultimately one experience is what kind of changed me forever. I faced sexual harassment and discrimination, after all those years of developing my skills, it did not matter, because obedient females are more interesting to big tech then highly skilled innovative women. It kind of forced into my face this reality that women don’t belong in these spaces, that they are not designed for us. So, I decided I needed to create this space myself. That’s what motivated me to launch my own studio.
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea that made you start this brand? How did such a unique idea strike you, and what motivated you to “YES, go for it?”
My brand will launch in 2024. I think a big reason why I feel motivated to launch is because I have found the right infrastructure. Amazing people matter when making something impactful. I think mostly my collaborator and business partner Timmy has given me a lot of confidence. My brand vision is big, its auto, fashion, xr innovation, immersive metaverse worlds, events. It’s a lot, but he also is well versed in all of these things. He’s also an engineer, I really respect him and I think it’s mutual that way. I think he sees me for my talents and doesn’t have that bias others might have and that’s really motivated me. Great allies are game changers if you are a woman entrepreneur.
Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?
I am trying right now to open the public’s mind to the notion that we live in a phallic male geared sexualized universe. We live very much for and by the male gaze. There is a massive business opportunity to explore the deep visual and cultural referencing that appeals more to the female gaze. That is very clear in my album covers for Cardi B, Latto, Normani, Nicki Minaj, etc. I think they are a case study for my research into feminine expressions in technology and design and how it appeals to women. I’m trying to impact the industry as a whole in
terms of what visual symbols and expressions we see in pop culture. What kind of work we are even allowed to make. I think Rihanna has proven a point with Savage Fenty that there is a massive market for incorporating the female point of view into consumer products. I am trying to adopt this same philosophy into the tech, art and design industry.
5-Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?
I think the biggest challenge is sometimes being paid what you’re worth. A man automatically is given greater financial support in this world. In many ways people consider investing or working with women as more of a liability then an assist so they steer away from it. The cards are stacked against you to begin with. Some women play the game and are obedient to male authorities to gain favour. I could never do that. So, I would say I have struggled in that regard, because people are often more interested in obedience than originality when it comes to women and I provide the second. I would say I am still overcoming it, and the only way I have figured out how to do that is by becoming even more visible and undeniable in my quality of work.
While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?
My experience in the pandemic was.. rough. I think everyone was. But in many ways, I felt I had to leave my career behind and start from nothing and nowhere to build my studio. I was staying in this remote town in Canada with my family which was a lot safer than where I was in California since there were so many shutdowns and protests and the isolation was really getting to me. I was lucky in the sense that I got to spend some time with my sisters in a beautiful quaint place. But it’s very remote, a one street town in the middle of nowhere. There is really no access to anything, It made me in many ways feel like I had failed. Because I didn’t have the same resources as I did in the states and felt like I was sort of trapped with no way out. I don’t know where I got the courage to start my own business but somehow, I did it. So yes, the first feminist futurist car was designed in a small mountain town in the middle of British Columbia. I had no
reason to believe in myself at that point. But I don’t know how, but I managed to let my passion drive me. I am really proud of Dakini and everything it represents. It has also attracted some really cool friends into my life. I’m really grateful for that. Lead auto strategists and engineers have reached out to me after Dakini came out. And it was really manifested from nothing. It ended up in a fashion campaign for Mugler. It was such an unlikely success story, but I know its legacy will be long lasting. And it brought me a lot of joy to foster the vision of it.
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
I am very proud of some of the album covers I have created that have impacted culture like Wild Side, Pussy, Queen. All for incredible women of colour. I would say working at Google and Apple is an accomplishment I am proud of. I think mostly because women like me are not the typical choice and although some of my experiences were haunting, I was able to open that door for myself. I would also say perhaps my greatest achievement is I never abandoned other women or betrayed them for success. It’s very very hard to build a career from genuine female empowerment work. I’ve been encouraged to stray from it often, but I feel like I can be in these interviews and feel like I walk the walk and talk the talk.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
If given an opportunity I would like women globally to collaborate in a new vision of a technology and design company that prioritizes the female empowerment movement in a way like never before. Could the invention of new kinds of designs and technology change the world, even the playing field, free women entrapped, give life to their potential? I believe it can, but it’s never been attempted which is why it’s even more important that we try. People will say it doesn’t matter, or it’s not a big deal. But there are voiceless women out there that need us, technology in many ways frames the world more than the government. And once we realize that we can strategize on how to uplift women and build equity together.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?
In my personal life.. it’s hard to say. Maybe that you don’t really know yourself until you start to really push for your potential. How people see you is not the same as what you are capable of and your value. This is something that has taken me a while to understand. I would also say that sometimes people don’t like you not because you are bad or wrong, but because you are great, and that is intimidating. But the reaction is usually to make you feel like a problem. It’s also a strategy in maintaining women’s position in the world, by demonizing women who are powerful in their talents or abilities. If there is one thing, I could say to my younger self it would be that I am immensely talented. I didn’t think I was and I still struggle with insecurity but I think that insecurity is fostered deliberately as a strategy to keep women down. I would say my personal motto in life might be to claim your role in the future, don’t ask for permission. If you want to create a feminine future, most will push back against you. So it really has to be something you do while ignoring the noise.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?
I think it’s complicated. A lot of women I have met in c suite positions in tech are inherently anti women. I know that sounds strange but it’s true, in order to get in a lot of these roles you had to appeal to male favour and this often means abandoning women’s causes completely. I don’t think this is necessarily true for all industries, I think Reese Witherspoon and Rihanna have both really figured out a way to value women’s roles in the world while also creating content and products. But there is a much bigger glass ceiling in tech. This is where so much of the world’s wealth is stored and the conservative men hold an ironclad grip on it. That’s a big reason why my vision is a feminine future that has women as the visual heartbeat. Because although I have witnessed women in positions of power, I haven’t yet seen one prioritize female empowerment in an authentic visual and researched way.
With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
Thank you— I would like to say this road is hard. I won’t give you a false sense of reality. But we are powerful together as a team. Women have had to become not just good, but excellent in order to get into the same rooms as men. And this is our superpower. Don’t forget the power of collective womanhood, when you
are feeling alone or struggling remember there have been many that walked this path before you and there is hope for a new future. That it is your duty to see your life’s potential and you must not be limited by any societal pressures on what that looks like. Anytime you feel like it’s too hard, think of the previous generation of women who felt their potential was not met at the end of their lives but paved a way for us. It’s exhausting but we have to keep going. I also believe the future is bright and feminine. Holding on to and cultivating a vision of the future you want to see is powerful and liberating. My last bit of advice is use music and books to fuel you. Music is so powerful, put on Mothers Daughter by Miley, or Stevie Nicks, Nicki Minaj, uplift yourself by listening to the right influences.
And please, everyone read The Great Cosmic Mother. It will change your life.