Fall 2012
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Snapshots of Kate Brown, founder of Boulder Soup Works

Photos: Jack Greene

University Snapshots

Snapshots: Kate Brown, MA, 1996
Founder of Boulder Soup Works, Awarded "Best Young Company" by Naturally Boulder in 2012

What did you do after graduating from Naropa?

I practiced in the field for about five years doing individual and couples counseling in Denver. I have a passion for couples counseling, in part because of my own experiences in relationships and the potent impact that counseling can offer. In my exploration of philosophies, therapies, and alternative treatment modalities, not everything has truly resonated with me the way couples counseling did. I firmly believe that it can have a profound impact! There is a powerful advantage in letting someone witness the innermost workings of your relationship with a partner.

How did your degree, as well as your experience as a Naropa student, encourage you to start your business, Boulder Soup Works?

There was a gap of ten years, as a stay-at-home mom, between my Naropa experience and the start of my business. As my daughter became more independent, I had the undeniable urge to start a project, accomplish something, and channel my energies into a new endeavor. I knew I had a business person lurking somewhere inside, but I wasn't sure how to access and grow that part of myself. During my years at Naropa, Gestalt was a big part of the program, and I closely identified with its concepts. Looking back, it was Gestalt concepts that integrated into my thinking, which helped me subtly dialogue with and form a more sturdy "business person" aspect of myself. Additionally, I have had the blessed benefit of not being afraid of failure.

At Naropa, I had some of my first exposure to people who ate consciously; they cared where the food came from, who grew it, how it was grown, how it was prepared, and how they ate it. These ideas were somewhat new to me and very compelling. It hadn't occurred to me that mindfulness extends to eating and food. I remember one time I was standing in line at the Naropa Café, and the guy ahead of me asked if the banana bread was free-range. I cracked up, but his joke was surely a sign of times to come. So the seed was planted.

How did the contemplative aspects of Naropa inspire your entrepreneurship?

My experience at Naropa inspired growth on many levels. Because of the self-reflective aspect of the program, I learned a tremendous amount about myself and how I perceive of and engage with the world. This awareness gave me the opportunity to change some things and also leverage my strengths.

It gave me a basis on which to practice confidence, mindfulness, and equanimity in the midst of the chaos that comes along with starting any entrepreneurial venture. The frantic nature of a manufacturing-based business is very consuming at times. Much of my current mindfulness practice is simply reconnecting with the idea that everything is okay; my stress, my worries, my fears are all products of my own mind. There is a bumper sticker that says it perfectly: Don't believe everything you think!

Making mistakes has become my best learning tool. Because of my lack of experience with food manufacturing and starting a business, I have spent a lot of time learning how to do it the hard way. At first, mistakes seemed like failures. Over time, I am learning how to make mistakes in a better way, harvesting the lessons and silver linings out of my blunders. Today, although the initial negative drama can be quite seductive, mistakes are great opportunities to learn, grow, improve, and laugh.