Kimberly Stewart is the founder of Be Weird Make Money. She helps people design a life and make a living in a world where they feel like they don't belong. She works with creative people to identify different ways to combine their passions and talents to build completely unique individualized profitable businesses.
Learn more about Kimberly.
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Passionistas: Hi, and welcome to the Passionistas Project Podcast, where we talk with women who are following their passions to inspire you to do the same. We're Amy and Nancy Harrington. And today we're talking with Kimberly Stewart, the founder of Be Weird Make Money. She helps people design a life and make a living in a world where they feel like they don't belong. She helps creative people identify different ways to combine their passions and talents to build completely unique individualized profitable businesses. So please welcome to the show. Kimberly Stewart.
Kimberly: Thanks guys, for having me. I'm so excited to be here.
Passionistas: What's the one thing you're most passionate about?
Kimberly: Doing your own thing and you know, me doing my own thing and helping others to do the same. It's the one thing I can remember throughout my entire life being a driving force is, you know, being able to be myself, be original. My rallying cry, you know, like my Superman moment is when I hear people being marginalized or, Oh, you can't do that or, Oh, just be quiet or, you know, and I just really want to help people be more themselves in the world. Cause I think that's what the world needs.
Passionistas: So what is the name of your company and how do you help people do that with your topic?
Kimberly: So being weird, make money, uh, came about from when I was applying to speak at a convention. And they said, if you, you know, what would the title of your talk be? Because at the time I was more, uh, my company was catalyst Kim productions and, you know, catalyst being, you know, the chemical production that gets things moving.
And I thought, you know, I've been to a lot of really fun, funky conventions. And if I was looking through the program to see which talks I wanted to go to, I said, be weird, make money. I would go to that. It was short sweet. And to the point I've been helping people in some form or fashion for the last 17 years, create their own livelihoods. My mentor, my one mentor, Valerie Young created changing course and the profit from your passions consulting. And so I was trained in that. And the guiding question with that is what do you want your life to look like? You know, I had been trying to help people in what felt like a very normal standard mainstream way. And I wanted to break out of that because I didn't quite understand the folks from like the cubicle farm people were, you know, having regular jobs and stuff like that, which are very fine, you know, just regular things.
And you know, here I am, I'm very creative. I'm a theater person, Renaissance festivals, sci-fi conventions, I wrote a book about how to have Halloween based businesses. And so I was like, there's a whole world of people who are ignored by traditional career counselor. So like all those people who want better jobs or better careers, there's plenty of people to help them. But the people who are like soft and nerfy and weird, you know, who want to do like really odd ball things, it's, there's no one really to help guide them. And so it was like, I will be the pied Piper of weird little businesses. So, you know, and how I help them is I kind of identify what they love and what they want their lives to look like, which again is not a traditional career question. Usually people, when they say, when they're talking about work or jobs, they know your life is going to look like most likely it's going to be nine to five or eight to late, you know, 50 weeks a year. And I don't want assume that ever once I get an idea of what people want their lives to look like and what they love and, you know, then we can start generating some ideas. And so that's kind of the basis of where I start.
Passionistas: Let's go back a little bit. Tell us about where you went to college and when you were there, you were a success team leader. So tell us what that is and how that helped you in your path.
Kimberly: I went to college at Naropa University, uh, here in Boulder, Colorado, and that's a Buddhist based liberal arts college. And I was studying psychology and visual art. I had originally gone there wanting to be an art therapist and kind of halfway through my studies there, I, I became aware of Barbara Cher and her work, creating success teams. And I remember I had listened to one of her audio books on a road trip. And I, she mentioned success teams, which is a group of about six people who get together for, you know, and help each other identify and go after goals. And I thought, wow, you know, I could use one of those. And I know a whole bunch of people who could use one of those. I wonder if there's one in Boulder. And at that time she had just started registering people as success, team leaders.
She couldn't do this all herself, so she needed to be able to train people to do this. And so I wrote to her and she goes, I think you'd be a great fit for, for being a leader. And I said, okay, if you say so, and I signed up and got trained, she came out to Boulder later that year with Valerie young and Barbara winter. And they ran this really cool four day event. And before it, you know, Barbara called me and said, Hey, do you want to come attend as my guest? And I was like, sure. And so I got to meet all kinds of really neat people and kind of get started really with this process because secretly, you know, I picked her up at the airport cause I was the local team leader. And as soon as she got in the car, I was like, Barbara, I have a confession to make.
I registered as a team leader back in February and now it's June and I haven't run a team. She's like, Oh, don't worry about it. Nobody has yet. I thought it was a failure. And you know, she's like, Oh no, don't worry. No, one's no one's really run one yet. So she helped me kind of leapfrog. And soon after I think it was within like three or four weeks of that event in June, I ran my first success team. And you know, I'm still in contact with some of those people, you know, so was all the way back in 2003, since then, I've, I've run about 15 teams and on average about one a year. And they're just amazing. I really love the people that I get to meet what I love about this work and what keeps me coming back to it is that moment when someone feels heard, you know, because they've often been holding onto this like quirky little idea that they're afraid that they're going to get laughed at.
If they tell anyone and they just kind of share it with me in the group. And everyone's like, yeah, I think that's how it's great. And they're just like, really? You mean, this could happen. It's just such a beautiful thing. I mean, even as I'm talking, I'm getting goosebumps because it's happened so frequently. And one of the fun things about the success team, so a formal success team runs for eight weeks and in the seventh week after people have been kind of working on their goals and making progress because each week you talk about like, okay, so, you know, once you figured out your goal, what are you going to do this week? And then you report back in and you said, your team will be like, okay, how did it go? And a lot of times, like, I didn't actually get anything done. She was never going to reprimand you or be me.
That was like, okay, okay, what do you need help with? You get it done with the idea party in the seventh week, you invite friends and family and you say, okay, I've been working on this school. Here's my dream. Here's my obstacle. Does anybody have anything for me? The best story I ever had from an idea party was there was these two fellows in Denver and one guy was born in Denver. The other guy was born in Ghana, in Africa and their goal, their dream was to get mechanized farming equipment from the United States or wherever to Ghana, to help people who were still farming by hand. And it's not that the land wasn't good. It's just that they didn't have the technology. And the guys said, here's our goal. We don't have any money. We don't have any equipment. We just have this dream. And so, you know, they're like, does anybody have any ideas to help us? And so one day raises his hand and says, well, why don't you contact the manufacturers of farming equipment to see if they would sell you or donate to old equipment or something like that? As I live in breeze, the second person to raise her hand said my brother-in-law is the retired CEO of John Deere.
I was like, get that lady's phone number. I lost touch with them to find out what happened after that. But it was just that kind of power of you never know what, you know, until somebody asks you. And so I've been doing the success teamwork, and I love that. And, but that, and that's group work. And then from the initial event in Boulder, in 2003, I met Valerie Young, who I mentioned earlier, and she has a training program that teaches people how to work with people. One-on-one and I love that too. And so I kind of blend them both. And that's kind of again, where be weird, make money was born from, it's kind of my synthesis of, of the training I've gotten from them.
Passionistas: So talk about how you work with people one-on-one. What's that process like?
Kimberly: First I have them do, uh, some homework where I have them write out, you know, thing, all the things that they love, even if it doesn't feel like it would be part of the money-making process. And then I have them do an exercise that's called the ideal day. And some people can do the ideal day, week, month, year, whatever. So I can get a picture again, of what they want their lives to look like a funny example that, that Valerie gave that I realized it applies to my folks too, is I would often start our working together process with the question. So what time of day, you know, what time in the morning do you want to wake up? And somebody said, does it have to be morning? Nope. I guess not particularly for my tribe,
A lot of really nocturnal people, but it's, it's kind of like, um, if people want to work in bursts, like if they want to work for half the year, six months, a year and travel half the year, again, that's something I can accommodate. So we, you know, have them fill out their assignment and then we have a 90 minute talk where, you know, I get a clearer picture because what they write is one thing, but it's that listening to when they talk and when they get excited or when they're really excited, usually the voice drops a little and because they're afraid because it's, it's very special. And so that's, that's what talking to them. And then once we kind of bendy about some ideas, I'm like, okay, do you want to make a living that is connected to your passion? Or do you want to make enough money to, to have a comfortable life, you know, so that you can work on your passion?
Cause sometimes people, especially creative people sometimes there's that fine line of, I don't want to create on command, you know, because that takes the fun out of it. I just want time to work on my creative projects and I don't, I almost don't care what the work is, as long as it pays the bills. So then we, you know, once we kind of figured that out then I walked him down the nuts and bolts process of, okay, well, here's what you need to do. You know, here's the, the steps, the first steps that you're going to need, something I've learned to say is I help bridge the gap between knowing how to art and knowing how to business, because I have studied small business for so long because that's, that's a passion of mine. Even though if it's like straightforward, boring, boring business, you can apply creative fields to that.
But a lot people aren't necessarily doing that. So that's what I like to do that. And so that last part, the nuts and bolts part is that bridging the gap, like, okay, so here's where you need to go. Here's who you need to talk to. Sometimes I don't really know how to do the thing, but I know what you need to do. And so I'll say I'll tell people right out of the gate, you know, like, I don't know how to do this. I don't know how to make a website, but I know you need one. You can go to help. You know, here's the best practices for website. I just don't know how to do it. And that's okay. Like, you know, for a long time I used to be really shy like, Oh, golly, I don't know how to do this. And it's like, why do I have to know how to do, I just have to know where to send people and be a resource.
Passionistas: Do you find that there's a common, like stumbling block or issue that gets in the way of your clients getting started?
Kimberly: You know, a lot of times it's one of two things. One it's the, I don't know how to monetize this or, you know, I just don't know like what this would look like as a business. I know I love to do this, but I don't know if anybody would pay me for it. But then the other part is something that my mentor, Valerie actually wrote a book about the imposter syndrome. And that's that lack of confidence that fear of being found out as a fraud and that, who am I to be doing this? Who am I to be sharing this? But it's like, why would anybody pay me to do this? I think the biggest thing is kind of like the lack of confidence. And then the, the lack of just basic know-how, you know, cause I think once people are with, Oh, that's how people make money with that. Okay. I can do that. You know, it just it's like learning a new practice of anything, you know, learning a new exercise and muscle memory. It's just like, Oh, okay. I never knew that nobody ever taught that to me. So now that fills in that gap and now I know how to move forward.
Passionistas: We're Amy and Nancy Harrington and you're listening to the Passionistas Project Podcast and our interview with Kimberly Stewart, the founder of Be Weird Make Money. Learn more about Kimberly at BeWeirdMakeMoney.com. Now here's more of our interview with Kimberly.
What are some of your success stories that if people you've dealt with and has there ever been anything so weird that you weren't able to help them figure out how to make it into your business?
Kimberly: My favorite success story ever of someone I worked with was this young lady. I helped she, she was an artist and we met at, uh, where I was doing a live event. She was like, wow. So what do you do? And I told her, I, you know, I'd help people be creative and get paid for it. And she's like, great. I want you to do a thousand things. Cool. I want you to do it all sounds and all of them, but we have to start with one. And so we started working together and it turned out that she wanted to get her artwork printed on a multitude of different products.
Like t-shirts mugs, beer cozies, you know, that sort of thing. And she's like, but I don't know how to do that. And she's like, I want to use this one printing process called sublimation printing, which is where it actually imprints it into the material rather than just on top of. And so we, we talked about it, but as we talked, she kind of let me know that one of the things she really struggled with is she had a lot of health considerations. She had cluster migraines and everything, and it just made it really hard for her to commit to jobs and stuff. And so she's like, you know, I just, I'm embarrassed cause I'm broke all the time. Cause I can't work. I want to create. And I was like, all right, cool. So we, we found some people who did sublimation printing here in Colorado.
And I said, all right, go see if you can get some samples made up, either you or someone else can present the samples to different shops in town to see if they'd carry your stuff. And these big printing guys wouldn't even talk to her because she wasn't ordering in bulk. So because she wasn't going to order like a thousand, they, she wasn't worth their time. I kind of know what we can do. I don't know how to do it, but I said, I want you to go to your local small business development center. Every town or County has one. And I want you to talk to them about getting a loan or a grant for this printer, because I was like, how much do they cost? And she goes, well, you know, they can go up to $25,000, but you can get a real basic one for $5,000.
And I said, great, because you are a woman. And because you, you know, facing are facing other challenges, there are monies available to you because they want to help you start a business because they know, you know, you've had a rough go of it. She went to them and she got a grant for a machine. And so, you know, about a month later she had her machine and it was fantastic. And she was all excited because she's like, wow, now I can start printing my stuff and then we can start doing this. And I said, now hold up. I said, what's really cool is now you get to be the small batch printer for all your local friends and artists that those other turkeys wouldn't talk to. And she just stopped. And she was like, Oh my God, you're right. You know? And she's like, I didn't even think of that.
And I was like, that's why he hired me. It was just one of those moments where it was like, and she she's said to me, you know, over the years we've kept in touch. She's like, I can see a time when I can be a really, truly like contributing member of my household and my community and everything in a way that I never would have been able to before. And so that by and large is my favorite success story. That's kind of why I want to do the work that I do because a lot of people would have said, Oh, you can't work a whole lot. Then you're probably just destined to not make a lot of money. It's not even about, you know, about like a number or whatever, but it's just her feeling. Her confidence grow sometimes even for me, I'm just like, huh.
So I was at, I was at a horror and Halloween convention, um, with my Halloween business book and I was doing kind of on the spot consultations, which is something I like to do just again, a quick snapshot to have somebody tell me what they love and I'll say, well, have you thought about doing this, this there, so this and this one kid comes up and you just kind of stares at, you know, he's like, so what do you do? And they told him, he just kind of blurts out. I have over 600 skeletons. I was like, what they, you know, and I just kind of read it. Cause I was like, that makes a lot of questions for the human animal. Do I need to call the cops? But he goes on to say the little 12 inch toys. And I was like, no, no, no, you didn't.
But I can work with that. Really? How can I make money with that challenge accepted? You know? And I said, all right, so you have 600 skeletons. I said, first off, you'd give them all names and personalities like the Smurfs, right? Dokie, skeleton, Papa, skeleton, whatever. And then, you know, I said, you could do any number of things. She was also an artist, a visual artist. And he said, you could make a comic book about them. You can make stop motion animation. You could create a series of calendars. You know, you can have a web comic. Well, you know, it's the adventures of Skelly town in Wisconsin. There's the house on the rock, which is a roadside attraction. And they boast that they have over 6,000 Santa clauses. So he said, all right, so you're one 10th of the way there with your skeletons. They said, kill miniature trains.
And you don't have them sit in the cafe or whatever and charging mission. And he was just like, what? Like a fool. I gave him my business card and I said, call me and let me know what to do with this. And I did not capture his information. So people who are listening always make sure you get the contact information of people you'd like to follow up with. I always wondered what happened to that kid. And I thought, how many watch lists would I get put on? If I put something out like on Craigslist, you know, in the misconnections, Hey, do you have over 600 skeletons? You want to be calling me the FBI? Excuse me. Ma'am is there something we need to know? Like I said, I don't know what happened to him, but I was always very curious because I was just one of those times that even for me who I think I'm pretty worldly and up first, anything, I was like, huh.
Passionistas: That is brilliant. But I can't believe you came up with so many ideas. So when we were researching you, we read that you say that it's an asset rather than a hindrance.
Kimberly: When you don't have money when you're starting your own business or it can be so talk about that because that sounds something a lot of people think. But yeah, I think traditionally it's the thought is, you know, you have to have money to make money and while money can be helpful, that's for sure. What's nice about not having any money to start. Is it forces you to be really creative because if you just have money to throw at problems, it doesn't really help you learn a whole lot. That could be important lessons. And maybe you're just wasting money because maybe you're, you're being taken advantage of by service people who are like, Oh, this person just has lots of money, you know? So I'll just keep telling them, Oh yeah, we need to keep doing this project. Or yeah, I just need more money to get your website up or whatever. And so it kind of fosters some creativity also now more than ever. There's a lot of power in social capital and the way things are going with crowdfunding, et cetera, you know, there's something really powerful about putting your goals and dreams out there, which that's something that a lot of people are very nervous about.
They've held onto this idea for so long that they don't want to put the baby out there either to get stolen. Like, no, don't take my idea. It's mine. Also that fear of what if nobody likes it. That's the other part. That's another asset of not having a whole lot of money, because if, if you don't have a million dollars to put into a product before you launch it, what if you create a dud? What if you spend all that time and money and nobody wants it. And so, you know, if you don't have a lot of money, you have to be resourceful, try things out things out on a small scale and try it out with people to see if anybody would want it. And you know, you can adjust as you go something. I, I suggest to people when they're like, when they have say, you know, a product that they want to sell and they're not sure what people would want.
I tell them have an old school Tupperware party type thing, but nobody's allowed to buy anything. It's just, you print out, say you're making like soap or jewelry. You, you invite friends over and you give them cider and donuts and you have your wares out on a table and you just sit back and watch, what do people pick up? What, you know, what do people like, like, Ooh, clearly you kind of see this. And then that's a lot of invaluable market research right there. And then you can even say, you're not allowed to buy anything today, but what would you pay for that? You know, because that's, you know, a lot of people have questions. What should I price my stuff at? So you can just ask. So again, having to be creative about things and be resourceful without wasting a lot of money is, is really good.
I just think you learn a whole lot more about yourself and what you're trying to sell, whatever that might be. If it's a product or service information, whatever, it just helps build a solid foundation. And what about people like the woman you were talking about earlier who do need some kind of seed money and don't know where to go for it? What suggestions do you have definitely check with your SP your small business development center, wherever you are, see what might be available to you because you never know, there's all kinds of little grants and loan programs that they will know about that you might not necessarily have access to. Also, you know, again, the, the crowdfunding model is becoming so powerful as a resource for people, because if you can get out there and get your story out there, even if you don't have a prototype or a product yet, if you can, you know, tell the story strongly enough and get people behind you and to back you become essentially your initial investors, that might be a really good way.
But again, that that's kind of encouraging you to be really resourceful and ask for help, because I think that's something, a lot of people that's a big stumbling block for a lot of people is, you know, needing to ask for the help that they need. People want to help other people, the idea parties that I was talking about earlier, that just, you know, that's a really great example of, if you just tell somebody in a way I want this, but I can't because this do you know anything, people will just automatically help. You can do that. You know, in public, on the bus and strangers are even better because they don't have any investment, but like, Oh, have you tried this? Or maybe you could go here and it's, I think people are inherently helpful. And, um, we forget that when, when we're having our negative self-talk of who am I, why should I be doing this? Blah, blah, blah.
Passionistas: And what about the woman you spoke about who came to you with a thousand ideas? What's your advice for people who have multiple passions, they want to pursue and want to create more than one revenue stream?
Kimberly: I love them. So that's something I also learned from Barbara Cher. She identified those folks as scanners. That's someone who has a lot of different interests and, you know, they have a lot of energy. They get kind of a bad rap because they get into stuff. And then when they get what they need out of it, they leave it. And a lot of people want you to finish things and stick with it. But I say, I want you to do all of those things, but in all honesty, you do have to pick one, one to start with at least another person I mentioned earlier, Barbara winter uses this analogy a lot that I love. And it's that of the plate spinner. If you see a street, Esker somebody who is spinning plates, they don't take all 10 plates, they get one on their foot and they get that one going.
And then they get the one on their knee going, and then they have the one on their shoulder going. You choose that with projects as well. I love when people have multiple streams of income, because you never know when one is going to dry up or, you know, when one's going to take off, if you want to have a couple of different things going, that's great, but you do need to give enough life. You know, you need to give enough breath to bring it to life. I am also a scanner. So I understand that desire of wanting to do lots of different things, or I don't term it for myself as getting bored easily. I just have a lot of interests and I like to have things to go to. So it's, it's figuring out where the energy is strongest for someone. Sometimes it comes down to picking what would be the easiest, fastest win to kind of get the energy going and the momentum going.
So it's like, okay, we get this going. And then now what what's next? Because there are some things that you only want to do once there are some things that you do a couple of times a year. There's some things that you work on all the time. So I think that's the other thing that people get overwhelmed with or bogged down by is they think, Oh my gosh, it's so overwhelming. I'm going to be doing this all of these all the time. No, no, you're not. Everything takes its turn. And, but you have to figure out what that looks like. And again, that's kind of where I help people determine, you know, kind of like what that might look like for, I never tell anybody what to do. I always give suggestions and then I let people figure out what it looks like for them. But I think just the permission that it's okay to want to do a lot of things is, is really powerful. And so again, that's part of my mission is in the world, if everybody to do their own thing, no matter what that looks like, even if it's doing thousand things,
Passionistas: Do you have a weird business idea of your own that you haven't tried yet?
Kimberly: I'm kind of in the midst of trying that out, you know, cause I've done a bunch of things. I was a candle maker for a while. My bread and butter business is as a massage therapist. I've tried a lot of really interesting things. And what I'm hoping to move into more with be weird, make money is go on a, like almost like a larger scale and start reaching branching out into all the different areas that feel like weird or non-traditional or whatever. And just finding these people and highlighting them. I did, um, two things earlier this year, a virtual summits. And you know, we're, it's a different topic for each summit and you interview people who are making money. Like the last one I did was about gaming. So if you love games or video games, board games, role playing games, whatever it is. And everyone's always told you, or you can't make money, playing games, just grow up and get a real job.
You know, what are you going to live in your mom's basement forever? You know, I talked to some really awesome, fascinating people who are really killing it in games. And so I wanted to highlight them and say here's who are really doing it. And so I want to just keep branching out, kind of become a pied Piper of weird businesses and be like, great, whatever you're into. We can probably find a way to either monetize it or find a way for you to bring in money so that you can enjoy life. What's your dream for weird women everywhere. I want weird women to be able to share their ideas with out fear of shame and ridicule. Like I always think of myself as skewing younger as far as like who I'm attracting or who I want to talk to. Like, I want to save people from lives of quiet desperation of, you know, doing that thing for 20 or 30 years that they hate trying to fit in.
But this market of women over 60 who come to me and again, they have this like, Oh, you know, I never really wanted to tell anybody about this. Cause I feel it make fun of me. I want to help them, but I want that to not have to be a thing. I want everyone to, you know, I want all these weird women to just be fearless and bold and be like, I am doing this cool thing and I know you guys are gonna love it. And Curtis, yeah, that's that's my dream is to, you know, take, take the fear of ridicule away.
Passionistas: What advice would you give to a young woman who wants to start a business based on her passion?
Kimberly: Try it. Don't be afraid. Be careful who you talk to about it because you know, when dreams are new or read somewhere, every great idea is born drowning. And so you need to foster that little idea, but just give it a shot because you don't know. So just try it. And what's nice is when you're just starting out, if you sit on that idea and never try it, you won't ever know whether or not it will work or something people don't often talk about is if you're even going to like it. Because I think some things are, you know, sound really good on paper or in your head. But in reality it's like, Oh yeah, I didn't realize that, but there's no harm in trying. And so just get out there, find some supportive people and you know, maybe who are also going after dreams. So they're going to be less likely to bash yours, give it a shot. I think that would be my biggest advice is just get out there and try it
Passionistas: Thanks for listening to the Passionistas Project Podcast and our interview with Kimberly Stewart, the founder of Be Weird Make Money. Learn more about Kimberly at BeWeirdMakeMoney.com.
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