Kate Hopper is the founder of Kate Hopper, LLC and the author of Ready for Air: A Journey Through Premature Motherhood and Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers. Kate holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Minnesota and has been the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, two Minnesota State Arts Board Grants, and a Sustainable Arts Grant. Her writing has appeared in a number of journals, including Brevity, The New York Times online and Poets & Writers. She is an editor at Literary Mama. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Minneapolis, MN.
Kate teaches writing online and in person; leads writing retreats for women; provides editorial support and mentoring for writers of all ability levels; and offers writing consultation services.
Kate and I met through a writing workshop in Chicago. She has inspired me to “use my words” and start writing my stories. I highly recommend her book Use Your Words to moms—especially new moms.
Tell us a little about your business/job responsibilities.
I began working with mother writers in 2006 when I developed a class at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis for women interested in writing about motherhood. My own daughter had been born prematurely a few years earlier, and I remembered the desperation I had felt during those long, isolating months after her birth. I remembered the way I had craved stories that would reflect some of the conflicted emotions I was experiencing as a new mother. And so I launched my class, Motherhood & Words, as a way to offer support, encouragement and guidance to other women wanting to process their motherhood experiences through writing.
I still teach, but now I also offer editorial and mentoring support to writers, primarily women writers. I help them write the stories they need to write. I work alone, so I’m responsible for all marketing, developing relationships with potential clients, developing curriculum, and keeping track of scheduling and bookkeeping. And then I shut my laptop so I can meet my daughters at the bus at 2 p.m.
What are the ages/genders of your children?
I have two daughters. Stella is ten and a half and Zoë is almost 6.
Did you start your business before or after having children?
I had been teaching and doing some editorial work before Stella was born, but her premature birth was the impetus for my classes and retreats geared toward mothers. Helping women write their truths, about motherhood and life, has become my passion.
How did your business life change after having children?
I’ve done a number of different things since becoming a mother. I’ve worked in development and nonprofit communications, and taught on and off. It’s always been a balance to earn enough money and still have quality time with my family. I was able to quit my nonprofit work this fall when Zoë entered kindergarten. Now I work from home and I love being able to focus more of my energy on the work I love.
Describe a typical workday.
The girls and my husband are out the door by about 7:15. I’ve started doing ten minutes of meditation after they leave, then I make my coffee, and turn on the light in my tiny pantry office. Sometimes I write first, before I let myself log on to any social media or email. (That’s ideal.) And then I turn my attention to responding to messages, scheduling, editing, etc. Right now I’m teaching an online class, so I spend quite a bit of time following and responding to the discussion threads and preparing lectures. Ideally, I exercise or take the dog for a walk mid-day, then come home and shower and work a little longer before I have to get the girls at the bus stop. I try to log off in the afternoons, but there are some days that the work isn’t done yet, so if Stella and Zoë are busy with homework or reading, I’ll turn back to my computer.
What is one tip you can share with other Biz Mamas?
Having the support of my spouse and family is really critical, so I try to communicate openly about my work, and especially if I need extra work time. Then I’ll head out to the coffee shop for a couple of hours on the weekend. But I also think it’s really important to try to compartmentalize your work so it doesn’t spill over into your family time. When I feel myself reaching for my phone to “answer one more email,” I know I need to step back and reprioritize again.
Kate Hopper, LLC
Motherhood and Words Blog: www.motherhoodandwords.com