Kati Whitledge, Inspired Enterprises Inc. and Be Inspired Salon Inc.

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Kati Whitledge, entrepreneur, speaker, author, and podcaster, Inspired Enterprises Inc. and Be Inspired Salon Inc.

1. What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

The most challenging aspect of an online customer service, marketing, and retention software tool for hair salon owners across the U.S. is building their trust virtually. It would be a lot easier if we were able to connect face to face. The most rewarding aspect is building relationships with them and being able to educate, inspire, and empower them to improve their businesses.

2. Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

I admire Dave Ramsey. He knows what it takes to win because he has experienced loss. He stands up for what he stands for and has built a business with a positive and clear vision. He collaborates with other like-minded professionals and understands the importance of working with those who carry the strengths you do not. And finally, he has a successful succession plan and continues to grow his company through this young leadership team.

3. What has been the high point of your career so far?

The high point of my career thus far was when my salon reached $1 million in revenue, and this was after I removed myself entirely from internal operations — a testament to the leadership qualities and commitment of each team member.

4. Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Oh, lord … has anyone else gotten emotional writing this? At 21 years old I would’ve said, “Trust the Lord, Kati. He has big plans for you. Plans for good. He loves you and He calls you His. You’re the daughter of The King. Do not forget it. Submit your life to Him and you will never be the same.”

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5. What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?

The best things about living in Dane County are the professionals you’re able to meet. There are so many people who are eager to share their knowledge in an effort to support the development of our business community. I’m also very grateful we have so many safe and active neighborhoods. It wasn’t until I traveled more frequently that I realized how many community centers, parks, and nature trails we have access to. It’s awesome!

6. Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?

Those who know me well know this — one of my hobbies is music. I love to sing, dance, and on rare occasions I like to write songs. When I was just about to finish the cosmetology program at Madison College, I took a trip to Nashville with my demo CD in hand. I wanted to break into the southern gospel arena. It was a great wake-up call for me to go there. I realized pretty quickly that I’d have to move there and build a network. I found myself deciding between the beauty industry and the music industry. I decided to stay in Madison and build my career. I’m grateful I did, or I would not have met my husband, started my first business, and our first baby wouldn’t be on the way. Everything happens for a reason [but] in the back of my mind I am always tempted to audition for shows like The Voice. You never know …

7. What are your guilty pleasures?

Like many do, I really enjoy ice cream. If I’m going to a sporting event or to the theater, I’d prefer great seats regardless of cost. Is that wrong? I also tend to buy the most expensive version of whatever item I’m searching for. I’m not sure how that happens. I joke that I’m drawn to quality. I tend to think if it costs more, it must be better. One time when I was in Vegas I saw this amazing pair of Cartier sunglasses. They were embellished with gold and the “arms” had a jaguar on them. They were hot and they looked hot on me. I’m not proud to say that was the day I spent $800 on a pair of sunglasses. Interestingly, I barely wore them because I didn’t want to mess them up and they gave me a headache because they’re sort of heavy. Lesson learned! 

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