There are those women who are quiet warriors working on overdrive yet always present when you see them and happily never the centre of attention. Then years go by and those same women have morphed into seasoned pros who have evolved without broadcasting their hiccups or bragging about their highs because the whole time they’ve been too busy crafting their own success and raising their families.
This is how Katherine Hamilton journeyed from a six-figure career working for brands like Givenchy and Estée Lauder to a becoming a PR and communications boss with her own agency, Devon Consulting, which touts beauty clients like Burt’s Bees, Shiseido, Puig and Fresh. She has two sons, Harry, 16, and Toby, 13, who have witnessed her evolution as an entrepreneur while nurturing her level-headedness. “Being a single mom and an entrepreneur has been stressful. My kids are the ones who motivated me to be my best and figure it all out,” she says. “Before it really was about survival and I’m happy now that it’s more about thriving.”
How Katherine mastered working to her own beat
Don’t get lost in what’s not working for you. “My marriage ended five years ago, around the same time my agency started ramping up. I found myself on my own and with a young business that needed attention if it was going to succeed, but I never let myself get caught up with what I was facing. Sure I was unhappy, but I remained singularly focused on my children and my career. Being an entrepreneur helped me adjust and get through my divorce because there was so much to do and be excited about.”
Listen to the voice of reason nudging you out of your comfort zone. “At my last corporate job, I had no work-life balance; I was so exhausted like so many working moms. It was my dad who said, just jump and there will be a parachute to catch you. Then a few years later, when I was still working out of my basement, he told me it’s time to legitimize your agency and move into an office. He comes from a long career in business and he went to military school growing up in England, so goal-setting and forward-marching is so much a part of who he is. I knew I was ready to grow too and after leaving the house, I felt so cleansed. Now I have three employees and two interns and it’s been easier to explore new ways of expanding with their help and ideas.”
Forget big margins. It’s loyalty that pays off in the end. “My business philosophy is driven by loyalty. For years I have developed strong relationships with my clients; some I’ve had for 8 to 10 years. I would never say no to any of my clients who needed help—like setting up a sales meeting or executing presentations to retailers. They rely on us for more than public relations and there is a lot of value in offering that. I’m flexible about going above and beyond what’s expected because I’m grateful for my clients’ loyalty which offers me the security to grow my business and take care of my family.”
Feel free to make your own rules. “My office has been so beneficial to the business but admittedly I only go a few times a week. I think I still have a corporate hangover about board rooms and office spaces and I don’t feel the pressure to get over it because I want time with my sons, especially now that they’re teenagers and my oldest will be going to university soon. I wake up at 5am, catch up on emails then I take a morning bath and make them a hot breakfast. That’s the meal we share together every day because with our clashing schedules, planning a family dinner is difficult. When they were younger, my clients were always respectful of my time with them—those few hours after school, knowing that I would always contact them after the boys’ bedtime. I still take time off from my phone and my computer at night so I can catch up with Toby and Harry and watch our favourite TV shows together.”
Never apologize for working hard. “I think it’s so important my children see me as their mom but also as a career woman. I hope they value my work ethic and a love for work for themselves and in a future partner. Was I ever a workaholic? Of course. I used to work until one or two in the morning when I first started but I was always there to pick them up after school and hang out with them until they went to sleep. I think I was able to balance it all because I found my passion, both in being a mother and owning my own business. I recognize I am one of the lucky ones! I guess the more I live, the more I realize what a free spirit I am. As soon as I was able to explore more of the way I wanted to live, work felt less like a chore and I think that’s why I’ve never burned out juggling so much at once.”
Use your energy wisely. “I know I need my rest and always go to bed early so I can get eight hours of sleep at night, and when I wake up, I meditate with Headspace, to clear my head before my day starts. I also go to yoga at least three times a week. What I don’t do is waste my time being resentful, whether it’s about my divorce or anything that’s been a disappointment that week, that day or that year. I’m in such a good place because I put my energy into what’s most important and fulfilling for me: Spending valuable time with my kids and nurturing my business and employees.”
MY FAVOURITE THINGS
Her it-bag, a Celine carry-all that’s an investment she made for the long-haul. “I bought this as a gift for myself around 18 months ago. I felt like the agency was finally breathing on its own and was a stable, growing entity, so I wanted to spoil myself. I wanted something luxurious and understated and I won’t be splurging like this again anytime soon. I prefer to spend my money on my kids and our vacations so I don’t have too many expensive things.”
Her travel must-have: “I’ve walked all over your Europe in these Lanvin shoes. I think I’ve re-soled them three times. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I can’t save them anymore.”
Her best beauty hack: “I finally started getting regular blow-outs. After years of struggling with my hair that looks like an ’80s perm, I figured out spending $35 a week saves me so much more time.” She’s never without Kevin Murphy Dry Shampoo and Hairspray because it revives her blow-out for up to 9 days. The rest of her beauty routine is light and easy: Fresh Sugar Nourishing Lip Balm, Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Hibiscus, Fresh Sugar Rosé Tinted Lip Treatment and Fresh Umbrian Clay Purifying Mask.
She’s never without a collection of face masks. “I use them twice a day; it’s a beauty habit I inherited from my mom. I’m still hesitant about getting any cosmetic procedures, so I figure masks are a good way to keep my skin moisturized and glow-y.” Fresh Ultimate Nourishing Honey Mask, Shiseido Ibuki Beauty Sleeping Mask and Rodial Dragon’s Blood Eye Masks.
The shoes that help her look and feel on top of the world: Her YSL Tribute Heels.
“This Cartier love bracelet was a gift from my older sister. She gave it to me when I was going through my divorce. The only other piece of jewelry I wear is my ring. My two sisters and I all bought the same one a couple of years ago for Christmas.”