Visual Interviews are conducted long-distance, via disposable camera and a box of ephemera. I’m pleased to introduce you to (uh, myself?) Kara Haupt, founder of Babe Vibes. Interviewed by my good friend, Mei Ratz.
There is a saying that we are all a collection of the things we love, if that is true, what are you made up of? What things / people / places / times in your life / struggles have created the you of this moment?
I think — as an adult, I’m made up by my best friends, by this little family of strange and wonderful women who have chosen me. I’d like to think, too, that I have made me. I was homeschooled, and literally taught myself using library books and the internet. Because of that, I usually feel most comfortable as a lone wolf, particularly in how I work creatively. I feel most normal when I’m struggling to figure things out by myself.
I’m made up by religion — not in the sense of the religion I have, but the religion I learned to not have? Or maybe the religion I replaced. I usually, now, want my former beliefs and Christian upbring to be irrelevant to ~who I am~, but that wouldn’t be true, even if it is boring. Now that I am less angry, making sense of my past Christianity is mostly amusing to me. Maybe because it feels both full of grace and a little bit sacrilegious, I enjoy picking at what I can from Christianity and seeing how it fucked me up, and what parts of it to love. I write my notes to myself like prayers, and I’m still really obsessed with ideas around ritual and daily devotion, and love Amazing Grace as much as a born-again. Christianity also taught me to close-read texts from an early age, and how to “interpret” them, and what that inadvertently did, I think, was train me to hear what people were saying and figure out what they actually meant from these bizarre Evangelical platitudes. I watched that terrible Left Behind remake with Nicolas Cage awhile ago, and the person I was watching it with was really freaked out by the way it was written, and how real people think like that. Their reaction to it was so interesting to me because I was not freaked out at all by the movie. I knew what the weird parts about prayer and hell and death meant and I was like, it’s all silly! It’s about fear and wanting to be loved. Which, I don’t know, is life right?
I think Christianity made me quite perceptive, and with a penchant for superstition and drama, which I find to be delightful characteristics.
We met maybe three years ago. How would you describe yourself then? What have you figured out since then? What have you shed?
I was (more) insecure. I think I was scared of myself and my lack, and my sadness then too. Now I am still insecure, but I seem to be doing a better job of letting my insecurities tag along for the ride, like a weird sad little sister, to figure themselves out with me. There’s this Jenny Holzer line about playing your insecurities like a piano — I am trying to do that. I am trying to honor them. These are the things that scare me and have really hurt me, and they keep me from like, manifesting my best life or whatever. But insecurities don’t come from nowhere, so I honor their existence with kindness. I’m getting better at figuring out how to feel safe while simultaneously being “too much” and a little immature (my age?). It’s difficult, though, because it is easy to disguise my insecurity with cruelty and unkindness toward others, and to myself.
I think because of my Evangelical upbringing, and now my even more specific moral and political worldview, I still have to shake the belief that all of life is organized into really neat boxes. Whether the things that I’m trying to organize are intentions and consequences, or the goodness or badness of people, or the order of how I am supposed to go about my own life. I have people even less figured out than I thought I would. Everyone is carrying around all their shit and most of us are not touching it, and then we are supposed to interact authentically? What a nightmare.
But to give my hard work credit, it doesn’t occur to me anymore to ask for permission. I am far less than brutal toward myself. I have learned to be gentle with myself, to care less about things that don’t make me happy or healthy, and to protect myself at all costs.
You work hard and collaborate often, do you have a project cued up for next year that you are building a team for?
I want to keep building Babe Vibes. I dread interviews, or even introductions, trying to explain what Babe Vibes is, because I don’t think it’s organizable. It’s not a publication, and project seems trite, it’s probably a media company but hopefully with more heart? This feels meta and maybe too honest, but I’d love a partner to work with and even a small team, but I’m kinda terrified to lose control. Even though I can’t really elevator pitch Babe Vibes, I have an instinctual vision for the content, and certainly the aesthetic, and the thought of handing the big ideas or decisions off to someone else seems terrifying.
When the dark waters of life start rising over your shoulders, where do you find yourself most? Where did you learn that?
The shower. I mean that both physically and poetically, as in, it is the only place where I go to be by myself where all I do is care for myself. I learned that by necessity, in this city.
It’s a Thursday evening, you’re tired, the boy you are texting is getting boring, your favorite crop top is in the laundry, the code for the new section of your website isn’t working, it’s raining, your bank account is dwindling and you just refreshed Twitter 4 times; what now?
Okay, Jesus Christ Mei Ratz, no one person should know me that well. To answer the question… Now I go to bed. In the morning I’ll stop texting the boy, freak out about the money, email someone about the code, and make up an entirely new life plan in a half-hour. But first, bed.
I hear often how many people admire you and want to orbit you (it’s one of the perks of being one of your people, I hear all the gleeful gushing!) Who would you trade lives with for 8 hours? Why?
To be honest, I don’t think I’d trade with anyone, I haven’t wanted To Be Someone Else for a very long time. Maybe the Koch brothers so I could empty their bank account into mine.
Are you a designer? Are you a leader? Are you a motivator? How do you see yourself?
I think I’m a designer and an artist. I’m currently practicing being a writer, as well. Though I don’t think of myself or want to be one, unfortunately, I’m probably a leader. To be honest, I don’t like the responsibility of it at all. I feel like I’m constantly on the verge of fucking everything up.
Open you Notes app, what is your 6th note down? What does it say. No need to give context, just the note. Open your weather app, what cities weather are you tracking? Open your keyboard, what are your top 5 used emojis?
“You’ve created a terrifying army of women.” Portland, New York City, Boise, Paris, Sao Paulo, New Orleans.
You and I talk a lot about the idea of women “wanting” we often say that it’s so hard for us to admit our biggest and truest wants because wanting has been dressed up to be synonymous with “lacking” or “desperate” so, in the vein of rejecting that notion; what is something you are wanting? What is something you want for your work? What is something you want for your closest people?
One thing I’m wanting, that I’m trying to say out loud and without shame, is a generous and loving romantic relationship. Hating men while loving them is such a fucking drag and I’m looking forward to an opportunity to practice loving. I believe in self-care, clearly, and I think it’s helpful for me to position self-care so predominately because I need to un-learn the toxic ways I’ve been taught to speak to and treat myself. But, perhaps as an act of self-care, I want someone else to take care of me too.
For my work, I am wanting fewer boxes around medium and subject, while still thinking about what it means to create a container. I think I identify as a designer because I’m really interested in the idea that design is about figuring out the right solution to a problem, or an expression of an idea or viewpoint or whatever, and how there is no one medium that is always going to house the solution. I like that I have the freedom to do that. So, I want to be open to medium and to solution, but also keep making things that add up to a greater vision, or connected body of work. I’m doing that with Babe Vibes, but I’d like to get even weirder, and to try mediums I am scared of (writing! film! IRL events!).
For my people, I want everything. A thing I’ve really learned over the last year, like WAY after we made Methods of Self-Care, is that self-care and self-kindness, and as my therapist would put it, self-compassion, is the root of moving through the world with more authenticity. I think that looks different for everyone, and it’s much harder for certain people, but I want that for the people I love. I want us to move with more grace and kindness, I want my people, my women, to see themselves the way I see them — like a friend who loves them.
To confront this idea head on; I want it all. I want to allow myself to want it all.
You have a bundle of successful and incredible projects out there in the world, I want to know about the moments you remember in the middle? What moments do you remember from the insides of those making moments? Will you talk about a couple?
The day after the Pep Talk Generator launched, I was a nightmare person. I was like a kid who had been at Disneyland for too fucking long. Everyone wanted so much from me, and everyone wanted it right then, and the success of everything annoyed me. I try to remind myself that “success” doesn’t feel the way I think it will, it doesn’t feel bad, it mostly feels overwhelmingly annoying and itchy.
I try to keep the itchiness in mind when I’m when I feel like I’m drowning in the middle moments. I bribe myself with the finish line, the last victorious burst, but I also know exercise fuckin sucks. The middle moments of that project — fucking around in Illustrator for a mockup to send to Paige and feeling like I was making the dumbest, most cliche thing, and then when I spent a Sunday afternoon feeling sad and weird while mindlessly pasting in the text, and then the feeling of nothing when I finished it. I love what I do, but I don’t usually LOVE the doing of it, and like, that’s chill as hell? It’s just exercise and only freaks love exercise.
Here are a few words/concepts, read each one and then write down the first thought you have in relation to it.
You can find Kara on her website, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and, of course, here on Babe Vibes. <3