fbpx

Woman Crush Wednesday: Kara Harms, Founder of Whimsy Soul

I’m so excited to be continuing with my Woman Crush Wednesday series, where I’m interviewing and featuring bad-ass boss babes! Today we’re chatting with Kara Harms, the founder and editor behind the travel and lifestyle site, Whimsy Soul.

When Kara and I first met over drinks a couple years ago, she adamantly told me that I needed to leave Google and do my blog full time. Since then, she’s become one of my closest and most supportive blogger besties, constantly cheering me on and sharing feedback and advice. Kara is the ultimate example of women supporting women, and I appreciate her and our friendship so much.

Our friendship is rooted in collaboration over competition, and I feel like it’s such a good example of how finding your key people in your industry that you can trust and brainstorm with is so important. We share a ton of insights, strategies, and analytics with each other that help the other person learn and grow, and I always feel so inspired after our boss babe chats and brainstorm sessions. If something gets me down (like a snarky interaction with a fellow blogger, or having a brand deal I was really excited about fall through), Kara is the first person I text and she always pumps me back up and helps me get back on track.

Another thing I love and admire about Kara is that she is SMART. Like, such a business-minded girl boss. She’s a solid negotiator, and she’s always thinking about longterm strategy for her business.

Kara has such a great story, from how she moved to SF on a whim (get it, because she’s the whimsy soul??), to how she started her blog and turned it into a thriving business, and I’m so thrilled to introduce you to her!

Kara Harms, Whimsy Soul

For those What The Fab readers who haven’t seen you tagged all over the place in my Insta Stories from our girl boss brainstorm sessions and hangs, can you please introduce yourself? 

My name is Kara, also known as “The Whimsy Soul.” I’m a Midwest gal who ran away to San Francisco about 5 years ago to escape winters and I blog full time with my husband, Robin. I’m super passionate about helping empower women to explore the world around them, feel confident in themselves, and find the everyday magic in life. 

Life is short, it’s better when you fill it with whimsy.

Tell us about Whimsy Soul. When/how did you start it? How has it evolved over time?

We had just moved to San Francisco and I was trying to find a job on a social media team for an ad agency. That’s what I thought I wanted to be when I grew up—working in an ad agency. I kept getting asked over and over again to show examples of channels I ran & grew, communities I fostered. But this was in 2014 in the baby age of social, and I was fresh out of college, so I had NOTHING real to actually show. So I decided I would make myself a blog to get a job.

I have a vivid memory of sitting on our futon mattress on the floor of our empty apartment (we had barely anything at this point because we were broke AF) and brainstorming names for a blog. Once I came up with “Whimsy Soul” I made a logo, set up a website and started writing. It didn’t take long at all to fall in love with blogging. I LOVED building a small community of women who benefited from what I was making. It felt (and still feels) amazing to make those connections and inspire others. 

Oh, and I got a job. Showing off my Instagram profile in interviews helped me land the gig, but I knew within a few weeks of starting Whimsy Soul that I wanted my blog to be my full time job. In 2017 I made that happen.

Kara Harms, Whimsy Soul

You’re originally from Wisconsin, and moved to San Francisco without ever having visited the city. How did you make that decision and what was that move like?

We moved pretty recklessly, honestly. We had no jobs, no apartment lined up. Nothing. I don’t think I could do a move like that again at this age, but I was 23 and fresh out of college so I still had that stubborn, young person belief that I could do anything want and it would all work out.

Robin and I were still living in Minneapolis, where I went to college, and we knew we didn’t want to stay there. We landed on San Francisco because there are just so many job opportunities out here, I was pretty sure I would be able to find a job quickly compared to small cities like Boulder or Austin that we were also looking at. Plus, no winters!

Moving was probably the hardest thing I ever did. We didn’t know anyone our age in the city and we spent almost all of our savings on our apartment, so we were just getting by paycheck to paycheck. It was lonely but I eventually made friends, got better, higher-paying jobs, and filled our apartment with actual furniture instead of sleeping on a futon mattress. And now San Francisco is truly home. Reckless young Kara knew it would work out and I’m really thankful for her.

Did you always know you wanted to have your own business? How did you transition to blogging full time? 

OMG yes! I think I popped out of the womb as an entrepreneur. I remember doing things as a kid like mixing shampoos together and “rebranding” them to a brand new shampoo and trying to get my family to pay me for it.

I started my photography business at the age of 17. I did senior portraits, family photos and wedding photography for about 8 years. That journey taught me a lot of lessons and made it easy to pave a path for making Whimsy Soul successful and a business. 

You talk a lot about body positivity on your Instagram, @thewhimsysoul. What was your self-love journey like, and how did you come to be so confident in your own skin/body? 

I have eczema and while I have mostly grown out of it as an adult, I spent most of my childhood covering my body up to hide huge rashes. I had rashes everywhere – my arms, my legs, my fingers, sometimes even my face. Kids can just be so mean and I would get teased a lot for my skin. 

And then as I got older, I slowly grew out of eczema. One day I decided I was going to stop wearing baggy clothes and I wore a halter top to school. Mind you, halter tops were NOT allowed but my teacher was so shocked to see me dress “like my gender” that she complimented me. I felt pretty and important and like people finally saw me. Those years of my life really solidified the concept that my outward appearance is the only thing that mattered to be happy. 

So come high school when I was dealing with weight gains (as most teenage girls encounter as we grow)  it felt like at first, my skin didn’t fit in, and now my body shape didn’t fit in. I found myself obsessively working out multiple times a day. I didn’t eat carbs for a whole year. My body is built to be curvy, and that was hard in the 2000’s when the style was low rider jeans and tight tank tops. We didn’t have inclusive media like these days, so I always was battling with what I thought my body had to look like. I was always trying to get skinnier so I could be “normal” and accepted. 

Honestly, blogging was a huge component to building a positive body relationship. I have spent the past 4+ years taking photos of myself basically every day which does wonders to help build self-esteem. But the most valuable thing was just talking to other women about body image. It was hard for me to talk publicly about being “Middle Size” and sharing my body image journey, but once I did, I started getting flooded with messages of other women basically saying “I feel this way, too”. The internet these days can be a really unhealthy place but having real conversations with others about body image, mental health and life struggles makes me feel like I found my tribe. I found a way to use social media for something positive for myself and for others. It’s made all the difference! 

What’s your biggest piece of advice for people who are looking to turn their creative passions into their business? 

Hustle and time. I know it’s said a lot, but empires aren’t built overnight. There is no such thing as an overnight success (unless you join the cast of The Bachelor, then you will probably get famous overnight, but that’s the exception to the rule!) 

For years, every night and weekend I would come home from work and then work on Whimsy Soul late into the night. I sacrificed dinners out with Robin or happy hours with co-workers so I could pay for better hosting, or a blogging course, or a tool to help my business grow. Heck, we slept on that futon mattress for a whole YEAR before we bought a real bed. 

These days, we still hustle. We work 10-12 hour days building our business up. Whimsy Soul is turning 5 in February and while in a way it’s a mini-empire, there are still SO many goals we want to reach and projects we want to accomplish. We know we have to keep hustling and in time, those goals will be met. 

What’s the hardest thing about being an entrepreneur? The best thing? 

My personal struggle is knowing when to turn off. When your business is basically about your life, it’s really hard to establish a work-life balance. I feel guilty when I’m not working and there’s ALWAYS something important to do, so it’s easy to overwork myself. I’m improving on this—I’m getting better at having set “hours” so I know when I can just relax, but it’s a work in progress. 

My favorite thing about running Whimsy Soul is knowing that stuff I made—photos I took, words that I wrote—actually have a positive impact on others. Like, that’s crazy! This is just stuff that used to be all in my head, then I made them into something tangible and people LIKE IT?! I’m still in awe. Of course, things like flexible schedules, partnering with cool brands, and getting to work with my husband, are really awesome, but I love being able to point to my blog and be like “I made this, and it’s important to people.”

What projects do you have coming up that you’re excited about? 

We’re working behind the scenes on some really big things we can’t share right now, but there is always something cool happening on Whimsy Soul. I’m super passionate about helping people discover awesome places to visit close to home and we’ll be featuring some really unique places on the West Coast this fall and winter. If you love to travel but don’t have the time or bank account to jaunt over to Europe every month, stay tuned on @thewhimsysoul! Also, check back on Instagram at the end of October for a very special project I’m working on with GoDaddy! 

Ok, let’s do some rapid-fire fill in the blanks!

My favorite destination I’ve traveled to is Scotland. It’s just so magical. 

My spirit animal is a cat. 

The best perk I get from blogging full time is making a positive impact on others. And being my own boss means I never have to ask anyone for vacation time! 

If I wasn’t a full time blogger, I’d probably be working on the brand side of influencer marketing. I love this industry! 

If I could live anywhere in the world, it’d be Germany. Well, we LOVE living here in San Francisco—I think it’s one of the best cities in the entire world. But my husband and I have pipe dreams of moving to Munich for a few years. One day! 

Kara Harms, Whimsy Soul

If you’re not following Kara already on Instagram, you can find her at @thewhimsysoul. She shares lots of great travel inspo (especially focused in the U.S.), body positivity, and pics of her cute cat, Twyla.

Have a suggestion for my next Woman Crush Wednesday feature? Shoot me an email at: [email protected].

Submit a Comment

The Best Airbnbs in Amsterdam

The Best Airbnbs in Amsterdam

Located in North Holland, the capital of the Netherlands is an intoxicating city to spend a long weekend in. Amsterdam is famous for its meandering canals, historic streets, museums, and cycling (among other things!). A trip to Amsterdam is a chilled out time to enjoy...

Best Restaurants in Cinque Terre

Best Restaurants in Cinque Terre

We had some seriously delicious food in Cinque Terre, but we also went to a couple places that ended up being touristy and bland (with crappy service to boot). You won’t find those places on this best restaurants in Cinque Terre list, and frankly we were led there by...

The Best Day Trips from Paris

The Best Day Trips from Paris

Paris is an awesome city. It's legit my favorite. The French capital is totally crawling with amazing sights—the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame are just some of the top places to see here. But although the city has a ton of stuff to see and do, if you are...

What to do in Copenhagen: A Complete Travel Guide

What to do in Copenhagen: A Complete Travel Guide

I’ll be honest, I was really pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Copenhagen. It was the last leg of our Eurotrip, and kind of a random pick for us. Copenhagen wasn’t necessarily a place that had been on my bucket list, but we were looking for one last city to...

The Best High-Waisted Bikinis at Target

The Best High-Waisted Bikinis at Target

Last week I was in the mood to do some shopping for new swimsuits, so I hopped on over to Target to see what new arrivals they had online! I love Target's swimwear because they always have cute, trendy pieces that last me for years, and of course at super affordable...

Coffee Break

Coffee Break

I cannot wait to start putting out some of my Cinque Terre content!! It's seriously one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. Until those travel guides and other Cinque Terre posts are ready to go later this month, here's an outfit look from one of our days...

Pink Snakeskin

Pink Snakeskin

It's been a minute since I've shared an outfit post! I had this one sitting in my drafts from the beginning of the year. The pink snakeskin bodysuit and paper bag pants are both from Revolve, and I love this combo of a tight and edgy bodysuit + loose and chic pants. I...

Clothing Packing List for Europe Summer Vacay

Clothing Packing List for Europe Summer Vacay

I just got back from spending a month in Italy and even though it was just barely into June by the time I left, Europe was getting HOT! 🥵 Today I'm partnering with Ibotta to share a packing list for Europe and all the clothes you'll want to pack in order to beat the...

6 Cheap New Years Dresses on Amazon

6 Cheap New Years Dresses on Amazon

Love a good sequin moment for New Years! It's that time of year where you emerge from the holiday fog and think, "Oh shit, what am I going to wear for NYE??" I've got you covered with this list of cheap new years dresses that you can quickly order on Amazon Prime! I...

Tieks Shoes: My go-to flats for traveling the world

Tieks Shoes: My go-to flats for traveling the world

Wearing my Nude Lace Tieks while on a helicopter ride in Maui Whenever I’m packing my bags, no matter where I’m going, you can always count on there being at least one pair of Tieks shoes in my luggage (but usually two or three, because you know…a girl’s gotta have...

Finding the Perfect Fit with Stitch Fix

Finding the Perfect Fit with Stitch Fix

Thanks to Stitch Fix for sponsoring this post!  I love that leopard is having such a big fall moment, because it’s truly one of my favorite prints to wear! This leopard top is actually a bodysuit and I’ve gotten majorly into bodysuits over the last year or so. They’re...

Palm Springs Desert Outfit

Palm Springs Desert Outfit

I visited Palm Springs for the first time earlier this year, and of course I had to shoot with the iconic windmills! We were also running around checking out all of the Desert X art installations. The art installations are over now, but hopefully they'll be back with...

Why You Need to Shave Your Face: How to Dermaplane at Home

Why You Need to Shave Your Face: How to Dermaplane at Home

I recently shared on my Insta Stories my latest beauty find: Michael Todd's Sonicsmooth. It's a tool you use for dermaplaning. And yes ladies, I'm talking about shaving your face. Today I'm diving into why you need to shave your face, and how to dermaplane at home....

Taiwan Beauty Products

Taiwan Beauty Products

Taiwan Beauty Products When I was in Taipei recently, my friend Francesca was showing me some of the Taiwan beauty products and other Asian beauty trends that are popular there. I love checking out new beauty products and trends, especially ones that we can’t get here...

Skincare After 30

Skincare After 30

My journey with my skin has been a bumpy road ever since my teenage years. Lately, I've noticed some major differences in my skin and have found a routine that's really working for me. Enter: Skincare after 30. Skincare has always been something I've put a lot of...

How to fix damaged hair in a snap

How to fix damaged hair in a snap

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Pantene. The opinions and text are all mine. This winter's harsh weather, combined with lots of heat styling for holiday parties, events, and photo shoots has done a number on my hair. Whenever I have dry...

The Best At-Home Manicure: imPRESS Nails Review

The Best At-Home Manicure: imPRESS Nails Review

Y'all have been asking me about these manis on Insta so here we go—my full imPRESS nails review! I don't know if you've noticed, but a few months ago press-on nails became super popular. It was perfect timing too because now that all the nail salons are closed and...

Sunday Funday

Sunday Funday

Flamingos make everything more fun, amirite? Last weekend before I headed out on a biz trip to Canada Omied and I had a little Sunday Funday date day in the city together. I'd been dying to check out a new Cuban place in the Mission, which is officially the most...

Turning Point Spa

Turning Point Spa

Getting regular facials and have a great aesthetician (or two!) that you can rely on is a super important part of your skincare routine. I recently got to visit Turning Point Spa in Marin, and had such a lovely experience. The owner, Laurence McKee, is a...

Très Sleek: Smooth and Brilliant with Revlon Hair Tools

Très Sleek: Smooth and Brilliant with Revlon Hair Tools

This post was sponsored by Revlon Hair Tools as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own. Très Sleek: Smooth and Brilliant with Revlon Hair Tools: I’ll be honest, I’m good at many things, but doing my own...

Skincare After 30

Skincare After 30

My journey with my skin has been a bumpy road ever since my teenage years. Lately, I've noticed some major differences in my skin and have found a routine that's really working for me. Enter: Skincare after 30. Skincare has always been something I've put a lot of...

Date Night Makeup: Pretty Fall Neutrals

Date Night Makeup: Pretty Fall Neutrals

Today I’m sharing my go-to makeup look this fall for a night out. Whether it’s a date night with my hubby or my girlfriends, these are the products I keep reaching for and the earthy neutrals I’ve been incorporating into my beauty looks. And to make things super...

Three self-care skincare routines you haven’t tried

Three self-care skincare routines you haven’t tried

This post has been sponsored by Cetaphil®. All thoughts expressed are my own. Skincare has always been something I’ve had to spend a lot of time (and money...and trial and error) on. My teenage years were spent being acne-prone, while my twenties involved a lot of...

No Heat Beach Waves Hair Tutorial

No Heat Beach Waves Hair Tutorial

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BeBeachBlonde #CollectiveBias People always ask me how I keep my long hair so healthy. My biggest tip is that I rarely use heat on it. My hair dries...

How to fix damaged hair in a snap

How to fix damaged hair in a snap

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Pantene. The opinions and text are all mine. This winter's harsh weather, combined with lots of heat styling for holiday parties, events, and photo shoots has done a number on my hair. Whenever I have dry...

Bridesmaid Makeup

Bridesmaid Makeup

I spent this past weekend in North Carolina for my beautiful cousin's wedding. It was such a fun-filled weekend and I'm missing all the family time already! I was honored to be a bridesmaid, and I brought along my new EcoTools hair and makeup brushes to keep my...

Taiwan Beauty Products

Taiwan Beauty Products

Taiwan Beauty Products When I was in Taipei recently, my friend Francesca was showing me some of the Taiwan beauty products and other Asian beauty trends that are popular there. I love checking out new beauty products and trends, especially ones that we can’t get here...

Wedding Wednesday: Vegas Bachelorette Party

Wedding Wednesday: Vegas Bachelorette Party

This Wedding Wednesday I'm sharing a bunch of photos from my Vegas bachelorette party weekend! My sister planned an amazing trip and I feel so lucky to have such wonderful friends in my life. The recovery at work the following Monday was a little rough (I can't party...

Wayfair Outdoor Furniture Sale

Wayfair Outdoor Furniture Sale

With weather starting to warm up and being stuck at home for what feels like forever, I'm seriously craving some outdoor time! If you have an outdoor space like a patio, deck, or backyard that you're looking to spruce up, Wayfair is doing a Memorial Day Weekend sale...

Wanderlust Cooking: Portuguese Recipes + Vinho Verde

Wanderlust Cooking: Portuguese Recipes + Vinho Verde

Today's post is the fourth edition in my Wanderlust Cooking series! So far, we've done Mexico, France, and Italy. And today we're heading to drum roll please, … Portugal! Omied and I were supposed to be in Portugal last week—we've never been before and we were so...

Woman Crush Wednesday: Suze Riley, Papercut Artist

Woman Crush Wednesday: Suze Riley, Papercut Artist

I'm so excited to continue with my Woman Crush Wednesday series! And I have such a fun Q&A lined up today! Today I’m chatting with Suze Riley, who I met at Alt Summit last month (right before shit really hit the fan with Coronavirus). Suze was one of the very...

April, Instagrammed

April, Instagrammed

I think we can all agree April was a weird month in terms of the passage of time. Some days dragged on, and sometimes I'd look up and realize it's Friday already. It felt like a really, really long month, but I also can't believe it's May. Throughout April I really...

What to wear to an Indian Wedding

What to wear to an Indian Wedding

Last month a dear friend of mine from grad school got married. Both the bride and groom are Indian, and since we'd been to an Indian wedding before we semi-knew what to expect—beautiful, colorful outfits, a morning ceremony and evening reception, and tons of delicious...

How to Declutter Fast: Organization and Storage Tips for Your Home

How to Declutter Fast: Organization and Storage Tips for Your Home

To kick off the new year on the right foot, Omied and I recently did a big apartment cleanout and reorganizing blitz in our home. I shared some of my storage and organization hacks on my Insta Stories during the process, and you guys were absolutely loving all of the...

Wanderlust Cooking: Authentic Italian Recipes

Wanderlust Cooking: Authentic Italian Recipes

We're in our third week of my new Wanderlust Cooking series! This time, we went to Italy. Exactly a year ago, I was spending a month there, and I miss Italy so much! I've always loved Italian food, but after our trip I realized there's way more to Italian cuisine than...

Quarantine Birthday Gifts

Quarantine Birthday Gifts

Ok, so a quarantine birthday isn't exactly ideal. But there are plenty of ways you can help your friends or fam have a happy birthday, while still practicing social distancing. You can check out my post all about Quarantine Birthday Party Ideas for Adults for how to...

Wedding Wednesday: Menguin Review

Wedding Wednesday: Menguin Review

  MENGUIN REVIEW & UNBOXING VIDEO   Back when we were planning our wedding (which was already 8 months ago! I can’t believe it.), I did a Menguin review post, which was the online tuxedo rental company we were using for our groomsmen’s looks. Our groomsmen looked...

Five Ideas for Halloween Decor

Five Ideas for Halloween Decor

I love Halloween and I especially love it when people go all out decorating for it! Even a few fun touches go a long way—it doesn't have to be a whole graveyard scene on your front lawn (although I totally love and adore people who go the extra mile like that!). Here...

Wanderlust Cooking: Parisian Recipes

Wanderlust Cooking: Parisian Recipes

I'm excited to continue my new series Wanderlust Cooking! Brought to you by our sponsor: quarantine boredom. You guys loved last week's recipes, outfits, and playlist that were all inspired by Mexico and it was so fun to see some of you making the recipes at home!...

Woman Crush Wednesday: Lindsay Kinder, founder of Food La La

Woman Crush Wednesday: Lindsay Kinder, founder of Food La La

You guys!! I am SO freaking thrilled to be starting a brand new content series on What The Fab today. It’s Woman Crush Wednesday, where I’ll be sharing Q&A-style interviews with bad-ass female entrepreneurs who are paving their own way, founding their own...

My Daily Routine During Shelter in Place

My Daily Routine During Shelter in Place

With our new quarantine "normal," I asked over on my Insta Stories what kind of content you want to see, and your responses were so, so helpful! I was feeling really stuck with what to write about, but knowing what kind of content would be useful for you during this...

How to plan the perfect wedding timeline

How to plan the perfect wedding timeline

This post could also be titled, "How to project manager the shit out of your wedding." 😉 Over the last year while we were planning our wedding, I've had several coworkers and friends get engaged too. They've all asked for the wedding run of show (fancy event-planner...

Desenio Review: Cute Art Prints at Reasonable Prices

Desenio Review: Cute Art Prints at Reasonable Prices

I've been incorporating a little bit more home decor posts into my blog over the last year or so, and it's been so much fun to shoot and share that kind of content with you guys. While I definitely can't wait til we own our first home some day (and allll the...

Wanderlust Cooking: Let’s Go to Mexico!

Wanderlust Cooking: Let’s Go to Mexico!

Today I'm excited to kick off a new series on the blog that I'm calling Wanderlust Cooking! I miss traveling. A lot. Last week I was supposed to head out on spending a month abroad in several different countries, and I was feeling especially down on Wednesday, the day...

6 Books to Read During Quarantine

6 Books to Read During Quarantine

How's your quarantine going? Mine's been up and down. But there are a few things that have been key for me keeping some kind of semblance of sanity, and those things are: Working out virtually with my trainer (highly recommend HIIT School's virtual workout...

- powered by chloédigital

Pin It on Pinterest