Kate Arends doesn’t want to be put in a box. In a world that encourages marketing ourselves as a brand, Kate is hesitant to constrict herself to a niche. Because what’s the point of trying to encompass our wants, quirks, dreams, and accomplishments to a single elevator pitch if those thirty seconds could never dream of containing our multitudes?
It’s with her many identities—designer, mother, founder, and creative director of Wit & Delight—that Kate has built her brand. In images, videos, and blog posts, Kate captures and exudes the creative grace of a life oriented toward beauty.
And while I find myself audibly gasping, oohing, and awing at Instagram post after post, the experience feels unlike any scroll I’ve taken through an influencer’s page. There’s no attempt as aspiration—to show a life clearly out of reach. Instead, woven throughout the stunning interiors, inspiring words, and intimate vignettes, there’s a quiet knowing that with a simple shift in perspective, we can all uncover the same magic Kate has found for herself.
Waking Up With Kate Arends
Of course, this isn’t to discount her originality. Take a spin through Kate’s St. Paul home and you’ll find woodland-inspired wallpaper, velvet tufted couches, and colors only a well-trained eye can coordinate. We caught up with Kate on a snowy Monday in Minnesota. And while we expected spring-like weather when we got off the plane, Kate’s home proved to be respite enough.
I’ve been running a business long enough to realize it doesn’t get easier, you just get more comfortable with discomfort.
Kate is proof that no one’s success looks the same. As one of the original bloggers in the design space, Kate is familiar with the challenges and triumphs of building a career online. With products and collections at some of the biggest retailers (Target, Anthropologie, and West Elm are all on her roster), one might think she logs long hours every day at her desk. But Kate is consistent with exercise and time outdoors, prioritizes play, and carves out intentional time with her family.
Curious how she gets it all done? We sat down with Kate to learn the ins and outs of her creative career—plus the routines and rituals that inspire her work and help her days unfold with ease.
Tell us about your career and starting a business. What has life been like as an entrepreneur?
Crazy? Always evolving? I’ve been running a business long enough to realize it doesn’t get easier, you just get more comfortable with discomfort. And I’m thankful for this lesson, thankful for the lesson in resilience. I try to make my schedule both flexible and disciplined. I’m also thankful that continuing to learn and challenge myself to evolve is part of the job. Regardless of what I’m working on, there is rarely a dull moment.
What has been your biggest learning over the past year?
I’ve learned to let go of a lot of trying to do it all. When it came to possibilities for our business and my life, I once liked to keep all doors slightly ajar just in case they came to fruition. I’ve realized that when every opportunity is important, it can be hard to figure out what matters most. So I’ve been saying no more than ever.
In a few words, how would you describe your personal style?
Classic with a splash of whimsy.
What does a typical day look like for you?
6-8 am: I typically get up at 6 for a workout before getting the kids ready for school. If I can peek at my email, I try to do it at this time.
8:30-11 am: I try to get 90 minutes of focused work done. Depending on what I have going on that week, it could be designing a product line or working on a project for our home (e.g., making product selections, deciding on paint colors, creating punch lists for a contractor). A few days a week I dedicate this time to writing for our site, Wit & Delight, and newsletter, House Call.
11 am-3 pm: Lunch, email, and meetings. I use this time for 1-1 consultations on Tuesdays and Thursdays, planning and production meetings with my team, tasks related to upcoming projects, etc. I also often take new business calls during this time.
3-5 pm: I am either shooting content for our channels, picking up whatever priority project is hot that week, or tending to things around the house.
5-8 pm: Family time!
8-10 pm: Reading or catching up on emails.
What time is your wake-up call? And how much sleep do you usually get?
6 am. I’m in bed by 9 pm and usually asleep by 10-1030 pm after doing some reading.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Drink water and start my workout. I alternate between pilates, HIIT workouts, and strength training.
What rituals set you up for success?
At certain times in my life, I’ve had strict morning routines; at other times, there was no routine other than surviving (hello, years when I had two kids under two). What I’ve come to learn is you have to be flexible with your time and religiously strict about what makes life move smoothly. That means prioritizing daily movement for my mental and physical health, deep work (something that moves my business and goals forward), and quality time with the people I love. Everything else gets done if time and energy allow. It’s kind of the antithesis of what I see a lot of successful people do for their routines, but it’s one I can live with. And isn’t a routine that’s sustainable most likely to remain a routine? I think so.
What I’ve come to learn is you have to be flexible with your time and religiously strict about what makes life move smoothly.
Describe your morning beauty routine from start to finish:
I brush my teeth, then I wash my face with Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser and apply the SkinCeuticals vitamin C serum. After that, I use Beauty of Joseon Sunscreen mixed with Drunk Elephant bronzing drops and apply my makeup.
What do you eat for breakfast?
I drink hot water with lemon. Then I make a cup of coffee and usually eat an apple or make oatmeal (¼ cup oats in ¾ cup water, simmer for five minutes then top with flax seeds, hemp seeds, maple syrup, and walnuts).
What will we always find in your refrigerator?
Fresh herbs, kale, good cheese, eggs, olives, salami, mustards (dijon, brown, hot deli), pickled things (hot peppers, cauliflower, carrots), and big tubs of beans and rice for making bowls throughout the week.
What are your morning rituals?
I never skip coffee or my skincare routine.
What are your favorite books?
It’s often changing but a couple that I have read more than once in the past two years:
- Age of Innocence by Edith Warton
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Normal People by Sally Rooney
What’s always on your nightstand?
Nivea Creme, Bag Balm, whatever I’m reading, and AirPods.
What’s your favorite getting-ready soundtrack?
Lately, it’s been Midnights by Taylor Swift. But I am always making playlists and giving recommendations.
Do you work out in the morning?
Yes, at least 30 minutes of movement. I rotate between HIIT, pilates, and cycling. I take at least three hour-long walks a week, but in the winter I do them in the afternoons due to lack of sunlight and negative temps.
What’s your daily uniform?
I work from home but I get dressed daily. A uniform for me in the winter would be a cream babaà sweater, Levi’s vintage 501s, red socks, and black loafers.
If you had one extra hour every morning, how would you use it?
I would read, write, or design things just for myself.
What are one or two things you do every day to live a more joyful life?
You’ll never have enough time to get it all done, so I focus on what matters to me when I’m overwhelmed. Sometimes this means closing my email or ripping up the to-do list. I ask myself what can be done to ensure I’m working toward the future I want for myself and my family. It makes what’s actually important crystal clear. Knowing that time is a finite resource can be overwhelming in itself, but it can also help bring your priorities into focus.
If you could pin your success down to one thing, what would that be?
Never giving up on myself. And never being afraid to pivot.
I never leave the house without: my wallet.
If there were more hours in the day, I would: spend them fostering curiosity—in nature, in a museum, and playing with my kids. I wish we had more time to just play.
Healthiest morning habit: being grateful to have another day on this earth.
Worst morning habit: thinking I have to follow a strict routine to be successful.
One thing I want to be known for is: my courage and empathy.
The one thing I fear is: failing to raise my children to handle adulthood.
When I feel that fear, I: remember the best thing I can do is set a good example with my own actions.
The book I always recommend: Atomic Habits.
One trait you need to succeed in life: resilience.
Bath or shower? And what’s your favorite shower/bath product? Bath, but we don’t have one at the moment! I love this conditioning rinse by R+Co.
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