Like A Boss: Kara Wark

Art Director. Founder. CEO. Be still, our Beacon hearts. We sat down with Kara Wark, founder of the Bad Girls Collective, to hear about how her career journey through advertising led to her starting a global movement of rising bad girls. Kara is like a bolt of energy; a spark that we want to have around, who can help guide our ways. She’s our newest #girlcrush and we hope she’ll be yours, too. Read on, B’s. 

So, Kara what’s your career story?

I have had a pretty unconventional path. I had a great guidance counselor who identified that I should be an art director. I didn’t know what it was or meant. This guidance counselor’s best friend was an art director and I spoke to her in grade 11 and after that, I knew it was what I wanted to do. [I wanted to be a] creative person and also be in business, be entrepreneurial.

For university, I went to the University of Western Ontario where I studied multimedia design. When I graduated I was a web developer. Shortly after my graduation I took a leap and got in touch with a creative director who I met in high school and with some hustle I created my first portfolio in two months and got an internship at his firm. 

You must have been young when you got into advertising. What was that experience like?

I was 22 when I got into it and did really well right away. The campaign I was working on won a bunch of awards but in spite of that [success], it became apparent to me the stark disparity between men and women in the industry. Every industry is run by white men and at the end of the day, you have the same frustrations. It is super antiquated, even though it promises to be progressive. Then something happened that made me really angry. At the time I had been working in advertising for six or seven years and I got fired from an agency for literally no reason. They had brought in a new creative director and [my best guess] is that they felt threatened by me. I am not one to hide my opinions. One day I was brought into their office and they fired me. I got another job at another agency but it wasn’t fulfilling anymore, I was too angry. 

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How did the Bad Girls Collective come to fruition? 

It started as a New Years’ Eve resolution to read more books. At the same time, there was something deeper brewing within me as the U.S. election was happening. I was feeling fed up with misogyny. The Bad Girls book club was born of those two things.  Over the next few months the women of our book club began to meet and get to know one another better, we started to realize we were all having similar experiences. Experiences where we felt we couldn’t get a word in, talked down to, mansplained. It felt powerful to get together and resonate. 

Then Trump won the election. It shook me more than I thought it would. It was such a symbol to where we were. I thought we were making strides forward and overnight it was like we took 9,000 steps backward. I decided to take the Bad Girls Book Club and make it into a collective; the Bad Girls Collective. I wanted to start a conversation through books because books are a great way to start a meaningful conversation. I rallied two of my friends, one is a designer and the other works in PR, and we worked together to launch the book club as a collective. 

What are your thoughts on the current socio-political climate we are now living in?

Whoa. Could talk about this for a long time. I’ll keep it short. Feminism is trending. 

With both women and men which is a great thing. Rebecca Traister sums it up pretty well in her latest in-depth rant, Good and Mad. We’ve been mad long enough. Angry people make a change. And now women of privilege are mad. These privileged women are using their platform to influence change. It’s happening as it did in the past but now with much more gusto. A force of positive intelligent anger is head-to-head with a bunch of dinosaurs. I think we know who will come out on top.

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When and how did you launch the Bad Girls Collective?

On Women's Day 2017 we announced the collective and launched the site. Within a week, we had sold 200 tickets to our first book club event. We have had ten reads since then and they have all sold out. At the events, we talk about the featured book and feature some sort of entertainment. We have had Drag Queens come during Pride, poets, and singers. I took everything I learned from advertising and applied it to my book club and made it into an experiential marketing campaign. I didn’t use any paid advertising, it was all organic. I wanted it to be a proper space for connection. Since then, I have stayed away from using paid media, I don’t do any advertising plugs, and don’t use hashtags outside of our own. 

Who or what has inspired you along the way?

It’s impossible to pinpoint what or who inspired me throughout my life; I’ve been surrounded by it [inspiration.]  But it’s more a mentality that inspires me, a mentality shared by all industry leaders: What’s broken? How do I fix it? 

Conflict lights my fire. I’m attracted to problems and I thrive to fix them. I look at what’s not working, what needs improvement and work backward [from there.] 

What is one key leadership lesson you have learned over the years?

Don’t be a hero. Collaboration is everything. 

How do you achieve balance in your life?

Considering how much I work I’m actually a fucking star at work/ life balance. I need substantial “me” time as well as  “friend” time to stay sane and stable. It gets me through the madness of my work ethic. I do double workouts daily with 2 / 3 of either a 10KM run with my pup/ run crew (Bad Girls Run Club), F45, or spin. 

I make sure I have a solid dinner with my partner during the week and make an effort to see friends regularly. I pride myself on never canceling on a pal. Even if it means I have to stay up all night following a dinner to get through my work. Needless to say,  I have a lot of energy. 

After all of the success so far in your life, what is the one thing you still find yourself struggling with?

My internal fear of others’ expectations of me and fear of the critic.  

What’s next for you and the Bad Girls Collective?

We are launching a film series shortly, called “Bad Girl Reviews” which will allow for our community to read, review and have their voices and opinions heard. And the rest is top secret. You’ll have to follow along for new news.

How do we get more information Book Club Minis, global chapters, and the subscription box?

To stay update be sure to check out our Instagram as it is our main source of information.

Any final thoughts you would like to share with our readers?

Join the gang @badgirlscollective. Always recruiting wise gals and supportive men. 

Rapid Fire Q’s

  1. What is your spirit animal?  My dog, Sandwich

  2. What gets you up in the morning? My 5:50AM alarm / my to-do list

  3. What are you most grateful for in this moment? Where I am right now. My happiness and health are at an all-time high. 

  4. What is the best way women can support one another? To stop being so hard on one another seek to understand one another. 

  5. What 3 things do you always pack when you travel? Running shoes. Macbook charger. Moleskin (I would die without my handwritten to-do lists)

  6. What’s the last new thing you learned? *Embarrassingly* Googled the word ‘adage’  today

  7. What does success mean to you? To ultimately be happy where you are. 

  8. What is your spirit age? Right now. I want to be here forever. No older. No younger. 4 was pretty great too. 

Keira Roets